Melissa Febos

Melissa Febos


"Telling Your Secrets Can Set You Free"

Melissa Febos was a 21-year-old college student with straight A’s when she became a professional dominatrix in Manhattan. She was already a heroin addict. When she wrote a memoir about those experiences and her climb out of them, it was the first time she’d ever told the whole truth. To her surprise, transforming those trials into literary art also transformed her, and all the meaningful relationships in her life. Now a college professor, she has made a career out of telling her darkest truths.


Melissa Febos is the author of the memoir, Whip Smart (St. Martin’s Press 2010), and the forthcoming essay collection, Abandon Me (Bloomsbury 2017). Her work has appeared in venues including The Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, Glamour, Post Road, Salon, New York Times, Guernica, Hunger Mountain, Portland Review, Electric Literature, Dissent, Poets & Writers, The Chronicle of Higher Education Review, Bitch Magazine, and Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York, and she has been featured on NPR’s Fresh Air, Anderson Cooper Live, CNN’s Dr. Drew, and elsewhere.

Her essays have won prizes from Prairie Schooner, Story Quarterly, and The Center for Women Writers, and she is the recipient of fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Vermont Studio Center, The Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and The MacDowell Colony.

The recipient of an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College, she is currently Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Monmouth University and MFA faculty at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA). She serves on the Board of Directors for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, and co-curated the Manhattan reading and music series, Mixer, for eight years.

The daughter of a sea captain and a psychotherapist, she was raised on Cape Cod and lives in Brooklyn.