Brock Adams Wins SC First Novel Prize, Thomas McConnell and Erika Pertell Named Finalists

July 13, 2016 at 8:40 am
Brock Adams

Brock Adams

Congratulations to USC Upstate’s Brock Adams who was recognized recently by the South Carolina Arts Commission and Hub City Press of Spartanburg as the winner of the 2016 South Carolina First Novel Competition.

Named as finalists in the competition were Dr. Thomas McConnell, a professor of English at USC Upstate, and alumna Erika Pertell, who received her bachelor’s degree in English in 2007 .

Adams is a senior instructor of English and creative writing and who also directs the Writing Center. His novel, Ember, will be published by Hub City Press in September 2017. He also will receive a $1,000 book advance from Hub City Press.

In Ember, the sun is dying, civilization is collapsing, and Lisa’s marriage to Guy is falling apart. It’s a story of love and survival as they struggle to find their way through the frozen world beneath the Ember.

“This evocative, near-future story imagines our misuse of Earth as resulting in a wan and failing sun, making it both timeless and contemporary,” said competition judge Bridgett M. Davis. “Against a haunting, apocalyptic Southern landscape, and with a panoply of rich characterizations, this beautiful novel is a cautionary tale about the power-hungry who rise from the ashes of a lost and dying world. With page-turning twists, the writer makes us care deeply about the small band of survivors making their way against violence and fear and the unknown—toward a brave new world. Ember begins with a small, glowing flame of intrigue and originality, then grows into a fireball of dazzling plot and prose, bursting into a literary tour de force.

He has published stories in Sewanee Review, Best American Mystery Stories, Barrelhouse, Acapella Zoo, and elsewhere. His book of stories, Gulf, was published by Pocol Press in 2010. He has an MFA in creative writing from the University of Central Florida.

Ember is a rollicking read, and we look forward to being its publisher,” said Betsy Teter, director of Hub City Press, which has published the four previous winners of the biennial competition.

“The First Novel Prize is South Carolina’s premier competition to discover new novelists in our state and launch their literary careers,” said Sara June Goldstein, literary arts director at the South Carolina Arts Commission. “It is the only first novel competition sponsored by a state arts commission, and it presents a unique way to appreciate the depth and breadth of the work of our remarkable writers, and then get the best of that fine writing into the hands of readers.”

The competition judge, Bridgett M. Davis, is author of the novels Into the Go-Slow (The Feminist Press, 2014) and Shifting through Neutral (Amistad/HarperCollins, 2004), which was a finalist for the 2005 Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright LEGACY Award. She is a professor at Baruch College CUNY and lives in Brooklyn. She is an essayist, filmmaker, and curator.

Other finalists in this year’s First Novel competition were Michael Bruton and Rush Leaming, both of Columbia.

Other previous First Novel winners are Brian Ray, formerly of Columbia, author of Through the Pale Door (2008), selected by Percival Everett; Matt Matthews of Greenville, author of Mercy Creek (2010), selected by Bret Lott; Susan Tekulve of Spartanburg, author of In the Garden of Stone (2012), selected by Josephine Humphreys; and James McTeer of Columbia, author of Minnow (2014), selected by Ben Fountain.

The South Carolina First Novel Prize is funded by the South Carolina Arts Commission, Hub City Press and the Phifer/Johnson Foundation of Spartanburg. South Carolina State Library and South Carolina Humanities are founding partners.

For more information, visit or call www.SouthCarolinaArts.com/firstnovel, (803) 734-8696; or www.hubcity.org. (864) 577-9349.

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