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Alum finds book writing success

The Cornell Fine Arts Museum welcomes Vanessa Blakeslee ‘01 to read her debut book. The author and Rollins alumna has plans to publish a novel and write another short-story collection.

On April 23, Vanessa Blakeslee ‘01 will be reading from her recently released book of short stories, Train Shots, at the Cornell Arts Museum. Blakeslee is a part-time creative writing professor at Rollins College. She is also an alum; she attended Rollins College for her undergraduate degree and attended Vermont College to receive her MFA.

Train Shots, her debut novel, was recently published by Burrow Press. Burrow Press is an independent literature publisher in Orlando, which focuses on literary fiction. Many of Train Shots’ stories take place in Central Florida. The title story, which she plans to read from at the event, takes place in Winter Park.

Speaking to aspiring writers, Blakeslee emphasizes the value of hard work. On getting published, she said: “You really have to scrutinize and really, really work hard, and hold your work up to not only the people who have written in the past, but people who are writing today… you are seeking for your work to be part of the contemporary cannon. It’s very humbling.” She also recommends getting involved with the Orlando literary scene, which is very strong.

Her short stories are often inspired by strange or puzzling situations. The ideas are also often taken from alternative endings to situations. She says, “Exploring what doesn’t happen, as much as what does happen, I think is the fun of fiction, and maybe the point of it, too. It’s about a lot of our fears and doubts, some of which are irrational, and some of which are not that irrational.” In her future plans, Blakeslee has an agent in New York and is trying to publish her first novel. She had worked on it for three and a half years.

The upcoming event will take place from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Cornell Arts Museum on April 23. It will begin with a reception, and Blakeslee will then read from her book of short stories, followed by a book signing. There will be an additional book signing by Blakeslee at Winter Park Library on May 4. At that signing Blakeslee will also give a talk on setting in fiction and inspiration from real life events.

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