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Pruden nominated for Pushcart Prize

Posted: November 9, 2010 3:38 p.m.
Updated: November 10, 2010 5:00 a.m.
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Codorus Press of New York has nominated author and Camden native  Scott B. Pruden for the Pushcart Prize in fiction.

The Pushcart Prize, presented annually by Pushcart Press, honors the best work of small presses during the previous year. Winners are featured in The Pushcart Prize - Best of the Small Presses, published every year since 1976 and considered one of the most prestigious literary projects in America.

Nominees are chosen by the editors at small book presses for any combination of poetry, short fiction, essays or “literary whatnot.” For Pruden’s nomination, Codorus Press submitted a chapter of his debut novel, the near-future thriller “Immaculate Deception.”

“It’s deeply humbling to be nominated for such a high literary honor,” Pruden said. “There have been so many great writers to be included among the Pushcart winners, and I’m looking forward to being considered among this year’s other nominees.”

Pruden was born in Camden and spent a good portion of his childhood there and in the Lowcountry city of Summerville near Charleston. After spending his high school years in Wilmington, Del., he returned to his home state to attend the University of South Carolina, where he graduated in 1991. He then embarked on a career as a professional newspaper reporter and editor in Florence and in Camden.

After a brief stint at a newspaper in Yuma, Ariz., Pruden returned to the Northeast, where he worked at several Philadelphia newspapers before settling in West Chester, Pa., to become a full-time freelance writer and novelist.

While not a travelogue, “Immaculate Deception” takes its inspiration from the wide variety of places Pruden has called home.

“The maxim says, ‘Write what you know,’ so it was only fitting that for this novel I reached back to the colorful and crazy elements that made each place I’ve lived special,” Pruden said.

“South Carolina holds a special place in the novel, because much like Carl Hiaasen’s literary stomping grounds of South Florida, I felt that there are so many characters and possibilities in my home state that I really couldn’t resist.”

Among the Palmetto State-inspired elements of “Immaculate Deception” are a band of youth-obsessed senior citizens who make up the terrorist group SHAG, the transformation of Myrtle Beach into America’s new Las Vegas (after the old one was swallowed by the Nevada desert), complete with casinos owned by the resurgent Catawba Indian Nation and the emergence there of the free-wheeling Church of the New Revelation, which wins legions of followers by melding traditional Christianity with sex and mind-altering drugs in its services.

“I basically took a lot of ‘what ifs’ and sent them completely over the top,” Pruden said.

“While I approached this novel with a definite sci-fi sensibility, I wanted to keep the settings and characters firmly rooted in places and people that readers would recognize.”

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