Thursday, June 14, 2012

Recent graduate wins coveted prize for short fiction

A member of the class of 2012 has won a prestigious prize for a story she wrote while at Randolph College.

Sara Taylor ’12 was awarded the Stony Brook Short Fiction Prize, which comes with a $1,000 cash award and free admission to Stony Brook University’s Southampton Writer’s Conference. Her winning piece, “Chloe’s Story,” was a part of her senior honors project.

The story tells of a girl navigating her way through life fraught with economic hardship and abuse while watching over her younger sister. “You could say that it’s about wild dogs and defending what’s precious to you, but it has a wider meaning in the context of the complete collection in which it belongs,” Taylor said.

Taylor said she was honored, but surprised, to learn that she had won.

She has been a writer for much of her life. “When I was first old enough to handle a pencil, I started making picture books out of legal paper and lots and lots of staples,” she said. “When I was 11, I wrote my first novel (it was terrible) and just kept going from there.”

Taylor chose to attend Randolph College specifically for the creative writing major offered by the English department. Her classes helped her become a better writer by exposing her to excellent writing and demanding that she produce high-quality work.

Bunny Goodjohn ’04, an English professor and director of the Writing Program, said Taylor strengthened her writing talent by participating in creative writing classes and Randolph’s study abroad program in Reading, England. “Her characters are real and multi-dimensional,” Goodjohn said. “She throws herself into research; Sara’s a writer who prides herself on handing over authenticity.

“I know  I am going to find Sara’s name on the spine of a good book in the not-too-distant future,” she said.

During her senior year, Taylor worked with Goodjohn on a collection of stories for an honors project. “Working with her is what took my writing from technically adequate to worth submitting to publishers,” Taylor said. “She's also one of the most encouraging people I've ever met.”

This fall, Taylor will begin earning a master’s degree in creative writing at the University of East Anglia. She hopes to find a literary agent and get a book contract in the next few years.