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Phoebe Wagner


Phoebe Wagner ’14 cut a brilliant streak through

Lycoming’s creative writing program during her

undergraduate tenure, participating in nearly every

poetry and writing workshop offered, delivering a

scholarly paper on Chaucer at a medieval studies

conference, and seeing both her poetry and prose

published. “The teachers here took me under their

wing and helped me develop every aspect of my writing,

sometimes word by word,” Wagner recounted.

Growing up in nearby Muncy, Wagner did not have

to travel far to find a writing program that suited her.

“I already knew Lycoming had a great department and

great professors, and it was right in my backyard. There

was no need to look farther.”

Currently employed as an admissions counselor at

Lycoming, Wagner’s work has already appeared in the

Rose Red Review, Hearth magazine and Vine Leaves

literary journal. In the fall, she’s off to the heartland

to earn her MFA at Iowa State University, where the

Creative Writing and Environment program has

offered her a three-year fellowship.

The environment is a recurring element in Wagner’s

work, and appropriately her vocabulary hails more

from the rugged Anglo-Saxon parish of the language

than the more cerebral Latin one. She frequently

connects words and nature, as in “River Words,” a

prose meditation on a kayak outing on the meandering

Susquehanna River, and “Jacklight,” which opens with

a rune appearing in the carcass of a bird. “I don’t use

many urban settings for my stories,” Wagner said.

“The environment is very powerful and I do a lot with

it in my writing. I hope when people read my work that

they will be inspired to look at the natural world in a

different way.”

Melody Johnson


You don’t find too many writers who land multiple

book contracts a few short years after graduating from

college, but that’s what Melody Johnson ’11 just did.

Author of the recently released “The City Beneath”

(Kensington Books, 2015),

Johnson’s publisher has agreed

to terms on three more volumes

that will make up her Night

Blood series of paranormal

romances. A chilling vampire

love story, “The City Beneath”

takes place in New York and

explores the less-than-savory

underside of the city.

Entering Lycoming as

an English major, Johnson

graduated magna cum

laude and added a major in psychology along

the way, to which she attributes her attraction to the

villainous aspects of human nature. “I knew very

little about psychology when I began studying it,

but it totally captivated me,” said Johnson. “It also

helps me to make my more twisted characters


As she began developing her writing at Lycoming,

Johnson worked first with G.W. Hawkes, who was

instrumental in her choice of a college. “Dr. Hawkes

was the most intense professor that I met when I was

looking at colleges. Between that and his published

work, it was an easy decision to come here.” Johnson

wrote her first full length novel under the advisement

of Hawkes. “It was a huge breakthrough for me. Prof.

Hawkes worked with me for a full year, and finishing

that manuscript was a really big thing for my career.”

While her topics are dark, there is always room

for redemption in Johnson’s novels. “No one is purely

good or evil, and it’s important to explore why people

are the way they are,” Johnson asserted. “I hope my

books will help people connect with issues like this in

a way that will broaden their views.”

The second book in The Night Blood series, “Sweet

Last Drop,” is slated for release later this year.