James Mathews grew up in El Paso, Texas as well as a variety of Army bases throughout the country. After active service in the U.S. Air Force, he settled in Maryland with his wife and children.
He graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Maryland and later received an M.A. in Writing from the Johns Hopkins University.
He has spent most of his professional career working in and around Washington, D.C., writing speeches and congressional testimony for various government officials, including the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
He is also a retired Chief Master Sergeant with the D.C. Air National Guard. After 9/11, he was activated and deployed overseas numerous times, including tours in the Middle East and Iraq (in 2003 and 2006). These military experiences have figured into many of his short stories and in his longer works.
He is currently a fiction instructor with The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland where he also serves on the Board of Directors. In addition, he is also a lecturer and instructor for the Veterans Writing Project in Washington, DC and is Senior Editor/Fiction Editor for the literary journal O-Dark-Thirty.
James was raised in a home where books were everywhere and cut across all genres - from scholarly historical works to paperback mysteries and horror. He read voraciously and, for a time, aspired to be the next Stephen King. It was only after reading Flannery O'Connor's short story "A Good Man is Hard to Find" that he became determined to explore literary fiction. After many fits and starts, he published his first short story ("Shoot the Parents") in The Florida Review in 1994.
Since then, his short fiction has been published in numerous literary magazines including Northwest Review, the Greensboro Review, Carolina Quarterly, the Wisconsin Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, the South Carolina Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, and many more. He has also been the recipient of a number of awards for his work including three individual Maryland State Arts Council Grants. Most recently, his short story “Many Dogs Have Died Here” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and was included in the 2015 Best American Mysteries anthology.
His book, Last Known Position, a short story collection and winner of the Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Short Fiction, was published in November 2008 by the University of North Texas Press.
He is at work on a novel.
After learning from some of the best fiction instructors in world, James has taken to lecturing and teaching the art of fiction as he sees it since 2009.
He has taught well over 50 workshops to hundreds of aspiring fiction writers -- many of whom have gone on to gain success in the writing world. He has also lectured at major writing conventions and college venues, including the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, Marshall University, George Mason University, North Texas University, The University of North Carolina, Purdue Learning University, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, The National Museum of the US Navy, The Writer's Center, among others.
A firm believer in page-turning fiction and conflict above all else, he is particularly focused on how to drive story forward, using a variety of methods, most notably third person dramatic point-of-view - an approach that conveys limited exposition while maximizing inference through character action and dialogue.
Among the authors he cites often are T.C. Boyle, Tobias Wolff, James Dickey, Lorrie Moore, Cormac McCarthy, Stephen King, Anne Tyler, and Denis Johnson.
Stay Tuned for updates on upcoming lectures and workshops
Check my current events to sign up for workshops