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Author with Victoria roots returns to read at UHV (audio)

By Carolina Astrain
Sept. 1, 2013 at 4:01 a.m.
Updated Sept. 2, 2013 at 4:02 a.m.


ABR FALL LINEUP:

Rosemary Catacalos - Sept. 19

Catacalos is the author of two volumes of poetry, "Again for the First Time" and "As Long as It Takes." Her award-winning works regularly focus on her mixed Mexican and Greek heritage, in which she looks to history, culture and mythology in her explorations of human emotions.

Brian Evenson - Oct. 17

Evenson has authored 10 books of short stories, seven novels, a book of nonfiction and five translated volumes. His work often focuses on brutality, violence and hypocrisy, using fiction to critique contemporary values.

Christopher Howell - Nov. 7

Howell has authored 10 volumes of poetry, a collection of essays and is the editor of an anthology. Originally a military journalist during the Vietnam War, he later founded Lynx House Press and is now a professor of creative writing at Eastern Washington University in Cheney.

Paul Ruffin - Nov. 21

Best known as a short story author, Ruffin also writes novels and poetry that often focus on the South's people, landscape and attitudes. He is the author of "Circling," which won the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award, and is a member of the Texas Institute of Letters.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Elizabeth Hand, American Book Review Reading Series lecture. The author is best known for her works that examine values and the nature of survival in a post-apocalyptic world.

WHEN: Noon Thursday

WHERE: Alcorn Auditorium, University West, University of Houston-Victoria, 3007 N. Ben Wilson St.

COST: Free

FROM THE PAGES

Here's an excerpt from one of Elizabeth Hand's short stories,

"The Maiden Flight of McCauley's Bellerophon:"

That night nobody slept. Emery drove Zach, Tyler and Leonard to a Dunkin Donuts where the boys got a cellphone signal and sent their movie footage to Leonard's laptop. Back at the house, he disappeared while the others sat on the deck and discussed, over and over again, what they had seen. The boys wanted to return to the beach, but Robbie refused to let them go. As a peace offering, he gave them each a beer. By the time Leonard emerged from his room with the laptop, it was after 3 a.m.

He set the computer on a table in the living room. "See what you think." When the others had assembled, he hit Play.

Blotched letters filled the screen: THE MAIDEN FLIGHT OF MCCAULEY'S BELLEROPHON. The familiar tipsy horizon appeared, sepia and amber, silvery flashes from the sea below. Robbie held his breath.

And there was the Bellerophon with its flickering wheels and wings propelled by a steadfast pilot, until the brilliant light struck from below and the clip abruptly ended, at exactly 17 seconds. Nothing betrayed the figure as Maggie rather than McCauley; nothing seemed any different at all, no matter how many times Leonard played it back.

"So that's it," he said at last, and closed his laptop.

"Are you going to put it on Youtube?" asked Zach.

"No," he replied wearily. The boys exchanged a look, but for once remained silent.

"Well." Emery stood and stretched his arms, yawning. "Time to pack."

Two hours later they were on the road.

Source: Elizabeth Hand

Science fiction author Elizabeth Hand's last visit to the Crossroads was almost a decade ago.

Hand, 56, returns to Victoria to kick off the University of Houston-Victoria's American Book Review Reading Series' fall lineup at noon Thursday.

Hand's grandmother used to work as the librarian for the public library when it was at the building that is now the Nave Museum. She died in 1994.

Hand's mother, Alice Ann Silverthorn-Hand, moved to Victoria as a teen and attended a Victoria high school.

And to this day, Hand's family has maintained farmland in Victoria, which she used to visit during the summers of her childhood.

"I loved it," Hand said. "I have very fond memories of that part of Texas."

The first book she attempted to write in her early 20s was based on that area, Hand said.

"It was one of those things you put in a drawer somewhere," Hand said. "Maybe I'll take it out after this week."

Her mother and aunt, Elizabeth Silverthorn-Musick, who both made the trip south with the author, will be at the ABR reading.

Her latest collection of short stories, "Errantry," is made up of 10 stories Hand has worked on for the past five years.

In that collection, the short stories "The Maiden Flight of McCauley's Bellerophon" and "Near Zennor" feature characters dealing with the recent loss of their wives.

"I tend to write a lot about rupture," Hand said. "A lot of times when we experience that sort of rupture, it's because a loved one has passed or there's been a conflict within a relationship."

The author is now working on the third in a series of suspense novels.

"They all feature the same protagonist, who is a total burnout, hot mess of a person," Hand said. "She's really a train wreck but is also a very brilliant old-school film photographer."

When she was 29, Hand decided to quit her job at an air and space museum and started writing full time after attending a writer's workshop in Washington, D.C.

"I always wanted to be a writer and suddenly realized that it was one those now-or-never things," Hand said. "I realized that this was something that I wanted to do my entire life, so I just did it."

Hand is now the author of 17 novels, four collections, six novelizations of movies and TV shows, the comic book "Anima," several book reviews and articles and four Star Wars kids' books.

In her short story "On Zennor," Hand writes about three teenage girls who encounter will-o'-the-wisp, magical ghost lights with Scottish folklore roots.

Hand drew inspiration for a mysterious, spooky encounter from a real-life experience she had in the backyard of her friend's New York home.

"It was the only time I'd ever had a genuinely inexplicable experience that I guess you could classify as paranormal," Hand said. "I still don't know what happened."

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