Dayton Daily News: Wright State professor nominated for prestigious literary award


Erin Flanagan is professor of English language and literatures and author of “Deer Season.”

Erin Flanagan was napping when it was announced that her debut novel, “Deer Season,” had been nominated for a prestigious Edgar Allan Poe Award. Though Flanagan’s debut novel is certainly a triumph in many respects, she was still surprised to learn that, despite the book’s limited exposure, it had reached enough readers to receive a nomination for such a distinguished prize.

The Edgar Allan Poe Awards honor the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced each year. The 2022 winners will be revealed at New York’s Marriott Marquis Times Square on April 28.

Flanagan, a professor of English language and literatures at Wright State University, first released “Deer Season” in September 2021 through the University of Nebraska Press. In the novel, a girl goes missing during the opening weekend of deer season in rural Nebraska. The first suspect thought to be involved in the girl’s death is Bullard, a mentally-challenged farmhand who has only a flimsy story of why his truck is now sporting fresh blood and a dent near the headlight. Throughout the novel, a series of characters will give the reader a clear picture of what lengths some people would go to in order to fight for those they love.

Flanagan’s own hometown gave her inspiration for the novel’s setting. When she was young, her family moved from a bustling Chicago suburb to live on a farm in the small town of Sanborn, Iowa. Similar to the characters in “Deer Season,” her parents moved to a rural farm where her father worked on the farm and her mother drove a school bus.

The novel is set in the 1980s, mostly because Flanagan grew up on the farm during that decade.

“I can’t imagine how much rural life has changed in that time with cell phones, Amazon Prime, and all these things that were just unimaginable when I was a kid,” Flanagan said. “We were so insulated. I really wanted to capture that sense of community and how you existed in a bit of a bubble. A lot of information came through gossip and over backyard fences. I wanted to capture that in the novel.”

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