The encouraging creative-writing community at SOU was an ideal fit for 27-year old writing dynamo Abbigail Nguyen- Rosewood (’13). Since graduating, she has written numerous essays, reviews, articles and creative works for online and print publications. And now, after recently finishing graduate school at Columbia University, Nguyen-Rosewood anxiously awaits the U.S. release of her first novel, “If I Had Two Lives,” published by Europa Editions.
“If I Had Two Lives” follows the journey of a young girl from her childhood in a military camp in Vietnam to her adulthood as a lonely and disillusioned immigrant in New York. The novel chronicles how the young woman learns what it means to love and be loved as she escapes her past and creates a new life in the U.S.
Nguyen-Rosewood’s other works have been published in literary journals online and in print, including The Adirondack Review, Columbia Journal, Green Hills Literary Lantern and The Missing Slate. An excerpt from “If I Had Two Lives” was awarded first place in the Writers’ Workshop of Asheville Literary Fiction contest.
Nguyen-Rosewood, who transferred to SOU from another state school, was relieved to get practical support navigating graduation requirements. She found SOU to be a caring and authentic place, with small classes and intimate relationships between professors and students.
“The SOU community felt genuine. The professors were kind, communicative, and accessible,” Nguyen-Rosewood recalled.
She said what helped shape her and her career is the belief and encouragement of her friends and instructors.
“At the time, I was still finding my voice. In this nascent stage as a writer when you are vulnerable, doubtful of your abilities, it’s very easy for your flame to get snuffed out by an unkind comment, a skeptical glance. Writers are sensitive,” she said. “Words such as ‘have faith’ and ‘believe’ are often so overused that they can lose their meaning, but that’s what the SOU community gave me. They had faith and they believed in me.”
Nguyen-Rosewood says she had many influential professors at SOU, including Bill Gholson, Kasey Mohammad and Prakash Chenjeri, but her closest mentor was Craig Wright in the Creative Writing Program.
“He was among the first to see something in my writing, to believe in my talent. He nurtured it, gave me the platform to share my writing with others, and helped me acquire scholarships,” she said. “I’m indebted to him, and I’m grateful to be indebted to him.”
Reprinted from the Fall 2017 issue of The Raider, SOU’s alumni magazine