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South Carolina Fiction Project

2007 Winners

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This year's honorees are:

Brandon Cooper Dyches
Brandon Cooper Dyches ("Silent Pancakes") grew up in the midlands of South Carolina and now divides his time between Chapin, S.C., and New York. "Silent Pancakes" is his first short story.
Charlie Geer
Charlie Geer ("Honor Student") is the author of the novel Outbound: The Curious Secession of Latter-Day Charleston, which won the 2006 Independent Publishers Book Award for Best Regional Fiction, Southeast. His work has appeared in Tin House, The Sun, and the Southern Review. He is a previous S.C. Fiction Project winner.
Randall Ivey
Randall Ivey ("A Soldier for God") is an English instructor at the University of South Carolina in Union and the author of two short story collections, The Shape of a Man: A Novella and Five Stories and The Mutilation Gypsy and Other Stories, and a recent book for children, Jay and the Bounty of Books. He was also a S.C. Fiction Project winner in 2004.
Nancy Kreml
Nancy Kreml ("Not Now ") is a South Carolina native who now lives in Columbia, Chicago, and Pawley's Island. She has taught English for many years at Midlands Technical College in Columbia and has also taught in Beijing, China. Her PhD in Linguistics is from USC. She read her poetry as a part of the Sundown Poetry Series at Piccolo Spoleto, and is the author of a textbook for freshman composition, The User's Guide to College Writing.
Brenda McClain
Brenda McClain ("My Father's Story") writes out of her barn at Edisto Island, and, for that, she calls herself a blessed woman. She had to shake her head recently, after she'd read "My Father's Story" again and then told herself, "There you go, writing another novel." We'll see, she tells us, because currently she's working on another story, this one inspired by a major historical event in the early 1950s in South Carolina, one that is all but forgotten by most folks, except the 6000 people who were forced off their land, their hearts and their lives never to be the same again.
Joel McCollough
Joel McCollough ("Night Shift") of Taylors was a winner in the 2004 Piccolo Spoleto Short Fiction Open. His poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in Southern Poetry Review, Cumberland Poetry Review, Chattahoochee Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Poem, Illuminations, and two anthologies titled A Millennial Sampler of South Carolina Poets and Quintet.
Catherine McKinney
Catherine McKinney ("Girls") grew up in Aynor, S.C., and later spent many years moving up and down the East Coast and once to the Midwest. She is currently working on a master's degree in communication disorders at USC and lives outside Greenville with her husband, two sons, and a geriatric sheep dog.
Michael Miller
Michael Miller ("The Lamp") graduated from the College of Charleston in 1976 with a degree in English. For the next six years, he was a surfer, tennis bum, bellhop, and shoe salesman. He eventually decided to get serious about writing and earned an MA in journalism from the University of South Carolina in 1984. For almost 18 years, he was a reporter, features writer, and columnist for The State newspaper in Columbia. His biography of the rock band Hootie and the Blowfish was published by Summerhouse Press in 1997.
Brian Ray
Brian Ray ("Self-portrait in C") recently finished his Master of Fine Arts at the University of South Carolina, where he is now teaching full-time. His stories have appeared in Green Mountains Review, Louisiana Review, and Re:al. He is currently at work on a novel and a nonfiction book.
Wilma Reitz
Wilma W. Reitz ("On a Downtown Street") grew up in Southern West Virginia, where she graduated from Concord University. She taught English at National College in Virginia before leaving the work place to marry and raise a family. She and her family lived in Richmond, Va., Ohio and Indiana. They moved to South Carolina more than 20 years ago. She has completed one novel and has received regional writing awards for short fiction and non-fiction. Her winning stories and essays appear in several anthologies.
Fred M. Robinson
Fred M. Robinson ("A Leaky Roof") and his wife, Grace, have lived in Mount Pleasant for 42 years. He retired in 1989, as a Foreman Machinist in Shop-31, Charleston Naval Shipyard, after 30 years of Civil Service. His writing includes several family history books titled The Flemings of Bransford, The Family Trip, The Dakotans and What Happened to What's His Name; two nostalgia books The Life and Times of Fred Miller Robinson and RFD Bethpage, and one fiction novel, The Non-Secure Line. He is working on a true history of Shop-31 and a futuristic, science fiction novel.
Cameron Sperry
Cameron Sperry ("Calamity"), a native of Charleston, is a two-time previous winner of the S.C. Fiction Project, and one of her winning stories, "Torpor," was included in the anthology Inheritance: Selections from the South Carolina Fiction Project. She holds a master's degree in English from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and is coordinator of the writing center at Trident Technical College in North Charleston. "Calamity" was inspired by her friends, the huntresses at Lightsey Hunt Club for Ladies in Brunson, S.C.


About the Jurors

Mike HeppnerMike Heppner is the author of two novels, The Egg Code (Knopf, 2002) and Pike's Folly (Knopf, 2006). His writing has also appeared in Esquire Online and Nerve.com. The Egg Code was named by the Washington Post and Publishers Weekly to their "Best of the Year" lists and was nominated for a Quality Paperback Book Club New Voices Award. Pike's Folly was praised by Publishers Weekly for its "...haunting and redemptive vision of New England's past and present," and by Esquire for its "...breezy black humor that cloaks a biting satire." He lives in Belmont, Massachusetts, and teaches Creative Writing at Emerson College. A third novel is forthcoming.

His comments on judging the 2007 S.C. Fiction Project: "I was very pleased and honored to be asked to help judge this year's South Carolina Fiction Project. Having grown up in the Midwest and lived on and off in New England, these stories offered me a window into a region and culture as diverse as it is indelible. Reading them, laughing with them, sometimes being hushed into silence by what they convey, I learned something about my country. I learned that we're thinking a lot about death - family too. We're perplexed about race and taking solace in the strange. God's on our minds, but not always in the same ways and for the same reasons. We're getting married, then realizing we don't know enough about ourselves, let alone the other person. We're remembering who we were a half century ago and trying to infer something about our present from our past. We're fighting with our words and our fists, both times gaining little in process. We're learning more from our students than they're learning from us. We're going to work, to church, to school - who knows, maybe just to hell, each in our own ways. We're failing at a lot of things and succeeding at some. And we're writing about it too. Thank God for that."

Ellen LitmanEllen Litman is the author of The Last Chicken in America, a novel in stories. Her stories have appeared in Best New American Voices 2007, Best of Tin House, Ontario Review, Triquarterly, Ploughshares, and other magazines. Her fiction won first prize in the Atlantic Monthly 2003 Fiction Contest, and she's been awarded the 2006 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award, as well as fiction fellowships at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Fine Arts Center in Provincetown, and scholarships to the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. She holds an MFA from Syracuse University and teaches Creative Writing at the University of Connecticut.

Her comments on judging the 2007 S.C. Fiction Project: "First of all, I want to say what a joy and honor it was to judge this contest. So much talent! Such different stories! Thinking of the final selections, I find it hard to talk of them in general terms. Each winning story has charmed me in its own way. Some are traditional in their style, while others are more structurally daring. Some grapple with serious and even tragic matters, while others are lighthearted -- though in the end, no less poignant. What brings them together in the first place, is the beauty of their language, the voices that captivate us, the sentences that glitter on the page and take our breath away. They bring to mind the best of Southern Writing - Flannery O'Connor, Eudora Welty, Barry Hannah. The stories feature some unforgettable characters - an ambivalent father, a neglected teenage girl, a couple of college professors, a rebellious Deacon, a man who is obsessed with reading bumper stickers - and each is developed with a great degree of compassion and nuance. But they don't exist in a vacuum either. I was struck by how lovingly these stories evoked the worlds and cultures their characters inhabit. We visit a retirement home and a textile mill. There is a college town haunted by a murder, a downtown street in the fifties, a hunting trip. Each story is a journey. These are the worlds we might not encounter in our day-to-day lives, but the stories make them alive and real, and we are the richer for having experienced them."