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Published by the Public Affairs Office at San Francisco State University, Diag Center.

Contact: Ted DeAdwyler
phone: (415) 338-1665

S.F. State creative writing student wins Playboy College Fiction contest

SAN FRANCISCO, September 22, 2000 - San Francisco State University's Yael Schonfeld is living the dream of every young writer: Her short story has been published and is being read by millions in an internationally famous magazine. The rest of the story takes a little explaining after telling friends her work appears in the October edition of Playboy magazine, which has a monthly circulation of more than three million readers and is the most popular magazine of its type.

Schonfeld's short story, "The Collection Treatment," captured first place in Playboy's popular annual College Fiction Writing Contest and earned her $3,000 in prize money. Her story is the tale of a neurotic young woman obsessed with a jogger who appears to be the picture of health. As it turns out, none of the characters is quite what he or she seems.

"Prepare to be creeped out --- in the story, it's checkout time at the Hotel of Lost Souls," Playboy warned its readers in the magazine's "Playbill" section on features in the current edition.

"Yael is a wonderful young writer, whose work displays deep psychological depth and complexity," said Maxine Chernoff, chair of the creative writing department at S.F. State and a best-selling author herself. "Yael is very deserving of the prize, and the department is very proud of her and its many fine students."

What is special about her 10,000-word story? "I think that it speaks to anyone who feels like they are on the outside looking in," said Schonfeld, who won a San Francisco Bay Guardian fiction writing contest last year for another story.

Schonfeld's own life story has been as intriguing as her writing. She spent much of her life in Israel although she spent several years in San Diego as a youngster. She served her two years mandatory service in the Israeli army before entering Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where she earned bachelor's degrees in both psychology and English literature as well as a master's degree in English literature.

Schonfeld came to San Francisco in 1998 to study in S.F. State's respected graduate creative writing program, which gets about 500 applications for 50 spots each year. (Creative writing alumni include authors Anne Rice, Po Bronson and Ernest Gaines.) "This is a wonderful place for writers to study the process of writing. The workshops have been a great help. They allow others to examine my writing and I can do the same for other students. We learn so much about writing that way," said Schonfeld, who will earn her master's degree next year.

Schonfeld said she had not aimed to have her work published in Playboy. She just wanted to have her work published somewhere. "I was sending my work everywhere; to any contest I could enter. Playboy was just one of those contests. When I got a letter back from Playboy I thought this could be exciting," she said.

The 30-year-old graduate student said part of the inspiration for the story came from her extended stays in three off-the-beaten-track San Francisco hotels when she first arrived from Israel to enter S.F. State. "I got a lot of ideas from that experience and those ideas kept rolling around in my mind," said Schonfeld, who wrote "The Collection Treatment" over winter break in 1998.

She eventually wants to publish a collection of her own short stories.

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EDITORS: To speak with S.F. State's Yael Schonfeld, call Ted DeAdwyler of the S.F. State Public Affairs Office at (415) 338-7110.

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Last modified April 24, 2007, by Office of Public Affairs