Map of Kansas Literature [graphic] dot Return to Wichita
[graphic] dot Return to KANSAS MAP
Defrain, Kansas Map
Darren DeFrain, Kansas Author

Darren DeFrain


The Salt Palace, Book Cover

Inside & Out, Book Cover



       Darren DeFrain is the author of the award-winning novel, The Salt Palace (New Issues), and the short story collection, Inside & Out (MSR Press).  Both books were acquired by Dzanc Books and are available through that press as eBooks.  His stories, essays, poems, and miscellany have been widely published.  DeFrain began his education at the University of Utah, where he graduated with degrees in English and Psychology and with a minor in Italian. 
       He went from there to Kansas State University for his MA, then Texas State University for his MFA.  He was awarded his Ph.D. in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University in 2000.  He taught at Waynesburg College in Pennsylvania and the University of Wisconsin–Fox Valley before coming to Wichita State University in 2005.  He has primarily directed the Writing Program at Wichita State in that time, but has also served as Department Chair and MFA Director. 

       He currently teaches classes on Composition, Composition Theory, Narrative and Narrative Theory, and Graphic Novels.  He lives in Wichita with his wife, novelist Melinda DeFrain, and their two daughters.

--- Biography submitted by author

Return to Top of Page                            

Bibliography (- housed in Thomas Fox Averill Kansas Studies Collection)


Return to Top of Page


---from The Salt Palace
        -Excerpt from Chapter One       

            On days like this the sky stiffens, as if to say that summer will never come.  Those sweet April showers, each one riding the tail of the one before, migrating through Kalamazoo without a warm week, chase the longest winter since I’ve been here.  And now it rains, and rains, shining the cold, black tarmac where the cars have not yet come in.  Just beyond the parking lot there is a delicate mist hanging on the grasses and between the pines, bending the sleepy Dutch tulips and daffodils who didn’t know it wasn’t time to wake up yet, and I wonder why I can no longer sleep.

            And so, in the First of America parking lot, the sun comes up and I sit in my old broken-down Bronco watching the short, short skies over the black glass and brown brick of Corporate Woods.  All that raw land behind rolls in one believable bulge, twenty hours by car, back to the Wasatch Mountains.  All that road, all those people still in their dreaming.  The morning sun won’t be out there yet.  Only hours earlier it tucked the shores of Great Salt Lake in, pulling the shadow-blanket across the valley as it hesitates before fading off behind the blue mountains of Nevada.  I’ve watched that sun go down so many times, even in the gray mist of a sleepless Michigan morning it plays clear in my head. I think of Jaimy Sizemore, I even think of Joseph Smith and what I never found there or here and why.  I think of Jaimy Sizemore.

            My father’s words come to me now: “If you have faith,” he always says, “your past will save you.”  Maybe it’s his voice calling me back.  Maybe it is His voice calling me for the first time in my life.

            I don’t want to think it’s the green numbers on the dash clock that pull me out of my nostalgia and into the rain, but the pit-a-pat song on the radio has ended. A song from ten years ago (ten years!) that stretches something inside me back to the dry mountains, fading away as I cross the parking lot trying to outpace one of the Snack-Machines (Kitty’s term of endearment, but like loads of everything else, something I’ve taken to using in spite of the fact it’s not mine) to the revolving door, and I let her beat me to it.  At times I think it’s a meat grinder we all arrive at  to meet the same fate: it chews our rolls and lumps and crushes our bones and joints, into sausage then stuffs that undigested flesh into plastic bank tubes.  I’ve come to hate my life this much.

---from Inside & Out
        -The Butcher's Dog

            Beyond a place for me and Victoria to screw, the cooler has other important functions too. When it's hot like today, you can forget. Right now it houses three sides of beef, none matched to the other. Aging for three different customers, they've been hanging in the cooler for weeks. The edges are only now beginning to blacken.

            Victoria, however, is turning a bright pink, like some grocery store rose. I know this to be true, though I'm sweating away on the other side of the vaultish gray door, hurrying through teh clean-up, the blades of the slicer and grinder clanking and banging against each other in the hot suds of the sink. I'm anxious and I'm sick to my stomach. It tightens and turns around on me.

            It's a particularly hot day for Fairbury, this Tuesday, the last week of July. The cooler only feels refreshing at first. Even on those hottest dog-days, when I find excuses to be in there it doesn't take long for the sour smell of aging meat to lay on me, like it's probably lying on Victoria.

Return to Top of Page


Honors and Awards

  • TKL Scholarship, Southwest Texas University, 1994
  • Third Coast Fellowship, Western Michigan University, 1996-1999
  • Trial Baloon Best Short Fiction Award, Western Michigan University, 1998-1999
  • Arthur M. Kaplan Award for Teaching, University of Wisconsin Colleges, 2001
  • Madison Summer Research Grant, University of Wisconsin - Fox Valley, 2005
  • Summer Research and Creative Scholarship Grant, Wichita State University, 2006
  • Kansas City Star's Best Books of 2005, The Salt Palace
  • Foreward Magazine's Best Books of 2005 Finalist
  • "Arty," Salt Lake City Weekly Magazine's 2006 Best of...Awards
  • Kansas Arts Council Mini-Fellowship in Fiction, 2007
  • Finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award, 2007
Return to Top of Page
Wichita University
Darren on Wikipedia
Slug Magazine review

Return to Top of Page