'Evacuation Plan' Wins North Texas Book Festival Award

Share Article

"Evacuation Plan," a novel-in-stories by Dalton Publishing author Joe M. O'Connell received the 2009 North Texas Book Festival Award in adult fiction on April 17 in Denton, Texas.

Dalton Publishing author Joe M. O'Connell was presented the 2009 North Texas Book Festival Book Award for adult fiction for his novel-in-stories Evacuation Plan, a novel from the hospice ($13.95, ISBN 978-0-9740703-8-4) in Denton, Texas on Friday, April 17.

Now in its ninth year, the North Texas Book Festival, a non-profit organization, has awarded more than $25,000 in grants to school and public libraries and literacy groups in North Texas using the proceeds from the annual book festival. Presented first in 2007, the book awards are intended to honor exceptional works from small, independent publishers. "It's great to be honored by folks who care so much about books and literacy," O'Connell said. "Sometimes it can be difficult for authors from smaller literary publishers to get the word out, and this sort of recognition helps." He recalls a bookseller once pointing to all of the books in her store and reminding him of the vast competition present in the publishing industry. "Awards like these help to pull books to the forefront."

Other 2009 book award winners include From Guns to Gavels: How Justice Grew Up in the Outlaw West by Bill Neal (Texas Tech University Press) for adult nonfiction, and children's book Birth of the Fifth Sun and Other Mesoamerican Tales by Jo Harper (Texas Tech University Press).

Since its release in July 2007, Evacuation Plan has proven a local best-seller and was recently a finalist for the Violet Crown Book Award presented by the Writers' League of Texas. The novel is loosely inspired by time O'Connell spent at Hospice Austin's Christopher House and weaves wondrous tales of the terminally ill and their families, friends, and enemies who share surprising joys and revealing truths as they experience the final transformation of life. Wayne Alan Brenner of The Austin Chronicle calls Evacuation Plan "an excellent, thought-provoking diversion from our own inevitable plummet toward the grave" and "highly recommend[s] it to you, the living."

Written in the novel-in-stories style of Tim O'Brien's July July, the characters in Evacuation Plan expose themselves in poignantly unfolding stories: the gambler who played a risky game involving his wife and his ex-con father; the daughter whose dying father had no clue about the night her world spun out of control; and the drunk who magically encountered himself as a boy. One story was adapted into a play titled "The Gambler" and performed during Austin's Frontera Fest.

Joe O'Connell is a film columnist for The Austin Chronicle and The Dallas Morning News. He also teaches creative writing to graduate students at St. Edward's University and to undergraduates at Austin Community College. He is currently working on two very different projects: completing the mystery novel that inspired Evacuation Plan and writing a book he calls a "faction" -- part fact, part fiction -- influenced by the life of his late mother.

ABOUT DALTON PUBLISHING: Dalton Publishing (http://www.daltonpublishing.com), an independent press based in Austin, Texas, adheres to the highest editorial and printing standards, while respecting the cutting-edge visions of its world-class stable of authors. Through a model of support, marketing, publicity, and social media, Dalton Publishing provides authors a platform for success in the highly competitive publishing market. Genres for publication include: fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Dalton Publishing titles are distributed nationally by Midpoint Trade Books.

ABOUT THE BOOK: "Evacuation Plan, a novel from the hospice," is a poignant look into the world of death, dying, and life. In the novel-in-stories style of Tim O'Brien's "July July" and Charles Baxter's "The Feast of Love," O'Connell's characters in "Evacuation Plan" reveal themselves in poignantly unfolding stories: the gambler who played a risky game involving his wife and his ex-con father; the mortician who was an unwed father-to-be; the daughter whose dying father had no clue about the night her world spun out of control; the nurse who lived among aging neighbors and struggled to hold her own family in place; the drunk who magically encountered himself as a boy. Forgiveness, joy, making the final leap: "Evacuation Plan" is the story of a world in which the clock ticks off the final moments for all of us and makes of those moments a lifetime.

# # #

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Deltina Hay
Visit website