USM Alumna’s Novel Included on Best Fiction for Young Adults List – Southern Miss Now

Thu, 01/28/2021 - 10:29am | By: Van Arnold

A fascination with zombies has helped University of Southern Mississippi (USM) alumna and author Ash (Banks) Parsons land her most recent novel on the 2021 Best Fiction for Young Adults list by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA).

Her book, Girls Save the World in This One, is included among 85 titles selected from 124 official nominations, which were posted and discussed in blog posts on The Hub.

Parsons, a Huntsville, Ala., native, summarizes her book as follows: Fangirl June and her besties Imani and Siggy will let nothing stand in the way of a good time at ZombieCon not the end of high school, not ex-BFF Blair, not overly-enthusiastic cosplayers, not even wait a minute the real actual zombie apocalypse itself!

I was delighted and surprised to learn that my book was selected as a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults title, she said. Its a huge honor. I was also moved because I used to be a youth services librarian, and I know the dedication and passion they have for young adult literature.

Parsons earned her undergraduate degree from Mississippi State University and her masters degree in library information science from USM. Since that time, she has been actively involved in child and youth advocacy programs. She taught English to middle- and high-school students in rural Alabama and watching some of her students face seemingly impossible problems helped inspire her first novel, Still Waters.

She has taught creative writing for Troy Universitys ACCESS program and media studies at Auburn University. Parsons recently won the 2016 PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship, a $5,000 award for an author of childrens or young-adult fiction to complete a book-length work in progress, for A Chemical Distance.

Dr. Teresa Welsh, director of USMs School of Library and Information Science, has been closely following the distinguished alumnas literary career and relished the opportunity to meet her a few years ago.

Ash returned to campus in Hattiesburg for the 2018 USM Fay B. Kaigler Children's Book Festival, where she led a workshop on the creative use of archetypes in writing and where she also attended the SLIS alumni breakfast, said Welsh. She has a warm, engaging personality, and it was a delight to meet her in person and tell her of the great pride we feel in her accomplishments.

Parsons notes that her inspiration for Girls Save the World in this One sprang from her fascination with the zombie genre. In fact, she has appeared as one of the many roaming, stumbling zombies on the hit TV series The Walking Dead.

During that time, I went to Walker Stalker, the first Walking Dead fan convention in Atlanta, said Parsons. While at the convention, I realized that since people were cosplaying as zombies, if there was an actual zombie apocalypse at a zombie fan convention, how would you be able to tell until it was too late? The idea was hilarious to me, and I kept thinking about it. Years later, I decided it was time to write a horror-comedy set at a zombie fan convention.

Parsons followed the success of Still Waters with her second novel, Holding Onto You (previously published as The Falling Between Us), a contemporary mystery and romance that examines what it might be like to be famous at a young age and all of the pressures that come with it.

Parsons fourth young adult novel, Youre So Dead, is set for release this summer. She describes the book as an Agatha Christie-inspired murder-comedy set at an island festival for influencers-only, except the influencers keep getting killed off.

Parsons, who currently resides in Auburn, Ala., calls her time as a USM graduate student essential in helping shape her writing career.

While I always wrote stories, I didnt specifically think about genre or publishing until I was a graduate student at USM, she said. It was thanks to the Fay B. Kaigler Childrens Book Festival, which I attended as a student, that I began to investigate writing and publishing for young adults. So, you can see, theres a direct line connecting the festival, the (USM) de Grummond Childrens Literature Collection, and my work today.

To see the 2021 Best Fiction for Young Adults List, visit: To learn more about Ash Banks Parsons writing, visit:

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USM Alumna's Novel Included on Best Fiction for Young Adults List - Southern Miss Now

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