Writer's Block

Mercantile announces winner of 2004 fiction competition

Local writer/playwright Thomas Atkinson won this year's Mercantile Library Fiction Competition.

As if THOMAS ATKINSON hadn't seen success yet, he's now speeding along that blue highway. Atkinson, who narrowly lost the top prize in last year's MERCANTILE LIBRARY FICTION COMPETITION, received first place honors this year for his entry "Blue Highway." Significant about the results is that a whole new set of judges was behind this year's accolades, demonstrating the merit and talent in Atkinson's writing. It's no surprise, as he'd already sliced a place among the local theater scene. Last fall, he directed Annie Fitzpatrick in Cuttings, the one-woman show he penned, as part of Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati's Off-Center/On-Stage Series. His script for Copperheads took a shine with a production at ETC in 1996, while the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park washed down some Clear Liquor and Coal Black Nights in 1988. Atkinson, who majored in English lit at UC with a master's degree in writing from Bowling Green State University, published his first novel, Strobe Life, via online publisher electronpress.com in 2001. Having done readings at Mercantile Library for his varied pursuits, Atkinson praises the longstanding institution for their support, though it should be noted that judging in the competition is done blindly to prevent bias. In addition to a $300 cash prize, Atkinson will also attend the prestigious Santa Barbra Writers Conference in late June. "It's like totally cool. I've never actually been to any conference like that, not in a writer capacity anyway," Atkinson effuses. CityBeat will publish Atkinson's quirky charmer about a Neil Diamond impersonator in this year's annual Literary Issue in September. Also deserving of praise is Nancy Henry Chadwick, who tied for second — with herself — for her two entries, "As Happy as Any" and "Dashboard Marys." Kelly Cowan, with perhaps the greatest (and definitely the lengthiest) title of the bunch, took third with "Shooting the Masons on a Wednesday Afternoon with Intent to Injure but Not to Kill, Thereby Receiving Jail Time."

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