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Heather Drohan, Chaim Bertman, Paul Flores, and Robert Mailer Anderson collaborating with ZYZZYVA

Award: $35,000 Literary Arts grant awarded in 1998

Books Published:  July 2000-November 2001

The West Coast literary magazine ZYZZYVA collaborated through a close editorial relationship with emerging fiction writers to shape their first novels.  The project culminated with publication of four first novels (in chronological order):  False Alarm by Heather Drohan (Heather Stallings), Stand Up Tragidian by Chaim Bertman, Along the Border Lies by Paul Stojsavljevic Flores, and Boonville by Robert Mailer Anderson.

ZYZZYVA selected promising writers based on the quality of short works or novels-in-progress.  Wrestling the promise of a short piece into a sustained work of fiction on a defined publication schedule was challenging for all. Several additional writers worked on drafts with Zyzzyva editor Howard Junker that were not published.  This possibility was part of the original project plan.

The four resulting books, published with Creative Arts Book Company, enjoyed positive reviews in Publisher’s Weekly, The San Francisco Chronicle and other venues. Along the Border Lies won a PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles National Literary Award for “excellence in multicultural literature.”  HarperCollins purchased the paperback rights for Boonville.  Further,  a private donor was inspired by the significance of these first book publications for emerging writers and helped ZYZZYVA develop a related series for poets.

ZYZZYVA, founded in 1984, is a triquarterly of West Coast writers and artists, serving readers nation-wide.  ZYZZYVA has produced collections of material that first appeared in the magazine, including Roots and Branches (Mercury House, 1991); Strange Attraction:  The Best of Ten Years of ZYZZYVA (University of Nevada Press, 1995); and The Writer’s Notebook (HarperCollins West, 1995).  ZYZZYVA also has co-produced an actors-read-short stories series and writers’ workshops.