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Vet medicine student publishes award-winning novel

March 8, 2007

Publication of her first novel has been exciting but also stressful for Sara Greenslit, currently in her third year at the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Veterinary Medicine.

Greenslit’s novel, “The Blue of Her Body,” edged out 177 other entries to become the winner of the 2006 Starcherone Fiction Prize. Starcherone Books, an independent publisher of innovative fiction, publishes each year’s contest winner.

With the book’s publication, Greenslit has been reminded of her choice to follow two paths — science and art.

“It’s complicated,” she says. “I’m doing much of the book’s promotion myself, but I can’t take vacation, like if I had a regular job. I’m trying to balance coursework, my book’s release, and a home life.”

She’ll promote her book via readings set up during her spring break, during externships and vacations from school. She’s targeting Madison, Milwaukee, St. Paul, Chicago, and New York.

While she would love to write more, she doesn’t have time right now. Her novel was written before she entered Wisconsin’s veterinary medical degree program.

“I’ve invested a lot in school, so I want to concentrate on shaping my veterinary career,” she says.

Greenslit always had dual interest in art as well as science. She completed a pre-veterinary degree in biology at the College of Charleston, South Carolina in 1992. But not quite ready to tackle medical school at the time, she instead pursued an MFA in poetry at Penn State University. She ended up with a job in public relations, and crafted a novel on the side.

The St. Paul, Minn., native returned to her other first love, veterinary medicine, in the fall of 2004 when she was accepted to Wisconsin’s School of Veterinary Medicine. As a returning adult student, she’s worked hard at learning the veterinary medical profession. Yet she also dreams of the day when she can once again carve out time to write.

“I can’t explain the amount of joy it gives me to hold the book I’ve worked on for ten years finally in my hands,” she says.

Her book, The Blue of Her Body, narrates the path of a young woman who, suffering from depression, flees her lover and the city where they lived, taking a job at an aviary. The birds of prey she works with provide the backdrop for the main character’s struggles with daily life and love.

Brian Evenson, author and director of the Creative Writing Program at Brown University, a 2006 contest judge, says: “In elliptical and lyrical fragments, Greenslit brings very real daily struggles into the domain of art, rendering them resonant and making them, somehow, all the more real. A powerful first novel.”