Called by the Chicago Tribune, “An earthy, red-headed yarn-spinning woman,” Crescent Dragonwagon is the much-published author of fifty books in five genres, numerous magazine articles, and two blogs.
She is the developer and leader of the Fearless WritingTM family of on- and off-line workshops and courses, which have helped hundreds of writers write (and in many cases publish) withgreater ease, more authenticity of voice, and less angst.
One of her best-known students was the late Julia Child, who took Fearless when she was over 80, preparatory to beginning her memoir, My Life in France. “I loved (Fearless), ” Julia wrote. “And I recommend it often and enthusiastically, to both established and aspiring writers; indeed, to anyone in search of a rejuvenating new way of looking at and understanding life. ”
Many lifetimes in one
Born in New York, Crescent spent the majority of her life in the South, in the Ozark Mountain resort town of Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
There, for eighteen years, she ran an acclaimed country inn and restaurant called Dairy Hollow House with her late husband, the writer/historic preservationist Ned Shank.
“You don’t have to believe in reincarnation to believe in reincarnation,” she has sometimes said, “Just live long enough.” Some of her lifetimes in the one life she’s actually include:
O growing up in a literary family, the daughter of show-business biographer Maurice Zolotow and children’s book writer/editor Charlotte Zolotow (she now serves as literary executor to both her parents)
O writing eight culinary-memoirs, including the James Beard Award-winning Passionate Vegetarian, Dairy Hollow House Soup & Bread Cookbook, The Cornbread Gospels and Bean by Bean (click here to hear an NPR interview on the latter, in On Point with Tom Ashbrook).
O …which (along with her life as as a chef/innkeeper/restaurateur) led to the distinction of having prepared beans and cornbread for a U.S. President (Bill Clinton), titled royalty (Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia), and world-renowned feminist (Betty Friedan).
O She also prepared brunch for 1200 people at Bill Clinton’s first presidential election.
O … which lead to appearances on Good Morning America, Today, TVFN, & CNN
O Writing 28 children’s books, including the Coretta Scott King Award-winning Half a Moon and OneWhole Star and the Golden Kite Winner Home Place (both illustrated by Jerry Pinkney)
O … which lead to more than 20 years of periodic appearances and workshops in schools and universities, initially as part of the NEA-funded Artists-in-Schools Program
O the publication of two novels, including New York Times Notable The Year It Rained (published in five languages) and, in collaboration with Pulitzer Prize-winner Paul Zindel, the young-adult novel, To Take a Dare. Both are available on Kindle.
O She’s also published a book of poetry, Message from the Avocados.
O (And, a biography of Stevie Wonder.)
O having the privilege of walking her late mother, Charlotte Zolotow, through the last five years of her life until her death at the age of 98
O …and in the process becoming close friends with her caregiver, the artist Hawa Diallo.
After her husband’s death in 2000, Crescent lived for fifteen years in what was her family’s Vermont summer home: 35 acres on top of a mountain. Eventually, though, she felt called to return to Arkansas. She now spends the majority of her time in Fayetteville, Arkansas, in the 1908 home she shares with her partner, Mark Graff. When not at home or traveling for work or pleasure, you will most likely find her in New York or Vermont.
Her present peripatetic life has put a damper in two of her favorite activities — sharing her life with a cat, and raising an always-too-ambitious garden — but she suspects she will return to these one day soon.
She continues to write, teach, cook, look after her parents’ literary affairs, keynote at events, and mentor/coach individual writers.
She walks five miles a day year round, reads almost constantly, and practices yoga.