The 1998 James Jones First Novel Fellowship was presented to Judith Barnes for her novel-in-progress, A Year in the Woods, which was selected from a total of 470 submissions. Barnes received the $2,500 award and read a selection from her work at the annual Symposium of The James Jones Literary Society, which met in Robinson, Ill.
"It means so much to a beginning writer to have this support and acknowledgment of work done," Barnes later wrote in a thank-you note to the Society. "Mr. Jones must be smiling on you all for your continued support of writers. I am thoroughly braced and more eager than ever to keep on with it."
Barnes previously received the George Pascoe Miller Prize for best first chapter submission at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers Conference in August 1997. In February 1998, her short story, "Buffalo," appeared in Faultline, the literary journal published by the University of California at Irvine.
In the mid-1960s, she lived in Paris for two years and traveled in Africa, Europe, England and Canada. Barnes began writing five years ago and also has worked as an artist. She has written a half dozen short stories and is currently editing A Year in the Woods. She lives in Glendale, Calif., with her 15-year-old son and two cats.
This is the sixth year the Society has awarded the First Novel Fellowship. Four of the previous winning novels have been published. During the general meeting earlier in the day, the membership approved that the prize be increased to $3,000 for 1999.