Mary Kuryla is a fiction writer, screenwriter and director, professor, and journalist. Her collection Freak Weather Stories was selected by Amy Hempel for the AWP’s Grace Paley Prize in Short Fiction and published by Massachusetts Press in fall of 2017. Her stories have received The Pushcart Prize, as well as the Glimmer Train Very Short Fiction Prize. They’ve appeared in Agni, Epoch, Shenandoah, Witness, Greensboro Review, Pleiades, The New Orleans Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. She received a graduate fellowship from the Program in Writing at UC Irvine.
Kuryla co-authored a series of children’s books with National Book Award Finalist Eugene Yelchin, including The Next Door Bear, The Heart of a Snowman, and Ghost Files: The Haunting Truth, published by HarperCollins Children’s Books.
She received an MFA in Film Production from University of California’s Department of Cinematic Arts. Freak Weather, a feature film written and directed by Kuryla, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, was in competition at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, Tiger Awards, and debuted theatrically in New York City. Her award-winning short Memory Circus premiered at Sundance. She has written award-winning screenplays as well as screen adaptations for United Artists and MGM, among others; she got her professional start with Mr. Mudd Films, writing an adaptation of Gordon Lish’s Dear Mr. Capote for John Malkovich to direct.
Kuryla has taught at Emerson College, University of Southern California, UCLA-Extension and is currently a visiting full-time screenwriting professor at Loyola Marymount University, School of Film and Television.
As a journalist, Kuryla has written for Hollywood Reporter, Filmmaker Magazine, TheWrap.Com and currently freelances for The Washington Post, with a focus on film and media as it relates to women’s issues. Kuryla foregrounds women and representation in her creative work, which often explores female characters surviving at the lower rungs of the ladder who nevertheless resist behaving in socially acceptable ways. The tensions between these characters’ underdog status and their oft transgressive behaviors seek to expose cracks in our tolerance and empathy for women that challenge the implicit boundaries society places upon them, and women place on themselves.
Away to Stay was inspired by Kuryla’s marriage to a Russian immigrant, which in turn deepened her understanding of a country where the political institutions destroyed the very fabric of the nuclear family in order to instill primary allegiance to the state. The Russian immigrant character of Irina in Away to Stay is a depiction of what these destructive political forces ultimately produce.
Kuryla then asked whether the U.S. had its produced its own version of destruction of the nuclear family through its systemic failures to guarantee the most basic protections and rights to a home, which the novel’s young narrator Olya longs for, along with the nation’s failure to ensure reintegration into society for veterans, a process which the character of Jack struggles so dearly. When institutions fail to meet the most basic social needs of its people, the burden turns back on the family to meet those needs. But what if that family is already fractured? Could the members of that family in fact be a product of exactly that systemic failure?
Regal House Publishing is proud to bring you Mary Kuryla’s Away to Stay in the fall of 2021.