“We Are Called to Rise” author Laura McBride Wins Silver Pen Award


Laura McBride

By Soni Brown

Nevada Writers Hall of Fame will honor College of Southern Nevada English professor Laura McBride with the Silver Pen Award for her debut novel “We Are Called to Rise.”

“Well, it’s a delight,” recipient McBride said. “I have lived in Nevada for a long time and I wrote about our community because I believe it has its own place in our larger literary world, so it is quite special to be acknowledged as a Nevada writer.”

“‘We Are Called to Rise’ is told in four distinct voices—an immigrant boy whose family is struggling to assimilate, a middle-aged housewife coping with an imploding marriage and a troubled son, a social worker at home in the darker corners of Las Vegas and a wounded soldier recovering from an injury he can’t remember getting—that come together around a tragedy changing those four lives forever,” according to a plot summary.

“Even though the setting is in Las Vegas [the events] could happen anywhere,” said reader and CSN student Byong So. “Her themes are universal. The book is about the characters not the setting.”

Since its publication “We Are Called to Rise” was selected as a Nevada Reads book by the Nevada Center for the Book, a program of the Nevada State Library and Archives.

The book was also named by the American Booksellers Association—which works with booksellers, publishers and vendors—as the No. 1 Indie Next List pick for June 2014.

“Laura’s book is fairly easy to read,” said CSN Professor Courtney Danforth who teaches a class at the College that uses the book as literature. “Not only is her story about our city but it is an enjoyable book.”

The Silver Pen Award was established in 1996 as part of the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame. Marilyn Melton developed the Hall of Fame in 1988 to recognize Nevada’s writer. Melton envisioned the award to have two effects. She wanted to make it an annual event honoring Nevada’s finest writers and a stimulus to encourage excellence among new writers in the Silver State.

“The Silver Pen is given to emerging authors who show substantial promise,” said Millie Mitchell, member of the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame selection committee.

“It has gotten harder to choose the Hall of Fame inductees and Silver Pen recipients every year since I have been on the committee,” Caleb Cage said. “Winning the awards means that the recipients are among a small group of Nevada authors who have truly set themselves apart. [McBride’s] book was chosen because it was exceptional work set in our state.”

Both Mitchell and Cage praised “We Are Called to Rise” because the book addressed difficult issues like post-traumatic stress disorder, domestic abuse and cultural diversity in a realistic way. They were also attracted to her portrayal of Las Vegas because it went beyond the typical sin-city narrative.

According to Cage, the selection committee is made up of readers and writers of all disciplines who meet regularly throughout the year to choose a Hall of Fame inductees and Silver Pen Award recipients.

Cage said “We Are Called to Rise” had stiff competition from authors across the State.

In addition to McBride, the Hall of Fame is also honoring 2015 inductee Ellen Hopkins alongside fellow Silver Pen Award recipient Mark Maynard. The events will take place at the Milt Glick Ballroom in the Joe Crowley Student Union at the University of Nevada, Reno on Thursday, Nov. 19 at 6 p.m.

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