Brad Watson, the novelist and short story writer known for fiction that explored the American South, died Wednesday, the Laramie Boomerang reports. He was 64.

Watson, a native of Mississippi, lived south of Laramie, where he was the director of the creative writing program at the University of Wyoming.

Watson made his literary debut in 1996 with the short story collection Last Days of the Dog-Men. He followed that up in 2002 with the novel The Heaven of Mercury, which was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction.

His most recent book, Miss Jane, was published in 2016.

The Tuscaloosa News reports that at the time of his death, Watson was working on a novel, a short story collection, and a memoir.

“I write every day, but without getting a whole lot of traction,” Watson told the newspaper in an interview last month. “When you go into something big like a novel, you have to be sort of in love with that world, and that vision.”

Watson’s admirers remembered him on Twitter. “Brad Watson was one of my favorite human beings,” wrote author Christian Kiefer. “An open wound, a man of deep kindness, and a writer of unparalleled genius. I will miss him forever.”

Writer Silas House tweeted, “Such a brilliant writer and generous teacher. He was one of my mentors as a grad student and I learned so much just by being in his presence. And he was my sweet friend. So many good times. Read his books.”

Michael Schaub is a Texas-based journalist and regular contributor to NPR.