"Don't Eat Cat."
A tip from bestselling author Jess Walter.
Writers in the Library featured Walter, who shared one of his short stories, "Don't Eat Cat" from his first collection of short fiction, "We Live in Water."
The event, which took place Monday evening in the Hodges Library auditorium, had Walter tackle controversial topics in his reading, from the transformational Miley Cyrus to futuristic apocalyptic zombie attacks.
Students, staff, faculty and general members of the community came to support UT's Writers in the Library events, a series that brings authors in to read and discuss their work on campus.
"Don't Eat Cat" is, according to Walter, a satire that uses zombies to unleash political correctness that also incorporates a love story.
Walter got the fictional idea from his friend, who expressed that all his students ever turned in were zombie stories, and after a few drinks, he came up with this comical short story.
Walter, a New York Times Best Seller, recipient of the Edgar Allen Poe award and a former journalist, shared life advice for young writers and journalists alike.
"If there is a degree in the thing you love, you owe it to yourself to chase after it," Walter said.
Walter said he didn't receive recognition and fame early in life. He graduated with a journalism degree and worked at a local newspaper.
"As a young father, I had to support my family any way I could," he said.
Walter started this collection of short stories in 2005 after he had already published two novels. For seven years, his stories were rejected by numerous publications such as The New Yorker and The New York Times.
It has taken him 25 years to produce 35 – and counting – short stories.
"I feel like there is a much larger manifest for short stories in today's society than there used to be," Walter said. "Literary fiction is solely character based.
"I love the pace of suspense novels, and I am ecstatic to write new genres in the near future."
Walter's novels are famous for character scenery.
"I love to soak up scenery; this is how I create character settings through my journals," Walter said. "It's the news reporter, the journalist in me, but I am also driven to capture poetry."
Terry Shaw, Knoxville resident, attends Writers in the Library events and said he always feels welcome on campus.
"I enjoy coming to Writers in the Library," Shaw said, "There are absolutely great writers and great resources are utilized."
Shaw said he is an avid fan of Walter's work and recommends Walter's novel "Beautiful Ruins" for readers to enjoy.
Shaw's neighbor and friend, Sam Smith, was also in attendance and proclaimed his love of Walter's novels.
"I first heard of Jess on NPR radio and through The New York Times book review," he said. "I love 'Beautiful Ruins.' The novel captures a little bit of everything from Elizabeth Taylor to the Fringe Festival – it ties aspects beautifully."
Kristen Beard, a junior in philosophy, said she wasn't familiar with Jess Walter's literary works, but was pleasantly surprised by the effect author readings have on the story's portrayal.
"It helps me gain a personal insight and perspective into the literature," Beard said. "It encourages me to seek literature that I normally wouldn't have interest in when an author reads his own material."
Writers in the Library will feature author Pamela Schoenewaldt in November and various authors in the spring semester.
For more information on the Writers in the Library series, click here.