Jaclyn Watterson’s first book, a collection of fictions and horrors entitled Ventriloquisms, won the 2016 Spokane Prize for Short Fiction, judged by Alexis Smith. The book will be published later this year by Willow Springs Books/Eastern Washington University.

Read the announcement here, and stay tuned for publication updates!


Advance Praise for Ventriloquisms—

“Harrowing, subversive, and gorgeously provocative, Jaclyn Watterson’s brilliant flashes of fiction interrogate what it means to have a self, a soul, a life, a body. The speakers here are indeed ventriloquists: seductive companions capable of turning the psyche inside out, exposing inchoate fears and dangerous desires as vivid dreams of lived experience.

“Travelers bold enough to venture into this strange new world will encounter exhilarating fusions of humor and horror, a proliferation of forbidden pleasures, and the wild despair of abject terror.

“Every revelatory sentence unconceals extravagant tenderness: we can’t exterminate time to save the ones we love. Their ceaseless prayers rise from the abyss, compelling us to contemplate unmitigated grief and the infinite mystery of our biological limits.

“Yes, as one mesmerizing voice tells us: You reach the place of annihilation, and you reach deeper. . . the fog clears to reveal—fog. You cannot wake up.

~ Melanie Rae Thon, author of The Voice of the RiverSilence & Song, and The 7th Man


“Using the conventional language of blurbs to describe Jaclyn Watterson’s collection of stories, Ventriloquisms, is like trying to describe an elephant or giraffe to someone who has only seen cows and horses.

“Beautifully written, unsettling, hilarious, breath-taking, dark, strange. In these short narratives that go off like the diverse finale of a fireworks show, Watterson transmutes pain and loss into bursts of lyricism and surrealism. She uses absurdity to get to the realistic core of violence, family, sexuality, rivalry, oppression, and possessiveness.

“Watterson is completely unafraid of the visceral, of decay, of violation, of transgressive laughter and of the profane, and with her mastery of diction and seemingly unlimited register, she makes all of those things weirdly sing.

“The writing and forms are frequently startling, but they are always getting at something profound. This collection takes everything it contains—no matter how thematically familiar—and makes it brand new. If these stories are ventriloquisms, then the voice behind them is masterful.”

~Tim Parrish, author of Fear and What FollowsThe Jumper, and Red Stick Men


“Jaclyn Watterson has the gift of hearing and channeling voices from worlds most of us claim never to have encountered—yet these alternately beguiling and terrifying realms form the daily terrain at our feet.

“In Watterson’s hands, simple declarative sentences acquire multiple layers of associations:

“beautiful, broken symmetries … make Ventriloquisms a unique and haunting debut.”

~Tracy Daugherty, author of The Empire of the DeadLet Us Build Us a City, and The Last Love Song: A Biography of Joan Didion