Lawrence Coates is the author of five books, most recently The Goodbye House.  His work has been recognized with the Western States Book Award in Fiction, the Donald Barthelme Prize in Short Prose, the Miami University Press Novella Prize, an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction.  He currently teaches in the MFA program at Bowling Green State University.

The Goodbye House by Lawrence Coates


In the wake of the early 2000s dot-com bust, a fractured family in Silicon Valley faces a changing landscape of lost dreams and careers gone awry.

Camp Olvido by Lawrence Coates


In a California migrant labor camp in 1932, a child’s sudden illness leads to tensions between workers wishing to break camp and the land barons enforcing their contracts. Into this dispute Esteban Alas, a bootlegger, is reluctantly drawn as a mediator, until an act of violence forces him into a more tragic role.

The Garden of the World by Lawrence Coates


Set in a California vineyard during the Twenties, The Garden of the World is the tale of a pioneer winemaking family headed by Paul Tourneau, a fiercely ambitious vintner determined to make the finest wines in California.

The Master of Monterey by Lawrence Coates


Based on a bizarre but true episode in California history, The Master of Monterey depicts what happens after an American naval vessel mistakenly conquers the capitol of Mexican California.

The Blossom Festival by Lawrence Coates


A richly panoramic chronicle of the Santa Clara Valley during the decades before World War II, a fertile region of California that was leaving behind its agricultural past to become Silicon Valley.


I’ve been teaching Creative Writing for nearly twenty years, and I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember.

I write fiction set in Northern California, where I grew up. I want to write stories that have deep roots, that always see the present as connected to the past, and that are concerned with the fate of place as well as with the fate of people.

I hope you’ll use this site to explore my work and find out more about the context of the books I’ve written.  If you belong to a book group, there are book group guides with some suggested questions that might help discussions.  

If you’re interested in writing fiction yourself, please check out my Techniques Blog.  I’ve been teaching the techniques of literary fiction in my MFA program for more than a decade, and I intend to use the blog to share some of the insights I’ve come to through teaching and writing.  I hope you find it useful.