He was honored for the novel titled, Master Robert. The award recognizes exemplary fiction for young adults. This is the third year the association has selected winning titles.
“I am both delighted and overwhelmed,” said Stevens. “This is my first historical novel – a real experiment for me.”
While a faculty member at Georgia Southern University, Stevens collaborated in a grant program designed to teach Georgia teachers how to use Cumberland Island, the setting for Master Robert, as an educational resource for K-12 students. For 11 years, he and other collaborators conducted workshops on the island.
“Prior to writing Master Robert, I had co-authored an article with Julia Celebi in 1998 titled, A Treasured Island, which described how man has modified the island over time. In 1995, Mary Bullard published Robert Stafford of Cumberland Island: Growth of a Planter, by Georgia University Press. Her work inspired me to create a story for middle and secondary students.
“The combination of research for the many workshops I had prepared for and the opportunity to live on the island for those 11 years truly provided me with a sense of place. Many scenes in the book are taken directly from my experience on the island. Robert Stafford, Master Robert in the book, was an actual planter, the Bill Gates of his generation,” Stevens said.
Distributed by Tate Publishing in 2012, the novel captures the life and spirit of plantation life during the Civil War, according to promotional materials.
Master Robert is eccentric. He has northern sympathies yet lives in the South, marries his mulatto slave, sires six children and creates a peculiar society. His slaves have more freedom than any plantation in the South. The precipitous events of the war threaten his plantation and life.
Serving UT Tyler since 2004, Stevens holds a master of arts in social foundations of education as well as an Ed.D. in education, both from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
Aside from GSU, he also previously served the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
The Texas Association of Authors focuses on promoting authors within the Lone Star State. The association leverages the knowledge and expertise of various authors to promote their works locally and globally.
One of the 15 campuses of the UT System, UT Tyler features excellence in teaching, research, artistic performance and community service. More than 80 undergraduate and graduate degrees are available at UT Tyler, which has an enrollment of more than 7,500 high-ability students. UT Tyler offers courses at its campuses in Tyler, Longview and Palestine as well as a location in Houston.