Skip to main content

MFA Alumni Wins Lee Smith Novel Prize

Heather Frese, a WVU MFA alum, recently won the Lee Smith Novel Prize for her manuscript: The Baddest Girl on the Planet

Heather Frese

Blair, the publishing press of Heather’s novel, describes it as “a heartbreaking, haunting, even funny portrait of the life of Evie Austin, baddest girl on the planet, native of Hatteras Island, North Carolina. The final effect is one of nostalgia in the face of life’s constant changes—an effect made all the more poignant by the ebb and flow of the Hatteras Island waves. What does it mean to come of age in the Outer Banks, to love a place as deeply as you long for something more? Who are we when we don’t recognize ourselves? Each chapter is another one of Evie’s vividly rendered memories, and they appear one after another without regard for chronology, in the way real memories do. This protagonist is not for the faint of heart; Evie Austin, her hair stiff with salt, looks her reader squarely in the face.”

Find out more about the contest and Heather’s novel at We are so proud of you, Heather!