Year of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

MALS: Humanities

Directing Professor

Amanda Cockrell


The idea for what would become this fiction piece, The Destined Duke, occurred to me during my first graduate writing class at Hollins University with Professor Amanda Cockrell. I remember the first question she asked of us, her students, was in regard to what genre we loved to read and what we may be interested in writing. As I sat at the large class table about two-thirds around, I awaited my turn, listening to my fellow classmates and trying to determine if I was brave enough in a graduate writing class to admit that I love to read romance novels and historical fiction – both genres that some of my “literary” friends grimaced at and proclaimed to be “chick lit” – and, certainly not worthy to be considered literature. However, the more I sat and listened to my classmates and considered what I may like to write, I knew that I was going to be in trouble if I tried to say anything other than the truth – for working during the day as a technical writer for an engineering company and free-lance writing and editing pharmaceutical monographs pretty much left me spent and I knew in my heart that I just didn’t have it in me to spend any more time writing something that I couldn’t completely enjoy. So, when it was my turn to share my favorite genre, I trepidatiously found my voice and admitted that I loved romance novels and historical fiction. To my amazement, Professor Cockrell didn’t grimace or reject either as literature and even shared that she too enjoyed the genre. I knew that very moment that I was at the correct university, in the right class, and with the best professor for me. From that instant, I have never turned back, although I will say my characters and plot have evolved dramatically from where I started to where I now conclude my graduate project for submission. And while, my MALS essay is concluding, my efforts to improve my writing, as well as complete my novel, will continue – all thanks to Professor Cockrell, who has taught me that writing is a craft that takes a lifetime to develop and hopefully perfect.

So, without further ado, I present the first chapters of The Destined Duke, a fiction piece that centers on the life of Nicholas Pierce, The Duke of Hastings, and Isabella Marie Wells.

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