John Copenhaver

Writer John Copenhaver is based in Washington, D.C. His novel Dodging and Burning placed as a quarterfinalist in the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Dodging and Burning is a literary murder mystery that explores the truth behind the photograph of a crime scene taken by a young war photographer, and its connection to the complex discriminatory attitudes toward homosexuals during the 1940s. 

John is recipient of a 2015 Artist Fellowship from the DC Commission on the  Arts and Humanities. He graduated with his MFA from George Mason University. His fiction has appeared in Glitterwolf Magazine and Gaslight, the Lambda Emerging Voices Anthology.

I'm a big fan of John's writing for the pure suspense, relationship to photography and intrigue with the paranormal. He also has the gift of dialogue which explores family dynamics and identity mixed with dark humor. Many of his characters are informed by his upbringing in the South and growing up among visuals artists and eccentrics in Marion, VA. 

This year, he is taking a leave of absence from chairing the English Department at Flint Hill School, a college preparatory school outside Washington, DC, to write.  He is attending three, month-long residencies at Ragdale, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Vermont Studio Center. He lives on Capitol Hill with his partner Jeff, and his crazy dogs Roxy and Bullwinkle.  For more on John visit his website  and blog  Talking the WalkJohn is represented by literary agent Annie Bomke.  

 Author John Copenhaver. Photo by E. Brady Robinson, 2015.     What do you love about D.C.?      That’s it’s so much more than political Washington; that, at its core, it’s a southern town, even though it has all the culture and prominence of an international city; that it’s a great place to be a gay man; and that it’s an exciting time to be a part of its arts community, which is growing and finding its voice.       What do you love about your neighborhood?    It's food— Rose’s Luxury ,  Montmartre ,  Rappahannock Oyster Bar at Union Market  to name a few—and it's varied and historical architecture.  Also, that it feels like a neighborhood: you bump into friends at the market, and you become regulars at your favorite eateries.  It feels more like a cool, progressive small town than a city.     What are you working on right now?     A novel set in DC, just after WWII.  It’s part twisted murder mystery and part Byronic love story between two sixteen year-old girls, one of whom may be a budding sociopath.  (Think: Raymond Chandler meets the film  Heavenly Creatures  . )     What are you reading?      Rustication  by Charles Palliser ,   Ghosts: A Natural History  by Roger Clarke , and   The Poetics of Space  by Gaston Bachelard .  How’s that for an eclectic reading list?  (Actually there’s a thematic thread if you look closely enough.)       Where could we find you on a Friday night?       Harold Black,  a speakeasy across from Eastern Market.  They don’t allow cellphones and make incredible drinks.  Brilliant.  We need to get off our phones and talk to one another.

Author John Copenhaver. Photo by E. Brady Robinson, 2015.

What do you love about D.C.?

That’s it’s so much more than political Washington; that, at its core, it’s a southern town, even though it has all the culture and prominence of an international city; that it’s a great place to be a gay man; and that it’s an exciting time to be a part of its arts community, which is growing and finding its voice.


 What do you love about your neighborhood?

It's food—Rose’s Luxury, Montmartre, Rappahannock Oyster Bar at Union Market to name a few—and it's varied and historical architecture.  Also, that it feels like a neighborhood: you bump into friends at the market, and you become regulars at your favorite eateries.  It feels more like a cool, progressive small town than a city.


What are you working on right now?

A novel set in DC, just after WWII.  It’s part twisted murder mystery and part Byronic love story between two sixteen year-old girls, one of whom may be a budding sociopath.  (Think: Raymond Chandler meets the film Heavenly Creatures.)

 What are you reading?

Rustication by Charles PalliserGhosts: A Natural History by Roger Clarke, and The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard.  How’s that for an eclectic reading list?  (Actually there’s a thematic thread if you look closely enough.)


Where could we find you on a Friday night?

Harold Black, a speakeasy across from Eastern Market.  They don’t allow cellphones and make incredible drinks.  Brilliant.  We need to get off our phones and talk to one another.