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May 16, 2013

Mary Thompson ’02 to release second young adult science fiction novel

After practicing law for seven years, Oregon Law alumna and Eugene native Mary Thompson decided to take the writing skills she developed at law school and in the courtroom to New York, where she now dedicates herself to writing full-time and copyediting. In 2012, Clarion Books published Thompson's first novel, Wuftoom, a Young Adult (YA) horror-fantasy novel about a sickly teenager visited by a wormlike creature that tells him he is becoming one of them. Publisher’s Weekly praised the book, calling it "dark and unsettling," and "a break from the same old same old by creating something utterly new and weird." 

Her latest novel, Escape from the Pipe Men!, will be out in stores on June 11, 2013. The YA science fiction novel tells the story of Ryan Hawthorn, an adolescent on display as a human exhibit in an intergalactic zoo who must search the universe for an antidote when his father is poisoned. Both of her books are available on Amazon, McNally Jackson, Mysterious Galaxy, IndieBound, Barnes and Noble and Powell's Books.

After receiving her undergraduate degree from Boston University, Thompson returned to Eugene, where she grew up. She was drawn to the intellectual side of law school, and knew Oregon Law had a good reputation. Applying to Oregon Law became in her words "a no brainer."

While in law school, Thompson transitioned from writing poetry to novel writing. Her classes pushed her to become interested in creating longer, more coherent works.

"Law school teaches you how to analyze information and create art out of it," said Thompson.

pipe_menWhen she was in her second year at Oregon Law, she joined the Navy, and upon graduating from Oregon with her J.D. in 2002 she became a "lawyer in uniform," doing prosecution and defense work for the military. She enjoyed the job because it gave her the opportunity to work on cases immediately. After five years working as a military attorney, Thompson moved to San Diego and began practicing civil litigation at a small consumer firm. The job gave her time to work on her "after hours" writing, but after two years she knew she wanted to pursue writing full-time. She moved to New York and enrolled in the Master of Fine Arts writing program at the The New School. In 2012, she received her MFA, with a focus on writing for children.

"When you want to write, all of a sudden you desperately need to do it," said Thompson. "The more I wrote, the more important it became to me."

Thompson approaches her novels by starting with a broad idea — she then thinks ahead by a couple of chapters as she writes. She values the way law school and legal work have shaped her thought processes and writing, and advises students interested in pursuing a writing career to find the time to write, even if they feel too busy.

"It seems hard, but if you really want to you can," Thompson said.

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