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September 11, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Alum’s Creative Writing Career Leapfrogs Ahead

David Armstrong

David Armstrong

Congrats to Creative Writing alum David Armstrong ’02, ’11M, whose first book, a story collection called Going Anywhere, won the Leapfrog Press Fiction Contest and will be published in fall of 2014. He just started “seriously writing short stories” about two years ago, and in the last six months he’s had 13 stories picked up for publication, nine of them contest winners.

The Competitive Writer interviewed Armstrong on the role contests play for writers in  Words With Winners – David M. Armstrong. Armstrong graduated from Honors Tutorial College in 2002 and earned an M. A. in Creative Writing and Fiction in 2011 from Ohio University’s College of Arts & Sciences.

What does winning the Leapfrog contest mean for you? 

It means a great deal. It’s my first book, which is of course a kind of milestone. I’m just glad the editors at Leapfrog and the contest judge, Lev Raphael, saw something there worth publishing as a whole. I’d received some good responses (publications and contest wins) to individual stories, but I’m always plagued by a nagging feeling I might be returning to the same waters too often. I tend to obsess over a few certain philosophical and psychological questions, as writers are wont to do, so I often worry that all my stories are iterations of a few narrow concerns. Having the book selected tells me that I managed to push each story into new territory—enough that the folks at Leapfrog saw it as a complete collection, with thematic elements holding it together, as opposed to a dozen versions of the same story. In general, I guess the win tells me I’m working with a sufficient degree of breadth, an expansiveness for which I consistently strive. Read more.

Armstrong’s individual stories have won the Mississippi Review Prize, the New South Writing Contest, Jabberwock Review’s Prize for Fiction, and Bear Deluxe Magazine’s Doug Fir Fiction Award, among others. His latest stories appear in The Baltimore Review, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Potomac Review, Mississippi Review, and elsewhere. A Ph.D. candidate in Fiction at UNLV, he’s fiction editor of Witness Magazine and recipient of the Black Mountain Institute Fellowship.

Going Anywhere: Stories by David Armstrong

The stories in Going Anywhere occupy the space between life’s dark realities and the fantastic leaps of faith people make to survive. A father seeks out a way to deal with the unexpected death of his daughter, a heroin-addicted mother kidnaps her own son to teach him about beauty, expectant parents wrestle with their own doubt, and one man searches for answers about the massacre of his neighbors. But beneath the human struggle is a prevailing sense of wonder—a public pool with miraculous properties, a church that requires its parishioners to carry the plasticized hands of corpses, a dog at a gas station with insight about a man’s marital indiscretions, and a worldwide epidemic of ghosts. Connecting them all is the journey: people traveling in search of solace, insight, clarity, and purpose, gathering up their own lives into discernible pieces of fact and conviction in the hopes of getting it right.


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