March 31, 2008
A story co-authored by a Morningside College professor and a former student has been published in the spring issue of the “North American Review,” a literary magazine that has featured writers such as Walt Whitman, Henry James and Andrew Carnegie.
“Jill’s Story” is about a young woman trying to figure out what to make of her sister’s death and a family trying to fill the gap that’s been left among them. It was originally written by Jill Wiese, a 2002 graduate of Morningside College, and then it was re-worked in later years by English professor Steve Coyne.
Wiese worked on the story while a student in one of Coyne’s writing classes. She said she got the idea to write about a girl who has a car crash in the same place her sister got into a wreck and was killed because she and her cousin actually did have car crashes in the exact same location. However, no one died in the real-life car crashes.
Toward the end of the semester, Coyne asked Wiese if he could hang onto the story she had written so he could work on it himself sometime in the future. She said sure, but was still surprised several years later when he called and told her their story had been accepted for publication by the nation’s oldest literary magazine.
“It’s very exciting,” Wiese said. “I never thought that I would have a short story published. At first I didn’t know what to expect; I didn’t know how he had used the story. Then when I read it, it was my story but so much better. So that was really exciting.”
It is fairly common for faculty and students to co-author scientific articles, but Coyne said this sort of collaboration is unusual among fiction writers.
“It’s a very interesting, sort of hybrid way of generating a story, and I think it raises fascinating questions about who is teaching whom at a college like Morningside,” he said. “I learned from Jill. She gave me insights into human family dynamics, and I gave her insights into the technical aspects of handling story creation. Neither of us could have written this story alone. We needed each other. Standing shoulder to shoulder with a student and moving toward a common goal gives me the biggest charge I get out of teaching.”
After graduation, Wiese moved to Dallas to attend Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. She is currently an assistant manager for Michaels, The Arts and Crafts Store. Coyne has a doctorate from the University of Denver and has been an English professor at Morningside College since 1988. He teaches creative writing and American literature and is the faculty advisor for the student literary magazine, “The Kiosk.”
Those who wish to read their story in the “North American Review” may check libraries and bookstores. They may also contact the office of the “North American Review” by e-mail at email@example.com, or they may read the story on the Morningside College Web site at www.morningside.edu/morningside/news/CoyneWiese_JillsStory.htm.