Arkansas writer Michael Fontana and Massachusetts writer Deborah (DK) McCutchen have received the 2014 Older Writers Grants from the Speculative Literature Foundation (SLF). The $500 awards support any purpose that the writers choose to benefit their work.

The Speculative Literature Foundation created the Older Writers Grants to support writers who are 50 years of age or older at the time of their application, and who are just beginning to professionally publish their work. The awards are intended to aid older writers in overcoming barriers to writing speculative fiction professionally.

Deborah (DK) McCutchen is a senior lecturer for the UMass College of Natural Sciences. She and her two daughters and a “Kiwi who isn’t green, but is fuzzy” live “on the bank of a Heraclitean stream.” Her first book (nonfiction, science and travel), The Whale Road, was published by Random House NZ and Blake in the UK, receiving a Pushcart Prize nomination and a Kiriyama Prize Notable Book Award.

Now writing “gender-bending, scientifically accurate” speculative fiction, McCutchen’s novel Jellyfish Dreaming has been excerpted in an upcoming issue of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet. Her second novel, Ice, is set in the near future, amid climate disasters and loss of species.

Born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, and currently living in Bella Vista, Arkansas, with his wife Marla and a “Zen cat” named Tommy, Michael Fontana has been actively writing since age 13. When not writing, Michael raises funds for a nonprofit organization serving people living with mental illness. His first novel, about teenagers with mental illness, was published after he turned 48.

Fontana’s second novel, an exploration of the meaning of God, was published when he was 50. A chapbook of meditations is forthcoming in 2015 from The Medulla Review Publishing. Michael believes that fiction “ought to be constantly transcending and blending literary boundaries to develop new forms.” His work strives to “imagine what lies beyond the stretch of time that we call life on Earth.”

The Foundation also awarded honorable mentions to Janice Croom and TM Waldroon.

Jurors for the 2014 Older Writers Grant include Lilla Smee, Stephanie Feldman, and Malon Edwards, Managing Director and Grants Administrator for the Foundation.