Ann Willow

I am an author, playwright, and freelance writer loving life in the American Southwest. Surviving and fleeing my upbringing in the Chicago area under the tutelage of white supremacist parents, I wandered until I found my true home here, inspired by the mystical landscapes, unique cultural history, and diversity of peoples. As a playwright, I love to turn heated controversy into lighthearted farce, or humorously reveal secrets frowned upon by polite society. My freelance work has appeared in newspapers in Colorado, New Mexico, and Oklahoma, and this summer I am writing about the lives of missing indigenous people and their families.

The manuscript of Remembering Changes Everything, my unpublished memoir, received a “get it” Kirkus Review in 2022, and excerpts from this first memoir and my unfinished second memoir, Seeking New Identities, have won several awards and appeared in literary journals such as Parabola, Tangled Locks, and Grande Dame.

Set between 1984-1989, Remembering Changes Everything chronicles events triggering buried memories of my childhood: incest, black magic rituals, white supremacy, and a murder. Life as I’ve known it is over. With no legal recourse, I am forced to flee with my 2-year-old daughter, but have nowhere to go until May 1, 1989, when Oprah Winfrey interviews a woman about her life in a Satanic cult. I contact the show and meet “Rachel,” who introduces me to an underground network offering to change our identities. With the help of my psychologist and a police detective investigating my parents, I set off on a quest for freedom with a single suitcase in one hand, my daughter’s tiny hand in the other—bound for an unknown world beneath society.

Seeking New Identities follows our descent into the “underground," a world of changing identities and sharks lurking just beneath the surface of society, hunting for prey. When the heart-wrenching realization that my longed-for new life with new names will not be as promised, I face the possibility that my daughter may disappear, sold to the highest bidder. Trusting no one, I hide her in a safe place where not even I know where she is, and then hide out in a homeless shelter, walking the streets of a city where no one knows me. There, I find lovelessness, drug dealers, mothers down on their luck, and a spiritual awakening which will change my life forever.

Learn more on my website,

Photo by Erny Zah, Zah Photography LLC

Award Category
Writing Award Sub-Category
Golden Writer
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