Bernadette Murphy has published four books of narrative nonfiction, most recently Harley and Me: Embracing Risk on the Road to a More Authentic Life (Counterpoint Press, hardback 2016, paperback 2017). A hybrid narrative that combines memoir with research into neuroscience and biology, the book explores female risk-taking through the lens of her own experience of learning to ride a motorcycle at age 48 and makes a compelling case for how and why taking risks is a healthy part of an expansive life.
The Rumpus describes Harley this way: “Let’s just say it up front. Bernadette Murphy is a powerful woman, even if she’s petite and ‘bird boned.’ She survived a childhood with a mentally ill mother. She raised three children. She’s a professor, a journalist, a marathoner, an ice climber, a Sierra hiker, and, as she tells us in her gripping memoir, Harley and Me, a brave motorcyclist. This woman has a lot to brag about, and yet, thankfully, she is not casting for bad-ass cred in this memoir. Instead, we see a woman at midlife who’s questioning everything she’s been taught about gender roles and risk… What’s truly refreshing is that she shows how the path to transformation is a rocky road. No easy 10 Steps to Survive Your Midlife Crisis provided here. Her story inspires without being tritely inspirational, and that is a real gift.”
She is also the author of the bestselling Zen and the Art of Knitting (Foreverland Press, 2015, Adams Media Corporation 2002), a narrative that uses memoir and reportage to explore the connection between fiber arts, creativity, and spirituality, and that has become a touchstone in the fiber arts realm. She served as weekly book critic for the Los Angeles Times for six years and is currently an Associate Professor of Creative Writing for the MFA program at Antioch University Los Angeles, where she heads up the Creative Nonfiction genre.
The daughter of Irish immigrants, she is a native Angeleno. Her essays on literature and life have appeared in Salon, The New York Observer, Ms. Magazine, Climbing Magazine, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, Newsday, Literary Hub, San Francisco Chronicle, MUTHA, The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown and elsewhere. Bernadette is currently at work on a novel that draws on her parents’ hardscrabble childhoods in Ireland and includes apparitions of the Virgin Mary.