The annual Pen Parentis Writing Fellowship for New Writers was founded in 2010 to encourage writers to produce new works of quality fiction at the very busiest point in their parenting journey–it is only open to writers with at least one child under 10 years of age. Every year we get more than a hundred responses, and this year was no different.

But this year, the quality of the writing was incredible. Each successive story was more moving, more carefully crafted, more intense. Whether this was because the word count was minimal (at 800 words) forcing writers to do their best work, or just because they’re naturally incredible wordsmiths, we’ll never know.

In any event, the winner has been chosen.

The 2017-2018 Pen Parentis Writing Fellow is MEGAN PILLOW DAVIS, chosen for her incredible short story, THE BIG BANG.

Megan’s marvelous, gorgeously-written story is realistic fiction that forces the reader to solve mysteries as they are dropped in the middle of a medical situation: Who is sick? Who is the caretaker? Where are they? The disorientation is swiftly and masterfully resolved, and the result is a compelling, beautiful and unusual, but perfectly universal story, about love overcoming perhaps the most difficult challenge of all—the betrayal of one’s own body. The humor is gentle and suits the subject matter. The surprises are real. We congratulate Megan for her well-deserved win, and are looking forward to working with her over the next year to help her stay on creative track as she works to balance a very active home life, a thesis dissertation and a tremendously promising creative career!

Her bio is available here.

Here is the complete winners’ list:

2017-2018 Pen Parentis Writing Fellow: Megan Pillow Davis of Louisville, Kentucky (two kids)

Second place:

Thomas Fox from West Orange, New Jersey (2 kids) for “All Hallows’ Eve”

We were taken in by this very strange tale of a couple’s competitive Halloween costumes and then were completely taken by surprise when the story first went dark and creepy, and then took another surprise turn into sincere emotion. Two compelling twists in a very short number of pages—all without ever losing the tone or the believability of the characters or the narrative. Nicely done!


Third place:

Kat Coffee from Columbia, South Carolina (3 kids) for “Boccherini Botched”

We loved the funny/painful twist ending on this humorous domestic tale of parental pride at a violin recital, loved how the mother’s own unconscious perfectionism and need to fit in was deftly portrayed through subtle action—our judges were also impressed by the verisimilitude and specificity of the storytelling. Nice work!


Honorable mentions (in no particular order) to:

Benjamin Toche of Palmer, Alaska (3 kids) for “REALITY^reality”

Sarah Bradley from East Haven, Connecticut (3 kids) for “Sweet Potato Baby”

Jason Graff from Little Falls, New Jersey (1 kid) for “Where You Find It”

Emily Roberson from Little Rock, Arkansas (3 kids) for “The Vampire”

Laura Barhule from Golden, Colorado (1 kid) for “In Season”

Slavomir Krisko from Pittsburgh, PA (3 kids) for “Could a T. Rex Eat a Giraffe?”


Megan will be reading her winning story at the Season Opening Pen Parentis Literary Salon at Andaz Wall Street on Tuesday, September 12, 2017. Everyone is welcome to come meet her and congratulate her in person!