Photo Credit: Kelly Campbell
Historical Preservation Advocate Serves as Final Judge in 50th Nick Adams Short Story Contest
New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author Steve Berry will select the prize-winning story in ACM’s 50th Nick Adams Short Story Contest.
The annual competition is open to students at the 14 member institutions of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) and awards a prize of $1,000 for the winning story. Students can enter the contest by submitting their short stories to their college’s English department. Two ACM faculty members will select up to six finalists from which Berry will select the winning story in March.
Steve Berry has made immense contributions to historical preservation and education, and his vast library of historical thrillers demonstrates the value that real-world events and research bring to creative work. We are delighted that such a distinguished author has agreed to serve as the final judge of ACM’s 50th Nick Adams Short Story Contest.”
—Sonya Malunda, President of the ACM
Berry is the bestselling author of more than twenty novels, including the Cotton Malone series, the most recent of which, The Kaiser’s Web (2021), investigates the events and consequences of a fateful day in 1945 Germany. His bibliography also includes several standalone novels such as The Omega Factor, to be released later this year, which spotlights the fragility of the world’s cultural artifacts as well as the secrets they can unearth. Berry’s debut, The Amber Room (2003), is “a globe-trotting treasure hunt packed with exotic locales, sumptuous art, and ruthless villains,” according to Dan Brown, bestselling author of The Da Vinci Code (2003). Berry’s books have sold 25 million copies in 52 countries and have been translated into 41 languages.
“Steve Berry has made immense contributions to historical preservation and education, and his vast library of historical thrillers demonstrates the value that real-world events and research bring to creative work,” said Sonya Malunda, President of the ACM. “We are delighted that such a distinguished author has agreed to serve as the final judge of ACM’s 50th Nick Adams Short Story Contest.”
Born and raised in Georgia, Berry graduated from the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University. He worked as a trial lawyer for 30 years, holding elective office for 14 of those years. A shared passion for history inspired him and his wife, Elizabeth, to establish History Matters, a foundation devoted to historical preservation. They have organized writing workshops, lectures, and other events across the country to raise funds for the preservation of endangered historic artifacts. Since 2009, such activities have been attended by 3,500 students and raised more than $1.5 million. Berry is also a founding member and former co-president of International Thriller Writers, an organization of nearly 6,000 thriller writers from across the globe. From 2013 to 2018, Berry served on the Smithsonian Libraries Advisory Board, supporting libraries in making information and resources accessible to students, scholars, historians, curators, and the public.
“What makes his novels stand out is the level of research to make the foundation of the story solid and then adding some mayhem and chaos,” the Associated Press wrote about Berry. “After shaking them all together, the result is a thriller that intrigues and provides historical context.” The Las Vegas Review-Journal noted that Berry “excels at wrapping historical events around a fictional suspense story, giving it a real-life feel that is also educational.”
Berry’s Cotton Malone series includes The Kaiser’s Web (2021), The Warsaw Protocol (2020), The Malta Exchange (2019), The Bishop’s Pawn (2018), The Lost Order (2017), The 14th Colony (2016), The Patriot Threat (2015), The Lincoln Myth (2014), The King’s Deception (2013), The Jefferson Key (2011), The Emperor’s Tomb (2010), The Paris Vendetta (2009), The Charlemagne Pursuit (2008), The Venetian Betrayal (2007), The Alexandria Link (2007), and The Templar Legacy (2006); his standalone novels include The Omega Factor (2022), The Columbus Affair (2012), The Third Secret (2005), The Romanov Prophecy (2004), and The Amber Room (2003).
Berry received the Royden B. Davis Distinguished Author Award from the University of Scranton in 2011. Additionally, a 2010 NPR survey named The Templar Legacy one of the top 100 thrillers ever written. In 2012 and 2013, the American Library Association selected Berry as their national spokesperson for Preservation Week. In recognition of his work for historical preservation, he was honored with the Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award by Poets & Writers as well as the Silver Bullet award by International Thriller Writers, both in 2013. That same year, Berry received the Anne Frank Human Writes Award from the Anne Frank Center. In 2017, he and his wife were recipients of The San Jacinto Star Award from the San Jacinto Museum of History Association for their philanthropic work with History Matters. Berry was declared Author of the Year by the Georgia Writers Association in 2005 and Writer of the Year by the Florida Writers Association in 2017.
The Nick Adams Short Story Contest, named after the young protagonist of many stories by Ernest Hemingway, was established with funds from an anonymous donor to encourage fiction writing at ACM colleges. The competition was first held in 1973 with Saul Bellow serving as the final judge; other final judges have included such literary luminaries as Maya Angelou, John Updike, Audrey Niffenegger, Larry Heinemann, Bharati Mukherjee, Joyce Carol Oates, Anne Tyler, Stuart Dybek, Scott Turow, and Sandra Cisneros.