“Write what you know.” That old adage worked for this spring’s crop of new fiction writers, who draw on their own experience for their literary debuts. The story collections and novels we’ve chosen are set in meth-riddled pockets of the Midwest and in Hanoi hotels—they feature high-powered lawyers, renowned folk musicians, and war veterans returning home. Some of these authors are insiders, having worked in publishing, but all of them now are discovering life as published authors. What they undeniably share is the support and excitement of editorial teams who hope that these books will make your spring.

First Fiction 2014: Bare Knuckles - Mike Harvkey

Is there any place more hopeless than rural Missouri?

First Fiction 2014: Three Stories Worth the Risk - Violet Kupersmith

It all started when Violet Kupersmith’s writing mentor, Valerie Martin, sent three stories from her Mt. Holyoke undergraduate senior thesis to agent Molly Friedrich at Friedrich Literary Agency.

First Fiction 2014: The Iraq War, a Dozen Ways - Phil Klay

I wanted to get at a range of veteran experiences,” Phil Klay says of his short story collection, Redeployment, which will be published in March by Penguin Press.

First Fiction 2014: Kenya’s Destiny - Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor

Zigzagged and constructed out of a thousand detours,” is how Kenya-native Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor describes her trajectory as a writer, which reached another turning point on January 28 with the publication of her novel Dust by Knopf.

First Fiction 2014: A New Spin on an Old Story - Daniel Levine

Daniel Levin’s debut, Hyde (which will be published in March by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and which received a starred review from PW), is a retelling of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from Hyde’s perspective.

First Fiction 2014: Fame in the Heartland - Nickolas Butler

When Nickolas Butler was attending the University of Iowa’s M.F.A. program, he commuted from the Twin Cities in Minnesota, where his wife and son lived, to Iowa City once a week.

First Fiction 2014: Yale Dean Turned Modern Romance Writer - Susan Rieger

Susan Rieger does not have an M.F.A.; rather her first book comes after a successful legal career that included a teaching stint at Yale.