Jessica Wilbanks grew up on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay, where the Pentecostal church was the core of her family’s life. At sixteen, driven by a desire to discover the world, Jessica walked away from the church. Ever since then, she’s been haunted by the world she left behind.
Jessica’s forthcoming memoir, WHEN I SPOKE IN TONGUES (Beacon Press, 2018), is the story of the painful and complicated process of losing one’s faith and moving across class divides.
Her essays, which draw heavily on research and reportage, have received a Pushcart Prize, the Wabash Nonfiction Prize from Sycamore Review, the VanderMey Nonfiction Prize from Ruminate magazine, Ninth Letter‘s annual creative nonfiction award, and Notable Mentions from Best American Essays and Best American Nonrequired Reading. She was recently named a finalist for the prestigious PEN Center USA Literary Award in Journalism.
As an active member of the Houston literary community, Jessica has taught writing workshops at Inprint, Writespace, and Boldface, the University of Houston’s annual undergraduate writing conference, and was recently featured in Houston Press‘s “100 Creatives” series. She has received fellowship support from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Taos Summer Writers Conference, the University of Houston, the Houston Arts Alliance, the West Africa Research Association, and The Nation magazine.
Jessica received her MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of Houston, where she served as nonfiction editor for Gulf Coast. She currently lives in Houston with her husband and son.
Available for Pre-Order Now (release date November 13, 2018)