"Stein's writing career receives big boost"
by David Bilmes
reprinted from the August 2000 issue of
The first time Audrey Beth Stein had her writing published, it was on
the Kid's Page of Chavurah.
It's a long way from the Kid's Page to winning a prestigious national
award, but that's exactly what Stein has done. She recently won first
prize in the David Dornstein Memorial Short Story Contest for Young Adult
Writers sponsored by the Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education
(CAJE). Her winning entry, "The Terrorist Game," will be published in an
upcoming issue of the Jewish Education News, which is sent to CAJE
"I've been writing seriously since my senior year of high school," said
Stein, a former Waterbury resident who lives in Somerville, Mass. "I'd
been writing a lot of essays and some fiction, and kept showing them to a
teacher who kept saying, 'Audrey, you should be a writer, Audrey you
should be a writer,' until I started believing it."
"The Terrorist Game" is based on Stein's experience in Jerusalem while
attending Hebrew University in 1996 during a series of terrorist attacks
in the city. Two of those attacks were to the No. 18 bus that she took to
campus every day.
"I was definitely driven to write this story, because people were
asking me about the semester abroad -- whether I was scared, was it
amazing being in Israel...that sort of thing," Stein said. "And I didn't
know how to answer. So basically, this story was my answer.
"I got back at the beginning of the summer and I knew I wanted to write
it, and I basically said I wasn't going to look for a summer job until I
finished. So I spent the next three weeks working on it."
Stein, the daughter of Alan and Marsha Stein of Waterbury, attended
Taft School in Watertown and graduated magna cum laude from the University
of Pennsylvania in 1997. Growing up in Waterbury, where her family
belongs to Beth El, she attended the Waterbury Community Religious School,
Camp Ramah and was active in USY and NEFTY. She participated in the
Waterbury Federation's first official visit to the former USSR.
Stein began seriously writing her senior year at Taft.
"I started my first novel that year, which is now stashed in a drawer
somewhere," she said. "One of the things I've learned is that that's
common -- the first novel that makes it to publication is often not the
first one written. I learned a lot about the writing process from that
project, but ultimately it was too flawed to succeed."
Stein, 24, has recently completed a memoir, "Map," which she described
as "a story about falling in love for the first time -- and about
friendship, family and the changing nature of relationships in the age of
Excerpts from "Map" have been published online at GenerationJ.com and
JVibe.com. Stein is waiting to hear back
from a publisher who requested
Another work Stein has recently had published, is "A Pocket Guide to a
Proactive Education," an opinion piece published last summer in the
Chronicle of Higher Education. And her short story, "Ilana '93," was
published in the Spring 2000 issue of Blithe House Quarterly, available on
the Internet at www.blithe.com.
Stein, 24, is at home on the Internet, as her "day" job is as a web
designer and webmaster for Jewish Family & Life, a non-profit publisher of
web zines, JFL Books and the print journal Sh'ma.
Stein's favorite authors include Lorene Cary, Ellen Emerson White, Tom
Robbins, Chaim Potok, Peter Hedges, Leslie Feinberg, Kate Bornstein,
J.G. Hayes and Nate Bihldorff.
Cary wrote a memoir, "Black Ice," about her experiences at St. Paul's
School as one of the first African-American and one of the first female
students at the school back in the 1970s.
"I related to it quite strongly," Stein said. "Her experiences
paralleled mine -- being a Jewish day student at Taft -- in a lot of
Stein said musicians also influence her writing.
"I go to a lot of concerts, and I learn different things from each
artist," she said.
Stein also gives credit to her "super-supportive parents."