Mississippi State’s Becky Hagenston Wins Short Story Prize

Becky Hagenston, a professor of English at Mississippi State University, won Story magazine’s Story Foundation Prize for her work “Woman of the House.” Founded in 1931, Story is a tri-annual print publication devoted to short fiction.

Professor Hagenston drew inspiration for “Woman of the House” from stories her in-laws shared about living in Rapid City, South Dakota, in the early 1970s. “My father-in-law was in the Air Force, spending days underground in a missile silo, and my mother-in-law stayed home with their two little boys. I started this story three years ago, just taking notes as my in-laws talked about what they remembered. Then I became more focused, and started turning it into fiction by making the husband and wife very different from my actual in-laws,” she said.

“I know I have to be patient and keep writing even when I feel stuck,” Professor Hagenston said. “I do something writing-related every day — even if it’s staring at a page or reworking a paragraph or reading something that inspires me. I’m also incredibly lucky that my job is teaching creative writing, which keeps me inspired.”

Professor Hagenston joined the faculty at Mississippi State University in 2001. She was the winner of a 2020 Pushcart Prize. Her latest short story collection is The Age of Discovery and Other Stories (Mad Creek Books, 2021).

A graduate of Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, Professor Hagenston holds a master of fine arts degree from the University of Arizona and a master’s degree from New Mexico State University.

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