High passion, silliness, cosmic shifts, and acute psychological insights are rendered up in Darlin' Neal's prose so seamlessly and intensely she makes it look easy."

Laura Kasischke

DARLIN' NEAL is the author of the story collections Rattlesnakes & The Moon and Elegant Punk (Press 53). Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies including Puerto del Sol, The Southern Review, Eleven Eleven, The Huffington Post, and The Best of the Web. A recipient of the DH Lawrence, Frank Waters, and Mississippi Arts Commission Fiction Fellowships and a Henfield Transatlantic Review Award, she is Associate Professor in the MFA and undergraduate Creative Writing Programs at the University of Central Florida. Darlin' holds a PhD from the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi, an MFA from the University of Arizona, and master's and bachelor's degrees from New Mexico State University.

Her first novel, Blessed Are, is a unique and unforgettable portrait of poverty narrated in the voice of Billie Rose, a teenage girl whose unstable family seeks shelter in The Gospel Rescue Mission in Las Cruces, New Mexico in 1983. The title has to do with the simple but essential question about being human. What does it mean for Billie Rose and her brother Ben to be beloved and blessed in a world that incompletely loves them? As Billie Rose and Ben survive the world around them, how do they find hope? How do the asylum-seeking Guatemalan children that Billie Rose meets in the present day find hope and survive in this world? 

She is Guest Fiction Editor, joining regular Fiction editors William Luvaas and Julie Jacobsen, for Cutthroat a Journal of the Arts for its special Climate Change Issue (Spring 2022). And one of her early stories, "Misty Blue Waters" from her collection Elegant Punk is selected for the anthology, Flash Fiction America (W.W. Norton, 2023, edited by Sherrie Flick, James Thomas, and John Dufresne).


Short Stories:

New World Writing, The Swirling

New World Writing, The Other Side of Starlight

Huffington Post, Rattlesnakes & the Moon

Fictionaut, Red Brick

Drumlit, Honey, Don't

Non Fiction:

About Place, Follow Them Spinning

Story South, The House in Simi Valley


"Achingly lovely homages to heartbreak and hard times, sung by a voice rich with whiskey, soaked in insight. An absolutely stellar performance." Antonya Nelson

"These are dark stories lit by headlights and lightning…tough stories so real that they have the scent of the lived-through about them, which is testament to Darlin' Neal's extraordinary gift for prose and story." Frederick Barthelme

"Darlin' Neal has found the passion and poetry in lives that might at first glance seem ordinary." Kevin Canty

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