Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing

Elizabeth Searle

Fiction, Playwriting, Popular Fiction, Scriptwriting
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Office Location

Stonecoast MFA Office: 98 Bedford Street, Portland, ME 04103


Stonecoast MFA Office: 207-780-4423

Academic Degrees

  • BA, Oberlin College
  • MFA in Creative Writing, Brown University


Elizabeth Searle is the author of five books of fiction. Her newest novel, We Got Him, was published by New Rivers Press in 2016. Her previous books are Girl Held in Home, Celebrities in Disgrace, (nominated for the Patterson Fiction Prize) and A Four-Sided Bed, a novel nominated for an American Library Association Book Award and in development as a feature film. Her story collection, My Body to You, won the Iowa Short Fiction Prize judged by James Salter. Elizabeth's and Michael Teoli's Tonya & Nancy: The Rock Opera--as well as her and Abigail Al-Doory Cross’ original opera, Tonya and Nancy: The Opera--have both been produced multiple times to widespread media coverage. Searle's one-act play, "Stolen Girl Song," was performed in Maine and MA in 2013; her script for her novel A Four-Sided Bed won a screenplay prize at Woods Hole International Film Festival. Her short stories have appeared in magazines such as Ploughshares, Redbook, New England Review, Agni, and Kenyon Review, among other places, as well as in over a dozen anthologies. Searle has taught fiction writing at Brown, Emerson College, Bennington MFA, and the University of Massachusetts. She has taught at Stonecoast MFA since its inception.


Areas of Expertise

Fiction, Theater (including plays, musicals, opera, Rock Opera), Film Scripts and Nonfiction

Recent Publications

We Got Him (novel), New Rivers Press, 2016

Me, My Hair and I (anthology), Algonquin Books, 2015 

Tonya & Nancy: The Rock Opera, produced in New York and in Chicago, 2015-16


The Secret History: Unlocking the Secrets of the “Literary Mystery”

Elizabeth Searle

The Secret History by Donna Tartt epitomizes the successful “literary mystery.” A critically acclaimed bestseller, this first novel by the Pulitzer Prize winning author is a character-driven mystery, beautifully written, that manages to break some genre rules while telling the compelling story of a murder and its far-ranging aftermath. The book hit the “sweet spot” bull’s eye that so many authors dream of striking. We will focus in on this classic of its kind and try to unlock the “secrets” to its singular success.

In this single-book discussion/seminar, all students are required to read The Secret History-- or risk being “disappeared” from the group, though in less violent style than the doomed “Bunny” in Tartt's tale, where a college clique of Classics fanatics goes rogue. As its deadpan narrator informs us on page two: “This is the only story I will ever be able to tell.”

Required Reading:

Donna Tartt, The Secret History

Random House; Vintage Contemporaries