Friday, October 22, 2010

Whitworth education alumna wins Oregon Spirit Book Award

In addition to prolific writing career, Osterlund also serves as elementary-school teacher

Anne Osterlund, '99, received the Oregon Spirit Book Award in the young adult category last August for her most recently published book, Academy 7.

Academy 7 received the award from the Oregon Council for Teachers of English for being "a distinguished contribution to children's, juvenile, or young adult literature that engages and encourages readers' imagination, discovery, and understanding."

After receiving the award, Osterlund was invited to be a guest author at the Oregon Writing Festival, a yearly event attended by the top writing students in the state.

"I have wanted to present there ever since I attended as a student, so I am thrilled," Osterlund says.

Academy 7, Osterlund's second book, is a young adult science fantasy novel that follows two teens who risk everything to attend the most prestigious school in the universe. Osterlund considers it somewhat of a combination of Star Wars and The Outsiders. Academy 7 was also named to the Best Young Adult Books of 2009 list by the Utah Librarians Association and nominated for the Tennessee Volunteer Book Award by the Tennessee Association of School Librarians.

Osterlund's debut book, a young adult fantasy novel titled Aurelia, was published in 2009. Osterlund describes Aurelia as Cinderella inside out, with an assassination plot. The book received a PSLA Top Forty Award by the Pennsylvania Librarians Association.

Due to hit bookstores in April, Osterlund's newest book, Exile, is the sequel to Aurelia. Exile takes place in the fictional country of Tyralt, a fantasy world with a royal court, tangled forests, desert sands, and a frontier. In homage to her native state, the book's cover portrays a sunset similar to those in Eastern Oregon, she says.

Currently, Osterlund is busy writing her fourth book. Due out in April 2012 from Penguin is Salvation, a young adult contemporary novel about Salva, a young man who doesn't want to be everyone's salvation, and Beth, a walking disaster.
Osterlund received a bachelor's degree in education from Whitworth, with secondary teaching fields in Spanish and English. She also belonged to the Laureate Honor Society and the International Club. She went on to earn her M.Ed. from Southern Oregon University.

Alongside writing novels, Osterlund teaches sixth grade in Irrigon, Ore. She says she has always wanted to have both professions, naively believing she could teach during school days and write in her spare time. Ultimately, she decided to take a year off from teaching to write Aurelia and learn how to submit to publishers.

During her years at Whitworth, Osterlund studied abroad in Spain, Mexico, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, France, and England. Of all those experiences, she considers her trip to Aguascalientes, Mexico, her favorite.

"I had the opportunity to teach in a real school and work with elementary students in first through sixth grade, an experience that provides me with perspective every day in my classroom," says Osterlund. "I use what I learned in Mexico, both as a teacher and as an author."

Osterlund names Associate Professor of Education Carol Hollar as a professor who significantly impacted her time at Whitworth.

"I love how open-ended her philosophy of teaching is – that she encourages her students and therefore their students to explore learning in the way that best suits or inspires them," Osterlund says.

She continues, "I teach using project-based learning and integrated thematic instruction. One year I ran a two-day archaeology dig where parents collected and buried artifacts, and the students dug up sites simulating scenes in Egypt, Greece, Rome, and China – inspired by a video clip Carol showed in class."

To aspiring authors, Osterlund says, "Write the story you love. The one that refuses to go away and keeps demanding, 'Write me.' And then write the next and the next and the next."

She also recommends attending at least one writing conference before submitting to a publisher, such as the annual Willamette Writers Conference, in Portland, Ore. For Whitworth students interested in writing, she highly recommends the Structure of English Grammar and Writing course (EL 196), the equivalent of a class she took as an undergrad.

To learn more about Osterlund or her books, visit her website at http://www.anneosterlund.com/ or her blog, http://www.anneosterlund.blogspot.com/. Her books, published by Penguin Group, can be purchased at http://www.amazon.com/, as well as most bookstores in the U.S. and Canada.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of nearly 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Contact:

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703, or eproffitt@whitworth.edu.