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Doctoral Student Makes Debut as Author with ‘Magical Teenage Princess’

Creative writing student’s peculiar collection of short stories is tied together by themes of teenagers, pop culture and media.

Date: 7/16/2012
By: Tom Robinette
Phone: (513) 556-8577
The mind behind the upcoming book “I Am a Magical Teenage Princess” is right here on campus, possibly dreaming up yet more twisted tales at this very moment.

That mind belongs to Luke Geddes, a PhD student in the English and Comparative Literature Department with a concentration on creative writing. The book, to be released July 18 by Chômu Press, is Geddes’ debut effort. The collection of 17 short stories takes a cracked-lens look at the past five decades of troubled teens, American pop culture and media mania. Publishers Weekly offered a gleaming review: "In a lesser writer’s hands the work would come off as puerile, but Geddes’ sure prose, empathy, pop cultural knowledge, and stoner wit make for a rewarding and unusual collection."
Luke Geddes will have his collection of short stories “I Am a Magical Teenage Princess” published this month.

Geddes was born and raised in Appleton, Wis., and earned a BA (’08) in English from University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and an MFA (’11) in creative writing from Wichita State University. At that point he was still very much interested in further academic pursuits, and he came to the University of Cincinnati where he found “the most interested, accomplished, intelligent and compassionate teachers” he’s ever had, particularly associate professors Christopher Bachelder and Michael Griffith and assistant professor Leah Stewart.

Geddes will attend a reading and book release event at 4 p.m. Aug. 18 at the main branch of the Cincinnati Public Library.

What was your inspiration for “Princess”?
The stories are all separate and independent but connected by general themes and subject matter, mostly revolving around teenagers and the media that has marketed to teenagers throughout the 20th century, but especially the ’50s and ’60s. A lot the stories turn a satirical eye on popular culture.  For instance, there’s one story that imagines Elvis-mania as a literal hysteria infecting the all the teenagers in the country. In a nutshell, I’d say the book is full of stories about and inspired by the popular culture of my parents’ generation – drive-in movies, comic books, bad TV sitcoms, etc. – much in the mold of works by writers like Donald Barthelme, Robert Olen Butler, Stacey Richter and Howard Waldrop.
Is there a particular story in “Princess” that resonates with you most and why is that?
There’s a story titled “Another Girl, Another Planet” that plays on science-fiction tropes, about a teenage girl stranded on a spaceship with five loutish boys after the end of the world. It may seem like the most outlandish of all my stories, but I relate to it in a weird way. I actually workshopped it in a class here at UC.
What are your professional aspirations?
Ideally I’d like to teach creative writing for a living while doing my own writing. I’m not someone who could just write and do nothing else for their job.
What does your writing success say about the level of education and support you’ve received in A&S?
In my experience, UC’s is by far has the most robust and academically impressive English department I’ve encountered. The tremendous value that McMicken places on the humanities in general – academically, financially and humanely – is something a lot of universities could learn from. The example A&S sets is really crucial not just for UC or the educational institution but for the world at large.
“I Am a Magical Teenage Princess” is the debut book of Luke Geddes.

What’s next for you? Are there any interesting writing projects on the horizon?
I’m always working on something new, something else. But I’ve realized that writing one book doesn’t really teach you anything except how to write that specific book. With every project, it’s like starting from scratch and you’ve got to learn everything all over again.

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