First Novelist Alumni Roundup #1: Maribeth Fischer

This week we’ll begin a series of blog posts checking in on former Cabell First Novelist Award winners, who have gone on to a wide variety of successes and endeavors following the publication of their debut novels.

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We start with Maribeth Fischer, 2001 winner for The Language of Good-bye. Fischer has since acted as the executive director of the Rehoboth Beach Writers’ Guild in Delaware, also directing that organization’s biannual writers’ conference, Writers at the Beach, for many years. In 2007 Fischer published a second novel, The Life You Longed For, with Touchstone Books, a division of Simon & Schuster:

Grace’s son Jack is a miracle. At three years old, he’s fighting a mysterious, deadly disease that his doctors predicted would kill him as a baby. Even though it was determined to be mitochondrial disease, the little-known illness remains a mystery to medicine….To the world, Grace’s fierce dedication is the sole reason for her son’s survival. But someone suspects that perhaps Jack’s disease is not what it seems.

Read more about The Life You Longed For over at Goodreads or at Simon & Schuster.

See photos and video of the 2014 VCU Cabell First Novelist Award night!

Thanks to everyone who made it out, this past Tuesday, to another wonderful Cabell First Novelist reading and award presentation! Tuesday’s event brought more than two hundred attendees to the W.E. Singleton Center on the VCU campus for a reading by Helene Wecker, winner for her debut novel The Golem and the Jinni, as well as a panel discussion featuring Ms. Wecker and her agent, Sam Stoloff of the Frances Goldin Literary Agency in New York City. The panel was moderated by former Cabell Fellow Shannon O’Neill.

Here are some photos from Tuesday’s event:

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For those who missed Tuesday’s event, or those who attended and would like to relive the memories, VCU Libraries has already uploaded a video of the event on their Youtube page. Thanks again to all who helped honor Helene Wecker’s debut novel, The Golem and the Jinni. It was a magical evening we won’t soon forget!

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Jewish Book Council interview with Helene Wecker

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This week we’d like to direct your attention to this excellent interview with 2014 winner Helene Wecker over at the Jewish Book Council. In it, Wecker elaborates on the years and drafts that went into writing her prizewinning novel, and her thoughts on some of the religious and cultural themes that arise in the course of the book. Of her original conception for the novel, Wecker says:

My very first idea for the book was that it was going to encompass about a hundred years and it was going to be more of a fable, the story of these two creatures who are both living in New York, and who check in with each other every once in a while over a hundred years. It was going to be a very compressed sort of story telling the evolution of the Jewish and Arab communities of New York from the late 1800s to the turn of the twenty-first century….But that didn’t survive the first workshop session. Every­one said, “You’ve got to slow down, the fun is in the details.”

For more from the interview, click here, and stay tuned for more information about this year’s award ceremony!

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Helene Wecker on Library Love Fest

Looking for something interesting to watch this weekend? Look no further than this series of Youtube clips documenting a video interview with 2014 winner Helene Wecker, author of The Golem and the Jinni, posted by Library Love Fest, an author interview series sponsored by the HarperCollins Library Marketing team.

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In the interview, Wecker discusses her research and writing process for the novel, as well as topics ranging from the choice of 1899 for the novel’s setting to the nature of freedom and free will. Check out the video interview here!

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The Golem and the Jinni wins a 2014 Mythopoeic Award

Congratulations are in order for Helene Wecker, this year’s VCU Cabell First Novelist winner, whose novel The Golem and the Jinni has just been awarded a Mythopoeic Award in the category of Fantasy Adult Literature.

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Each year the Mythopoeic Society, an international organization “promoting the study, discussion and enjoyment of fantastic and mythopoeic literature” recognizes a fantasy novel or story collection for adults which “best exemplifies the spirit of the Inklings,” an informal Oxford literary circle, active between the 1930s and 1950s, which included writers J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Charles Williams.

For more on the Mythopoeic Awards, including other 2014 winners, check out the press release.

For more on the Inklings, start with the Mythopoeic Society’s brief history and bibliography, or everyone’s favorite open-source encyclopedia.

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Animated trailer for The Golem and the Jinni

Thanks to our friends over at VCU Libraries for tipping us off to this great animated trailer for our 2014 winner, The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker–go check it out at the HarperCollins Youtube channel!

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Announcing the winner of the 2014 VCU Cabell First Novelist Award!

We are happy to announce that the winner of this year’s award is Helene Wecker for her outstanding debut novel, The Golem and the Jinni!

This year’s winner was chosen from more than 110 titles which were read by diverse members of Virginia Commonwealth University’s academic community and a panel of judges. Each of the finalists came from a strong and uniquely talented writer. They were: Snow Hunters by Paul Yoon and Fort Starlight by Claudia Zuluaga.

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Stay tuned for more information about the award event this fall. Until then, check out Ms. Wecker’s novel and website!
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Poets & Writers interview with PJ Mark

Poets & Writers has just published a fascinating interview with PJ Mark, the agent of 2013 winner Ramona Ausubel. In the interview, Mark discusses his path to becoming a literary agent, sheds light on what happens to his clients’ manuscripts once they arrive in his hands, and talks about what kind of work he seeks to represent.

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Also check out the audio recording and transcript of the panel from our 2013 award ceremony, archived over at Blackbird, in which Mark, Ausubel, and Ausubel’s editor at Riverhead Books, Sarah McGrath, discuss the winning novel, No One is Here Except All of Us and its process to publication.

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New story from 2011 winner David Gordon

Check out a new story from 2011 winner David Gordon, “The Amateur,” available now as a Kindle Single download on Amazon.

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2013 winner Ramona Ausubel in the New Yorker!

Subscribers of the New Yorker should check out 2013 winner Ramona Ausubel’s new story, “You Can Find Love Now,” in the current issue of the magazine:

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“If you want me to set a trap, I’ll set a trap. A first date picking blueberries in the whitest, cleanest sunlight, tin pails. I’ll bring sandwiches and chilled Chardonnay and tell you that we are already the good people we wanted to become.”

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