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Selected Publications


Bearskin – the novel – will be available from Ecco in June 2018. The Ecco/HarperCollins page for the book is here, and includes links to sites where you can pre-order.

A Barnes & Noble Summer 2018 Discover Great New Writers selection.

A Publishers Weekly Summer Reads 2018 staff pick (and a starred PW review).

A Southern Indie Booksellers Alliance Spring 2018 Fresh Okra Pick.

“One of the year’s most buzzy, fascinating thrillers. . . . A suspenseful, emotionally resonant journey into one man’s dark past.” — Entertainment Weekly

“A journey into the wilds of Appalachia. . . . Tightly plotted and beautifully written, Bearskin marks an auspicious debut.” — Nylon Magazine

“The Appalachian Mountains have their new Ivan Doig in James McLaughlin—the man writes so well about the green, the rain, and the old rocks. But this isn’t natural history writing, exactly. More like Kem Nunn. The lone hero, a conscientious biologist with a tender spot for animals and a propensity for violence, bites off more than he can chew. Bad guys, really bad guys. You won’t be able to put it down.” — Jordan Fisher Smith, author of Nature Noir and Engineering Eden

“Bearskin—a gripping tale written in spare, beautiful prose—tells the tale of Rice Moore, a reluctant hero, competent, resilient, and utterly engaging.  McLaughlin is a gifted storyteller, and Bearskin is a remarkable debut.” — Scott Smith, NYT Bestselling author of A Simple Plan and The Ruins

Bearskin is visceral, raw, and compelling—filled with sights, smells, and sounds truly observed.  It’s a powerful debut and an absolute showcase of exceptional prose.  There are very few first novels when I feel compelled to circle brilliant passages, but James McLaughlin’s writing had me doing just that.” — C.J. Box, #1 NYT bestselling author of The Disappeared

“A secret past, old foes, bloodthirsty locals, and the destruction of the natural world converge in McLaughlin’s debut novel. An intricately written thriller that explores the darkest parts of human nature against the beauty of unspoiled American wilds.” — Ace Atkins, New York Times bestselling author of Robert B. Parker’s Old Black Magic and The Sinners

“At once brutal and beautiful, Bearskin is a tense, haunting thriller brought to life by McLaughlin’s deft and vivid rendering of the rugged mountain landscape and the beasts that dwell within. A powerful debut.” — Laura McHugh, author of The Weight of Blood and Arrowood


“Bearskin” – the novella – in The Missouri Review, Summer 2008. Honeybees, bear poachers, and going native in the mountains of Virginia. Winner of the 2009 William Peden Prize in fiction.

“Rules for Living at the Urban-Wildland Interface” in Camas, Spring 2006. Essay about the perils of falling in love at the Interface.

“Shovelboy” in The Portland Review, Vol. 52, No. 3, 2005. As the catastrophic economic downturn disrupts a privileged exurban enclave in this near-future tale, a precocious young gigolo tries to turn the women in his neighborhood into anarchists.

“¡No Pasaran!—Rage and ORVs” in River Teeth, Fall 2003. The author dissects his irrational hatred of off-road vehicles. Chosen as a Notable Essay of 2003 in The Best American Essays, 2004.