MFA Alumna Wins Accolades for Socially Conscious Novel

Fleur photo-155Fleur Philips’ self-published new novel, “Crumble,” is the 2013 San Francisco Book Festival Winner for Young Adult Fiction, and a Young Adult Finalist in the 2013 International Book Awards. Working Mother Magazine also named it one of the top seven summer books for teens and tweens. “Crumble” has struck powerful a chord with readers, depicting an interracial high school romance facing the destructive forces of intolerance in a small Montana town.

Philips credits the evolution of “Crumble,” which she began in 1999, with her experience in AULA’s MFA program. “I was surrounded by writers who chose to tackle social justice in their work, without fear of societal backlash, and that was a huge inspiration for me,” recalls Philips, who graduated in 2012. In her second year of the program, she revisited her original manuscript, layering in issues of gun control, child abuse, and bullying to create a more complex portrait of her characters’ lives.

Philips was initially hesitant to write explicitly about social justice. “I didn’t want to be stereotyped as ‘that writer who…,’” she acknowledges. But she ultimately drew courage from her MFA mentors and classmates who were tackling difficult issues in their work. Soon she felt the courage to do the same. “The program really solidified my belief that I was given this ability in order to enlighten and educate others,” Philips says. “And if I don’t use it for that purpose, I’m not fulfilling my responsibility as a writer.”

Learn more about Philips at her website, www.fleurphilips.com