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South Carolina Fiction Project

2006 Winners


S.C. Fiction Project


For more information, contact Sara June Goldstein, Director of Literary Arts (803-734-8694).


This year's honorees are:

Eli Connaughton
Eli Connaughton (“Waiting”) received her MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College in 2001. In 2003, she moved back to her hometown of Greenville, SC where she serves on the board of the Emrys Foundation and on the fiction selection committee for the Emrys Journal. She is currently working on a memoir. Connaughton's “Waiting” is a story about a family trying to navigate the unfamiliar landscape of life after their daughter is abducted. Told from the point of view of their remaining daughter, Libby, it provides a glimpse into the pain and disruption of uncertain loss.
Vera Gomez
Vera Gomez (“A Dry Run”) is a performance poet and writer. Her poems have appeared in KaKaLak: Anthology of Carolina Poets (2006), Millennial Sampler/South Carolina Poetry Anthology (2005), Ties That Bind (2003) and Quintet (2003). She has been a finalist in the SC Poetry Initiative/State Newspaper Single Poem Contest in 2006 and 2004. Vera has read on “Your Day,” in the Greenville County Library Poets Series and in the Hub City Writers' reading series. A graduate of Texas Tech University, she works in corporate communications and is currently also an Arts Integration SmartArt poet teaching in schools. A farm wife worn out by life and love is the central figure in Gomez's “A Dry Run.” Her relationship with her still-hopeful husband and a history of miscarriages add depth to her ultimate dramatic decision.
Jecca Hutcheson
Jecca Hutcheson (“Gopherland”) studied history and biology at Harvard, received an MA in environmental history from University of Wisconsin, and got an MFA in Fiction from Cornell. She now lives and writes in Charleston, alongside her husband and two sons. Hutcheson's “Gopherland” is a humorous account of a family vacation planned by four-year-old twins who love the Discovery Channel. A frustrated but loving mother narrates the escapade and the final irony of their trek.
Debby Johnson
A native of Lake Charles, Louisiana, Debby Johnson (“Second Sight”) taught first grade and kindergarten in the Richland District One and Richland District Two public school systems for 17 years before retiring in May, 2005. She is the past recipient of the Ohio's Green River Writer's Competition for Short Fiction. In 2005 her novel Unclaimed Money won several awards including First Place in the single title division of the Red River Romance Writers Ticket To Write Contest. Unclaimed Money was also a finalist for the Romance Writers of America¹s Golden Heart Award in mainstream fiction. This is her third S.C. Fiction Project win. Johnson's “Second Sight” is the story of the Pied Piper retold with Creole flavor. ‘Ti Boy tells of his Louisiana town's encounter with the mysterious fiddler, Eddie Reynard, and its unexpected consequences.
Lisa Kerr
Lisa Kerr (“Lotus”) is a teacher and freelance writer who has recently moved home to Charleston. She earned her MFA in creative writing and her Ph.D. in American Literature from the University of South Carolina. She is currently represented by the agency Curtis Brown, Ltd. in New York. A woman being rehabilitated after having been removed by her family from a cult is the central figure in Kerr's story, “Lotus.” Her ambivalence about this “rescue” invites questions about what is normal and what is healthy.
Ed Krech
Ed Krech (“To Endure”) has post-graduate degrees in engineering and business administration from Cornell University. He has served in the Navy; been an Olympic Trials rowing coach and engineering instructor at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis; has run twenty-eight marathons including the Boston Marathon four times; and has hiked and climbed in many countries. He spent thirty-four years in the international division of Procter & Gamble traveling all over the world including the Middle-East, Asia, and Latin America. Ed and his wife, Joan, have been married 52 years and have three grown children and an assortment of grandchildren. Krech's “To Endure” is a vivid snapshot of the life of a poor farmer in Nepal. Desperate for money, Vijay becomes a porter for a hiking expedition and learns the limit of endurance.
Rachel Luria
Rachel Luria (“The Ordinary Sounds of Nighttime”) is a third-year MFA student at the University of South Carolina. Her fiction has been nominated for Best New American Voices and has been named a finalist in Glimmer Train's Very Short Fiction contest. Rachel is also a co-editor for Yemassee Magazine, the literary journal of the University of South Carolina. A father and daughter worry about the approach of a serial killer in Luria's “The Ordinary Sounds of Nighttime.” Their troubled history and the father's cancer complicate their unease.
Deirdre Mardon
Born in Chicago, Deirdre Mardon (“The Meeting”) has lived in many parts of the United States, and in Mexico. She studied journalism at Northwestern University and earned a Master's Degree in Spanish Literature at the University of Arizona. She is the author of seven published novels and numerous short stories, which have appeared in Redbook, Special Reports, and other magazines. She came to South Carolina in 2004 and is Director of the Congaree Vista Guild in Columbia. Set in the Depression-era Midwest, Mardon's story, “The Meeting,” is narrated by a young girl, Elaine, who discovers a family secret and handles it with surprising grace and love.
Thomas McConnell'
Thomas McConnell's (“A Proof for Roxanna”) fiction has appeared in the Connecticut Review, the Cortland Review, Calabash, Yemassee, the Emrys Journal, and Writing Macao, among other publications. His collection of stories, A Picture Book of Hell and Other Landscapes, was published by Texas Tech University Press in 2005. He is associate professor of English at the University of South Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg, where he also directs the honors program. A Fulbright Scholar in the Czech Republic for 2005-2006, he is completing a novel while lecturing on American literature and creative writing at Masaryk University. Roxanna, a young girl fleeing war-torn Poland with her family, learns about responsibility and evil from her philosopher father in McConnell's “A Proof for Roxanna.”
Roger Pinckney
Roger Pinckney (“By the Rivers of Babylon”), a native of Beaufort, was educated at the University of South Carolina and the Iowa Writer's Workshop. He is author of five books on Lowcountry culture and writes regularly for outdoor sporting magazines. Pinckney lives and writes on Daufuskie Island. "By the Rivers of Babylon" is an excerpt from a novel of the same name. His next book, Seventh Son on Sacred Ground, is due out in November. Pinckney's “By the Rivers of Babylon” is a window onto Gullah culture and language. Yancey skips church to spend a Sunday morning with Gator Brown, a root doctor with a unique interpretation of the Bible.
Liz Scarborough
A native of Moncks Corner, Liz Scarborough (“Bird Lasso”) now lives in downtown Charleston and walks to work at the Charleston Area CVB. She's currently working on a collection of short stories inspired by her Peace Corps experience in West Africa and pursuing an MFA at Queens University. In Scarborough's “Bird Lasso,” an American woman witnesses the results of a young girl's brutal death in a small African community and reacts with her own muted demonstration of compassion.
Anthony Varallo
Anthony Varallo's (“Kin, Kind”) collection of short stories, This Day in History, is the winner of the 2005 John Simmons Short Fiction Award, published by the University of Iowa Press. His stories have appeared in Epoch, Story Quarterly, Harvard Review, Shenandoah, Black Warrior Review, and elsewhere, and he has received an NEA Fellowship in Literature. He is an assistant professor of English at the College of Charleston, where he is the fiction editor for Crazyhorse. He lives in the West Ashley area of Charleston with his wife and son. Varallo's “Kin, Kind” investigates the relationships between a divorced father and his son, a teacher and his students, during a performance of a school production of Hamlet.
About the Jurors

Maud Casey has written two novels, “The Shape of Things to Come” and Genealogy.” She has also created a collection of short stories, “Drastic.” Her stories have appeared in The Threepenny Review, Prairie Schooner, Shenandoah, The Gettysburg Review, and elsewhere. Her essays and book reviews have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Book World, Elle, and Salon. She lives in Washington, D.C., and teaches in the MFA program at the University of Maryland.

Murad Kalam's first novel, “Night Journey” (Simon & Schuster 2003), was a finalist for the PEN-Hemingway Award. He is the winner of a 2001 O. Henry Award. His fiction and essays have appeared in Harpers Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, The Daily Telegraph (U.K.), Granta, Best American Travel Writing 2005, and Outside magazine. He is a frequent contributor to NPR, and he lives outside of Washington, D.C., with his wife. He is a graduate of Harvard University and was a Fulbright Scholar in creative writing to Egypt in 2002-2003.