The Everett Southwest Literary Award has a winner for 2012. The competition called for short story manuscripts and was judged by author Lee K. Abbott. Abbott chose The Stories We Tell Ourselves by Leslie Jill Patterson to receive the $5,000 award.
Patterson received her Ph.D. from Oklahoma State University and now teaches in the creative writing program at Texas Tech University, where she is also the editor of Iron Horse Literary Review. Her prose is forthcoming or has recently appeared in Texas Monthly, Colorado Review, Creative Nonfiction, Baltimore Review, Grist, The New Guard, Barrelhouse, and other publications. She also serves as the case storyteller for the Texas Regional Public Defenders Office for Capital Cases, where she interviews witnesses and the accused and fights the death penalty in Texas. She was recently awarded a 2012 Embrey Human Rights Fellowship for her work with indigent defendants charged with capital murder.
The winning manuscript, The Stories We Tell Ourselves, revolves around a series of “real-life” incidents taken from newspaper accounts but spun into fictional tales. The collection captures the natural terrain of the San Juan Mountains in Colorado—all the natural disasters, the wildlife, the four seasons, the deadly accidents in both warm and wintry weather—as well as the people who dwell there. Sports enthusiasts, locals, tourists, ranchers, people on the run and people who leave the mountains behind—these are the folks Patterson knows best after thirteen summers and five winters in Ouray, Colorado. Most important, The Stories We Tell Ourselves digs deep into that tradition of storytelling, the way we build myths about ourselves, slanting the truth until we have life-narratives that let us be the people we most want to be, people who survive what life really brings to our doorsteps..