Audrey Beth 
Stein's SHOW AND
TELL

 
 
"Stein's writing career receives big boost"

by David Bilmes

reprinted from the August 2000 issue of Chavurah

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 members.

"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 the Internet."

Excerpts from "Map" have been published online at GenerationJ.com and JVibe.com. Stein is waiting to hear back from a publisher who requested sample chapters.

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 ways."

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."

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