Jennifer Florence Steil
Jennifer Steil is an award-winning American writer, journalist, and actor currently living in La Paz, Bolivia. Her debut novel, The Ambassador’s Wife, was published by Doubleday on July 28, 2015. The Ambassador’s Wife won the 2013 William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition Best Novel award and has received considerable critical acclaim, notably in the Seattle Times, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and The New York Times Book Review.
Oscar-winner Anne Hathaway has signed on to star in a television miniseries based on The Ambassador’s Wife, which the Mark Gordon Company has acquired the rights to finance and produce with Hathaway.
Jennifer’s first book, The Woman Who Fell From the Sky (Broadway Books, 2010) is a memoir about her tenure as editor of the Yemen Observer newspaper in Sana’a. The book received accolades in The New York Times, Newsweek, and the Sydney Morning Herald among other publications. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune called it one of the best travel books of the year in 2010, and Elle magazine awarded it their Readers’ Prize. National Geographic Traveler includes the book in its recommended reading list. It has been published in the US, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Turkey, and Poland. Her freelance work has appeared in the World Policy Journal, Die Welt, Vogue UK, the Washington Times, The Week, Yahoo Travel, Time, and The Rumpus.
Jennifer has lived abroad since she moved to Yemen in 2006 to become the editor-in-chief of the Yemen Observer. After four years in Yemen and four months in Jordan, she and her husband Tim Torlot and daughter Theadora Celeste moved to London. When Tim was appointed the European Union ambassador to Bolivia in 2012, they moved to La Paz.
Theatre was Jennifer’s first love, although she has kept a journal ever since she learned how to write. After completing a BA in theater at Oberlin College, she spent four years working as an actor in Seattle. During this time, she became increasingly frustrated with the limited roles available to women (nearly always cast as an ingénue or prostitute with a heart of gold, she longed to play rocket scientists, politicians, paleontologists) and the dearth of female voices in the theater world. This frustration drove her to begin writing the things she wished her characters could say.
She completed an MFA in creative writing/fiction at Sarah Lawrence College and an MS in Journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
Since 1997, she has worked as a reporter, writer, and editor for newspapers and magazines in the US and abroad, while continuing to perform when in a country where it is legal to do so. In 2001, she helped to launch The Week magazine in the US, and worked there for five and a half years, writing the science, health, theater, art, and travel pages.
In the last few years Jennifer has given talks in Algeria, New York, Seattle, Dubai, Amsterdam, The Hague, Egypt, Boston, Abu Dhabi, Vermont, Martha’s Vineyard, Washington DC, Nashville, New Orleans, Portland, Bellingham, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Austin, Miami, Pittsburgh, and London.