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Tue, July 23

Local author's inaugural novel wins Willa Award

After only a few years of being married, Lang and her husband had five children. She said they moved to the desert, and "when I wasn't pregnant and having children, I was a waitress."

She continued reading a lot, and said, "I washed the dishes with a book behind the faucet."

When Lang was 28, she took classes at College of the Desert near Palm Desert and had a composition teacher who paid her to help teach the class. This is when Lang discovered she had a talent for teaching, and "I realized it was something I could do well."

She then went to the University of California in Riverside (UCR) because she thought she wanted to become a psychologist. She discovered her love for English and majored in the subject, earning a bachelor's degree.

She worked as a social worker and a newspaper reporter before returning to UCR to earn a master's degree in English literature.

She and her husband had divorced by that time, and Lang remarried while she was working on getting her master's.

She taught at Navajo Community College for three years, which she calls "a big adventure," and then her family got restless so they moved to Flagstaff.

After two years there, she moved to Prescott and has been teaching at Yavapai College (YC) for 20 years. This will be Lang's last semester, but she plans to continue teaching a class here and there.

During her time at YC, Lang helped expand the creative writing program and established the Hassayampa Institute National Writing Conference (which recently won the Arizona Humanities Council Distinguished Program Award) and the Southwest Writer's Series (both bring in writers to Prescott from around the country).

While Lang has written humorous poetry and stories with many different themes, she said, "my heart is that connection with the wild we've lost."

Her latest writings are mostly about "the wild world and the connections we do or should have with it."

For Lang, writing is "almost a form of meditation at times, and a form of exploring my ideas and feelings and deep soul connections with the world. It's a way of entertaining myself and, in my own small way, contributing my ideas on being alive on this planet."

Lang added, "Life is ordinary and sacred at the same time, every plant and animal, and if I can just capture a little bit of that into my work, I'll be happy."

Lang's book is available at Barnes and Noble, the Sharlot Hall Museum and at Amazon.com

Contact the reporter at rbump@prescottaz.com

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