Patricia O'Donnell grew up in a small town in Iowa. Her BA and MA are from the University of Northern Iowa, and her MFA in Fiction is from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She and her husband Michael Burke raised their three children–Emma, Brendan, and Harper–in Wilton, Maine, a small town which curves around the southern end of Wilson Lake. The photo at the right is of the maple syrup they make in early spring, when the sap is rising.
Patricia is Professor Emerita of Creative Writing at the University of Maine at Farmington, where she taught fiction writing in the BFA Program in Creative Writing. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Agni Review, The North American Review, Prairie Schooner, and other journals and anthologies. Her novel, Necessary Places, was published by Cadent Publishing (now part of Tilbury House). Her memoir, Waiting to Begin, was published by Bottom Dog Press. Her collection of short fiction, Gods for Sale, won the Serena McDonald Kennedy Fiction Award for 2016, and was published by Snake Nation Press. Her novel, The Vigilance of Stars, was published by Unsolicited Press. It was chosen by Lily King to be one of two books read statewide in the Maine Humanities Council 2020 "Read ME" program. Her next book, A Symmetry of Husbands, will be published in 2023.
Patricia currently teaches memoir writing to residents of the Maine Women's Correctional Center.