Christian Kiefer

'Heart of It All' latest book written by Christian Kiefer, director of AU's MFA program

Published on Sep. 26, 2023
Ashland University

Christian Kiefer doesn’t like to pick a favorite book he has written.

“I always love the thing I’m working on now the most,” said the director of Ashland University’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program.

His most recent work is a fiction novel, “The Heart of It All,” which is available anywhere books are sold, as well as online.

The Heart of It All

“The Heart of It All,” published by an independent publisher in New York, Melville House, takes place in a central Ohio town with a family bereaved by terrible loss.

It focuses on three families: a white one with deep roots in the community, an immigrant family that owns the town’s largest employer and a young man from Cleveland who has come to live with his aunt, the only African American in town. 

“Set in a crumbling small town in the Ohio Rust Belt, “The Heart of It All,” should be required reading not only for anyone wanting to understand our country as it exists today, with all its hatred, divisiveness and economic disparity, but also for those who wish to know how to be a decent human being even as the American Dream recedes further and further into the past,” Donald Ray Pollack, author of “The Devil All the Time & The Heavenly Table,” said about the book in one of the many reviews posted on Amazon (The Heart of It All - Kindle edition by Kiefer, Christian. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @

The book also has received positive reviews in the Akron Beacon Journal, Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus, an American book review magazine.

“I love the characters in this one, and it was a joy spending time with them,” said Kiefer, who has written many works of fiction, drama and poetry.

“Writing it was fast but very emotional for me,” added Kiefer, who finished this book faster than his usual couple years. “What I really wanted to do was write something imbued with a certain amount of hope. We could all use that, I think.”

Kiefer said the idea for the book came largely from two sources, the first being ongoing medical issues experienced by his youngest child and only daughter, Vivian.

“She had open heart surgery at 3 months, and we’ve been in and out of the hospital with her many times since,” he said. “There were long periods in which I was afraid she might die at any moment. So, that anxiety is in the book.”

The second source is his experiences in and around the City of Ashland, he said.

“Having been born and raised in California, Ohio feels like a very exotic place to me,” said Kiefer, who lives in Placer County, California, which is a little northeast of the state’s capital, Sacramento. “It’s topography and history and its people are all remarkably different from where I’m from. I love it.”

Being in the constant company of other writers — especially the caliber of writers at AU — inspires him to keep writing and improving his craft, added Kiefer, who has been with AU since 2017, coming from American River College in Sacramento, California.

“I’m always working on another book, but there’s never any clear sense when it’ll get done,” he said. “I’ve got a short novel finished about the poet Rilke and another that’s something of a Western.”