Student author, illustrator publish book on UD

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Linda Smith, News Editor

Valerie Landry, writer Alexa Turnczynski and illustrator Nicole Stevens at the book signing last Friday. -Photo by Linda Smith
Valerie Landry, writer Alexa Turnczynski and illustrator Nicole Stevens at the book signing last Friday. -Photo by Linda Smith

UD: A to Z, an illustrated, alphabetical exploration of the culture and history of the University of Dallas, was recently published by sophomores Alexa Turczynski and Nicole Stevens.
After seeing a similar book about another university, assistant director of student and parent services Valerie Landrum sought to imitate the project at UD. She began working with John Christensen of career services in January of 2012 to set up internships for an author and an illustrator for the book. After the interview process, Turczynski and Stevens were chosen to write and illustrate the book, respectively.
“We really wanted to show various aspects of UD: the academic side, the social side, and especially the history,” Turczynski said. “Its mission is to not only catch the interest of prospective students and families, but also to give alumni an opportunity to reminisce about their UD experience.”
Turczynski researched and crafted a story for each letter of the alphabet, sending drafts to Stevens, who would then come up with a sketch for the page.
“I think it was important that I had an artistic imagination more so than artistic talent, although that too took great importance in trying to understand what I needed to do in order to make the illustrations aesthetically pleasing to the reader as they opened the book,” Stevens said. “An understanding of that aesthetic allowed me to make each page appropriate for its letter, but the illustrations were more of my artistic imagination running wild, making each image important to the page, hiding little images that mimic the overarching theme and giving Alexa’s already poignant language colorful life.”
Each page features a letter, highlighting important elements of the University of Dallas like the Novinskis, Homer, Music on the Mall and others. The book is meant for prospective students, current students and alumni, since it contains stories about UD that are less well-known.
“In creating the book, Alexa and I were looking for stories that even current students might not know about UD, whilst keeping the book as informative as we could for those who have yet to join the UD student fold,” Stevens said. “I can honestly say I learned a great deal about the university whilst researching her illustrious history, and I tried to incorporate it, whether it be obvious or with hidden meaning, in my illustrations. It includes facts about the founding of the university that I am sure every student should know as well as tidbits that I think may surprise them about the campus that they walk every day.”
Turczynski and Stevens began working on the book in May 2012, and final edits were completed in August of the same year, just before the girls went to Rome.
“It was a really awesome experience collaborating with Nicole, getting different ideas and input as I wrote,” Turczynski said. “When it’s all done and in book form, it’s a really great feeling. Nicole and I were surprised when we were brought the finished book while we were in Rome. It was really exciting to get to hold it in our hands and share it with our classmates.”
A book signing was held in the bookstore Friday, where 10 to 11 copies were sold. It was “a great amount for a first book signing,” said Turczynski.
“I truly enjoyed working with Alexa and Nicole,” Landrum said. “They are extremely creative and beautiful, inside and out! I am excited the girls are back from their fall Rome semester and look forward to several book signings this semester.”

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