Joan holds an MFA from Wichita State University where she was awarded the fiction fellowship.
She is the author of Silver Bottle, a novel narrated by four generations of Appalachian
women, of which Kirkus Reviews said, “Spilman’s textured prose masterfully evokes the hard-
knock lives and locales of these women. A highly readable and adeptly crafted addition to the
literature of Appalachia.” BookLife recommends her writing for fans of Fannie Flagg, Pat Conroy, and Sue Monk Kidd, adding, “Vivid descriptions and emotional intelligence create a lasting impression.” Book Trib states, “ The overarching message is more grand. This is a sociological study of poverty, lack of education, and religious intolerance (as Lorraine says, ‘Religion isn’t like cleaning a chicken, you can’t take the messy parts out!’)”
Her short novella, The Establishing Witness, won both the George Garret Prize for Prose and the Mikrokosmos Fiction Prize at Wichita State. Sansablatt Head, a young adult novel, was given a five-star review by Kirkus Reviews, which called it “a masterfully woven adventure, likely to leave fantasy lovers in awe.” She has published short stories in The Laurel Review, The Carriage House Review, The Southern Humanities Review, Willow Springs, Short Story International and many others. She has received a PEN Syndicated Fiction Award, judged by Jayne Anne Philips. Joan has also written a books for young readers about zombie ducks, under the general title of The Waddling Dead.
She is currently working on Sugarpool, another novel that takes place in Appalachia, as well as a high fantasy entitled Book I of the Outer Flower Trilogy: Flight.
Her blog features excerpts from both these ongoing works, as well as portions of Silver Bottle.