Growing up in Missouri, seventy miles downriver from Hannibal, Mark Twain was handed to me early on, first or second grade, and captivated me for years, and forever, I reckon. Robert Louis Stevenson had his seasons with me just before my teens and I love him yet. There are too many others to mention, I suppose, but feel compelled to bring up Hemingway, James Agee, Flannery O'Connor, John McGahern, Knut Hamsun, Faulkner, George Mackay Brown, Tillie Olsen, W.S. Merwin, Brigit Pegeen Kelly, Andrew Hudgins, Seamus Heaney, Derek Wolco.
Daniel Woodrell was born and now lives in the Missouri Ozarks. He left school and enlisted in the Marines the week he turned seventeen, received his bachelor's degree at age twenty-seven, graduated from the Iowa Writer's Workshop, and spent a year on a Michener Fellowship. His five most recent novels were selected as New York Times Notable Books of the Year, andTomato Red won the PEN West award for the novel in 1999. Winter's Bone is his eighth novel.