I’m so happy to tell you that I was awarded the Emyl Jenkins Sexton Award for Fiction on Saturday night for Mattaponi Queen. The award, presented by the Library of Virginia, honors the best work of fiction by a Virginia author, and it was exciting to share the evening with my parents, Richard, and two wonderful, inspiring women–Pat Hoppe (pictured above), who was my English teacher at West Point High School, and Judy Johnston, who brought the Young Authors program to Hamilton-Holmes Elementary School while I was there. I was a finalist with literary heavyweights John Casey and John Grisham, and the award was a huge honor.
Here I am with Judy:
The night was a mix of elegant (it was held at the beautiful Library of Virginia, in Richmond) and down-home (Richard Thomas presented the lifetime achievement tribute to Earl Hamner, who read beautifully from Spencer’s Mountain). Here is Richard Thomas, who still looks a lot like he did when he was John Boy:
Here’s my dad grabbing some Mason jar mugs, which were used to serve Waltons punch:
Here I am with my mom, before the ceremony:
Here I am getting my finalist medal:
And here I am making an acceptance speech:
The biggest thank-you goes to Richard, of course.
I think Mattaponi Queen would have never been published if he hadn’t submitted the manuscript for the Bakeless Prize. The deadline for this year’s contest is coming up, by the way: November 1. Do you have something to submit, or someone to encourage?
(P.S. Here is a link to the Library of Virginia’s press release about the awards ceremony, which includes the other winners. Congratulations to everyone nominated!)