Who is Chris Belden, & why is he writing this stuff?

Chris Belden was born & raised in Canton, Ohio, hometown of the O’Jays, Macy Gray, & Marilyn Manson. The 6th of 7 children, he went to Catholic school for 12 years, which explains a lot. Growing up, he found himself reading the books his parents & older siblings left lying around the house–everything from the Hardy Boys and Alistair MacLean to Kurt Vonnegut & Anthony Burgess. In 8th grade, Chris’s teacher, Miss Wittig, refused to believe that Chris was reading The Andromeda Strain. Chris did not tell her he had just finished A Clockwork Orange.

From there, Chris went on to the University of Michigan, where he spent 4 years watching movies as a Film major. He also played drums in various bands, including The Characters. After graduation, he formed the band The Slang with his mates AJ Kydd & Bill Lang, & for several years The Slang enjoyed popularity in & around Ann Arbor. In 1987, Chris moved to New York, in part to play drums with Joe Henry’s band (Chris played on Joe’s debut album, Talk of Heaven).

Eventually, Chris put down his drum sticks & started writing fiction, while also working as a freelance publicist for various book publishers. Among the titles Chris wrote press releases for were America (The Book) by Jon Stewart, Robert James Waller’s godawful Border Song, & numerous thrillers by David Baldacci. For several years, he attended Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Philip Schultz’s master class in fiction & poetry at The Writers Studio, & followed this up with many years in the Renegade Writers Workshop, with such luminaries as Stephanie Dickinson, Rob Cook & Gil Fagiani. Meanwhile, Chris wrote several screenplays, one of which, Amnesia (co-written with David Henry), was produced as a feature film starring Ally Sheedy. Chris also wrote &/or performed in numerous plays, including The Ballad of Larry the Flyer (co-written by The Lexington Group), which enjoyed great success at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival & NY Int’l Fringe Festival, as well as Bald Man Descending a Staircase and Quacks Like Love. Chris is a proud member of the Ensemble Studio Theatre.

Around this time, Chris took up the guitar & started writing tunes & performing around NYC. His first album, Songs About Anything, was released by SpankyTone Records in 2003. He followed up in 2008 with Camouflage. Both albums were produced by John Hegner.

And all along, Chris continued writing fiction. His first book, Squirt, was a collection of linked stories. In addition to Carry-on, Chris has written the novel Shriver, which was inspired by his experiences as a featured author at the North Dakota Writers Conference. Chris’s short stories have appeared in several small magazines, including Skidrow Penthouse, SNReview, and VENü. His story “Talk” was a finalist for the American Fiction prize, & will be published in the 2012 edition of that venerable journal. Despite his having grown long in the tooth, Chris received his MFA in Creative Writing in 2010 from Fairfield University. At the graduation ceremony, he was honored to deliver the student address. In the spring of 2011, he taught Fiction I to Fairfield undergrads. For several years he has also taught creative writing at the Ridgefield (CT) Continuing Education Program, and the Garner Correctional Institution, a high-security men’s prison. In 2009, Chris was awarded a fiction writing grant from the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism. At the upcoming 2012 AWP conference in Chicago, Chris will moderate a panel on teaching creative writing to inmates.

Chris remains happily married to the beautiful & talented Melissa DeMeo, & is the proud, if exhausted, father of 5-year-old Francesca.

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