Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Notable Alumni

House of 8 Orchids cover
Winter 2017

House of 8 Orchids

House of 8 Orchids cover

James Thayer ’71

Thomas & Mercer: 2016

 

Master storyteller James Thayer turns in another winner with House of 8 Orchids. In Chungking in the early twentieth century, Chinese gangsters snatch the two sons of a diplomat—John, five, and his brother William, two—from the care of their amah.

Fast forward to the 1930s. War with Japan is heating up. The boys, now men, have been raised in the eponymous House to … » More …

Green and Roughshod cover
Winter 2017

Green and Roughshod: I Should’ve Stayed a Montana Cowboy

Green and Roughshod cover

Dan H. McLachlan ’66, ’69 MA

Aventine Press: 2016

 

The dream of a little boy to become a cowboy came true for Dan McLachlan. He read a 1927 text, All in the Day’s Riding, as an eighth-grader in Palo Alto, California, and became enamored with the vision of a wide blue sky viewed from horseback. After earning enough to buy two horses and tack, he eventually ended up in Montana for … » More …

Gene Conley (Photo Boston Globe)
Winter 2017

Gene Conley x’50

Washington State baseball and basketball standout Gene Conley x’50, the only professional athlete to win both a World Series and NBA championship, died July 4, 2017. He was 86.

Conley was a pitcher with the Milwaukee Braves when the team won the World Series in 1957 and he helped the Boston Celtics to three NBA titles from 1959 to 1961. He played against sports legends such as Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle, Jackie Robinson, and Wilt Chamberlain during an 18-year dual-sport career that also included four All-Star appearances.

At Washington State, where he anchored both the baseball and basketball teams for two seasons before going … » More …

Winter 2017

Steve Gleason ’00

Former Cougar football and NFL standout Steve Gleason ’00, whose battle with ALS has become an international symbol of perseverance and determination, has been named the Regents’ Distinguished Alumnus for 2017.

“Steve Gleason epitomizes the essence of ‘Cougar Spirit,’” said Washington State University President Kirk Schulz at the August 10 ceremony. “His passion to persevere and succeed despite life’s challenges has inspired thousands, not only in the United States, but around the world.”

Gleason helped take WSU to the Rose Bowl in 1997 and in 2006 had a punt-blocking dive for the New Orleans Saints that rallied the hurricane-ravaged city’s down-but-not-out spirit. Five … » More …

Jason Chan (Courtesy Perkins+Will)
Winter 2017

Medical research design that’s 24/7

Jason Chan ’99 had to travel roughly 10,000 miles to satisfy a childhood curiosity. “I grew up in Singapore and the rate of urbanization is incredible there,” explains Chan. Interested in engineering and design, “architecture felt like a natural step.”

Chan, who specializes in medical and research facility architecture, first pursued his passion in Pullman. “I definitely had to look at architectural history and design studies with critiques. (Being a Cougar) helped me develop design skills,” Chan says.

Now a principal and regional leader for the research sector at Perkins+Will in Houston, Texas, his design prowess is on full display in concrete ways.

The Texas … » More …

Ana Cabrera
Fall 2017

Live from New York . . .

When Ana Cabrera ’04 first set foot on Washington State University’s Pullman campus in 2000, she had no idea she’d be live on national television in 17 years.

She didn’t know she’d go on to work as a weekend anchor for CNN and live in New York City. She was unaware that she’d cover major stories like riots in Ferguson, marijuana legalization, and immigration—or that her life would soon be at the 24/7 mercy of the “news gods.” And she certainly couldn’t predict that the president of the United States would call her and her fellow journalists the “enemy.”

What she did know was … » More …

Fall 2017

Bear watching

The headlines paint a dire picture: By the 2030s, global warming could completely melt Arctic sea ice, imperiling the 19 known polar bear populations that range across the United States, Canada, Russia, Greenland, and Norway.

Could, as some fear, the trend spell extinction for Ursus martimus?

For two of the country’s premiere polar bear researchers—wildlife biologists KARYN RODE ’99 MS, ’05 PhD, and DAVID C. DOUGLAS ’86 MS, both of whom work for the U.S. Geological Survey’s Alaska Science Center—the answer is a decided “No.”

But neither is the future rosy for the animals, according to Douglas, who uses satellite tracking to monitor their … » More …

Fall 2017

Where the trouble began

“Fiction is a document of trouble,” says novelist James Thayer ’71. The trouble began for Thayer as a teenager reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula on his father’s wheat farm in Almira.

“The narrator sees the Count leap to a window frame—and then crawl down the exterior of the castle wall like a lizard!” Thayer exclaims. “That scene scared me to death! It was a revelation as to the power of fiction.”

Now, decades later, the Seattle-based author of 14 novels teaches fiction writing through the University of Washington’s continuing education program.

“The main thing that keeps people from writing a novel is that it … » More …

Stephen B. Smart
Fall 2017

The accidental novelist

What began as a way to avoid going stir crazy while recuperating from a nearly fatal equestrian accident has become an award-winning western genre trilogy that blends suspenseful mystery and the allure of lost fortunes with good old-fashioned frontier fortitude.

Landscape architect STEPHEN B. SMART ’75 calls himself an unlikely novelist. He’s spent most of his life outdoors, designing everything from elaborate gardens and water features to a driveway gate cleverly concealed to appear as a fallen ponderosa pine. And in his free time, he’s more likely to be found atop a favorite mule exploring the Pacific Northwest backcountry than sitting at a keyboard … » More …

Fall 2017

James Thayer on the craft of the novel

James Thayer reads from The Boxer and the Poet

James Thayer ‘71 reads the first chapter of his romantic comedy, The Boxer and the Poet.

 

 

Tips and Techniques

Thayer started teaching the craft of the novel about ten years ago as a creative writing instructor at the University of Washington. He’s also a regular contributor to Author magazine.

Thayer, a natural storyteller, absorbed his craft through his lifelong voracious reading habit. When he first got the teaching job, he realized he didn’t have enough to say to fill a 90-hour, year-long course. So, as is his wont, he read a bunch of books. … » More …