Robin Oliveira grew up just outside Albany, New York in the town of Loudonville. She holds a B.A. in Russian, and studied at the Pushkin Language Institute in Moscow, Russia. She worked for many years as a Registered Nurse, specializing in Critical Care and Bone Marrow Transplant. In 2006 she received an M.F.A. in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives outside of Seattle, Washington, with her husband, Andrew Oliveira.
In her forties, Oliveira began taking writing classes at the local community college, then at the University of Washington Extension, and finally entered the MFA in Writing program at Vermont College of Fine Arts (then Vermont College.) In between she wrote many failed short stories and one completed but unpublished novel. It wasn't until 2007, when she was awarded the James Jones First Novel Fellowship for her debut novel-in-progress, then entitled The Last Beautiful Day, that she began to reap rewards from her years of hard work. My Name is Mary Sutter was published by Viking in 2010. It hit the New York Times and ABA bestseller lists, received the 2011 Michael Shaara Prize for Excellence in Civil War Fiction and the 2010 American Historical Fiction Honorable Mention from the Langum Charitable Trust, was chosen as an all-city read for Schenectady, N.Y., Kirkland, Washington, and Roswell, Georgia, and as an all state read for Iowa. It became an Indie Next pick, a Good Housekeeping top 10 "Good Read," and was featured in "O" The Oprah Magazine. It was translated into several languages.
Published in February 2014, Oliveira's second book, I Always Loved You, examines the lives of the Impressionist artists in late nineteenth century Paris, particularly Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt. The novel is the result of meticulous research. Among other highlights, Oliveira was granted access to the basement of the Musée d'Orsay in Paris to view rarely seen artifacts from Edgar Degas's studio.
Her third novel, Winter Sisters, is now available from Viking.
Podcast with Bob Cudmore on The Historians