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Author visits UHV to discuss how to turn family stories into great fiction

For those who ever thought their family stories would make a good book, a special guest at the University of Houston-Victoria can show them how it’s done.

Antonya Nelson

Antonya Nelson, who The New Yorker once called one of the “20 young fiction writers for the new millennium,” will talk about how real life and family stories can be great sources of material for compelling fiction in the last installment of the University of Houston-Victoria/American Book Review Fall Reading Series.

Nelson will discuss her writing process and read her latest essay at noon Nov. 20 in the Alcorn Auditorium of University West, 3007 N. Ben Wilson. The event is free to the public, and light refreshments will be served.

“I want to have a frank discussion about what comes out of life that makes good fiction and what materials are best suited for nonfiction essays,” Nelson said.

Her life has been the genesis of much of Nelson’s fiction and nonfiction writing, which she described as focusing on family and relationships in contemporary society.

Her seminar will help aspiring writers find out how to start turning family tales into publishable works.

“One of the hardest parts of the writing process is finding a starting point,” said Charles Alcorn, ABR managing editor. “This is a wonderful opportunity for aspiring and accomplished writers to learn how to use personal experience as a springboard into the literary pool from a lady who has done it very successfully.”

Nelson’s work has appeared in The New Yorker, Esquire, Harper’s and in anthologies such as “Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards” and “Best American Short Stories.”

Nelson was the recipient of the 2003 Rea Award for the Short Story (Lifetime Achievement) as well as National Endowment for the Arts and Guggenheim fellowships. Her books were named New York Times Notable Books for five years.

“It is my great hope that this presentation will start someone on the road to writing a book that will be featured in a future edition of the American Book Review,” said Jeffrey Di Leo, ABR editor/publisher and dean of the UHV School of Arts & Sciences. “One of the goals of the American Book Review is to encourage and promote quality works now and in the years to come.”

The UHV/ABR Reading Series brings in established authors in the fall and spring. While in Victoria, the reading series authors attend roundtable discussions with UHV faculty and students, make classroom visits to area schools, give lectures open to the community, and go to receptions hosted by Friends of ABR patrons. Past speakers have included Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David M. Oshinsky, author and Iranian refugee Farnoosh Moshiri, Mexican American author Dagoberto Gilb and Pushcart Prize-winning critic and fiction writer Kim Herzinger.

ABR is a nonprofit, internationally distributed literary journal that is published six times a year. It began in 1977, moved to UHV in 2006 and now has a circulation of about 8,000. The journal specializes in reviews of significant works published by small presses and is supported in part by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Texas Commission on the Arts.

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region, offers courses leading to more than 65 bachelor’s and master’s degree programs and concentrations in the schools of Arts & Sciences, Business Administration, Education & Human Development, and Nursing. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus as well as teaching sites in Fort Bend and Harris counties, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. Since its founding in 1973, UHV has provided students with a quality university education from excellent faculty at an affordable price.