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Local writer awarded NEA fellowship

Profile image for By Jenna Duncan / Staff Writer
By Jenna Duncan / Staff Writer

A Trophy Club writing professor has been awarded a $25,000 creative writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, one of 38 writers across the country to win the fellowship.

Andrew Brininstool, a creative writing professor at Stephen F. Austin University and a University of North Texas graduate, will have two years to use the money to fund research for his next novel based on the 1980 prison riot at the Penitentiary of New Mexico. He said it will be a historical novel, with fiction weaved into the time period surrounding the riot.

He was among more than 1,300 people who submitted three-sentence proposals for the fellowship, followed by a 25,000-word writing sample.

“I’m still sort of in shock about it,” he said. “It’s something I applied for and didn’t even really think about, so when I got the call from Washington D.C., I couldn’t speak ... I just giggled like an idiot for five minutes or something.”

The grant alternates each year between supporting prose and poetry work, he said. It’s designed to enable writers to have the resources to write, travel and research.

“This is a formidable group of both emerging and well-established writers,” said Amy Stolls, NEA acting director of literature, said in a press release about the award. “They demonstrate an impressive range of styles and subject matter. We are proud to recommend each of them for an NEA Creative Writing Fellowship.”

The prizes were determined by a panel of five noted authors, who will remain anonymous, Brininstool said.

“The grant will allow me to move back to Santa Fe for maybe a month or so, and there’s a lot of research I can do while there,” he said.

While Brininstool is originally from New Mexico, he graduated in 2001 from Flower Mound Marcus High School before continuing to UNT. He completed his master’s degree in fine arts at the University of Houston. He commutes to Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches, he said.

The only other Texan to receive the fellowship was author Melinda Moustakis of Austin.

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.