Wiesepape, Betty Holland 1941-

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Wiesepape, Betty Holland 1941-


Born January 10, 1941, in Waxahachie, TX; daughter of Hugh (a highway contractor) and Dois (a homemaker) Holland; married Cordell Floyd Wiesepape (a petroleum engineer), September 2, 1961; children: Katherine Ann Wiesepape Pownell, Paul Allen. Ethnicity: "Anglo." Education: Attended Abilene Christian College, 1959-61; Sam Houston State College, B.S., 1961; University of Texas at Dal- las, M.A., 1991, Ph.D., 1998. Politics: Independent. Religion: Church of Christ. Hobbies and other interests: Travel, genealogy, reading, water skiing, fishing.


Home—Richardson, TX. Office—School of Arts & Humanities, University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, TX 75083. E-mail—[email protected].


Teacher of developmental reading at schools in Premont, TX, 1964-65, and Richardson, TX, 1965-76; BEL Publishing, Richardson, curriculum writer and teaching consultant, 1976-92; University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, lecturer, 1998-2001, senior lecturer in English and assistant director of creative writing, 2001—. North Lake Community College, lecturer, 2000-01; workshop instructor; conference participant; judge of writing competitions; gives readings from her works. Friends of the Richardson Public Library, member of board of directors, 1993-95; Writers' Garret, member of board of directors, 1997-98.


PEN USA, Modern Language Association of America, Associated Writing Programs, Western Writers of America, PEN Southwest, South Central Modern Language Association, Texas Association of Creative Writing Teachers (member of board of directors, 1994-95), Texas Writers League, Texas State Historical Society, Texas Institute of Letters.


Fiction award, Texas Association of Creative Writing Teachers, 1993, for fiction.


Lone Star Chapters: The Story of Texas Literary Clubs, Texas A&M University Press (College Station, TX), 2004.

Work represented in anthologies, including Riversedge, edited by Dorey Schmidt, University of Texas—Permian Basin (Edinburg, TX), 1992; Texas Short Fiction, edited by Billy Hill and Laurie Champion, Browder Springs Press (Dallas, TX), 2000; New Texas 2001, edited by Donna Walker Nixon and James Ward Lee, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (Belton, TX), 2001; Let's Hear It: Stories by Texas Women Writers, edited by Sylvia Grider and Lou H. Rodenberger, Texas A&M University Press (College Station, TX), 2003; and Suddenly V, edited by Jackie Pelham, Stone River Press (Houston, TX), 2003. Contributor of articles, fiction, and reviews to periodicals, including Langdon Review, Concho River Review, Blue Mesa Review, Southwestern Historical Quarterly, and Southwestern American Literature. Member of editorial board, Langdon Review, 2004—.


Betty Holland Wiesepape told CA: "Although reading was my favorite activity, the word ‘author’ never appeared on the list of things I wanted to be when I grew up. I thought authors lived up in New York or England, certainly not in a trailer house in Texas. I did, however, grow up in a southern family of storytellers, so, from the time I was a small child, storytelling was an activity that came as naturally to me as sleeping and eating. When my first-grade teacher selected a child to tell a story, she chose me. When I was in junior high school, I volunteered as a storyteller at the library in my hometown. In high school I won competitions in poetry reading, but even then the thought of becoming an author never entered my mind. I wanted to be a scientist or an interior designer or a watercolor artist.

"Combining all those interests, I enrolled in college and earned a degree in home economics. I married at the end of my sophomore year, and for the next several years raising two bright and active children kept me busy. I also began to create stories for my children, and I invented a game that I played with them. They selected an object, and I made up a story about it. If they selected an object and I couldn't make up a story, they didn't have to take a nap. But that never happened.

"I also taught reading to Spanish-speaking children and tutored children with learning disabilities. I became a Girl Scout leader and a Sunday school teacher. In all of these activities I continued to develop my skills as a story teacher at the same time that I was working as a watercolor artist.

"When my youngest child left home to go to college, I enrolled in a creative writing course, which led to my earning an M.A. and a Ph.D. and eventually to teaching literature and creative writing courses. I wrote my master's thesis on the short-story writer Winifred San- ford, and in the process I discovered that hundreds of writing clubs had existed and encouraged Texas writers between 1850 and the beginning of World War II. This discovery led to additional research and writing on the subject of literary clubs and the writings of early Texas writers. I was able to combine my interest in history, literature, and creative writing for my book Lone Star Chapters: The Story of Texas Literary Clubs.

"I always try to have something under consideration for publication, and in the last few years I have been fortunate enough to have just about everything I've sent our for submission accepted. I am such a slow writer that I have a difficult time balancing supply and demand, but I have enough characters in my family (and have heard them tell enough stories) that I will run out of time before I run out of source material.

"As for who has influenced and encouraged my writing—I would have to place the southern author Clyde Edgerton at the top of the list. Also influential are three professors at the University of Texas at Dallas—historian Joan Chandler, poet Frederick Turner, and short-story teacher Robert Nelsen—and all the many writers whose work I have read and internalized over my lifetime. Short-story writers whose work has had an influence on my writing include Annette Sanford, Janet Perry, Robert Flynn, and James Lee Burk.

"Why do I write? Because stories are important, whether their source is reality or human imagination. If there are no stories about a people, a place, or an event, it is as if those people never lived, that place never existed, and that event never happened. It is through stories that we preserve the memory of the people we have encountered and the life we have experienced. It is through stories that we communicate what we value to future generations.

"Listening to parents and grandparents read to me was what first got me interested in writing. My paternal grandfather told me many stories about his boyhood in the Tennessee Valley of Alabama and of my grandmother who died at the age of thirty. At a very early age, I told my grandfather that someday I would grow up and write stories about him. I have recently begun to fulfill that promise.

"My family's roots are one hundred percent southern. All my great- grandfathers fought in the Civil War. The Bible is an influence on my writing in the way that Greek myths serve some other writers. When I attempt to layer my writing with allegory and symbols, stories from the Bible are readily available because I am so familiar with them.

"I am a very slow writer. I keep an online working journal where I jot down story ideas and scenes. Sometimes it takes years for these ideas to mature into finished stories. My stories are character driven, and I prefer to write in first person. I have to get a character moving around and doing things, and I have to hear the character's voice in my head. Once I get a character well enough developed that I hear his or her voice in my head, it seems as if the character takes over and tells the story to me. It's very exciting when, after struggling with a character, he or she takes over."

When asked the most surprising thing she has learned as a writer, Wiesepape said: "To be patient. To be honest. To protect the creative spark inside me."



Dallas Morning News, September 5, 2004, Karen Klinefelter Blair, review of Lone Star Chapters: The Story of Texas Literary Clubs, p. 11G.

Journal of Southern History, May, 2005, Christa DeLuzio, review of Lone Star Chapters, pp. 490-491.

Texas Books in Review, spring, 2004, Clay Reynolds, review of Lone Star Chapters, p. 8.