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The Lookout | March 24, 2018

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Pamela Ditchoff gains fame as author

Pamela Ditchoff gains fame as author
The Lookout

Jeremy Kohn
Editor in Chief

Pamela Ditchoff said she never thought she would have the resources to pursue a proper education.

Lansing Community College not only helped her receive an education, but also put her on the path of becoming an award-winning writer and author.

Ditchoff, 65, now lives in Nova Scotia, Canada, with her husband, David. She has three children. She attended LCC from fall of 1977 to spring of 1980, where she studied liberal arts.

She spoke about someone she considered a mentor during her time at LCC.

“David Zimny taught an honors course, political science,” Ditchoff said. “His enthusiasm was contagious. He presented his class cutting edge papers and ideas.

“One of the required books was a collection of political science fiction. Our class discussions on those stories were the most interesting and memorable discussions I had in my years at LCC.”

Ditchoff spoke about how important the opportunity of an education was for her.

“I was a recently divorced mother of three; father had left the state, no support,” Ditchoff said. “A college education had been a lifelong dream, one I believed I could not afford. The Women’s Resource Center at LCC offered me invaluable assistance.

Ditchoff was an active member of The Lookout while she attended LCC.

After LCC, Ditchoff attended Michigan State University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in communication’s arts, as well as a master’s in English and creative writing. She also served three years in post-graduate work as a graduate teaching assistant.

It was during Ditchoff’s college years that she developed her writing craft; writing poems and short stories. One of her short stories gained Ditchoff public attention, winning her a Chicago Review Award in 1991.

It was this short story, which would later be developed into Ditchoff’s famous novel, “Mirror of Monsters and Prodigies.” The novel looks at the lives of “human oddities” such as bearded women, dwarves and conjoined twins.

“I came across references to human oddities going back to Middle Kingdom Egypt,” Ditchoff said.  “I wanted to learn more and began researching – three years of research – one still had to find books in a library in those days.”

Ditchoff attributes her interest in human oddities to an incident as a child at the Ingham County Fair. There she encountered a fat lady, an alligator woman, a giant, and a tattooed man.

The book was given a favorably review by New York Times and was even featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered.”

After a successful published book and several writing stints as a freelancer, as well as teaching opportunities, Ditchoff found herself back at LCC, this time as a business writing professor.

“I enjoyed coming back to LCC … smaller classes and more interaction with students,” Ditchoff said.  “Students at LCC often seemed to me more invested in their studies than my students had been at other larger schools.”

Ditchoff continues to write for a living and said she has no plans to stop anytime soon.

“I think writing chose me,” Ditchoff said. “I began writing stories as soon as I could put a sentence together.”

“As a writer with my works I hope to move readers to place them in a time, a place, a state of mind that causes them to question, to affirm, to celebrate.”


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