Edward Humes

Edward Humes

QUICK STORY: Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist Edward Humes writes stories about criminal justice, social justice, and the environment. His latest book is the nonfiction thriller, THE FOREVER WITNESS: How DNA and Genealogy Solved a Cold Case Double Murder. His other works include the bestseller MISSISSIPPI MUD: Southern Justice and the Dixie Mafia, GARBOLOGY: Our Dirty Love Affair With Trash, BURNED, which helped free a woman imprisoned for life because of flawed forensic science, and the PEN Award-winning NO MATTER HOW LOUD I SHOUT: A Year In the Life of Juvenile Court. BACK STORY: When I was six I decided I wanted to be a writer, and I've been at it ever since (though I initially thought storytelling would be a fun hobby, not a living, as I was planning on supporting myself by becoming a marine biologist and the next Jacque Cousteau). I started my writing career in newspapers while still in college, and I think I probably would have paid them, instead of the other way around, for the thrill of seeing my first byline in print. As a newspaper reporter, I gravitated toward assignments that allowed me to dig behind the scenes and beneath the surface, looking for questions others hadn't asked or imagined about stories ranging from the cause of an airline disaster to exploring why our child welfare system saves some kids while destroying others. For me, the job amounted to this: license to find out the things I had always wanted to know, about anything and everything that interested, touched or outraged me. Then, within the space and time limitations of a daily newspaper, I had the chance to mold it all into a story to pass onto others. I loved that work. When I left newspapers to write nonfiction books, I suddenly had weeks or months, rather than hours or days, to immerse myself in the inner workings of the places, characters and events I seek to understand and write about. I had found the greatest job I can imagine. In my books, I try to take readers inside worlds most don't get to visit or see close up on their own: the corrupt worlds of the Dixie Mafia and the dirtiest cop in L.A; the California high school that went from worst to best in the state; the harrowing but surprisingly humane world of a neonatal intensive care unit where babies the size of your palm survive and thrive; and the astonishing and vital truths we can learn from the contents of our garbage cans, landfills and waste. Most recently I've been enthralled by the remarkable world of genetic genealogy. It's the ultimate secret revealer and cold-case solution machine, powered by the tens of millions of us who have spit in a tube and taken a mail-order ancestry DNA test, and by a band of self-taught citizen-scientists who discovered the immense investigative power those tests have unintentionally unleashed. When I'm not writing (and sometimes while I am writing) I take long walks every day. Along with the rest of my family, I'm active in the greyhound rescue community. We've got two wonderful, quirky, loving retired racing hounds, Valiant and Dottie, who've left the track behind them to become professional couch potatoes. Other stuff: BORN: Philadelphia. EDUCATION: Hampshire College, Amherst, Mass. CURRENT WHEREABOUTS: Southern California
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