Deborah Lee Luskin’s idyllic childhood in Teaneck, New Jersey, ended in 1966, when her family moved to Weston, Connecticut. But it’s possible that adolescence would have been miserable anywhere. Deborah mitigated loneliness by reading novels; Jane Austen became her best friend.
She graduated from Oberlin College in 1978. With High Honors in English but few life skills, Luskin moved to New York City, where her first job as an editorial assistant for a small imprint involved enduring fairly constant sexual harassment. Not knowing any better, she just thought it was normal.
Rather than suffer ill treatment and worse pay while crawling her way to an assistant editorship, Luskin decided she’d rather read good books and become an assistant professor. She earned a PhD in English Literature at Columbia. In Jane Austen and the Limits of Epistolary Fiction, Luskin argues that Austen uses letters to teach her characters—and her readers—the importance of close reading.
The good things about graduate school included reading great books, teaching, and living in New York City. The bad thing about New York City was summer. In 1983 Luskin attended the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, where she made one lifelong friend and decided to spend summers in Vermont. The following year, she rented a house even smaller than her New York apartment, where she wrote her first novel and met her Fitzwilliam Darcy. Two years later, they married.
With her newly awarded doctorate, Luskin became the office manager of what she called “The Mom and Pop Doc Shop,” bore three children, gardened, and dreamt of order, quiet, and time to write. But even in the noise and disorder of family life, she managed to write essays, features, and fiction.
Luskin retired from health care administration in 2003 and has focused on her twin passions of reading and writing ever since. She continues to teach writing and literature-based humanities classes to inmates, healthcare workers, children, adults and elders. She writes for a variety of publications, and is a regular commentator on Vermont Public Radio.
When not reading or writing, Luskin enjoys hiking, keeping bees, raising fruits, vegetables and chickens, sculling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and heating with wood. She lives with her husband, three children, two cats, and a dog in southern Vermont.
Into The Wilderness is Luskin’s third completed novel, and the first published.