Tag Archives: Alyssa Hollingsworth

Alyssa Hollingsworth PortraitAlyssa Hollingsworth (13C) was already a prolific writer when she arrived at Berry. She further developed her craft through one-on-one interaction with English professors and relevant work experience as editor of the college literary magazine and as a writer for Berry magazine.

This fall, the now-published author returned to Berry as the featured speaker in the David James Poissant Creative Prose Reading Series. While on campus, she visited with former teachers and mentors and shared her talents with current students – praising Berry as the “creative space” that helped to fuel her success.

Five years have passed since the former Gate of Opportunity Scholar earned her Berry degree, during which time she has completed a master’s degree at England’s Bath Spa University and signed a two-book, two-continent publishing contract with Roaring Brook Press (MacMillan) and Piccadilly Press.

Earlier this year, she released her debut novel, The Eleventh Trade, which quickly rose to No. 1 on Amazon’s list of new children’s literature. The book tells the story of a young Afghan refugee who embarks on a mission to retrieve a traditional Afghan musical instrument stolen from his grandfather.

The origins of the story date back to an assignment Hollingsworth was given at Bath Spa to prepare a synopsis for a book she would never write. Later, her literary agent saw promise in the idea and asked her to flesh it out. She started writing in February of 2016; by year end the manuscript had been completed and sold to publishers.

Aiding the creative process was firsthand knowledge of Afghan culture Hollingsworth gained during a 2011 visit to the war-torn nation to see her sister, who was serving there at the time. Still, she faced the challenge of crafting a story that would be told through the eyes of a 12-year-old boy who had interests and perspective she lacked. To fill in the gaps, she reached out to her network of fellow Berry alumni to find people with knowledge in those areas.

“There were plenty of things that made me feel very unqualified to write this story,” she said. “But those places where I was completely out of my comfort zone provided really cool opportunities to call on the community around me. I had alumni friends who love Manchester United, or are middle school teachers, or have firsthand refugee experiences themselves. When I got in over my head, I could count on them to help me correct my mistakes. It was such a blessing to take a bit of the Berry community with me into my first book.”

Hollingsworth’s second book, The Invisible Boy, is due for release in fall 2019.

By student writer Kendall Aronson; photo by student Jacob Bushey

Bookmark and Share

Alyssa HollingsworthAlyssa Hollingsworth (13C) put her writing and editing talents to great use this summer as an editorial moderator with Letter to an Unknown Soldier, a project commemorating the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I. The project called for people to write letters to the “unknown soldier” depicted by Charles Sargeant Jagger’s statue on Platform One at London’s Paddington Station, and the results were outstanding; more than 21,000 letters were submitted. Contributors included British Prime Minister David Cameron, actor and comedian Stephen Fry, several Berry alumni recruited by Hollingsworth, and thousands of school children. All are featured in a digital memorial reflecting how people in today’s society remember the “Great War.” A selection of the letters will be published in November by William Collins, an imprint of Harper Collins.

A charter recipient of Berry’s Gate of Opportunity Scholarship, Hollingsworth is currently completing her master’s degree in creative writing for young people at England’s Bath Spa University. As a Berry senior, she won third place in the national Elie Wiesel Prize in Ethics Essay Contest.

 By Carey Blankenship, philanthropic communications editorial assistant.  

Bookmark and Share

Alyssa HollingsworthAlyssa Hollingsworth (13C) joined students from Yeshiva University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, John Brown University and Lee University as winners in the 2013 Elie Wiesel Prize in Ethics Contest, a national competition that challenges college students to submit essays focusing on complex ethical issues.

Alyssa’s third-place entry, Naan in the Afghan Village, recounts a 2011 visit to Afghanistan to visit her sister, who works for a nongovernmental agency that specializes in community development and health education for Afghan women. The piece was written as part of a class assignment at Berry and submitted for recognition at the encouragement of Visiting Assistant Professor of English Abigail Greenbaum. The award includes a $1,500 cash prize, as well as an opportunity to  meet Nobel Peace Prize winner and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.

A charter participant in Berry’s Gate of Opportunity Scholarship Program, Alyssa graduated in May with a degree in English. She will continue to hone her writing skills while pursuing a master’s degree at England’s Bath Spa University.

 Read more.

Bookmark and Share