The biggest buzz of the conference (at least to my ears) swirled around fiction fellowship winner Ben Roberts, an Ogden writer. For his story "The Three Nephites," Roberts won a cash prize, publication of his piece in a future issue of the University of Utah literary journal Quarterly West and a consultation with a prominent editor or agent. Roberts, 30, is a 2006 graduate of Weber State University in radiological science. He read his story one evening during the conference. It is stunning. Without giving too much away, the plot revolves around a group of friends at various levels of their faith in Mormonism and a tragic choice and its consequences.
Almond, who judged the fiction category, wrote in a conference brochure of Roberts' work:
“My God. I was absolutely blown away by this story, which does what every great short story must: it creates its own world and sucks the reader into that world and horrifies us and at the same time (and this is the miracle, I think) makes us never want to leave. The voice is absolutely fearless, ecstatic, and dangerously wise. I could feel my heart thumping as I read the last line, and for a long time after.”Other visiting writers were equally effusive. Watch for Roberts soon, I'll bet, at a bookstore signing near you. (Holly Mullen)