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Virginia Writer Wins Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize

ASHEVILLE—Victoria Crane of Charlottesville, VA, has won the 2024 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize for her story “Benediction.”

Crane will receive $1,000 and publication in The Thomas Wolfe Review.

Final judge Heather Newton said of Crane’s entry, “In the wee hours of the morning, a wrong number from prison joins two strangers in a moment of humanity. With realistic dialogue and the ticking clock of the prison’s automatic telephone warning (‘This call originated at the Walla Walla state penitentiary’) the author kept the tension taut throughout. I was riveted.”

Crane is a native of Cleveland, Ohio, now living and writing in Charlottesville. Her short fiction has been recognized by New Millenium Writings, The Masters Review, and Glimmer Train: Stories. Her story “Phantom Pain” appears in the 2023 Stories That Need To Be Told anthology, and has been nominated for a Pushcart prize. She is currently seeking representation for her first novel and working on a second.

Newton also selected “Parents’ Night” by NCWN member Larry Ceppos for honorable mention. Ceppos is a graduate of the University of Maryland and The George Washington University National Law Center who retired to Pinehurst after more than four decades as a trial lawyer. An unpublished writer, “Parents Night” is his first ever contest submission.

Heather Newton’s novel The Puppeteer’s Daughters (Turner Publishing 2022) won the North Carolina Indie Author Project award for adult fiction, was a finalist for the Forword INDIES Book of the Year Award, and has been optioned for television. Her short story collection McMullen Circle (Regal House 2022) was a finalist for both the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award and the W.S. Porter Prize. Her novel Under The Mercy Trees (HarperCollins 2011) won the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award, was chosen by the Women’s National Book Association as a Great Group Reads Selection, and was named an “Okra Pick” by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. A practicing attorney, she teaches creative writing for UNC Asheville’s Great Smokies Writing Program and Charlotte Lit and is co-founder and Program Manager for the Flatiron Writers Room writers’ center in Asheville.

The Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize, which is awarded to a work of short fiction of 3,000 words or less, is administered by the Great Smokies Writing Program at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. The program offers opportunities for writers of all levels to join a supportive learning community in which their skills and talents can be explored, practiced, and forged under the careful eye of professional writers. The program is committed to providing the community with affordable university-level classes led by published writers and experienced teachers. Each course carries academic credit awarded through UNC Asheville.

The Thomas Wolfe Review is the official journal of The Thomas Wolfe Society, publishing articles, features, tributes, and reviews about Wolfe and his circle. It also features bibliographical material, notes, news, and announcements of interest to Society members.

North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductee Thomas Wolfe (1900-1938), was born in Asheville. His Look Homeward, Angel is considered one of the most important coming-of-age novels in the English language. Wolfe was considered at the time of his death to be the greatest talent North Carolina had given to American literature. His novels and collected short stories go beyond autobiography, trying to, in William Faulkner’s words, “put all the experience of the human heart on the head of a pin.” His intense poetic language and thoughtfully developed symbology, combined with his uncanny ability to enter the minds of his other characters and give them powerful voices, elevate the books from memoir to undeniable literary art.

The nonprofit North Carolina Writers’ Network is the state’s oldest and largest literary arts services organization devoted to all writers at all stages of development. For additional information, visit www.ncwriters.org.