Pat O'Donnell's novel

Professor O’Donnell’s novel Necessary Places
(Courtesy of

By Kerri-lyn Hernandez, Assistant Editor

    Patricia O’Donnell, a professor at the UMF, has gotten her novel, Necessary Places, published.

   “It’s very hard to get a novel of any sort published, especially a literary novel which deals with serious themes,” O’Donnell said in a recent email interview, “I was lucky that my agent, who is a Maine native, decided to begin publishing books he believed in.” O’Donnell believes Cadent Publishing, which is Maine-based, to be “wonderful to work with.”

   Necessary Places, O’Donnell describes, is “From the point of view of a woman who is a high school art teacher living in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.  She grew up in a small Iowa town much like Parkersburg.  Her father lives in a nursing home in Maine, incapacitated with Parkinson’s disease, and he wants nothing more than to go back to Iowa, for some reason.  Anna’s daughter is in college now, and Anna decides to drive her father across the country in their van… Problems develop both with her daughter, and with events that happen in Iowa having to do with her mother who died when Anna was fifteen.  I don’t want to give any more away.”

   “I give just one piece of advice to people trying to be writers,” offered O’Donnell, “but I mean it from the bottom of my heart:  if you really want to do it, don’t give up.  If you really want to do it, and you don’t give up, you will find a way to make it happen.”

   O’Donnell grew up in a small town in Iowa, and went to college nearby at the University of Northern Iowa, where she got her BA and MA. After, she went to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst for her MFA in Fiction Writing, which is what she now teaches at UMF. O’Donnell has been teaching at UMF for twenty-five years, “Wow! That’s a long time!” she exclaimed.

   O’Donnell believes UMF to be “A wonderful place to teach Creative Writing; I have the best colleagues in the world, and the Creative Writing house is a cozy home.” O’Donnell, besides from teaching and directing the BFA program in Creative Writing at UMF, has been published in The New Yorker, Agni Review, The North American Review, Prairie Schooner, The American Literary Review, etc.

       O’Donnell can’t be exact on how long it took her to write the novel, but she did say that she “wrote most of it while on my last sabbatical.” She plans to take another sabbatical in the future to work on her next novel. O’Donnell is also looking to put out another novel she has already written called The Perfect Taste.

   Anyone can see more about Patricia O’Donnell by visiting