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Alum's debut novel up for PEN/Faulkner Award

March 11, 2013

Arizona State University alumnus Amelia Gray has been selected as a finalist for the 2013 PEN/Faulkner Award in fiction for her debut novel “Threats,” an electrifying story that follows main character David through an emotional and eerie journey to find answers to his wife’s untimely death.

In the book, David begins to receive threats written on bits of paper placed throughout his home. However, it is not just the plot that is resonating with audiences, but also Gray’s attention to detail and unnerving emotion. Whether it is a blackhead or a conversation, readers gain a clear perspective as to the intentions of the scene.  

Gray has already published a collection of short stories, but “Threats” is her first novel. The idea for the thriller came from a single scene that seemed to replay itself in her mind.

“I kept seeing a woman at the bottom of the stairs, and wanted to know who she was, how she died and where the stairs were located,” she said.

Gray also was inspired by her role as a part-time writer for a marketing firm that specializes in the medical field. The final result was her two main characters, David and his wife Franny, being employed as a dentist and esthetician.

Now a finalist for the PEN/ Faulkner Award for fiction, Gray is up against four other writers from across the United States. The directors of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, who received more than 350 submissions this year alone, will determine the winner. The award will be handed out at the award ceremony and dinner on May 4 in Washington, D.C.

Gray graduated from ASU in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in English literature and a certificate in writing. It was in one her classes that she discovered her passion and determination to become a writer.

“I was in a beginning writing class that was actually a pretty decent size, and [the professor] said that only one of us will realistically make it as a full-time writer. I was determined for it to be me,” she said.

The Sun Devil alum is currently working on another collection of short stories, and is already planning to write a sophomore novel. Gray says that she is finally getting used to the new attention brought on by “Threats,” but still gets nervous at thought of the public reading her work.

Of her time at ASU, Gray says that she is grateful to the Department of English in ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for their advice and guidance while she was a student.

To learn more about "Threats," visit