Texas State English and creative writing professor Jennifer duBois.

Jennifer duBois, a Texas State English and creative writing professor, is publishing her new novel, “The Last Language” next fall.

Published through Milkweed Publications, the novel is inspired by an article duBois read about a speech pathologist using controversial technology called facilitated communication with a non-verbal client who has motor difficulties.

In "The Last Language" the use of facilitated communication leads to a romantic conflict and questions the ethos of communication.

Facilitated communication works by the therapist stabilizing the hands of the patient in order to communicate. The technology has been met with controversy from some medical and communications specialists who claim it leads to the facilitator having too much influence over the messages the user creates.

"Was theirs a tragic love story, or a story of exploitation?" duBois said. "I thought that would be an interesting narrative to explore through the lens of a first-person narrator who is convinced of her own vision."

Complex ethical dilemmas and characters facing incredible odds such as the basis of inspiration are not unique to just "The Last Language." duBois regularly takes inspiration from news stories. When it comes to her brainstorming and creative process, duBois' ideas are often fueled by reading articles and newspapers.

"My novels are usually inspired by reading about some unique or bizarre news story and wondering what it might be like to experience it," duBois said. "I try to imagine the situation from the character's perspective and write from there."

duBois has amassed a large body of works and writing clips since she graduated from Tufts University, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa and the Stanford University Stegner Fellowship. She met her agent in 2008 and released her first novel, “A Partial History of a Lost Cause” in 2012.

Since then, she has received several accolades such as being named a 5 Under 35 honoree by the National Book Foundation in 2012 and the Whiting Award in 2013. She was the finalist for the New York Public Library Young Lions Award following the publication of her second novel, “Cartwheel,” in 2014, and she received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts for her third novel, “The Spectators" in 2018.

According to Doug Dorst, MFA creative writing program director and associate professor of English, faculty policy in the Texas State English Department states that professors must be published twice to teach, making duBois a highly regarded published writer at Texas State.

"It’s absolutely a source of pride for the MFA program, the English Department, the College of Liberal Arts and the university as a whole," Dorst said. "Creative writing faculty like Jennifer duBois who are publishing both consistently and well and who are equally committed to sharing what they know [draw in prospective students cite to our MFA Program.]"

Professors in the MFA program teach students how to read and analyze form, while in their spare time publishing their own works of literature. duBois continues to write and craft creative fictional novels during the time she’s not teaching students throughout the semester.

Debra Monroe, a professor of English at Texas State, said she and her colleagues find inspiration and harmony between the time they write and the time they teach.

"I know this as a colleague of duBois. [Writing and teaching] they feed each other," Monroe said. "You're not a very good teacher if you're not writing regularly and if you're not facing down the craft challenges all the time. You're also not a very good writer if you're just alone with your work. It really infuses your energy and your creativity."

When duBois is not preoccupied with grading and curriculum planning, she is writing novels and stories between breaks in her office or after work. One of the benefits of being a professor is enjoying the month long gaps between summer and winter break that allow her to zone in, read, find new inspiration and meet her deadlines.

"Although I have a lot less time to write now, I've always been pretty flexible in terms of location and time of day," duBois said. "Nowadays when I do write it is on the IKEA couch with piles of toddlers' laundry all around me."

Despite her shortage of spare time, duBois says she will continue to write and publish novels. She attributes part of her success as a writer to her late English professor, Michael Downing, who taught her while she was pursuing her undergrad at Tufts.

"I share this advice with my own students," duBois said. "Don’t stop writing."

Currently, there is no official release date for "The Last Language." For more information on Jennifer duBois' works and updates on her novel, visit her website at www.jennifer-dubois.com.

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