Alumni, Central Washington University, Creative Writing, Department of English, Fiction, Horror Genre, Literature, Uncategorized

What Do You Expect From a CWU Alum Born on Halloween?

By Katharine Whitcomb

T.J. Tranchell saw his first horror movie at age five.

His hero is Stephen King. His favorite King novel is “Bag of Bones.”


Tranchell, 37, met his Blysster Press publisher at Crypticon in Seattle in 2014. He was encouraged to attend this gathering by his professors/instructors at our Department of English.

He has published two macabre books: Cry Down Dark (novella) and Asleep in the Nightmare Room (short stories), and has two more in the offing. These tales are not for the weak of heart.

Tranchell received his B.A. degree in English with a Writing Specialization from the College of Arts and Humanities’ English Department in 2013. Two years later, he earned his CWU M.A. degree in Literature.

Thumbing through Tranchell’s newly published Asleep in the Nightmare Room in which he vividly recounts his nightmares about creepy, crawly spiders; he immediately acknowledges the contributions of his teachers including: Laila Abdalla, Liahna Armstrong, Xavier Cavazos, George Drake, Lisa Norris, myself, and others.

Tranchell recalled his first meeting with me, and how the English Department was a great place to ‘do your own thing.’ He also bonded with Professor Armstrong over all things, Alfred Hitchcock. Tranchell told LaunchPad that he would not have reached his level of literary accomplishment without his teachers.


After a budding career in journalism came to an end, when his wife was selected for a job in Yakima, Tranchell decided the time had come to earn his degree in English with an emphasis on writing fiction.

Tranchell recognizes that journalism and creative writing both require story telling skills, but said that fiction is far more satisfying.

When asked if he worked on horror writing following a full-work week as a reporter covering stories, he demonstrated his love for metaphors: “The last thing a dish washer wants to do is go home and wash his own dishes.” Point made.

Tranchell said his professors and instructors at Central gave him the “freedom” to pursue his love of horror writing, but still made sure he was making “progress” toward his undergraduate degree in English, and later his graduate degree in Literature. He said his teachers made him better as a writer.

“I enjoy hearing people scream.” – T.J. Tranchell

He contends that horror books are scarier than movies of the same genre. Tranchell said that humans crave an emotional reaction in confronting their own worst fears in a safe environment. He questions why some will happily board the scariest roller coaster, but will cringe and cower at the thought of watching a Vincent Price or Jack Nicholson movie based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe or Stephen King respectively.


Tranchell said his CWU professors and instructors encouraged him to capitalize on his vivid imagination and pursue his fascination of horror. He said the collective philosophy of his teachers was: “Whatever the genre, good writing is good writing.”

Does Tranchell ever have to overcome the dreaded and scary, “writer’s block?” He replied that when he is “actively writing” that he is in a zone. His biggest impediments to writing are the demands of daily life.


Most recently he directed student media at the University of Idaho for two years, a position that ended on the last day of June. Today, he is a full-time “stay-at-home dad” and a novelist focusing on all things scary.

And instead of being the second-coming of Stephen King, he wants to the first iteration of T.J. Tranchell. Congratulations to T.J. and his readers.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Awards, Central Washington University, College of Arts and Humanities, Faculty, Graduates, Staff, Uncategorized, Undergraduates, Year-End Celebration

Earning Our Year-End Celebration

By Stacey Robertson

We certainly love our award shows including the Oscars, Emmys, Tonys, Grammys, ESPYs, Halls of Fame, Nobel Prizes, Heismans and so many more.

Award shows in far too many cases have become de rigueur and overly predictable with their magic envelopes, winners, first runner-ups, and required acceptance speeches. They are usually ratings champions, but in some ways they are becoming standard and predictable.


The Central Washington University College of Arts and Humanities awards ceremony last Tuesday was anything but standard and predictable. Beginning with two brilliant performances from our Musical Theatre program, the gathering featured inspirational students, devoted professors, and committed staff. By the end of the evening, we all knew the remarkable achievements of each and every one of our award winners, signifying that our college is rising at a faster pace and steeper incline than ever before.

We nurture talent whether it is artistic expression, critical thinking and assessment, digital design, multimedia story-telling, award-winning musical and theatrical performances, language fluency and so much more. Our 360-degree approach includes talented staff preparing our college to do the best job for our students, the scholars who just will not accept anything less than their very best, our knowledgeable faculty who mentor and counsel our students, and our overachieving alumni, who are eager to mentor and give-back.

Most of all, our college philosophy is grounded in liberal arts – lifelong learning tailor-made for the service-oriented economies of the 21st Century.

Looking back on the 14 awards presented May 10, I was especially impressed by the two outstanding student awards, which bear the name of my nine-year predecessor, Marji Morgan. Dr. Morgan’s exceptional leadership put our college on the path toward excellence by nurturing our strengths and leveraging our potential. Her contributions and dedication allowed us to become the college we are today.


So without further adieu, here are outstanding award recipients for the 2016 College of Arts and Humanities Year-End Celebration:

Undergraduate Awards

  • Thomas Gause Award for Achievement in Music Performance: Natalie Parks Bernstein
  • George Stillman Award for Achievement in Art: Three-Dimensional Work: Grace Trautman
  • Raymond Smith Award for Achievement in Scholarship: Braden Goveia (World Languages)
  • Marji Morgan Outstanding Student Award #1: Victoria Zencak (World Languages)
  • Marji Morgan Outstanding Student Award #2: Patrick Carpenter (Education and World Languages)

Graduate Awards

  • Outstanding Graduate Student Artistic Achievement Award: Krista Connelly (Music); Chase Grover and Philipe Hyojung Kim (Art)

Faculty Awards

  • Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award: Gayla Blaisdell (Music)
  • Outstanding Faculty Artistic Achievement Award: Stephen Robison (Art)
  • Outstanding Faculty Services Award: Jeffrey Dippmann (Philosophy and Religious Studies)
  • Outstanding Non-Tenure-Track Faculty Teaching Award: Lila Harper (English)

Employee Awards

  • Outstanding Employee Award #1: Vickie Winegar (English)
  • Outstanding Employee Award #2: Heather Horn Johnson (Art)

Department Chair Award

  • Outstanding Department Chair Award: George Drake (English)

Please join me in saluting our 14 award winners, and everyone who gave us all the reasons in the world to celebrate!