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Fantasy writer opens UHV's American Book Review (video)

By Carolina Astrain
Sept. 5, 2013 at 4:05 a.m.
Updated Sept. 6, 2013 at 4:06 a.m.

Author Elizabeth Hand, 56, gives advice to a student after giving a reading at the University of Houston-Victoria's American Book Review.

With her arms crossed and voice lowered, author Elizabeth Hand impersonated a character from one of her short stories.

Black sunglasses rested atop her blonde, wavy hair as Hand, 56, read to a full room of students, faculty and community members at the University of Houston-Victoria's American Book Review Reading Series.

Two rows from the front was the author's mother, Alice Ann Silverthorn-Hand, and her aunt, Elizabeth Silverthorn-Musick.

They made the trip south with the author to visit their old hometown - Victoria.

The Victoria natives were accompanied by a dozen of their classmates from the former Patti Welder High School, where they used to cheer on their home team, the Stingarees.

After Patti Welder High School was turned into a middle school, the Stingaree mascot was later used at the former Victoria High School, which is now Liberty Academy, which has an eagle mascot.

The Patti Welder Stingarees sat in a room filled to the brim with UHV Jaguars Thursday afternoon.

"I didn't even know 'stingray' was a word until much later in life," said Silverthorn-Musick, who now lives in a small town outside of Chicago.

Silverthorn-Hand moved to New York to start a family soon after marrying.

Hand lives in Maine.

Hand greeted her audience and began reading.

She read from "The Maiden Flight of McCauley's Bellerophon," a story based on her experience working at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum when she was in her late 20s.

The story begins with Robbie, an aviation museum employee, working the security shift.

"His wife, Anna, had died of breast cancer," read the author. "Leaving him adrift in a grief so profound it was as though he'd been poisoned."

Ian Mead, an 18-year-old St. Joseph High School senior, listened as he scribbled down Hand's words into his notebook. Mead was there to hear the author read with other students from his high school.

"She uses a lot of figurative language and imagery in her writing," said Mead at the close of the reading. "I like that she isn't afraid to write about real things in life like depression and drug use."

Once the author finished taking questions from the audience, her mother and aunt joined her outside the auditorium, along with the other Patti Welder Stingarees.

"She's always wanted to be a writer ever since she was a little girl," said Silverthorn-Hand. "She'd walk around with a pencil and notepad in her hand."

The author's mother said although Hand's first book, "Sihab the Red Kangaroo," never made it to print, her husband's secretary was able to type it up for the then 5-year-old budding writer.

"We sent a copy of it to a friend of ours in Australia, and she sent back a stuffed kangaroo," Silverthorn-Hand said.

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