Writing Hard Stories

Decatur Recreation Center Studio

Saturday, 1:45-2:30

What does it take to write an honest memoir? And what happens to us when we embark on that journey? Writing Hard Stories features some of the country's most admired writers discussing their treks through dark memories and breakthrough moments, and it demonstrates the healing power of putting words to experience.


Melanie Brooks


Melanie Brooks is a freelance writer, college professor and mother living in Nashua, N.H. with her husband, two children and yellow Lab. She’s the author of Writing Hard Stories: Celebrated Memoirists Who Shaped Art From Trauma (February 2017, Beacon Press). Melanie received her master of fine arts in creative nonfiction from the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA program. She teaches at Northeastern University in Boston, Mass., Merrimack College in Andover, Mass. and Nashua Community College in New Hampshire. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, Bustle, Creative Nonfiction, The Manifest-Station, Hippocampus, the Huffington Post, Modern Loss, Solstice Literary Magazine, The Recollectors, the Stonecoast Review and Word Riot. She received the Michael Steinberg Prize for Creative Nonfiction in Solstice Literary Magazine’s annual contest. Her almost-completed memoir explores the lasting impact of living with the ten-year secret of her father’s HIV disease before his death in 1995. Writing is the vehicle through which she’s learning to understand that impact.

Jessica Handler


Jessica Handler teaches creative writing in Atlanta. She is the author of Braving the Fire: A Guide to Writing about Grief and Loss. Her first book, Invisible Sisters: A Memoir was named one of the “Twenty Five Books All Georgians Should Read” and Atlanta magazine’s “Best Memoir of 2009.” Her nonfiction has appeared in Brevity.com, More magazine, The Chattahoochee Review, Tin House and Ars Medica.

Marianne Leone

Marianne Leone is an actress, screenwriter and essayist. Her essays have appeared in the Boston Globe, Post Road, Bark Magazine, Coastal Living and WBUR’s Cognoscenti blog. Her memoir, Jesse: A Mother’s Story of Grief, Grace, and Everyday Bliss, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2010. Leone had a recurring role on HBO’s hit show, “The Sopranos” as Joanne Moltisanti, Christopher’s mother. She has also appeared in films by David O. Russell, Larry David, John Sayles and Martin Scorsese. She is married to the award-winning actor Chris Cooper.


Becca Godwin

Becca Godwin completed a summer internship at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution while getting her master's degree from Georgia State University in 2016. To her immense delight, the newspaper allowed her to stick around as a full-time reporter. Godwin exercises her love of literature by writing the occasional book review for the publication. The Florida native is a member of A Cappella Books' new book club, and her most prized possession is a letter sent to her from the majestic Tom Robbins.