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What does it mean to be included in the O. Henry Prize Stories? How does an author refine their art? We've given the O. Henry Prize-winning authors free rein to share their thoughts on these questions and others, and the result is a rare treat.

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Comments Lore Segal
2010 PEN/O. Henry Award-winning Author

Here's one way to put it: The eponymous heroine of my novel Lucinella has three personas: There is Young Lucinella in a state of hectic creativity and no idea of how to get her work read; there is Lucinella in her mid life, a member of the New York literary and publishing crowd; there is Old Lucinella on her inevitable slide out of the loop. The three meet at parties around town.

In the novel on which I am at work—its temporary title is "Laputa," the name of Jonathan Swift's island where people don't die—I've resurrected this character. She is now called Lucy, on the further side of old age, and can't get her story published, so, having sufficiently mastered the intricacies of her cell phone, she reads it, willy nilly, to everyone in her address book—the old literary and publishing crowd, the famous, the midlists, unknowns, real, imaginary, dead or alive.

How very nice for my story to have found a home in the PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2010.

Writing Tips

I have been writing for a long time—I really don't think of it as writing anymore but as who I am and what I do—as Chester Himes said: "A fighter fights, a writer writes"—maybe it is not that simple—but if I stopped writing today, I would not be a writer—I would be someone who wrote books once upon a time—writing is about doing the work daily, internally, as well as externally, without cease.

About the Author

In addition to several books for children, she is the author of the widely acclaimed novels Other People's Houses, Her First American, and Shakespeare's Kitchen, which was a finalist for the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. A recipient of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Award, the Harold U. Ribalow Prize, the Carl Sandburg Award for Fiction, the Clifton Fadiman Medal, and a Guggenheim Fellowship, she has contributed to The New Yorker, among other publications. She has been included before in The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories. Segal lives in New York City.

(copy from 1/5/10, bio from 12/28/09)

To view Lore Segal's past PEN/O'Henry Prize author spotlight page, click here.

Writer's Desk

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