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MIRA PTACIN, author and editor of memoir and creative nonfiction writing.

Contact information:
65 Sterling Street
Peaks Island, Maine 04108
(917) 279-0582




Masters of Fine Arts, Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, New York. 2008
The Salt Institute for Documentary Writing, Portland, Maine. 2003: Produced a documentary story entitled Working for the Living: A Day in the Life of a Funeral Home
Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan. December 2002: B.A., Cultural Anthropology with a minor in Philosophy.

Semester at Sea, University of Shipboard Education, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, 2001. Circumnavigation of the earth: Cuba, Brazil, South Africa, Kenya, India, China, Japan, Mongolia. Focus on ethnographic research in Khanuy River Valley, Mongolia


Colby College: Creative Nonfiction, Memoir
Maine Correctional Center: Memoir 
Maine Writers and Publishers Association: Creative Nonfiction, Memoir
USM’s Stonecoast MFA program: Nonfiction, Memoir
Maine College of Art and Design: Creative Nonfiction, Research & Inquiry
University of New Hampshire (MFA) 2019 Creative Nonfiction
Marlboro College summer institute: Nonfiction, Memoir
The Salt Institute for Documentary Studies: Nonfiction
York College: Research Writing
Sarah Lawrence College summer seminar: Memoir
Bronx Academy of Letters: Creative Writing, Literary Magazine editing
Westchester Correctional Facility: Creative Writing, Memoir


Freerange Nonfiction, founder and executive editor, 2008-2012

Lumina Journal, editor-at-large, 2008-2009

City Limits Magazine, 2007

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, 2006, senior editor 2004-2006


The In-Betweens: The Spiritualists, Mediums, and Legends of Camp Etna (Liveright Books, October 2020)
Poor Your Soul (Soho Press, 2016)
Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving NYC. (Seal Press, 2013)
The Moment: Wild, Poignant, Life-Changing Stories from 125 Writers and Artists
Famous Obscure
(Harper Perennial 2013)
Get Out of My Crotch: Twenty-one Writers Respond to America War on Womens Rights
and Reproductive Health
(Cherry Bomb Press, 2013)

Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review. Publisher’s Marketplace. 2019
Maine Literary Awards winner, memoir, 2017
Kirkus Books' Best Nonfiction Book (category: memoir) of 2016.
Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review. Publisher’s Marketplace. 2016
Junior Library Guild Selection of the Year, 2016
Maine Public Radio Best Books of the Year. Maine Calling. 2016
The Huffington Post, Best Memoirs of 2016

Favorite Summer Nonfiction Reads, Boston Public Radio. 2016
The Atlantic Magazine's Exceptional Work of Journalism from 2015
Short Nonfiction Award Winner. Maine Literary Awards. 2014
The New Yorker, Page Turner's recommended reads, January, 2013
Freerange Nonfiction, voted best weekend pick by CBS News, 2010


"The Three Questions: On Motherhood, Jon J. Muth's “The Three Questions,” and the Value of Learning to Live Moment to Moment" Lit Hub. March 11, 2024
"Mourning Ritual: How We Celebrated Halloween in Maine This Year." Vogue. November 3, 2023

“We’ve Come a Long Way…Maybe?” New York Times Book Review. September 2, 2022.
“Give a Cluck.” Modern Farmer. March, 2022.
“The Uterus and the American Dream: Art-Making and Domestic Labor in Bergman Island” Lit Hub. January 21, 2022.
“On the Fleeting Wonder of Youth and the Surreal Permanence of Motherhood” Lit Hub. December 9, 2021.

“Entering Through the Side Door: A Path for Approaching Your Truth in Difficult Material.” Poets Writers Magazine. September/October 2021.

“A Sacred, Unlikely Friendship, Maintained Through Terrifying Times.” Modern Loss. July 13, 2021.
“Familial Entanglements.” New York Times. May 6, 2021.
“How to Live on an Island During a Pandemic.” Vogue. March 11, 2021.
“Martha Lempart and the Polish Women’s March.” Vogue. February 11, 2021.
“The Woman Who Ran for President Before Women Could Vote.” Literary Hub, February 10, 2021.
“The Art and Education of Owling.” New York Times, February 7, 2021.
“Inside the World of High End Apocalypse Gear.” Inside Hook, October 19, 2020.
“How I Found My Inner Prepper Mom.” New York Times, September 24, 2020.
“Could Doomsday Bunkers Become the New Normal?” New York Times, June 26, 2020.
“How Harry Houdini Became the Champion of Mother’s Day.” Literary Hub, May 8, 2020.
“Advice from a Prepper Mom.” GEN Magazine, March 24, 2020.
“How to Stay Married After Child Loss.” New York Times, February 18, 2020.
“Future Healers of Tomorrow: Inside a summer camp for young mediums.” Harper’s Magazine, January 15, 2020.
“Water Witching.” Down East Magazine, November 2019 issue.
“I Talked to my Deceased Brother Through a Spiritualist.” Buzzfeed, October 1, 2019.
“Guide Dogs.” Lenny Letter, May 2018
“Peak Season.” Down East Magazine, December 2017.
“Inside a Camp For Female Mediums.” New York Magazine, THE CUT, November 17, 2017.
“Are You Living With a Ghost?” Lenny Letter, August 8, 2017
“Guards vs. Inmates.” VICE, July 2017.
“Trials in the Hypermedia Age.” VICE, July 2017.
“Day One: The First 24 Hours in Prison.” VICE, June 2017.
“Lost Found: Survive the Savage Sea.” Tin House Magazine, Summer 2017.
“Protest Better.” Lenny Letter, May 31, 2017.
“Cover Story.” Down East Magazine, December 2016.
“Ned and I.” Modern Loss, November 30, 2016
“Poland Coat Hanger Rebellion.” Lenny Letter October 12, 2016.
“Maine Remarkable Women.” Portland Press Herald, September 4, 2016.
“Hard Truth and Deep Trauma Behind Bars.” Lit Hub, March 24, 2016.
“The In-Betweens.” Tin House Magazine, FAITH Issue, Spring 2016.
“Pregnant Women in Prison.” Elle Magazine, November 17, 2015.
“Libraries Navigate Digital Lending.” Poets Writers Magazine, Nov/Dec. 2014.
“A Ukulele Renaissance.” AARP Magazine, Nov/Dec. 2014.
“Jules.” Freerange Nonfiction, April 10, 2014.

“Just a Moment.” Slice Literary Magazine, Fall Issue 2013.
“Is Baby a Luxury?.” Guernica, May 13, 2013.
“The Way Life Should Be: The House of E.B." White Writers’ Houses January, 2013.
“Here We Go On.” The Rumpus, July 2012.
“Un-bearing.” Guernica, March, 2012.
“A Narrow Slice of Things.” The Rumpus, February 22, 2012.
“IMPORTANT NEW EMOTICONS.” McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, January 6, 2012.
“A Kind of Love.” The Fertile Source, April 12, 2011.
“I Can See for Miles and Miles and . . .” SMITH Magazine, Sept. 14, 2010.
“Migration.” LUMINA Literary Magazine, Volume 9, Spring 2010.
“Adoption.” Cerise Press, July 2010.
“Polar Opposites, All the Same.” Cerise Press, Summer 2010 issue.
“Fall Harvest.”, December 9, 2009.
“Poor Her Soul.” The Sunday Salon, November 8, 2009.
“Harvest.” The Citron Review, September, 2009.
“Bleeker and Mott.” Epiphany Literary Magazine, Spring 2009.
“Canine to Five.” The Morning News, January 24, 2007.
“Brooklyn Superhero Supply Store.” New York Magazine, 2006.
“Oilily.” New York Magazine, 2006.
“Rock Soul.” New York Magazine, 2006.
“Working for the Living.”, 2005.
“Choose Whose Words You Use.”, January 21, 2005.
“Who’s Your Daddy?”, December 17, 2004.


Katherine Boo, National Book Award Winner Nonfiction 2012. National Book Foundation, 2012.
Domingo Martinez, National Book Award Finalist in Nonfiction 2012. National Book Foundation, 2012.
Anne Applebaum, National Book Award Finalist in Nonfiction 2012.” National Book Foundation, 2012.
Being Yourself: Freerange’s Mira Ptacin talks with Baratunde Thurston. Freerange Nonfiction, December 2012.
Veganomics: A Coversation about Creation & Consumption with comedian Myq Kaplan. Freerange Nonfiction, July 2011.

Mexican High: 5 Questions for author Liza Monroy. Freerange Nonfiction, January 2011.
Dissecting the Messiness: 5 Questions for Sander Hicks, author, activist & founder of Soft Skull Press. Freerange Nonfiction, January 2011.
Missives from the Other Side of Silence: 5 Questions for author Kim Kupperman. Freerange Nonfiction, December 2010.
Embedded: A New Tool for Converting ‘Patriots’ into Progressives: Interview with Tim Robbins., June 10, 2005.
Revelations from an Insider: Whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg on the Bush Administration, Civil Disobedience, and the Eternal Fires of Hell., March 29, 2005.




Kirkus Reviews: starred review 9/1/19
“The Maine-based author immersed herself in the community, and her reportage reflects equal amounts of diligent journalism and wide-eyed fascination. . . . Both thrilling and unsettling. . . . In appropriately affable and accessible prose, the author describes what separates spiritualists from more common American religious traditions. . . . An eye-opening, consistently fascinating, and engrossing profile of the modern spiritualist movement.” 

Library Journal: review, 9/13/19
“Writing about her time spent in the company of the mediums of Camp Etna during its 141st summer in operation, Ptacin reflects on spiritualism place in an  increasingly secular culture, the changes and controversies in the camp management, and the nature of faith itself. But this is as much a meditation on healing as a history of a spiritualist camp. With great empathy and insight, Ptacin shows how spiritualist practices have aided the healing process in the lives of its practitioners, followers, and in Ptacin herself. A colorful, quirky, and ultimately moving look at a misunderstood faith and the iron-willed women who continue to sustain it.”

Publishers Weekly: starred review, 9/23/19 
“A fascinating look at the history and cultural influence of Camp Etna, the 143-year-old Spiritualist community in Maine. . . . Ptacin, who is receptive to the spiritual experiences and stories of the community, delivers her narrative evenhandedly and with genuine curiosity. This is an eye-opening and informative peek into a little- known but influential community.” 

The National Book Review: 10/1/19
“Enchanting . . . . Ptacin locates the roots of Spiritualism and traces the rise and decline of this female-dominated world that challenged institutions of the 19th- century patriarchy, offered comforting connection with the dead, and supported both abolition and suffrage. Blending history and her firsthand experience, Ptacin summons the spirits of this rich past and conveys the emotional needs it has satisfied over the years.”

New York Times Book Review: review, 10/27 print edition:
“Engaging. . . . [Ptacin] is on a quest to understand the peculiar nature of belief, the power of faith – pure, unquestioning and even unreasoning – to shape the way we see the world around us. . . . This is a place and a story rooted in the very human hope that life is more than a handful of years on a lonely planet. And that if we believe hard enough we may find proof of that, shining in the shadows, just beyond our reach.”

NPR: 10/28/19

“…when Spiritualism offered women (often via mediumship) a public voice and sense of authority — to its heyday as a ghostly carnival, into the public backlash at the hands of skeptics like Harry Houdini, to the New Age of crystal healing and the even newer age of high-tech ghost hunting.”

Wall Street Journal: review, 10/31/19
“Who doesn’t like a good ghost story? And in Camp Etna, the 143-year-old Spiritualist summer retreat located in the Maine hinterland just west of Bangor, author Mira Ptacin has found a whopping good one. . . . Ms. Ptacin’s depiction of Camp Etna’s residents—a ‘quirky underworld of fringe characters’ and ‘their truth’—is both nonjudgmental and, pardon the pun, dead-on.”

The Observer: review, 11/03/19
“Rather than recognize the validity of women’s agency through institutions, society or capital, American Spiritualism elevated the status of women through their gut impressions as well as an emphasis on observation and intuition. ‘That’s the major thing I learned from them. And I think that’s what I really wanted to learn,’ Ptacin notes. Beyond simply recovering history. ‘This was worth investing my time to make this a book.’ The In-Betweens is a powerful book about listening to yourself and finding faith there—beyond doctrine, belief in everlasting life, with or without engagement with religion or God.”





Gibson Fay-LeBlanc: Poet and Executive Director of Maine Writers and Publishers
Association. Email: (207) 228-8264.
Vijay Seshadri: Pulitzer Prize-winning poet. Director of Sarah Lawrence College’s MFA
Email: (718) 797-5484.
Susan Orlean: Staff Writer at The New Yorker Magazine, New York Times bestselling author,
judge of the National Book Awards.

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