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Biography: Steven Atwater, Victim's Friend and Founder of the Oxford Writers Circle
 

Steven Atwater was born to Margaret and James Atwater in Vicksburg, Mississippi in 1959. The Atwaters were a blue-collar family, with James working construction and Margaret occasionally taking odd jobs babysitting and other things around the neighborhood to supplement the family's income. The young Steven grew up with a love of books that he checked out from the public library. Life in the Atwater home was loving and far from what could be called bad; however, the financial strain and pressures did cause Steven to look for an escape. He found this escape in the novels of Zane Grey and other adventure writers. His home might be run-down, his family might not be able to take nice vacations, but after a trip to the library, Steven wouldn't care because he was too busy racing down the plains, on the run from marauding Indians.

Steven graduated from the local high school and quickly married his high school sweetheart, Linda Ames. The young couple had two children within three years while Steven worked as a maintenance man. Steven had always dreamed of having a marriage like his parents: loving, caring, and understanding. He wanted their relationship but he had hoped to be more financially secure. However, by the time he was thirty, Steven found himself not only worse off financially, but also fighting with his wife at an alarming rate.

Steven and Linda often fought over money. He was working overtime and looking for as much extra work as he could find, but he still wasted too much cash. Steven was always buying this old junked car, hoping to fix it up and re-sell it. He always had a scheme. He would tell Linda that it takes money to make money, but his schemes never seemed to repay their investment. Linda grew tired of his plans that never amounted to anything. Their fights often grew violent. They never actually struck each other, but there were plenty of thrown plates, smashed ashtrays, and broken windows during their time.

On his thirty-third birthday, Steven moved out. He drove north to Oxford, where a friend had located him a job working as a maintenance man for a landlord who owned hundreds of rental units. In his first few months in Oxford, Steven spent all his time working and then drinking as soon as he got home. He kept a cooler in the back of his truck, Bud's iced down for quitting time. During this time, Steven found a growing resentment bubbling inside him for the privileged college students. He had a broken marriage, no money, and distant kids to show for all his hard work. And then, on any given Monday morning, he would have to go out to Summit Hill Apartments to fix where some drunken frat boy had crammed the exhaust pipe from a Geo Metro down the garbage disposal.

One night at a bar, Steven met one of Oxford's local writers, Barry Hannah, and was impressed with how down-to-earth the man was. Not an effeminate intellectual, this was a tough, hard-working man. Steven just knew that this was the way the writers he admired in his youth must have lived. Over the next few months, Steven cleaned up his drinking and regained his love for reading. He began writing short stories, occasionally handing them out to people for criticism.

Although few people in Oxford thought Steven had much pure talent, they couldn't deny his energy and work ethic. Steven began to be known as a hard working writer who might get lucky some day.

One fall, Steven took a creative writing class at Ole Miss. Although he liked the teacher and appreciated the things he learned in that forum, he still found his resentment for the college students getting in the way. He didn't want to read another story about fraternity parties. What did these kids know about life? He was writing about the real thing. Things that mattered.

So, in 1995, Steven formed the Oxford Writers Circle. He intended for this group to allow a place for older, more mature writers to discuss their work. At first, the group was sparsely attended. But Steven kept at it and eventually the group swelled to maximum capacity. He had to place a limit on members and new people could only join when an existing participant resigned.

Although Steven had gained some reputation around Oxford, mainly due to his determination and his longevity, his actual list of publications was relatively small. He had placed a few stories in small quarterlies around the country and on internet websites. He finally compiled a collection of short stories and was shopping it around to publishing companies, although no one seemed terribly interested.

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