Michael Backus

Pen Name:



Memoir, Literary Fiction



Social Media:

Twitter (@MikeJBackus)
Instagram: michaeljbackus


Michael Backus’ writing, fiction and non-fiction, has appeared in One Story, Exquisite Corpse, Channel magazine, Digging Through the Fat, Okey Panky, Cleaver, Oyster River Pages, Prime Number magazine, Every Writer’s Resource, Hanging Loose, The Writer, and The Sycamore Review, among others. He teaches creative writing for Gotham Writers Workshop and Zoetrope Magazine and lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Articles/Essays/Short Stories

For a look at Michael’s short works, go to the Writing page on his website.


Title: The Heart is Meat: An 80s Memoir
Publisher: Oil on Water Press (2024)
Genre: Memoir

In the early 80s, New York City’s Gansevoort Meatpacking District, a small irregular patch of the West Village, was a wild confluence of meat market workers, gay men hitting The Mineshaft or The Anvil, transgendered prostitutes, homeless huddled around burn barrels, New Jersey mafiosos, veterans of three wars, heroes of the French Resistance, and Holocaust survivors. I was newly arrived to New York City when I began working at Adolf Kusy Meats in 1982, a young man barely out of college who had never imagined himself in any city, much less New York. I had decided I was going to be a fiction writer and while ignorant of what that might entail, I understood writers lived in New York. From the start, Kusy’s seemed the perfect place for a budding writer looking for life experience, a singular, endlessly entertaining circus. When I interviewed Red, my old boss at Kusy’s in October of 2013, the first thing he said was, “I wish now I had a tape recorder and had just recorded every day down there. Just the fucking stories alone, the shit people came up with every day, the insanity of that place.”

It’s also the story of a young couple fresh from the Midwest making a life together. We were college sweethearts, seduced by the glamour and excitement of the East Village, its fashion model roommates, conceptual art openings, and junkies lined up outside bombed out buildings. We tried to live with an intensity that could only lead us to ruin. The Heart is Meat is a re-creation of a mythic time and place in New York City that can never exist again, an evocation of a vanished attitude, a pre-networked American Romanticism.

Pre-order Available Soon

Title: The Vanishing Point
Publisher: Cactus Moon Publications (2021)
Genre: Literary Fiction

How did Henry Dolan end up here, heading to Santa Fe, New Mexico? The one place in the world he swore he would never set foot in again—the town where he lost his wife and daughter nearly a decade ago. Maybe it’s the eleven pounds of high-grade weed in the trunk of his car that he can’t sell anywhere else. Maybe it is something much deeper.

It is time for him to finally meet his daughter and reckon with the harm he caused. Cadence, now ten, helps Henry open his long locked-away heart, exposing the wounds he has kept concealed. In healing, he finds a mysterious connection between his daughter and his own tragic childhood.

The Vanishing Point is about disappearance, trauma and memory, and the possibilities of redemption through a great American road trip and a peek into a mid-western childhood. It is a meditation on Karma and the way we lose and find ourselves over and over again.

Available for Sale


Title: Coney on the Moon
Publisher: Redbird Chapbooks (2017)

Based on his mother’s recollections of the night she had to run from her home in the hills to search for help for her own dying mother, Michael Backus’ Coney on the Moon brings the Kentucky countryside of the mid twentieth century to vivid, startling life. Seen through the eyes of a strong but terrified young girl, it is a land full of local eccentrics, native legends, and half believers in ghosts. This heartbreaking and gorgeous story is a meditation on family, mortality, and the persistence of story.

Available for Sale

Redbird Chapbooks

Sign Up for Elerts  Stay Connected

SWW YouTube Videos

Search Posts


More information about SWW Programs can be found on WhoFish.