tracy thompson tracy thompson


Tracy Thompson

I was born in Atlanta, Georgia in August 1955, and grew up in the suburbs of that city. When I graduated from Emory University in 1977, I knew that a) I wanted to be a Great Writer, but that b) writers didn't make money. So I went into newspapers, where I could write (small w) and at least make some money. Early in my career, I was assigned to cover an explosion in a chemical warehouse that destroyed the better part of an entire city block. Sneaking under the yellow police tape and stepping over coils of fire hoses, I found the engineer who had been overseeing things just before the big boom. "How did this happen?" I asked. "I dunno," he said, looking stunned. "But if I had it to do over again, I would use smaller proportions." Deadline journalism is a young person's job, but boy, was it fun.

In 1984, I took a year off from the Atlanta Constitution to earn a Master of Studies in Law at Yale Law School. Armed with my fancy new degree, I returned to the Constitution and spent a year investigating the court system in a rural Georgia judicial circuit. My conclusion—that black and/or poor people were routinely screwed in rural Georgia courtrooms—became a series entitled "Rural Justice." It was a finalist for the 1988 Pulitzer Prize in Investigative reporting.

Not long after that, I left Atlanta to work for the Washington Post—and a couple of years after that, I met and married a rocket scientist. (Well, okay; he's a physicist at NASA who makes things that go up into space on rockets. Close enough.) I left the Post in 1996 when our first child was born, and somehow never made it back to the newsroom. Today I live in the Washington, D.C. suburbs with my husband, our two daughters, one testy tabby cat and a very enthusiastic beagle named Max. My office is nowhere near as much fun as the newsroom, but it has a lovelier view.

Check my events page for appearance dates and locations