Two years ago, after what she describes as a “careful and conscious” search to find a good writing conference, writer and teacher Dr. Sandra Smith Hutchins finally decided to apply to the Taos Summer Writer’s Conference in New Mexico. She felt that Taos would provide not only a diverse environmental and literary terrain, but also a “stimulating, welcoming, and encouraging” environment in which to work on her latest novel. This year, not only will Sandra be attending the conference, but as the recipient of the 2010 Leo Love Merit Scholarship, she will receive the merit award at a featured reading. She will also be awarded full tuition for her weeklong workshop, “Telling Truth Through Fiction,” taught by author and journalist, Jane Ciabattari, President of the National Book Critics Circle.
Her novel-in-progress, Already Kindled, is told from the perspective of a young girl raised in Mississippi, and it is the authenticity of the narrative voice that the judges most admired in this work. The setting is rich in cultural and sensory detail, and the characters, both major and minor, are convincing enough to walk off the page. Sentence by sentence, the prose continuously builds a relationship between reader and character in a way that feels both effortless and highly crafted. The Leo Love award is granted to one poet and one prose writer each year.