English alum Patty Smith (MFA/Fiction ’01), author of The Year of Needy Girls, is interviewed in the March 30th edition of VCU News. Patty’s debut novel examines homophobia, false accusations and community unrest. Patty explains, “I was teaching in Cambridge, Massachusetts, years ago, in a fifth/sixth-grade classroom, when a young boy in Cambridge was abducted, sexually molested and murdered–by his (male) next door neighbor, much like Leo Rivera in the novel. There was a lot of fear in the LGBTQ community that as a result, there might be an anti-gay backlash because of it. In real life, there wasn’t, due, in large part to the gracious parents of the murdered boy…. I often wondered ‘what if’ the parents hadn’t been so generous? What if people had reacted viscerally and gone after LGBTQ adults who work with children, however misguided?”
Patty teaches American literature and creative writing at Appomattox Regional Governor’s School. Every year she and a cadre of her creative writing students attend the Cabell First Novelist festival where students interact with a first novelist and his or her editor and agent.