I grew up in Cleveland and was sometimes a good student, sometimes a poor one. My mother was big on Saturday morning classes and enrolled me in art groups, puppetry groups, theatre groups and anything else she could think of, and from this I learned that I wanted a creative life.
In 1980 I earned a BFA in Painting and Film from Cooper Union, where I studied with Jim Dine, Robert Breer and Sue Gussow, among others, and for ten years I painted and participated in the brief east village art scene of the 1980’s. During that time, I worked as a florist, a bartender, a travel agent and a mechanicals artist, and I drove a cab for four years before co-founding a small painting firm specializing in murals and residential trompe-l’oeil. I was also a frequent model for other painters, notably Amy Sillman, Thomas Woodruff, Dan Witz and Ilona Granet.
At forty, I returned to school and earned an MFA in Writing from Columbia University, where I wrote both fiction and poetry, working closely with Richard Howard, Fenton Johnson, Michael Cunningham and April Bernard. While completing my first novel, I taught Basic Comp, Writing and the Literature of War at Baruch College and Cultural Studies at the School of Visual Arts. I’m now at New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study.
Of my debut novel, the New York Times Book Review wrote, “The Ha-Ha is full of emotional truth and establishes King as a writer of consequence.” The Ha-Ha was a national bestseller and a finalist for Book of the Month Club’s Best Literary Fiction Award and the Quill Foundation’s award for Best Debut Fiction. It was named one of the best books of 2005 by the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and Amazon.com. Several foreign language editions are in print, and a film version, for which Nick Paley and I wrote the screenplay, is in development from Pigeon Productions. Alex Hall is slated to direct. In addition, The Ha-Ha earned the 2006-07 John Guare Writers Fund Rome Prize Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
My poems, stories and essays have appeared in The Paris Review, The Village Voice and Fence and in the Italian literary journal Nuovi Argomenti, among other venues; I’ve also translated the Italian poet Massimo Gezzi. I have been writer-in-residence at Hamilton College, The College of Saint Rose and the Vermont Studio Center, as well as numerous other conferences and institutions, and I’ve served on juries for the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, the Lexi Rudnitzky Prize, the Ferro-Grumley Prize and other awards.
My husman is the painter Franklin Tartaglione. Frank and I divide our time between Brooklyn and the Hudson Valley. A new novel, tentatively entitled The Beast and Beauty, is in the bag. Other projects include a novel tentatively called Childhood and a memoir, Bad Dog.