Concluding our series of bios for the judges of the 2015 West Virginia Writers Annual Writing Contests.
STEPHANIE KADEL TARAS (Short Nonfiction)
Stephanie Kadel Taras wrote a book about her grandmother seventeen years ago and has been writing people’s life stories ever since. Through her Ann Arbor, Michigan, company, TimePieces Personal Biographies, she has used her skill as an interviewer and storyteller to write more than 50 full-length, privately published biographies and institutional histories. She has interviewed hundreds of people about their lives and work, including parents, teachers, farmers, business owners, community leaders, lawyers, musicians, factory workers, and even a Great Lakes ship captain. Her book On Solid Rock, about the founding of Eckerd College, won an Independent Publishers book award.
Stephanie grew up in Elkins, West Virginia. In 2013, she published a book about her own life called Mountain Girls. The combination memoir and social history features the lifelong friendship of two girls whose resilience, humor, and creativity shape unexpected lives. Inspired by stories from other West Virginia women, they learn what generations of Appalachians have long known—it’s up to you to make the life you want. Mountain Girls won a West Virginia Writers, Inc., book award while still in production and has been praised by scholars of Appalachian history and culture as an important new work in the field.
Stephanie has a B.A. from Eckerd College, a Master’s Degree from the University of Michigan, and a Ph.D. in sociology and education from Syracuse University. She is a leader in the Ann Arbor community, where she is currently president of the Ann Arbor City Club’s board of directors. She is also a leader in her profession, having served as vice president of the international Association of Personal Historians, where she is considered the go-to teacher of business development skills to others who want to start a career writing life stories.