Deanna Miller. The line began to blur between her fantasy world and her real world. But sometimes, just sometimes, there was an air of symmetry between the two. 2012 Gold Key, Digital Art.

Deanna Miller. The line began to blur between her fantasy world and her real world. But sometimes, just sometimes, there was an air of symmetry between the two. Grade 12, Age 17. 2012 Gold Key, Digital Art.

In a recent blog post, Start.Write.Now: Fantastic Journeys, we featured the 2013 Gold Medal-winning Science Fiction/Fantasy story, The Lions’ Den. After reading and relishing it, we couldn’t help asking ourselves once again: how did she do it? Seeking a satisfactory answer, we went right to the source: 18-year-old author and Texas native Mary Elizabeth Dubois. Check out our Q & A with her below. And flex your fantastic imaginations and fingers, because the 2014 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards launches on Monday, September 16!

What inspired you to choose this genre to write Lions’ Den?
I am usually inspired to write when I am in the middle of a crowd. The idea for my submitted piece, “The Lions’ Den,” came to me in the middle of a crowded pizza shop in New York City. I don’t need time, space, or comfort to write. All I need is an idea and my iPhone notepad app. Coffee and Earl Grey tea don’t hurt, either.

As far as the science fiction genre goes, I knew this theme needed to come across as futuristic in order to appear relevant and be understood. I’ve always been obsessed with the idea of the marching man. The man who continuously strives to better himself and create a peaceful world in which to live, and yet, comes to the end of his life realizing he has created nothing. Read More

Daniel Lion

Daniel in the Lion’s Den by Briton Riviere (1840-1920), painted in 1892.

Just the Facts: The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards’ Science Fiction/Fantasy Category includes writing that uses supernatural, magical, futuristic, scientific, and technological themes as a key element of the plot. All teens in 7-12 grade are invited to submit works of 600-3,000 words to the 2014 Scholastic Awards beginning September 16.

The genre of fantasy allows a writer to travel through time, revisit ancient tales and reset them in the future, give voice to the outlandish and stretch our abilities to imagine and believe in the story we are being told. In “The Lions’ Den,” Mary Elizabeth Dubois (2013 Gold Medalist) soars back to biblical times for inspiration, and uses the apocryphal episode in which Daniel is placed in grave danger because he worships God. See if her re-imagining rings true for you—or at the very least, weaves its own magical web!

The Lions’ Den
Walking was such a treacherous thing.
She had been walking and walking and walking since she was a small child. Barely breathing, they taught her to walk. Before she learned how to eat or say her name, she was taught to walk.
Always walking.
Treacherous, treacherous walking. Read More

We recently had the chance to catch up with Scholastic Awards alum Ned Vizzini and talk to him about his upcoming book, House of Secrets, (coming out April 23) which he wrote together with director Chris Columbus who began the Harry Potter film series! It’s the first novel in their exciting fantasy trilogy. Check out what he had to say about it below and take a peek at the artwork inside the book! You’ll also find some helpful advice for young writers at the end of our interview.

SA: What is House of Secrets about? And, what makes this story epic?
NV: House of Secrets is about three kids – the Walkers – who move to a creepy old house in San Francisco that used to be owned by an even creepier writer: Denver Kristoff. Kristoff is like an H. P. Lovecraft cult figure who wrote pulp tales of pirates and warriors and dark magic. When the Walkers anger the wrong person in their new home, they get banished into the world of Kristoff’s books, where all his mad creations come to life!
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“I’ve experienced very few moments in my life that have brought me to hand-over-mouth, throat-gone-dry silence. One occurred on a weekday evening after babysitting, when I learned that I’d won the novel division of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards,” says Anna Waggener in an interview with Scholastic recently. The Novel Writing category judges of the 2008 Scholastic Awards spotted budding talent in Anna, and her Award-winning work went on to become her first novel, Grim, published by Scholastic Press and currently on the shelves of bookstores everywhere! Anna credits the Awards for “making it all possible”, and says that “the amazing thing about the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards is that they inspire teens to master form and technique and then push things farther.”

Check out the interview below!

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Image: Cover for Havemercy. Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett. (Spectra, 2008).

The books Havemercy, Shadow Magic and Dragon Soul are part of a fantasy trilogy written by 2004 Scholastic Writing Portfolio Gold Medalist Jaida Jones and her co-author Danielle Bennett. The books begin with a tale of two cities, Volstov and Ke-Han. Amidst warring magicians, macho dragon riders and their mysterious mechanical steeds, these rich characters must ultimately work together to find lasting peace. How did Jaida and Danielle publish three books (with a fourth on the way!) and conceive a rich fictional world with original characters? Like many epic sagas, it started out with a Scholastic Award, a story about firefighters, and a sensitivity training class at a summer job. Read More

Image: Madeleine L’Engle. Juror for The Scholastic Writing Awards, Short Story Division. Literary Calvacade, 1973.

Sci-fi author Madeleine L’Engle enjoyed careers as a librarian and an actress by the time she judged short stories for the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards in the early 1970s. But like the young writers whose work she evaluated, she was no stranger to criticism. L’Engle’s best known work, the sci-fi children’s classic A Wrinkle in Time, was initially rejected by dozens of publishers in the early 1960s. Why? According to Madeleine L’Engle: “A Wrinkle in Time had a female protagonist in a science fiction book, and that wasn’t done.” Read More