Marist professor takes gold for novel at publisher's awards
English professor Tommy Zurhellen of Marist College was recently awarded a gold medal for his novel "Nazareth, North Dakota" at the 16th annual Independent Publisher awards in New York City. At the event held on June 4, Zurhellen was awarded the gold in the Best Regional Fiction category. This year's print book entries alone were a stunning 4,813, while the regional entries totaled 1,072.
Having begun in 1996, the "IPPY" awards are meant to honor independent authors and publishers around the world. The IPPYs is the first awards program intended exclusively for independent authors and publishers. Over 2,800 IPPYs have been awarded since its launch.
"I'm so excited about Nazareth, North Dakota winning a gold medal at the IPPYs this summer!" Zurhellen said. "The actual medal is a lot heavier than I thought. The ceremony was incredible: imagine a couple hundred writers and editors from academic and small presses from around the world, all rubbing elbows. There were a good number of pretty established authors there, like Rex Pickett, who wrote the novel 'Sideways,' which was turned into that great film a few years ago. It was a festive atmosphere, for sure."
The awards were held at Providence NYC in midtown Manhattan, a place Zurhellen describes as having a lot of history itself.
"So in all I was in a dream-like state for most of the night," he said.
Zurhellen's novel is the first book of a trilogy, which describes the story of the Messiah, who is reborn in the Badlands of North Dakota beginning in the 1980s. He describes the book as an allegory but not a play-by-play retelling; he presents new-and-improved New Testament figures, like Mary Magdalene's North Dakota newcomer, Daylene Hooker.
Zurhellen, who is teaching in Florence this semester, has been teaching creative writing at Marist since 2004. Before this, he was an adjunct professor at the University of Alabama. He has been developing and publishing his writing long before his recent award.
"Ever since grade school I've always felt the need to write stories down - to craft them on paper," Zurhellen said. "It was only after I left the Navy and used the GI Bill to attend a graduate writing program, however, that I found out how much work writing can be. Work I love!"
Zurhellen earned a MFA at Alabama in 2002 and has been publishing stories and essays ever since.
"When you're a writer, sometimes you feel like you just can't stop," he said. "Which is an addiction, I guess, but probably safer than other habits."
Zurhellen has some advice for young writers:
"Get connected," Zurhellen said. "A lot of times we think of writing as a solitary act, sitting alone in front of the Mac for weeks on end, but I've found writing is easier and more meaningful when you plug into a writing community. A writer makes their craft part of their life, and that includes travel, work, Facebook, you name it. So, aspiring writers should give themselves the freedom to find connections to their writing in a lot of ways."
His sequel, "Apostle Islands," will be out this month.
Get Top Stories Delivered Weekly
Recent maristcircle News Articles
Discuss This Article
MOST POPULAR MARISTCIRCLE
GET TOP STORIES DELIVERED WEEKLY
FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER
LATEST MARISTCIRCLE NEWS
- Tailgate sets positive vibe as Marist football defeats Sacred Heart
- Class of 2019 abounds with diversity
- Marist Poll goes to D.C.
- ASU’s second annual "Color Run" is a success
- Habitat for Humanity: a growing service presence on campus
- A letter from the student body president
- Puppies: Adorable & Effective Stress Relievers
RECENT MARISTCIRCLE CLASSIFIEDS
FROM AROUND THE WEB
- Content Agency Provides the Best Bang for Your...
- Easy Ways to Make Your Media Space More Enjoyable
- Toques modernos a la celebración tradicional del...
- Which Home Upgrades Really Pay Off?
- Reverse Mortgages Can Be a Valuable Retirement Tool
- Family Friday Destination: Try This TV Trio
- A Life Half Full: Aging With Optimism
- Lights, Camera, Action -- Holiday Style
- Bates Family Grows as Daughters Become Moms
- Women Face Challenges When It Comes to Health Coverage
COLLEGE PRESS RELEASES
- DePauw Student Wins $15K Scholarship to Study in New Zealand
- GoFundMe Awards $100,000 in Scholarships to 10 Promising Students
- Kaplan Survey: Law School Slump May be Over, but Recovery is Fragile
- CONFERENCE USA COLLEGE WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL AND MEN'S SOCCER COVERAGE ONLY ON beIN SPORTS
- Exclusive campus app bans professors and launches into 30 campuses!