Novelist Allegra Goodman chose “Late Expectations” as the winner of the 12th annual Stanford Fiction Contest. Sally Moser Small, ’62, who lives in Orinda, Calif., is the story’s author. Two honorable-mention stories, “The Informant” by Li Miao Lovett, ’90, of San Francisco, and “Bat Girl,” by Kira Snyder, ’92, of Los Angeles, can be read at our website. Stanford’s editors selected 12 finalists from 81 entries to submit to judge Goodman, PhD ’97, whose books include Intuition, The Family Markowitz and, most recently, the young-adult novel The Other Side of the Island.
Of “Late Expectations,” Goodman notes that its elderly heroine “lives with so much wit and feeling that the reader has no trouble believing that she is suddenly in love. In fact, the reader falls in love with her as well. . . . All that pleasure and surprise, all those past griefs and little disappointments in such a small space. That’s the art of short fiction.”
Lovett’s “The Informant,” Goodman notes, “is a suspenseful tale told with irony and flair.” Snyder’s “Bat Girl” reads as “a delicious Cinderella story set in off-camera, tech-support Hollywood.”
Small studied as an undergraduate with Tom Moser, now a professor emeritus of English. When she resumed writing after several years focused on rearing her two children, she took Moser’s recommendation to enroll in the writing program at San Francisco State. She won the Fiction Chapbook Award there, and a story collection, Dark Chocolate, was published by San Francisco State University Press in 1983.
Two Sloughs, a novel informed by her childhood along the Sacramento River, was self-published last year. It is about a school principal who meets her match in an 11-year-old determined to win a state band competition.
Lovett says she “stopped being a good Chinese daughter in her 20s” and these days works to be “a good-enough mom” to her 16-month-old son, Alex. She has completed a novel about a widower who finds an abandoned baby girl beside the rising waters of the Three Gorges Dam.
She began writing “The Informant” in a Stanford Continuing Studies class taught by former Stegner fellow Eric Puchner. “Our assignment was to create a story with protagonists who never meet in person. Having written a lot about contemporary China, I wanted to explore the topsy-turvy times of the Cultural Revolution, where the people you respected—your elders, parents and leaders—could be brought to their knees and persecuted on the whims of Mao’s latest call for social upheaval.”
Snyder, ’92, is a playwright and a video game designer with a master’s degree in interactive media from New York University. She is developing one of Cartoon Network’s first live-action pilots, has a young-adult novel scheduled to be published this spring, and was a writer for CBS’s Moonlight.
“Bat Girl” is the first story in a collection Snyder hopes to write about familiar supernatural creatures in unfamiliar circumstances. “So much has been written about vampires, but they remain fascinating because their mythology still provides room to play and invent. I wanted to explore what an unlikely vampire living in an unlikely place would be, and it’s hard to imagine a place more miserable for vampires than Los Angeles. As it turns out, shortly after finishing the story, I started writing on a TV show about—yes—a vampire in Los Angeles.”