Alum Ernest Brawley: A Writer's Life

Monday, February 01, 2016
TRACY PRESS -- Brawley, now 78, whose 1979 novel, “Serena,” is being republished and is available on, told me over the phone this week that he can spend up to eight hours a day putting words on his computer screen. “Unlike some authors, writing is not a chore for me; I’ve always loved it and always will,” he said. “I can come across a character or a scene in the middle of the night, and I want to write it out the first thing the next morning.” It was at San Francisco State that a teacher, Leon Litwack, really turned him onto writing, encouraging him to write stories for Contact magazine. A story, “Lucerne,” was his first published piece. Brawley earned a Bachelor’s degree in English and a Master’s in Creative Writing at SF State. While attending college at Modesto and San Francisco, he worked summers hoeing tomatoes for Alvarez Brothers, working in the George Covert tomato-packing shed in Carbona, and switching freight cars in the Southern Pacific yard in Tracy.