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Fordham Graduate Selected for Humor Writing Residency

For most people, two all-expenses-paid weeks at a hotel would simply be a vacation. For Tracy Brady, FCRH ’90, they will be an opportunity to work on the manuscript for a new novel.

Brady was recently selected to participate in A Hotel Room of One’s Own: The Erma Bombeck | Anna Lefler Humorist-in-Residence Program. Approximately 400 writers applied for a spot in the program this year. The biennial contest gives two emerging humor writers the chance to participate in the University of Dayton’s Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop next spring, followed by a two-week stay at hotel to focus on their work.

During the workshop and residency, Brady plans to work on a comic novel called Playgroup, according to a press release from the University of Dayton. She said the book is inspired by the playdates she attended when her children were young. She found herself surrounded by successful women taking time off for their kids and discussing “the complex feelings women have about modern marriage and motherhood.”

Brady is the author of two other novels, Confessions of a Nervous Shiksa (2005) and Real Women Eat Beef (2007), both published by Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, and her work has appeared in The Boston Globe Magazine, Fortune, and Adweek, among other publications. She also writes a blog called Festival of Need.

Until recently, she was a senior vice president at the Boston-based advertising agency Hill Holliday, a position she left to focus on her writing and launch her own company. She has previously worked in entertainment marketing at Arnold Worldwide, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Fox Searchlight Films, and Turner Broadcasting.

It was on her last day at Hill Holliday, on Nov. 8, that Brady learned that she had earned a spot in the residency program. The contest was of particular interest to her because she had grown up reading Erma Bombeck’s syndicated newspaper column.

“When I started writing seriously about humor, I sincerely wanted to be my generation’s Erma Bombeck, illuminating the crazy normal details that compose a life, and offering both laughter and human insight to people needing both,” she said.

The winners of the residency, which Forbes has called perhaps “the best writer’s residency in the country,” were selected by Pulitzer Prize-winning humor writer Dan Barry and author Adriana Trigiani. Barry noted that Brady’s writing was “reminiscent of Erma herself,” while Trigiani called her a “great original voice.”

For Brady, the workshop and residency will not only give her valuable feedback and comfortable surroundings—they will also allow her to focus on a practice that brings her personal happiness.

“Humor writing is my release and my joy,” she said. “I write because being funny makes me feel alive, and making people laugh is the best feeling in the world.”


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