Fiction Faculty

Monica McFawn Author PhotoMonica McFawn
Assistant Professor
Jamrich Hall
Phone: (906) 227-2711

Monica McFawn holds a BFA in Creative Writing from Bowling Green State University, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University. McFawn’s debut story collection, Bright Shards of Someplace Else, won a Flannery O’Connor Award and was named a Michigan Notable Book, a finalist for the Ohioana Book Award, and an NPR “Great Read.” Her stories have appeared in journals such as Georgia Review, Missouri Review, Gettysburg Review and others, and her screenplays and plays have had readings in New York and Chicago.

She is also author of “A Catalogue of Rare Movements,” a poetry/art chapbook, and host of the Nathaniel Hawthorne-themed comedy podcast, The Hawthorne Effect. A recipient of a NEA Fellowship in Literature and a Walter E. Dakin fellowship from Sewanee Writers’ Conference, McFawn is currently at work on a novel. More of her work can be found at

billmanJon Billman
Assistant Professor
243 Gries Hall
Phone: TBA

Jon Billman teaches creative writing to graduate students. He is also the fiction editor of Passages North. Jon commutes to campus by bike wihtout regard to weather, which, along the shores of Lake Superior, is saying something significant. Jon Billman is a frequent contributor to outside Magazine and his collection of short stories, When We Were Wolves, was published by Random House. At one time, Jon was listed as one of the top fifty creative writing professors to follow on Twitter. You can learn more about Jon from his interview for Passages North.

jen, colorJennifer Howard
Director of MFA Program and Associate Professor
239 Gries Hall
Phone: 906-227-1750

Jennifer A. Howard advises MFA students as Director of the MFA Program, and she also works closely with MFA and MA student editors as Editor-in-Chief of NMU’s national literary magazine Passages North. She teaches graduate and undergraduate fiction and nonfiction workshops. She writes primarily short-short prose, and her collection of flash, How to End Up, was published by New Delta Review. Jen will miss the orange couch in her office when the department moves to a brand new building in the fall, but she is already pricing beanbag chairs for thesis meetings and fantasy football talk.


JohnsmolensJohn Smolens
Phone: 906-227-1750

John Smolens has been teaching in the English Department since 1996. He teaches a variety of writing fiction workshops at the graduate and undergraduate level; he has also taught Good Books, Composition, and writing workshops devoted to Creative Nonfiction, Memoir, and Travel Writing.

He has published five novels (Cold, The Invisible World, Fire Point, Angel’s Head, and Winter by Degrees), and one collection of short stories (My One and Only Bomb Shelter). Cold was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, and the Detroit Free Press selected Fire Point as the best book by a Michigan author in 2004. His new book, a historical novel set in 1901, was published by Shaye Areheart Books/Random House in 2008. His short stories and essays have appeared in various magazines and newspapers, including: the Virginia Quarterly, the William and Mary Review, the Massachusetts Review, Yankee, Redbook, the Los Angeles Times, and the Boston Globe. His work has been translated into Dutch, Greek, Italian, and Turkish, and has been published the United Kingdom by Hodder & Stoughton, London.

He holds degrees from Boston College, the University of New Hampshire, and the University of Iowa. In 2006 he was the recipient of a Distinguished Faculty Award from Northern Michigan University. You can visit his dedicated website at