Gwen Florio grew up in 250-year-old brick farmhouse on a wildlife refuge in Delaware, with a sweeping view across a mile of tidemarsh to the waters of the Delaware Bay. In addition to ponies, dogs and chickens, her childhood also included raising and releasing a number of wild critters, from raccoons and fawns to owls and hawks, and a skunk whose personality was even worse than his smell. Her parents banned television and instead filled the house with books.
She majored in English at the University of Delaware, largely as an excuse to continue reading as many books as possible, until her father urged her, in the interest of being able to someday support herself, to take a journalism course. With her first byline, she was hooked. A thirty-plus year career followed, taking her around the country and to more than a dozen countries, including several conflict zones, toting books to each place.
In the interest of finally writing books instead of reading them, she signed on with Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Writers’ Group and, later in Montana, the 406 Writers’ Workshop. Two manuscripts that serve as perfectly effective doorstops preceded her first published novel Montana (The Permanent Press, 2013).
About Montana – the state, that is. Florio finally rediscovered those long sight lines that she fell in love with back in Delaware, the nation’s second-smallest state, when she moved to Montana, the fourth-largest; the difference being that instead of tidemarsh bordered by bay, Montana features prairie edged by mountain and sky. It’s a fine trade. She’ll never again have the good fortune of living on a wildlife refuge, but her home in Missoula’s Rattlesnake neighborhood is the next best thing, backing up as it does to Mount Jumbo, with its wintering elk, and bears that wander from its slopes into her backyard the rest of the year.
She lives there with her partner, Scott, and an exuberant bird dog named Nell who has shredded her share of manuscript pages. She works a day job as city editor for the Missoulian newspaper, and in her off hours is a member of Missoula’s enthusiastic running community, Run Wild Missoula, and has run a solid back-of-the-pack marathon and a handful of leisurely half-marathons. She also taught journalism courses as an adjunct professor at the University of Montana School of Journalism.
Her journalism has won several awards and has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and her short fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Florio has received prose grants from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and writing residencies at the Ucross Foundation and Brush Creek Ranch Arts Foundation, both in Wyoming, as well as 360 Xochi Quetzal in Mexico and Willapa Bay Artists in Residence in Washington state.
Her first novel, Montana, won the inaugural Pinckley Prize for Crime Fiction, and a High Plains Book Award, both in the debut category. It was a finalist for a Shamus Award, an International Thriller Award and a Silver Falchion Award. The sequel, Dakota (The Permanent Press, 2014) was a Silver Falchion finalist. The next in the series, Disgraced, is published by Midnight Ink Books, with two more to follow.
She’s a member of International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and Western Writers of America. She worked with Judy Sternlight Literary Services in the initial editing of Montana and Dakota, and is represented by Richard Curtis.