|Shannon Gibney was born in 1975, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She was adopted by Jim and Sue Gibney about five months later, and grew up with her two (biological) brothers, Jon and Ben. Shannon has loved to read and to write as far back as she can remember. When she was in second grade, she started making “books” about her family’s camping trips, and later graduated to a series on three sibling detectives in fourth grade.When she was 15, her father gave her James Baldwin’s Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone, a book that changed her life and made her see the possibilities of the written word. The novel took a long, difficult look at relations between Blacks and Whites, the poor and the rich, gay and straight people, and fused searing honesty with metaphorical beauty. After this experience, Shannon knew that she needed to read everything Baldwin had ever written, and also that she wanted to emulate his strategy of telling the most dangerous, and therefore liberating kind of truth, through writing.High school was a time for tremendous growth for Shannon, as she had the opportunity to attend Community High, a place that nurtured independence and creativity. At Carnegie Mellon University, Shannon majored in Creative Writing and Spanish, graduating with highest honors in 1997. She was awarded their Alumni Study/Travel Award, and used it to travel to Ghana to collect information for a short story collection on relationships between African Americans and continental Africans.At Indiana University’s Graduate Creative Writing Program, Shannon honed her understanding of the basic elements of story-writing. She was in Bloomington from 1999 to 2002, and earned an M.A. in 20th Century African American Literature, as well as her M.F.A. while she was there. As Indiana Review editor, she conceived of the literary journal’s first “Writers of Color” special issue, and brought it to fruition, also in 2002.
Shannon has called Minneapolis home since 2002. She moved there right after completing her graduate work at Indiana, and took a job at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, the state’s oldest Black newspaper. A three-year stint as managing editor of this 75-year-old publication introduced Shannon to the vibrant, growing, and diverse Black community in the Twin Cities, and also gave her vital insight into the inner-workings of a weekly newspaper. When she left in 2005, Shannon had written well over 100 news and features stories for the paper.
The Bush Artist Fellows Program took Shannon’s daily life in a new direction. In 2005, she was awarded a grant, which allowed her to quit her job at theSpokesman, and devote most of her time to her creative work.
The project that currently holds Shannon’s attention is her second novel, set in Liberia and centering on African Americans who returned there in the 19th century. Read an excerpt here or here. HANK AARON’S DAUGHTER, her first novel and for the YA audience, is currently under consideration at various publishing houses.
After completing her Bush fellowship in the summer of 2007, Shannon joined the faculty in English at Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) in the fall. Married in Accra, Ghana, in May 2009, she lives with her husband, Ballah D. Corvah, and their son Boisey, in the Powderhorn Neighborhood of South Minneapolis. Recent publications include an essay on Octavia Butler in THE BLACK IMAGINATION, SCIENCE FICTION, AND THE SPECULATIVE, and another on artistic and political collaboration in CRITICAL TRANSNATIONAL FEMINIST PRAXIS. Over the next 10 months, Shannon will also be producing bi-monthly written and video blogs for The Road Weeps Bulletin, a project of the LARK and Pillsbury House Theatre.