Jeremy TeGrotenhuis’s imagination has taken him to distant worlds and exotic planets, but recently that imagination earned him a trip a little closer to home, but still pretty exotic.
He recently returned from Hollywood where he was honored at the 34th Annual L. Ron Hubbard Achievement Awards for Writers and Illustrators of the Future Contests in Science Fiction and Fantasy.
His story “The Minarets of An-Zabat” was a quarterly winner in the Writers of the Future contest.
As a first place winner TeGrotenhuis received $1,000, a suitably snazzy trophy, airfare and accommodation for the ceremony, as well as a weeklong workshop featuring well-known sci-fi authors. In addition, his story was included in “L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 34,” released in April, and he received a print of the illustration of his novelette.
“I’ve always written as a hobby,” said TeGrotenhuis, 26. “And I’ve always been a big reader.”
Growing up in Kennewick, he was homeschooled until high school, by his mother, a former English teacher.
“I read ‘The Hobbit’ at 8 and ‘Dune’ in middle school,” he said.
He moved to Spokane to attend Whitworth University where he’s currently enrolled in the Masters in Teaching program. He also works as a bookseller at Auntie’s Bookstore.
The first thing he remembers writing was a “Moonraker” fan fiction story. He caught the first part of the movie before his mother nixed the subject matter as too mature.
TeGrotenhuis really, really wanted to know how the movie ended, so he wrote his own denouement.
“I was super into the ‘Redwall’ (book) series,” he recalled. “So I made the characters mice and their guns shot sunflower seeds.”
As a teen, he had some contest success in Columbia Basin College’s LitFest and that fanned his creative flame.
He writes what he enjoys reading; sci-fi and fantasy.
“As a reader, I have a novelty-seeking brain,” he explained. “I want to read about things I’ve never seen or experienced.”
He counts “A Wizard of Earthsea” by the late Ursula K. Le Guin, among his favorite novels.
“I read it at least once a year,” he said. “I love the character arc.”
When TeGrotenhuis read about the Writers of the Future contest on an author’s Wikipedia page, he decided to enter.
The contest was initiated by L. Ron Hubbard in 1983 to provide a means for aspiring writers to get that much-needed break. Due to the success of the writing contest, the companion Illustrators of the Future Contest was created in 1988.
Hubbard is also known as the founder of the Church of Scientology, but you don’t need to be a member of the church to enter.
“I’m not a Scientologist, and neither were any of the judges,” said TeGrotenhuis.
His maiden entry in the 2012 contest earned a silver honorable mention, but it took a lot more writing for him to reach his first place destination.
“Starting in 2015, I entered nine quarters in a row,” he said. “I wrote a different story every time, which was part of the value for me – it forced me to write one short story every three months.”
Some of those stories have found homes elsewhere. One was published last year in the “Pirates and Ghosts Short Stories” anthology. Another story, “An Empty Cup,” is coming out in “Deep Magic” magazine this summer.
TeGrotenhuis’s story “Her Silver Chains” was included in Volume 3 of the Lilac City Fairy Tales “Weird Sisters” and will soon be produced on the speculative fiction podcast “The Overcast.”
The tale that captured first place in The Writers of the Future contest features a protagonist that must choose between an empire or rebellion against it.
“He has two different magic systems – Imperial from his father and native from his grandmother,” explained TeGrotenhuis. “His loyalty is conflicted and so is his identity.”
“The Minarets of An-Zabat” is a 17,000-word piece of a larger story that he’s polishing up into novel form.
If past Writers of the Future contest winners are any indication, sci-fi and fantasy fans will be reading more from this author. The past 484 winners have published over 5,600 novels and short stories, and produced 32 New York Times bestsellers.
For now, TeGrotenhuis, who recently finished his student teaching, is focused on completing his degree.
“I really like teaching,” he said. “But I’m always writing.”
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