The award includes a $1,000 cash prize and publication of the book. Grieving on the Run will be published some time after July 1.
Bedard's first collection, Hour of the Beast, was published over two decades ago. He had been toying with the idea of trying to publish a new collection of short stories for some time. He suspected it was unlikely he could make it happen again because the market for collections of short story is much narrower than other genres.
"I did a collection back in 1984 and hadn't done one since, so I had been just placing stories in magazines. That's a much less difficult thing to do than to place a book of stories," Bedard said.
Undaunted, Bedard submitted his collection to a contest hosted by Snake Nation Press, a Georgia company which had previously published his work, in 2004. That year the collection earned runner-up honors and therefore remained unpublished. However, Bedard was soon to learn that Snake Nation Press still had plans for Grieving on the Run.
"Little known to me, they made the decision internally
to forward it into the competition for 2005 and it surfaced as the winner. I actually won this time without knowing (I was entered in the competition)," said Bedard. ��
Many of the themes and creative impulses Bedard showcases in his stories center on his impressions of the Midwest and his own personal experiences in the region. Over the last 20 years, Bedard had compiled a catalogue of stories dealing with the unique tensions and conflicts inherent to life in the middle of the country.
"Most of these stories had been written since I've been in South Dakota so out of the 16 I'd say at least 10 are based in South Dakota or northern Iowa. I think I realized somewhere in the '80s that I had this fixation on civilization and nature synthesis or encounters between the two things or the two things meshing together, and that's pretty much been at the core of everything that I've done," said Bedard.
Bedard believes he, like everyone, was born with certain gifts and that the decision to become a writer and teacher was akin to a process of elimination early on in his education. He credits his lifelong dedication to his craft, coupled with an acute knowledge and honest assessment of his own strengths and weaknesses with where he is today.
"Your greatest sense of satisfaction and purpose comes from using language in creative ways and that happens in both teaching and writing. So maybe it's a realization that it's your deepest strength or your greatest gift. I couldn't be a dentist. I couldn't do the chemistry or the biology courses. Writing is a form of self-fulfillment. To a degree you could say that I write for its own sake because there's not a lot of profit in what I do. I won't make a great deal of money from this award. So you do a lot of it for the love of the game," Bedard said.