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2009 Honorees

james alexander thom, National Winner

Born in 1933 to Owen County doctors Jay W. and Julia S. Thom, James Alexander Thom gained his education in Indianapolis at Arsenal Technical High School and Butler University, which later awarded him an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.

His journalistic career included employment at The Indianapolis Times and The Indianapolis Star, where he was Business and Finance columnist. He taught at the Indiana University School of Journalism on the Bloomington campus in the late 1970s.

 His first published novel, Spectator Sport, appeared in 1978, followed the next year by Long Knife, the first of the meticulously-researched historical novels for which he is best known. This has been followed by Follow the River, From Sea to Shining Sea, Panther in the Sky, The Children of First Man, The Red Heart, Sign Talker and Saint Patrick’s Battalion. Thom’s novels have sold more than 2.5 million copies and most are still in print. Panther in the Sky won the Western Writers of America SPUR award in 1989 as Best Novel of the West. Today, Thom lives in a log cabin in Owen county where he continues to write, illustrate and sculpt. More information available at

margaret mcmullan, national finalist

A recipient of a 2010 NEA Fellowship in literature and a 2010 Fulbright at the University of Pécs in Pécs, Hungary, Margaret McMullan is the author of nine award-winning books, including her memoir, Where The Angels Lived: One Family’s Story of Loss, Exile, and Return. Her books When I Crossed No-Bob and How I Found the Strong both won the Mississippi Arts and Letters Award for Best Fiction (in 2004 and 2008), the Indiana Best Young Adult Book (in 2005 and 2008), and they are both New York Public Library A-List Books for Teens. Margaret has taught on the summer faculty at the Stony Brook Southampton Writers Conference in Southampton, New York, at the Eastern Kentucky University Low-Residency MFA Program, at the University of Southern Indiana’s Summer and Winter Ropewalk Writers Retreat, and at Word Theatre’s Writing Retreat in Edale, England. She was the Melvin Peterson Endowed Chair in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Evansville, where she taught for 25 years. She now writes full time in Pass Christian, Mississippi. More information available at

scott russell sanders, national finalist

Scott Sanders was born in Tennessee and grew up in Ohio. He studied at Brown University before going on, as a Marshall Scholar, to complete a Ph.D. in English literature at Cambridge University. In 1971 he joined the faculty of Indiana University, where he taught until 2009, retiring as Distinguished Professor of English.

He has published 20 books and seven storybooks for children. His work has appeared in such magazines as Harper’s, Audubon, Orion, and The Georgia Review, and it has been reprinted in The Art of the Essay, American Nature Writing, The Norton Reader and other anthologies. Sanders has received fellowships for writing from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Indiana Arts Commission and the Guggenheim Foundation. His work has been selected for The Best American Essays, the Indiana Humanities Award and the Mark Twain Award. For his collected work in nonfiction, he was honored in 1995 with a Lannan Literary Award. He and his wife, Ruth, a biochemist, have reared two children in their home town of Bloomington, in the hardwood hill country of the White River Valley in southern Indiana. More information available at

susan neville, regional winner

Susan Neville is the author of six works of creative nonfiction: Fabrication: Essays on Making Things and Making Meaning; Twilight in Arcadia; Iconography: A Writer’s Meditation; Butler’s Big Dance; Sailing the Inland Sea, and Light. Her collections of short fiction and hybrid fiction include In the House of Blue Lights, winner of the Richard Sullivan prize and listed as a ‘Notable Book’ by the Chicago Tribune; Invention of Flight, winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction; and Indiana Winter. Her stories have appeared in the Pushcart Prize anthology and in anthologies including Extreme Fiction (Longman) and The Story Behind the Story (Norton.) She lives in Indianapolis with her husband and two children and teaches writing at Butler University and in the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers. More information available at

jared carter, regional Finalist

Indiana native Jared Carter has published four collections of poems. His first, Work, for the Night Is Coming, received the Walt Whitman Award for 1980. His second, After the Rain, won the Poets’ Prize for 1994. He has received a Guggenheim fellowship, two creative writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Indiana Governor’s Arts Award. He has served as a literature panelist with the National Endowment for the Arts.

james h. madison, regional finalist

James H. Madison is the Thomas and Kathryn Miller Professor Emeritus of History, Indiana University, Bloomington. He has also taught as a Fulbright Professor, at Hiroshima University, Japan, and at the University of Kent, Canterbury, England. He has served on the boards of Indiana Humanities and the Indiana Historical Society and as a member of the Indiana Bicentennial Commission. Jim is the author of several books, including Eli Lilly: A Life, A Lynching in the Heartland, Slinging Doughnuts for the Boys: An American Woman in World War II, World War II: A History in Documents, The Indiana Way: A State History, and Hoosiers: A History of Indiana.

christine montross, emerging winner

A 2015 Guggenheim Fellow in Nonfiction, Dr. Christine Montross is Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. She received her undergraduate degrees and a MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan, where she also taught writing classes as a lecturer following graduation. She was born and raised in Indianapolis. Dr. Montross’s first book, Body of Work, was named an Editors’ Choice by The New York Times and one of The Washington Post’s best nonfiction books of 2007. Her second book, Falling Into the Fire, was named a New Yorker Book to Watch Out For. She has also written for many national publications including The New York Times, The New England Journal of Medicine, The Washington Post Book World, Good Housekeeping and O, The Oprah Magazine. More information available at

kathleen hughes, emerging finalist

Kathleen Hughes was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. She graduated from Yale University with a BA in English and earned an MFA. from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. She currently lives with her husband and two young children in Providence, Rhode Island and teaches high school English at an independent school. Dear Mrs. Lindbergh, published by WW Norton, is her first novel. Hughes has also published stories and essays in Altared (Vintage Books), Pieces (MTV/Pocket Books) and The Land Grant College Review. As a staff writer for the Providence Phoenix newspaper, Hughes published work in the Boston Phoenix and on AlterNet and won awards from the Rhode Island and New England Press Associations. She has won fellowships from the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop, the Vermont Studio Center, Sewanee Writer’s Conference and Portsmouth Abbey School.

gregg schwipps, emerging finalist

Greg Schwipps was raised on a working farm in Milan, Indiana. He graduated from Milan Jr. /Sr. High School in 1991 and attended DePauw University, where he majored in English Writing. Following his graduation from DePauw, he attended Southern Illinois University at Carbondale for his MFA in creative writing. After receiving his MFA, Greg returned to DePauw, where he is currently a Professor of English, teaching primarily creative writing classes. His creative nonfiction articles and essays have appeared in outdoor magazines like Outdoor Indiana, Indiana Game & Fish and In-Fisherman. His first novel, What This River Keeps, was published by Ghost Road Press. A lifelong fascination with fishing and rural living has deeply influenced his life and work. He and his wife Alissa live with their two dogs on ten acres of woods near Morgan County’s town of Wilbur. He spends much of his free time cat fishing in the nearby West Fork of the White River.