by LAURA HAYES
In honor of the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s book “Frankenstein,” the Rochester Public Library (RPL) is holding a novella contest open to all writers living in Southeast Minnesota and the SELCO Library region.
The grand prize? One thousand dollars and a publication of the novella in RPL’s Frankenstein project anthology book.
The competition is inspired by the story of how “Frankenstein” was created. According to RPL Adult Programming Coordinator Lynette Perry, Shelley, her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley, poet Lord Byron, and writer John Polidori held a writing competition and whomever was published first won. Shelley’s iconic book, which won the competition, follows student Victor Frankenstein’s creation of a humanlike creature.
“In that spirit, we decided to have our own contest,” Perry said. “We’re definitely looking forward to reading the creative stories that people come up with.”
The competition is the kickoff to RPL’s larger Frankenstein Project. Throughout the project, RPL staff will be showing different Frankenstein films and leading a community-wide reading of the book. Mayo Clinic staff will also lead a book discussion focusing on the themes of medicine and using biotechnology to solve human problems. “But the contest is getting the ball rolling,” Perry said.
According to Perry, this is the library’s first contest of this magnitude. The novella should be centered around one or more of the following themes of “Frankenstein.” One, the other — disability, differences, and disenfranchisement; two, humanity’s response to technology, creatively expanding horizons and possibilities, and using technology to solve human problems; three, creativity and the responsibility for what has been created; four, vengeance and futility; and five, community — what it means to be human and the measure of humanity.
“We always want to encourage local writers,” Perry said. “[The contest would be] a nice thing to add to their resume and could help further their writing career.”
The contest officially opened on November 1 and runs through March 4, 2018. Winners will be announced in April. Submissions should be works of fiction between 20,000 and 50,000 words. The first place writer will receive $1,000, and two runners up will receive $500 each.
For additional guidelines and to enter the competition, visit https://www.rochesterpubliclibrary.org/services/frankenstein-project.