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Meet Audrey Zhou, a creative writing minor whose story was accepted to the high-profile literary magazine Strange Horizons!

During her freshman year, Zhou took Intro to Fiction Writing with Dr. Karen Tucker: “It remains one of my favorite classes at UNC and was also where I first got exposed to these kinds of opportunities. She spent our last class sharing some resources for publishing in literary magazines, and while I didn’t start submitting pieces to magazines until this past semester, those resources have remained invaluable. Recently, I’ve also started looking at what magazines my favorite authors have been published in to find other places I might like to submit to someday.”

“I’ve always loved fantasy and sci-fi so I gravitated very naturally to Strange Horizons, which publishes speculative fiction. It’s been my favorite magazine for a while and I’m so happy that my story ‘Threshold’ has found a home in it! This is my first sale, so on an even more sentimental note I’m really glad that it went to a magazine I love so much. I hear that ‘Threshold’ will be out in March or April, at which point it’ll be available to read on their website.”

Zhou is grateful for the writing opportunities she has had in all of her ECL classes: “I’ve taken almost exclusively creative writing classes in the ECL department, and in all of those classes I’ve loved just getting the opportunity to write fiction. Those short stories — and novel chapters, in the case of Professor Velez’s wonderful YA fiction class — have been my favorite things I’ve done in college. Writing teaches you so much about yourself — your obsessions, the things you can’t let go — and I think it makes you really aware of what it means to be a human being, no matter what it is you’re writing about.”

She has the following advice for students who are beginning to study the humanities: “Have fun! Read, write, engage with media in thoughtful ways, but also make lots of connections with the people around you. As thankful as I am for how the ECL department has shaped how I approach reading and writing, I’m even more thankful for all the wonderful professors and classmates I’ve gotten to learn from, and the very supportive community I’ve found.”

Zhou plans to continue to pursue her interest in writing after graduation: “Since I’m a Computer Science and Statistics major, I was originally looking primarily for data science and programming roles. This school year though, I’ve started also looking at technical writing to try and marry my interests together a bit more — though creative writing and technical writing are very different from one another, that shared focus on communication has been helping me bridge the gap a little. No matter what I end up doing though, I’m certain I’ll keep writing fiction.”

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