Sheridan wins silver medal in national art and writing contest

by MaryEllen Cagnassola
Last November, senior Deirdre Sheridan began penning a novel. By that January it had become a nearly 400-page work of fiction.
She submitted the novel, Islands, to the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, an annual nationwide contest for young writers and artists sponsored by the publishing house Scholastic.


In June 2012, Sheridan found out that she had won a silver medal, beating out nearly 800 other contestants.
Islands, a romance told in letters, follows the narrator, twenty-something Lee, through his battle with brain cancer. With emotion, restraint and what English teacher Elizabeth Coleman calls “maturity far beyond that of the average high school student,” Sheridan challenges the clichés about cancer that she finds monotonous in most contemprary literature.
“I just wanted to avoid the melodrama. There aren’t a lot of books about independent young adults with cancer. I feel they’re mostly about kids or teenagers,” said Sheridan.
Sheridan addresses social and political issues by using the narrator’s illness to comment on health care and the financial struggles that many young Americans face today.
Sheridan, an editor-in-chief of  the high school literary magazine, Muse, says writing has been a serious aspiration since middle school and an outlet that allows her to explore areas of her own life through the lives of the characters she creates.
“I’d say I’ve definitely put more pressure on myself because now that I feel my writing is of some sort of quality, I want my other work to live up to it. I don’t want to peak at 17,”  said Sheridan.
Currently, Sheridan is working on a sequel to Islands, some humor essays and a novella, which she will submit to the Scholastic awards this year.  She plans to pursue creative writing in college, where she looks forward to developing her craft and exploring new styles.
Click here to read Islands