April 10, 2021   /  

Name: Zoe Covey
Major: English
Advisors: Dr. Christopher Kang and Dr. Thomas Prendergast

Sunscreen is a 68-page long novella following different members of a family as they each navigate their own lives. It spans about 90 years and mainly focuses on the life of Gloria Fischer, a woman who is born in Pittsburgh in the 1930s to a family of German immigrants. It traces her from baptism to becoming a grandmother, and along the way the story diverts to other characters. My aim for this project was to think about the different ways that we all somehow learn the same core lessons at one point or another in our lives. I also wanted to write detailed portraits of characters, and push that idea to novel-length, rather than limiting it to a few standalone vignettes. I was excited to be able to push myself to write such a long piece, and the process taught me that though my chapters naturally trend on the shorter side, they can still make up a long-form work. Ultimately, writing a novella was a very rewarding experience, and has been less scary than it has been wonderful.

Zoe will be online to field comments on April 16:
8-10am EDT (PST: 1-3pm, Africa/Europe: late evening)

38 thoughts on “Sunscreen”

  1. Congratulations, Zoe! This was a wonderful presentation, highlighting how writing can draw our attention to the mundane – from texts to grocery stores. Do you think you’ll expand the project to a novel in the future?

    1. Thank you so much Professor Sacks! I would definitely consider expanding the project. I didn’t expect writing a second draft to be almost as intimidating as the first, but I’m certainly very invested at this point, and I think these characters will always have more to say!

  2. This is such a fun and interesting concept! Can’t wait to read it on openworks! I am so proud of all you have done this semester on top of being able to write IS!

    1. Hi Marian!
      Thank you so much for all of your wonderful support and friendship this year!

  3. Well done Zoe. Listening to your process reminds me of the Billy Joel song ‘Scenes From an Italian Restaurant’. He had several snippets he liked, but not enough to make them into songs. He then combined them to create a cohesive classic, with each diversion helping to develop the full story. Is there a place we will be able to read the full novella?

    1. Thank you! The comparison to Billy Joel is so thoughtful and flattering. The full piece is published at and is available with a College of Wooster login. If that doesn’t work for you, feel free to email me at!

    2. Thank you so much! The comparison to Billy Joel is very thoughtful and flattering. The full piece is available at and is available with a College of Wooster login. If that doesn’t work for you, feel free to email me at!

  4. Zoe! What beautiful writing. I enjoyed listening to your excerpt and I will have to read this on Open Works. Have you read The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough? It follows one family in Australia from the 1910s to the 1960s. It focuses on one girl growing up, but it also has “diversions” of her children, siblings and love interests. Check it out if you have time. Great job!

    1. Hi Waverly!
      Thank you! I have not read The Thorn Birds, but it sounds right up my alley. Thanks for the recommendation!

  5. Very well done Zoe! You are a good, dramatic reader too! Looking forward to reading the full novella or maybe I should wait for the complete novel? 🙂
    Congrats on completing your IS!

    1. Hi Mr. Busch!
      I learned everything I know from Emma’s performance as the cat in The Wizard of Oz. Thank you so much!

  6. I’m very proud of you and all you’ve accomplished, Zoe! This project is super interesting and I hope I get to read more!

  7. Congratulations!! When you’re a best-selling author, can’t wait to say I knew you when 🙂 Looking forward to reading the rest on openworks!

    1. Thanks Olivia! This means a lot coming from an accomplished copy editor such as yourself!

  8. Congratulations, Zoe! I could listen to you read your novella all day. I loved how you used inspiration from old photos of your family. Very proud of you!

  9. Zoe,
    I enjoyed the story of your journey to becoming a writer, your description of the process of writing this novella and the expressive pictures you chose.
    Your excerpt was funny and thought provoking— makes me want to hear more… I hope you are making an audio version of this novella…..😊

  10. Thank you, Zoe. Thoroughly enjoyed your excerpt – particularly the lines about the quince, the hands touching, the quince breaking and dripping. Poetic! (I did a creative poetry I.S. waaaaay back in ’85.)

  11. This presentation is fantastic! Congratulations to you and your younger self! I can’t wait to read the full novella!

  12. Congratulations Zoe! This is really awesome and such an accomplishment to write something at this length and quality… I loved the childhood photos as always, and the expressive, almost banter-like tone, in your writing (while still reflective and in search of those deeper meanings) is really captivating; not to mention, it feels like such a genuine author’s voice knowing you!

    Great job!

  13. Congrats Zoe!! You have worked so hard this year and have created a wonderful and creative project! So proud of you always!

  14. Congrats Zoe! Your creativity always amazes me, and I know you will do big things in the future. I can’t wait to read the rest, and I’m so proud of you!

  15. Incredible job Zoe. I loved hearing the excerpt from your piece and maybe will get to read it in full someday?? Congratulations on this huge accomplishment, so so much love!!

  16. I loved this Zoe! The childhood photos really added to your presentation also! Congrats!!

  17. Zoe, I am so so honored to know you. You never fail to amaze me. I am go grateful for your vulnerability through this process. I wonder — what is something that you learned about yourself while working on this?

  18. Wow, I can’t believe I’ve spent the last two semesters in class with you without knowing you were working on such a big project! Congrats on this accomplishment, I also find it hard to write long-form works and I think it’s so huge that you completed this. I love your writing voice– it’s so vivid and specific. I’m going to miss reading your stuff in class!

  19. Congratulations Zoe! I really enjoyed listening to your presentation (the childhood photos were a nice addition!) and would love to read the novella! I’m so proud of all you’ve done, and am looking forward to seeing all you continue to accomplish!

  20. Zoe, congratulations on your exciting I.S. project, and thank you for sharing it with us here today! I thoroughly enjoyed your video presentation 🙂 What was the most rewarding part in your creative writing?

    Wishing you the best in your future endeavors!

  21. Zoe, great presentation–and, especially, lovely, vivid reading, really well performed! Congrats & best wishes!

  22. Hi Zoe, Congrats on a great prologue…I already care about Caroline, and love her narrative perspective! I can tell that you put a lot of yourself into this project, and you seem to be a person of depth and intelligence beyond her years. I hope you will be the reader on the eventual audio book! 🙂 Well done – best of luck.

  23. Hi Zoe! This is such a wonderful presentation of what sounds like a lovely project, and a moving reading of the gripping prologue–I look forward to reading more, and I’m so excited to see the journey of this IS over the course of the year. Congratulations!!

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