Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts



First Advisor

Susann Cokal


This thesis contains what I consider to be the best of my work over the course of my three years in the MFA program at Virginia Commonwealth University, and it is meant to demonstrate my range of ability as a creative writer. Included are a portion of my unfinished novel, Twelve Hearts of Clay, as well as a few of my favorite short stories. "Calluses," my foray into experimental writing, is perhaps the most completed piece in the collection, having found publication in the October 2010 issue of Blue Crow Magazine, an Australian literary journal. "Dead Baby Jokes," the short short piece included here, was also published, in Front Porch Flash Fiction, a local anthology from Sink/Swim Press. "An Epic Masterpiece, TBD" veers into the realm of the absurd and "Grace" is my attempt at straightforward realism. "The Dragon's Daughter" is a modern retelling of a medieval folktale. I see the novel, Twelve Hearts of Clay as the heart of the thesis. The concept for the novel came to me slowly, and over the course of a number of drafts, beginning in the Fall of 2010 in Dr. Cokal's Novel Writing Workshop. I've included the first fifty pages in sequence, and then I jump forward in the narrative to events coming down the line. Included are four modern fairy tales that will mark the four different sections of the novel and also serve as a fantastic versions of the main characters' histories and backstories. My novel and many of the stories included here place the magical world of myth and folktale right alongside the realistic world we know and see daily, and elements of each world can seep into the other. These stories are meant to draw on the reader's pre-existing understanding of narrative as a way of processing the world, something I think we learn in the form of childhood stories and fairy tales. The novel's themes and concepts of art, troubled romance, constructed identities, fairy tales and folklore are all reflected in the short stories. Each story takes a single theme and explores it outside of the context of the novel, which is, I believe, a result of the way I've been working, switching back and forth between the novel and stories, depending on which project was frustrating me the least at that moment, but ruminating always on the same questions and concerns.


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Date of Submission


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