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Midland & Odessa, Ep. 2

April 9, 2016 — For our semi-annual trek to the wonders of Midland & Odessa — Texas Forever! — we once again teamed up with the Books in the Basin festival to put on a knockout night of lit, wit and all kinds of joyfulness in between that finished with Josh Kilmer-Purcell outdueling Rachel Caine in Literary Spelling Bee II, to win Kilmer-Purcell the LDM Midland & Odessa, Ep. 2 crown.

But before the finale was even a thought, the night kicked off with a sterling first round that saw Kilmer-Purcell, NY Times bestselling author of I Am Not Myself These Days & The Bucolic Plague telling the tale of his first-ever time meeting Martha Stewart. Next up was A. Lee Martinez, author of The Automatic Detective and Gil's All Fright Diner, who read a brilliant excerpt form his novel Helen and Troy's Epic Road Quest.  

The mic was then handed to the trio of all-star judges: Becka Oliver, Executive Director of Writers' League of Texas; Jeramey Kraatz, author of The Cloak Society series; and Lev Grossman, author of New York Times best-selling The Magicians trilogy; book critic for TIME. The three reeled off praise and hilarious verbal amazements before making the night's first impossible decision, declaring Kilmer-Purcell the first finalist.

Then came Round 2, which saw Mark Pryor, author of Hollow Man, the Hugo Marston novels (The Bookseller) and As She Lay Sleeping , deliver a noir piece that had the crowd on the edge of their seat. Then came Rachel Caine, NY Times best-selling author of Midnight Bites: Stories of the Morganville Vampires, who read a twisting and turning tale that kept surprising the wowed audience.

Then, again, the judges were center stage, with a series of knee-slapping riffs intermixed with applause for each writer's work. And after a huddle, they made the night's second impossible decision, naming Caine the second finalist.

Then up stepped LDM creator Adrian Todd Zuniga, who announced the night's finale: Literary Spelling Bee II, in which Kilmer-Purcell and Caine took turns spelling more and more complicated author names (with help from audience members) In the final round, with everything to play for, Kilmer-Purcell delivered the necessary letter to win him the LDM Midland & Odessa, Ep. 2 medal and literary immortality to go with it.