Joyce Hinnefeld


Photo by Anne Dutlinger

Joyce Hinnefeld was born in southern Indiana, the youngest of four children. Her father was a high school science teacher, her mother a secretary and homemaker. She graduated from Hanover College in Hanover, Indiana in 1984, and attended graduate school at Northwestern University and at the State University of New York at Albany. She has lived and worked in Chicago, New York City, and upstate New York, and she now teaches at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

She has published fiction, poetry, and essays in a number of print and online journals, and her book of short stories, Tell Me Everything (University Press of New England, 1998)—called "a beautiful and wise collection, with no wasted words" by judge Joanna Scott—received the 1997 Bread Loaf Writers Conference Bakeless Prize in Fiction. Her first novel, In Hovering Flight—called "as quiet as twilight and just as lovely" by Ron Charles of The Washington Post—was the #1 Indie Next Pick for September 2008.

Joyce first learned of the Shakers, and their community at Pleasant Hill in central Kentucky, as a child, but she didn't visit Pleasant Hill until the summer of 1994. By that time she'd already made excursions to other Shaker sites closer to her home in upstate New York, including Hancock Shaker Village in western Massachusetts and the Watervliet Shaker Historic District near Albany, New York. At that point, the Shaker site visits were her husband Jim Hauser's idea; he loved Shaker architecture and design, and sought every opportunity to photograph at these beautiful historic sites. The summer they were married, Jim and Joyce traveled to Kentucky, visiting Pleasant Hill and also Berea College (home of more admired artifacts—beautiful weaving, woodworking, and other traditional crafts); that's when the seed of the novel Stranger Here Below was planted.

Joyce and Jim now live in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in a restored 18th-century farmhouse, with their daughter Anna.