Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing

Elizabeth Searle

Fiction, Playwriting, Popular Fiction, Scriptwriting

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 a fiction writer and playwright. She is the author of five books of fiction, most recently her novel WE GOT HIM, and the librettist of TONYA & NANCY: THE ROCK OPERA, her original theater work which has drawn major media coverage and which has been produced in Boston, Chicago, LA and at New York Musical Theater Festival in NYC. Her novel WE GOT HIM was a finalist for the Midwest Book Award in 2017 and is being released as an Audiobook in 2018. Her rock opera was most recently produced in 2018 as a ‘New Musicals’ concert in NYC at 54Below with a concert CD produced by Broadway Records. Also in 2018, McFarland Books publishes an anthology Elizabeth co-edited: IDOL TALK, on Teen Idols. Elizabeth’s previous books are: her 2011 novel GIRL HELD IN HOME, as well as CELEBRITIES IN DISGRACE, a finalist for the Paterson Fiction Prize; A FOUR-SIDED BED— a novel nominated for an American Library Association Book Award and listed as an Editor’s Choice by Library Journal, America Online and Amazon— and MY BODY TO YOU, a story collection that won the Iowa Short Fiction Prize (James Salter, judge). Elizabeth’s stories and essays have appeared in over a dozen anthologies including DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME (Simon & Schuster) and KNITTING YARNS (Norton). Over thirty of her short stories have been published in magazines such as Ploughshares, AGNI, Redbook, New England Review, Kenyon Review and more. Her novella CELEBRITIES IN DISGRACE was produced as a short film, with script by Elizabeth. It has screened at festivals around the country, including Woods Hole International Film Festival, where Elizabeth also won a screenwriting award. Her novel A FOUR-SIDED BED is now in development as a feature film. It was performed as a staged reading at Zephyr Theater in LA in 2016. Elizabeth’s 2018 theater productions include a full production of her chamber opera, TONYA & NANCY: THE OPERA in Minneapolis in February of 2018 and a reading of her one-act play STOLEN GIRL SONG in Fall, 2018 at the Hobart Festival of Women Writers. Elizabeth's theater works received national coverage in 2018 on ABC prime time and in 2017 in the New York Times. Her rock opera has been featured in stories on GOOD MORNING AMERICA, CBS, CNN, NPR, the AP and more. TONYA & NANCY: THE ROCK OPERA was a sold-out, extended full production show at the New York Musical Theater Festival (NYMF). The subsequent Chicago production won a 2016/2017 Jeff Theater Award, along with being listed as a Top 5 Musical of the year in Chicago’s New City Stages. Elizabeth served for over a decade on the Executive Board of PEN/New England, working on children’s literacy issues. She lives in Arlington, MA with her husband and son. She has taught writing at Brown University, Emerson College, Bennington and was a Writer in Residence at U Mass Boston. She has taught at Stonecoast MFA since the program’s inception.


Areas of Expertise

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

Areas of Scholarship

Contemporary Women’s Writings (2017 AWP Presentation: Written on a (Woman’s) Body) (Elizabeth’s work has appeared in numerous feminist anthologies including- Men Undressed: Women Writers on Male Sexuality- Dzank Books)

Script Adaptation (2017 AWP Presentation: ADAPTATION IN THREE ACTS on adapting books for stage and film)

Popular Culture in Writing (Stonecoast Presentation for Summer 2018: Pop Goes the Writer) Elizabeth writes an ongoing blog on popular culture: Celebrities in Disgrace; she co-edited two anthologies on Pop Culture subjects (soap operas and teen idols)

Theater Writing (Elizabeth has led several seminars on theater writing at Stonecoast and elsewhere; her plays have been widely produced)

Film Writing (Elizabeth co-wrote the script for a short film produced from her novella, Celebrities in Disgrace; it screened at a number of festivals; Elizabeth’s novel A Four-Sided Bed has been optioned for film and in development; Elizabeth’s feature script for A Four-SIded bed has won screenwriting awards)

Recent Publications

We Got Him (a novel)  2018: released as an Audiobook; New Rivers Press/Blunderwoman Productions Nov. 2016: American Fiction Series paperback original

Idol Talk: Women Writers on the Teenage Infatuations That Changed Their Lives 2018; Anthology co-edited by Elizabeth and Tamra Wilson; featuring an essay (“Bogie and the Boys”) by Elizabeth; published by McFarland Books

Tonya & Nancy: the Rock Opera, Live in Concert at 54Below— a commercial CD 2018: CD produced by Broadway Records; lyrics (printed in CD jacket material) by Elizabeth Searle; release in Summer, 2018

Soap Opera Confidential: Writers and Soap Insiders on Why We'll Tune In Tomorrow As the World Turns Restlessly by the Guiding Light of Our LivesIdol Talk: Women Writers on the Teenage Infatuations That Changed Their Lives 2017; Anthology co-edited by Elizabeth and Suzanne Strempek Shea; featuring an essay (“Sister Soaps”) by Elizabeth; published by McFarland Books in Spring, 2017

Solstice Literary Journal: ‘Elizabeth Searle’ feature; Winter, 2017

Stonecoast Review: "We Got Him" (novel excerpt): Winter 2015/2016

Dumped: Women Unfriending Women; Anthology including essay "Sealed with a 'Kiss'" by Elizabeth; edited by Nina Gaby; SheWrites Press; Spring, 2015

Me, My Hair and I: anthology of essays, including essay "Hair as Performance Art” by Elizabeth; edited by Elizabeth Benedict; Algonquin Press; September, 2015        

Paper Camera: A Half Century with New Rivers Press: Anthology of essays, including essay 'Reality Fiction' by Elizabeth; New Rivers Press; January, 2015

Solstice Literary Journal: Act Tresses essay by Elizabeth; Summer, 2015


Recent STONECOAST Presentations: Ethan Frome: A Fireside Discussion Stage to Page seminar about One Act Plays New Media seminar covering Blogging and online journalism The Secret History: Unlocking the Secrets of the Literary Mystery

AWP Presentations: 2017: Elizabeth had two events accepted at the AWP 2017 conference: ADAPTATION IN THREE ACTS on adapting theater and film pieces from fiction WRITTEN ON A (WOMAN'S) BODY on women’s fiction relating to their physical bodies

Muse & the Marketplace Presentation (Boston conference; 2016) Safety & Violence: a discussion on contemporary literature and themes such as domestic assault and terrorism

2017 Arlington Community Education Second Acts- a seminar for women seeking to re-start or re-invent their careers

RECENT 2018/2017 READINGS include: Rockland Library in MA (May, 2018); Duxbury Library in MA (Feb 2018); Poetry Barn Reading Series in Woodstock, NY (August, 2017); AWP 2017 at two accepted events at Washington DC Conference; 2017 Soap Opera Confidential readings at Newtonville Books and Broadside Books in MA; 2017 WE GOT HIM readings at Newtonville Books; Brookline Booksmith in Brookline, MA; Arlington Salon Series in MA; future readings include KGB in NYC in August, 2018



Creative Activity


2018: NYC Concert at Feinstein's 54Below on Feb 13, 2018; Broadway Stars Sing Songs from Tonya & Nancy: the Rock Opera; starring Ashley Spencer as TONYA and Tony Nominee Lauren Worsham as NANCY; produced by Paul Boghosian/Harborside Films; concert CD forthcoming from Broadway Records

2018: Tonya & Nancy: The Opera: The operetta group Mixed Precipitation produced ‘Tonya and Nancy: The Opera’ - a one-act opera with libretto by Elizabeth and music by Abigail Al-Doory Cross- Previews 'on ice' on Lake Harriet for the Art Shanties, January 20th and 21st, 2018; full production February 21rst and Feb. 24th.

2018: One Act play ‘Stolen Girl Song’ to be performed as a reading at Hobart Festival of Women Writers in Hobart, NY in Sept., 2018

2016: Staged reading of Elizabeth’s film script A Four-Sided Bed produced by Creatrix Films at Zephyr Theater in LA in May, 2016; film project currently in development

RECENT MEDIA ACTIVITY: July, 2017: Interviewed in the NYTimes feature story, “Tonya Harding: Tragic Muse?” Spring, 2017: media coverage for novel WE GOT HIM included interviews in the Portland Press Herald, on the TV news show Urban Update (NBC/Boston/WHDH), the radio show Women’s Watch (WBZ AM Boston) and the national radio show The Frankie Boyer Show.

RECENT ONLINE WRITINGS: BLOG posts: on Celebrities in Disgrace blog include post ‘Avenatti is a Hottie’ in April, 2018 and a Guest Post Flash piece on Underscore Theater Company’s Blogspot in March, 2018.

Awards and Recognition

2018: Elizabeth became a member of ASCAP, for songwriting professionals

2018: Elizabeth and Abigail Al Doory Cross's opera, TONYA & NANCY: THE OPERA selected as a Best of Classical pick by the Minneapolis Star Tribune

2017: Elizabeth's novel WE GOT HIM was one of three finalists for the Midwest Book Award

2017: Elizabeth's novel WE GOT HIM was listed on the Small Press Distribution Center Bestseller List for Jan/Feb 2017.

2016/2017: JEFF THEATER AWARDS for 2016/2017: TONYA & NANCY was a 'Jeff recommended show' which received two Jeff Award nominations and won one Jeff Award

2016: TONYA & NANCY: THE ROCK OPERA named one of TOP FIVE MUSICALS OF 2016 by New City Stages in Chicago

2015: TONYA & NANCY: THE ROCK OPERA (Book, Lyrics and Concept by Elizabeth) selected as an official Full Production show at the New York Musical Theater Festival.

2015: TONYA & NANCY: THE ROCK OPERA at NYMF in NYC: Ken Davenport's Producer's Perspective blog listed the show as one of TOP FIVE at NYMF and PLAYBILL sited it as one of the 'Top Ten Shows to See'.  Broadway World spotlighted it as a PhotoFlash feature; Best of Off Broadway listed it as a Best of Fest.  

2014: Elizabeth selected as a featured author at the WriteBoston gala with guest of honor Mayor Tom Menino •

EARLIER HONORS and AWARDS include: Winner of the Iowa Short Fiction Prize (judge, James Salter); Winner of the Lawrence Foundation Prize for Fiction; finalist for an ALA award and for the Paterson Fiction Prize. A Four-Sided Bed was an Editor’s Choice by Library Journal, America Online and amazon, com; Elizabeth's screenplay for A Four-Sided Bed won prize in the 22nd annual Woods Hole International Film Festival and American International Film Festival; Elizabeth won Boston’s 2010 Literary Death Match