Southeast English Professor Awarded Prize for Creative Fiction


Dr. James Brubaker

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Missouri, Nov. 24, 2014 – A Southeast Missouri State University English professor has been honored for a collection of short stories he authored.

Dr. James Brubaker, assistant professor of English, has been awarded The Pressgang Prize for his “Black Magic Death Sphere: (Science) Fictions.”

The Pressgang Prize is sponsored by Pressgang, a press affiliated with the Master of Fine Arts  Program in Creative Writing at Butler University. As the 2014 winner, Brubaker earned a $1,500 prize and was welcomed to participate in a reading of his collection of short stories at Butler University. Pressgang Press will publish the collection.

Brubaker’s “Black Magic Death Sphere: (Science) Fictions” explore different popular tropes from science fiction. Brubaker authored the work with a playful approach and a bit of a subversive edge. The inspiration behind his stories are usually found through a myriad of different life experiences of his own and shared by others.

“Some stories grow out of things from my life. Some grow out of my interest in popular culture and wanting to explore how that popular culture intersects with people’s daily lives. Some stories grow out of reading non-fiction,” says Brubaker.” For this book, a lot of the stories were inspired by a lot of science books I was reading. I guess the trick is, I don’t wait for inspiration to show up, I go out and find it anywhere I can.”

Liner Notes“Black Magic Death Sphere: (Science) Fictions” is not the only work of Brubaker’s to win an award for fiction. His first full-length collection of short stories “Liner Notes” won the 2013 Subito Press Prize for prose and was officially released earlier this week. “Liner Notes” can be purchased through Small Press Distribution ( and Amazon.

Brubaker employs his passion for writing to evoke and equip his students with the tools to develop their own ways of storytelling.

“I always try to teach from my experience. Of course, with something like creative writing, part of my experience involved learning that folks have their own creative processes and work in their own ways,” says Brubaker. “So, I guess for me, then, it’s a matter of helping students develop the tools they need to tell the stories they want to tell, and then helping them find their own processes and approaches to telling those stories.”

He adds, “A big part of getting comfortable writing is sharing your work with others, and a big, big part of my classroom is learning to trust other writers as they give feedback to your work. My classrooms end up sort of looking like controlled chaos as there’s generally a lot going on in any class, and a lot of positive creative energy and excitement going into and coming out of the writing students bring to class with them,” Brubaker said.

Brubaker is currently working on his next big project, a novel he began drafting about three years ago.

pilot_season (2)“I started the novel when I was still working on my Ph.D., and then I had to take a break on it to finish ‘Liner Notes.’ Then I went back to the novel again until I got the idea for ‘Pilot Season,’ which I knew would be a short book. Then I went back to the novel again until I got too busy to focus on it… I’m almost done with the first draft, and I hope to be able to dig into the rewriting, revising, and editing by December, and to have a finished manuscript I can begin submitting to presses and sending to agents by August. I haven’t given it a name, but a couple of the ideas I’ve got floating around for a name are ‘Taxidermist’s Catalog,’ ‘A Raindrop Made of Rust’ and ‘Said the Cactus to the Cloud.’”

“Pilot Season” is published by Sunnyoutside and is available through Small Press Distribution ( and Amazon.

In addition to these works, Brubaker’s writing career has expanded to include between 20 and 30 stories published in various magazines and journals. He adds that he constantly pushes himself to improve and grow his craft in order to become an even stronger writer than the one he is currently.