Free Lance-Star reporter Amy Umble covers Stafford County schools and other education issues

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UMW professor’s book wins awards

University of Mary Washington English Professor Steve Watkins has received more accolades for his young adult novel “What Comes After.”

The 2011 novel has been named to Bank Street’s list of 2012 Best Books of the Year. “What Comes After” is one of 46 books in the category for children older than 14-years-old. The Bank Street College of Education annually chooses books to recommend for teachers, librarians and young readers.

“What Comes After, ” Watkins’ second young adult novel, tells the story of Iris, a sixteen-year-old girl who is able to face her harsh encounters with grief and abuse with resilience and courage.

Watkins’ novel also is a finalist for the 2012-2013 Georgia Peach Book Award, given by the Georgia Library Media Association, Georgia Library Association, Georgia Public Library Service and the Georgia Education Association. Watkins is one of 20 nominees in the teen readers category. Teens will read and rate the books to determine the winner of the award, which will be announced in April 2013.

Watkins also is the author of “Down Sand Mountain,” winner of the 2009 Golden Kite Award for Fiction from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Another young adult novel “Juvie” is scheduled for publication in fall 2013.

A winner of a 2011-2012 Artist Fellowship from the Virginia Commission for the Arts, Watkins received critical acclaim for his short story collection “My Chaos Theory” and his non-fiction book “The Black O: Racism and Redemption in an American Corporate Empire.”

Watkins received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Florida State University. He teaches courses in journalism, creative writing and Vietnam War literature at Mary Washington.