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October 30, 2013

SUNY Oneonta instructor wins prize for fiction writing

By Denise Richardson Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — A collection of seven short stories by a SUNY Oneonta creative writing instructor has won the grand prize in the Santa Fe Writers Project 2013 Literary Awards Program for fiction.

“I am very excited,” April L. Ford of Oneonta said.

The Santa Fe Writers Project award is a prestigious honor, she said Tuesday, and her collection, “The Poor Children,” will be published in 2015.

Ford said she received a “nice letter” from the judge, David Morrell, who told her that with 380 or more entries, competition was intense. Morrell is author of “First Blood,” a debut novel that introduced the character Rambo.

Ford leads a writing and teaching life. She came to Oneonta with her husband, Assistant Professor Jonathan Sadow, who holds a tenure-track position in the English Department at the State University College at Oneonta.

She joined SUNY Oneonta’s foreign languages department as adjunct faculty teaching French in January 2010. In the fall 2012 term, she began teaching creative writing for the English department. After taking this semester off, she said, she will resume teaching two creative writing classes in January.

Ford, 35, has published fiction and nonfiction in literary journals, magazines and blogs, a media release from the college said. Three new publications are forthcoming, including her story “Namaste,” which will appear in The After Coetzee Project, anthology of scholarly essays and creative works, in winter 2014. Her first novel, “Gentle,” is under review, and she is working on a second novel.

Ford said writing has “always been an outlet’’ but not one that she took seriously. As an only child involved in competitive three-day event horse riding, her early years were solitary, she said, and reading books and writing were a natural “default” activity.

Ford said she cried after receiving the email earlier this autumn notifying her about the Santa Fe Writers Project award.

“This is really kind of ‘wow,’” she said. The collection represents many years of work and includes the first short story she penned, “A Marmalade Cat for Jenny,” she said.

The Santa Fe Writers Project fiction grand prize carries a $1,000 award, plus publication, according to the website of the independent press founded in 1998 in New Mexico.

Ford became managing editor this year of Digital Americana, a literary magazine, and she said overall 2013 has been filled with “so many good happenings” with her writing career.

In February, the collection had been shortlisted for SALT Publishing’s international Scott Prize. “The Poor Children” includes of seven stand-alone, stylistically different stories about the polarities of human behavior and the actions they compel, according to a media release from SUNY Oneonta.

One story is about a barren widow who fosters a set of orphanage twins and uses the children to attract guests to her haunted theater dinners, the release said. Another tells about a young man who decides he must leave his family and trailer park life before he can save his little sister from generational squalor.

Ford, who is Canadian, graduated with an undergraduate degree in creative writing from Concordia University in Montreal in 2007. She completed a master’s degree at Queens University in Charlotte, N.C., in 2012.