An assistant professor at Hartwick College has expanded his dissertation into a new book of 13 short stories.
“I was just writing stories,” said Tessa Yang, who teaches literature, media and writing. “Then I noticed patterns and how they talk together.”
She said she developed the stories, which are not linked by characters but by theme, and compiled them into her debut novel, “The Runaway Restaurant: Stories.” Each story is written in a different literary genre, including science fiction and fairy tale, she said.
“The first story is about a group of princesses,” she said. “The second story is set in the near future and is science fiction about cyborgs.”
She said another story is horror-related, about a young woman who believes her college wardrobe is haunted by the spirit of her recently deceased brother.
The title of the book is one of the titles of the 13 stories, but it was not the title of her thesis, she said. “My thesis supervisor told me to use Runaway Restaurant. The title could be interpreted in different ways and I love titles like that,” she said.
The name of his book is also unusual, so it is the first title that appears on Amazon.co.ukshe says.
Yang, who grew up near Rochester, said she spent six years working on her novel. She said she got her bachelor’s degree from St. Lawrence University and her graduate degree from Indiana University – Bloomington.
She joined the faculty at Hartwick in 2019, she said, and teaches creative writing, creative non-fiction writing, science fiction writing and fiction writing. According to a press release, it has won several awards and accolades, including Wigleaf’s Top 50 Very Short Fiction (2018 and 2019); Indiana University Guy Lemmon Award for Public Writing (2018); Indiana University Ross Lockridge Jr. Prize in Creative Writing (2018); and the National Society of Arts and Letters Hegarty Prize for Short Fiction (2017).
She said that not all of the stories from her graduate thesis made it to her book, but that she is working on her next book which is “loosely inspired by a story called ‘Others Like You.’ are not the same characters or settings, but the plot is similar.
She said it would be a science fiction novel because, while she was writing her short story book, that “genre excited me the most”.
Yang hosted a reading of his new book, answered questions and hosted a book signing at Roots Brewing in Oneonta on Thursday.
“It was a great launch party,” she said. “I almost sold books. I was very moved. Friends, colleagues and students attended the party to support my work. It was the first book launch since before the pandemic.
She said the books were available for purchase at the Green Toad Bookstore and online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
She will participate in Hartwick’s guest writer series in November, according to the release.