Look out, Pat Conroy. Spartanburg’s Susan Tekulve was recently named this year’s winner of the 2012 South Carolina First Novel Competition. The annual writing contest is hosted by the South Carolina Arts Commission as part of the Literary Arts Program. In conjunction with Hub City Press, The Humanities Council S.C., and the South Carolina State Library, it aims to promote the work of authors who have not been previously published. Tekulve is the competition’s fifth winner.

Each year, the contest appoints a renowned author to judge manuscripts written by South Carolina citizens. This year, Josephine Humphreys, winner of the Guggenheim Fellowship and the Southern Book Award, judged 55 entries submitted from all over the state. Tekulve’s novel, The Stranger Room, was chosen as the winner.

The Stranger Room is set in the mountains of West Virginia, focused on a single family as they fight their way through grudges and pride to finally find forgiveness.

An English associate professor at Converse College, Tekulve won a book contract with Hub City Press, a non-profit press based in Spartanburg, as well as a $500 advance. At least 1,500 copies of the book will be published, with its debut set for May 2013 at the South Carolina Book Festival. The festival, which will be celebrating its 17th year, celebrates literature by hosting various book vendors, authors, signings, and children’s events.

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