“New York Times” Bestselling Author Reflects on Colgate

Selina Koller

New York Times bestselling author Kim Edwards graduated from Colgate in the Class of 1981.

Edwards is best known for her 2005 novel “The Memory Keeper’s Daughter.” She is also the author of a set of critical-ly-acclaimed short stories “The Secrets of a Fire King” and a recent novel published in 2011, “The Lake of Dreams,” which was also a New York Times bestseller.

“The Memory Keeper’s Daughter” spent more than 35 weeks on the Times Bestsell-er list, in addition to being honored at the British Book Awards. It tells the chilling yet heartfelt story of a doctor whose wife gives birth to twins, one of which has Down’s syn-drome. Unbeknownst to his wife, the doc-tor gives the baby with Down’s syndrome to one of his nurses. The novel thus follows the life of the baby and the nurse, while inter-twining those of the doctor, his wife and the healthy baby.

Edwards transferred to Colgate during her junior year from a community col-lege, and spent one of her four semesters at Colgate on a Colgate-run study group to London, England.

As reflected in her current endeavors, Edwards concentrated in English while at Colgate. The late Frederick Busch, who was the Edgar WB Fairchild Professor of Literature, Emeritus, introduced Edwards to the idea of pursuing creative writing. Immediately following graduation from Colgate, Edwards attended the Iowa Writ-er’s Workshop, which focuses on creative writing, on Busch’s recommendation.

“Frederick Busch was a wonderful writ-ing teacher and wonderful mentor,” Ed-wards said. “I worked with him for two semesters. He urged me to attend the Iowa Writer’s Workshop; I wasn’t aware there were specific schools for creative writing, and he helped inform me on that.”

Despite only spending three semesters on campus, she still cites her time at Colgate and the education that she received here as very influential to her as an individual and as an author.

“Colgate taught me a tremendous number of skills,” Edwards said. “Being in an intellectually-challenging place like Colgate allowed me to leave with confidence in myself.

It was a foundational experience and helped me find my direction in life, not so much by providing one particu-lar body of knowledge but to be able to go into life with much knowledge and skills.”

Edwards was able to return to campus in 2009 for the Living Writers Series, which was originally created by her mentor Busch. Howev-er, Edwards wishes she could experience student life at Colgate again.

“I often wish I could go back and just sit in during some classes,” Edwards said.

Contact Selina Koller at [email protected]