Professor of English David Haynes invariably has books at close reach – currently, more so than ever. Multiple cardboard boxes fill his office space, each stacked to the brim of recently published fiction novels. The task at hand: read lots and lots – and lots – of books and judging them. The novelist’s award: one giant secret.
“I feel like I’ve got canary feathers all over my face and I’m just trying to keep my secret in,” said Haynes.
The importance of keeping this secret is immense. There are only three people in the world that know what is going on, and Professor Haynes is one of them. Luckily for him, the winners will be announced with the 2015 calendar year. In total, he has read at least 40 books cover-to-cover, and skimmed an additional 40. The opportunity to work on this secretive project was presented when a fellow writer/editor nominated Professor Haynes for the position. The grin on his face when speaking about the books screams “thank you” to his peer.
Aside from judging the books, Professor Haynes teaches multiple classes and advises students on SMU’s campus. He estimates that he spends approximately 36 hours per week solely helping his students with their essays. A junior in Haynes’ creative writing class, Kristen Briggs, said, “Professor Haynes doesn’t worry about letter grading. His main concern is that our writing is continuously improving and that we always try our best.”
“I emphasize most how hard it is to keep this secret. However, I am excited about this, and even more excited for the winners.”