Atwell holds a B.A. in English with a concentration in creative writing. She is the author of the novel Wild Girls (Scribner 2012). Her short fiction has appeared in journals including Epoch and Alaska Quarterly Review, and in the anthologies Best New American Voices and Best American Mystery Stories. She holds an M.F.A. and a Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis, and teaches creative writing and literature at Virginia Military Institute.