Don Foster


Literature: Fiction

By: Gail Obenreder

“One thing I’ve always enjoyed is making stuff up.” — Don Foster

Don Foster grew up “in a small farm town where people rode four-wheelers, practiced duck calls, and burned trash.” He’s been a resident of Dover for thirteen years now, but his uncles and cousins are carpenters, farmers and watermen in the land of his childhood – Maryland’s Eastern Shore. That still-potent connection with the region and its denizens continues to fuel his vivid short stories.

Foster’s writing gets much of its juice from “stories overheard in the garage where my dad worked or by tales exaggerated at the dinner table during family gatherings.” Since his sister is ten years older, in many ways the writer grew up like an only child, playing outdoors in the woods and mentally banking the tall tales that he still draws on for material.

Excerpt from: All The Best Paintings of Jesus (2018)

Day-drinking naps give me the best dreams, and this one’s no different. I’m with Renee, a figure I’m still connected to in a weird, offensive way. In my dream, though, it’s all honeymoon. She’s unzipping my pants, about to do something marvelous, when a knock rattles my bedroom window…

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A writing routine is critical to his productivity. Foster rises early and writes in the mornings before going to his day job. Finding the time is always challenging, and for every three stories he begins, “I complete one.” But finishing a piece is fulfilling. And Foster feels that his writing discipline sets an example for his two children. “They know dad gets up and works hard . . . It’s good for them to see that everything is not about immediate gratification.”

Foster’s vivid prose was influenced early on by writers like Raymond Carver and Flannery O’Connor, and he continues to read voraciously – George Saunders, Donald Ray Pollock and a host of others, including literary journals online and in print. “There’s so much talent out there that I find it both intimidating and inspiring.” For a break from words, Foster seeks out music and the work of painters and photographers.

Writers and artists have a challenging life, but “it’s especially tough for those that don’t work in academic settings. We’re often marooned out here, living on our own.” So Foster is especially excited for the recognition and collegiality that the Fellowship brings. Division activities will allow him to connect with fellow artists “no matter what medium they work in.” And though he always has “a novel on the back burner, at the heart of things I know I’m a short story writer.” The award will enable him to buy a new computer and set a new goal – the 2020 publication of a story collection.

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