Jo-Ann was born in California, and received her MFA in Writing at Vermont College in Montpelier where she completed thesis projects in both poetry and fiction. She has taught at UAA since 2001. Her students include writers Joyce Weatherford (Heart of the Beast), Judith Ryan Hendricks (Bread Alone), David Abrams (Fobbit), Cinthia Ritchie (Dolls Behaving Badly) and Earlene Fowler (The Saddlemaker's Wife). After eight years in Anchorage, Jo-Ann moved with her husband to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her twelfth novel Owen's Daughter, will be published in July 2014 by Bloomsbury Press. Her literary papers are being collected in Boston University's Twentieth Century Writers "The Jo-Ann Mapson Collection."
Jo-Ann's most recent awards are the UAA 2012 Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Research and Creativity, The American Library's RUSA award for women's fiction (Solomon's Oak), and she was nominated in 2013 for a Reading the West Award (Finding Casey). Several of her novels have been BookSense 76 and Indie Next picks. Blue Rodeo was made into a CBS television movie starring Kris Kristofferson. Shadow Ranch explores her family's agricultural history. Two of her novels were Los Angeles Times bestsellers: The Wilder Sisters, and Bad Girl Creek, and Solomon's Oak was a Kindle Bestseller. Her story collection and twelve mainstream novels explore women's roles in contemporary settings, the dwindling landscape of the West, the bonds and limitations of friendship, ethnicity, raising children, the ethical treatment of creatures and in its many forms, the concept of love. Forthcoming in July 2014 from Bloomsbury Publisher, is Owen's Daughter, a sequel to Blue Rodeo.
Professor Jo-Ann Mapson is Core Fiction Faculty and Fiction Advisor in the Creative Writing and Literary Arts Department low residency at UAA, a program she created with her colleagues Professor Anne Caston and Professor Sherry Simpson. She has been teaching writing for over twenty years, and at UAA since 2001. Prior to that, she taught writing in several colleges in Southern California, among them, Orange Coast College, Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine Extension. She was a MAP professor at Prescott College. She created and is the administrator of the Jason Wenger Award Fund for Excellence in Writing. She teaches often at writing conferences, most recently, The Tony Hillerman Writers Conference in conjunction with Wordharvest in Santa Fe.