Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Tawni O`Dell  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction

Audience: Adult;

Born: 1964 in Indiana, Pennsylvania


-- Website -- http://www.tawniodell.com/
-- Tawni O`Dell on WorldCat -- http://www.worldcat.org/search?q=tawni+o%60dell


Illinois Connection

Tawni O'Dell graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in journalism and spent many years living in the Chicago area before moving back to Pennsylvania where she now lives with her two children and her husband.

Biographical and Professional Information

Tawni was born and raised in the coal-mining region of western Pennsylvania, the territory she writes about with such striking authenticity.


Published Works Expand for more information


Titles At Your Library

Back Roads
ISBN: B000C4SXO4

Penguin Group USA. 2004

With his mother in jail for killing his abusive father, Harley Altmyer is an orphan with the responsibilities of an adult and the fiery, aggressive libido of a teenager. Just nineteen years old, he's marooned in a stricken coal town in the Pennsylvania backwoods caring for his three younger sisters. And once he develops an obsession with the sexy, melancholic mother of two down the road, those Victoria's Secret catalogs just won't do. But it's the family secrets, the lies, and the unspoken truths that light the fuse and erupt into a series of staggering surprises, leaving what's left of his family in tatters. Through every ordeal, he could never have known that his endearing humor, love for his sisters, and bumbling heroics would redeem them all. Funny and heartbreaking, BACK ROADS is a riveting novel by a formidable new talent.

Coal Run
ISBN: 0719595509

John Murray. 2009

With her eagerly awaited second novel, Tawni O'Dell takes readers back to the coal-mining country of western Pennsylvania. Set in a town ravaged and haunted by a mine explosion that took the lives of 96 men, Coal Run explores the life of local deputy and erstwhile football legend, "The Great Ivan Z.," as he prepares for a former teammate's imminent release from prison. As the week unfolds and Ivan struggles to confront his demons, he reveals himself to be a man whose conscience is burdened by a long-held and shocking secret.

Sister Mine: A Novel
ISBN: 030735167X

Broadway Books. 2008

Shae-Lynn Penrose drives a cab in a town where no one needs a cab—but plenty of people need rides. A former police officer with a closet full of miniskirts, a recklessly sharp tongue, and a tendency to deal with men by either beating them up or taking them to bed, she has spent years carving out a life for herself and her son in Jolly Mount, Pennsylvania, the tiny coal-mining town where she grew up.

Two years ago, five of Shae-Lynn’s miner friends were catapulted to media stardom when they were rescued after surviving four days trapped in a mine. As the men struggle to come to terms with the nightmarish memories of their ordeal, along with the fallout of their short- lived celebrity, Shae-Lynn finds herself facing harsh realities and reliving bad dreams of her own, including her relationship with her brutal father, her conflicted passion for one of the miners, and the hidden identity of the man who fathered her son.

When the younger sister she thought was dead arrives on her doorstep, followed closely by a gun-wielding Russian gangster, a shady New York lawyer, and a desperate Connecticut housewife, Shae-Lynn is forced to grapple with the horrible truth she discovers about the life her sister’s been living, and with one ominous question: Will her return result in a monstrous act of greed or one of sacrifice?

Tawni O’Dell’s trademark blend of black humor, tenderness, and a keen sense of place is evident once again as Shae-Lynn takes on past demons and all-too-present dangers.


From the Hardcover edition.

Sister Mine
ISBN: 0719556775

John Murray. 2008

Shae-Lynn Penrose drives a cab in a town where no one needs a cab—but plenty of people need rides. A former police officer with a closet full of miniskirts, a recklessly sharp tongue, and a tendency to deal with men by either beating them up or taking them to bed, she has spent years carving out a life for herself and her son in Jolly Mount, Pennsylvania, the tiny coal-mining town where she grew up.

Two years ago, five of Shae-Lynn’s miner friends were catapulted to media stardom when they were rescued after surviving four days trapped in a mine. As the men struggle to come to terms with the nightmarish memories of their ordeal, along with the fallout of their short- lived celebrity, Shae-Lynn finds herself facing harsh realities and reliving bad dreams of her own, including her relationship with her brutal father, her conflicted passion for one of the miners, and the hidden identity of the man who fathered her son.

When the younger sister she thought was dead arrives on her doorstep, followed closely by a gun-wielding Russian gangster, a shady New York lawyer, and a desperate Connecticut housewife, Shae-Lynn is forced to grapple with the horrible truth she discovers about the life her sister’s been living, and with one ominous question: Will her return result in a monstrous act of greed or one of sacrifice?

Tawni O’Dell’s trademark blend of black humor, tenderness, and a keen sense of place is evident once again as Shae-Lynn takes on past demons and all-too-present dangers.

Fragile Beasts: A Novel
ISBN: 0307351688

Crown. 2010

When their hard-drinking, but loving, father dies in a car accident, teenage brothers Kyle and Klint Hayes face a bleak prospect: leaving their Pennsylvania hometown for an uncertain life in Arizona with the mother who ran out on them years ago. But in a strange twist of fate, their town’s matriarch, an eccentric, wealthy old woman whose family once owned the county coal mines, hears the boys’ story. Candace Jack doesn’t have an ounce of maternal instinct, yet for reasons she does not even understand herself, she is compelled to offer them a home.

Suddenly, the two boys go from living in a small, run-down house on a gravel road to a stately mansion filled with sumptuous furnishings and beautiful artwork—artwork that’s predominantly centered, oddly, on bullfighting. And then there’s Miss Jack’s real-life bull: Ventisco—a regal, hulking, jet-black beast who roams the land she owns with fiery impudence.

Kyle adjusts more easily to the transition. A budding artist, he finds a kindred spirit in Miss Jack. But local baseball hero Klint refuses to warm up to his new benefactress and instead throws himself into his game with a fierceness that troubles his little brother. Klint is not just grieving his father’s death

he’s carrying a terrible secret that he has never revealed to anyone. Unbeknownst to the world, Candace Jack has a secret too—a tragic, passionate past in Spain that the boys’ presence threatens to reveal as she finds herself caring more for them than she ever believed possible.

From the muted, bruised hills of Pennsylvania coal country to the colorful, flamboyant bull rings of southern Spain, Tawni O’Dell takes us on a riveting journey not only between two completely different lands, but also between seemingly incompatible souls, casting us under her narrative spell in which characters and places are rendered with fragile tenderness.


Awards

''New York Times'' bestselling author of the novels ''Sister Mine'', ''Coal Run'', and ''Back Roads'', which was an Oprah's Book Club pick and a Book-of-the-Month Club Main Selection

''Back Roads'' is currently in development to be made into a film by Michael Ohoven at Infinity Media

Availability for Public Speaking

Speaking Engagement Availability: (No)