(Oct. 4, 2017) -- Meet Deanna Raybourn ’90. She found her voice as a writer at UTSA, and now she’s the author of 11 historical fiction novels.
A San Antonio native and a sixth-generation Texan, Raybourn grew up aspiring to be a novelist. When it became time for her to decide where to earn her degree, she knew she wanted a quality education.
Raybourn’s father, a military veteran, graduated from UTSA in 1980 with a degree in anthropology. The idea of following in his footsteps was attractive to her. She remembered that he had a great experience while earning his degree.
“I knew I could have a valuable educational experience and stay close to my family if I went to UTSA,” she said. “It’s a part of San Antonio, and San Antonio is a part of me.”
Not long after she arrived at UTSA, Raybourn took on a double major in English and history, two areas that she was passionate about studying.
“I went into my history degree with these ideas of what I wanted to study,” she said. “UTSA took me down a path I never could have expected. I had to take things like Russian and African history, which I never would have pursued before. I ended up loving those courses because they forced me to study civilizations and time periods I wasn’t familiar with.”
Raybourn also dove into her English courses, finding excellent guidance as a young writer from professors John A. Stoler and Alan E. Craven, who remain a part of the UTSA faculty today.
“Studying in the Department of English at UTSA was one of my most formative experiences as a writer,” she said. “The faculty taught me so much about writing and reading and how to view the world. Dr. Stoler and Dr. Craven were engaging and demanding, and I learned a tremendous amount from them. They are the two professors who really shaped a lot of what I think about writing.”
While at UTSA, Raybourn also met her future husband.
“My friend invited me to her class because she said there was a really cute guy there,” she said. “And he was. Two months later, we were a couple.”
Eventually, the UTSA couple was married. Coincidentally, that same morning was Raybourn’s Commencement ceremony.
“I went from a black gown in the morning to a white gown in the afternoon,” she said.
Raybourn’s groom came to Commencement to support her, and his best man covered his face so he wouldn’t see his bride as she crossed the stage to receive her degree.
After graduating from UTSA, Raybourn became a teacher at East Central High School, and she continued to write. She completed her first novel when she was 23 years old. Fourteen years later, she became a published author.
“It took a lot of perseverance to stick out those 14 years,” she said. “I finally secured a book deal, and I’ve been published ever since.”
Her novels all fall into the genre of historical fiction, which Raybourn prefers because she enjoys the freedom of interpreting history through the eyes of a character she created herself.
“It’s fun to research periods of history. It never feels like work,” she said. “It feels like complete and utter bliss because you’re being paid to geek out over something you love.”
Raybourn and her family now live in Virginia. Her 11th novel, A Perilous Undertaking, is a mystery that takes place in 1887 London. It was released in January. Her next book is expected to be published in early 2018.
“The one thing I’d like to pass on to other writers, which I learned at UTSA, is that writing is nowhere near as glamorous as you think it is,” she said. “It’s more about putting your tail in the chair than putting the words on the page, and about being comfortable with writing badly because you have to get through that to get to the good stuff.”
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Throughout the summer, UTSA offers more than 60 camps in science, engineering, architecture, sports, music, writing, language, culture and more.Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
San Antonio area high school and undergraduate students who participated in UTSA’s TRiO Upward Bound, Educational Talent Search and McNair Scholars programs will present their summer research projects and compete for top honors at the 8th annual symposium.H-E-B Student Union Ballroom (HSU 1.104/1.106), Main Campus
Experience a fun, interactive week at UTSA as new students and their families take the first steps to becoming a Roadrunner.Various locations, Main Campus and Downtown Campuses
This event guides seniors and graduate students on the last phase of their college career and prepares recent alumni within one year of graduation for the world of work. Workshops and sessions will provide information on interview skills, job search strategies and networking.Student Union, University Career Center, 2nd floor, Main Campus
The gala brings together UTSA alumni, friends and guests to celebrate the association's 41 years of scholarships, services, programs and the 2018 Alumni Award recipients.Hyatt Hill Country Resort and Spa, 9800 Hyatt Resort Dr, San Antonio
As part of the citywide Kidcation and the ITC's free second Sunday, kids and families will have an opportunity to interact with cowboy docents, practice their skills at roping, learn about life on the cattle drives, make their own spurs, grab a seat for cowboy story time and work on cowboy-themed hands-on crafts.UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, Hemisfair Campus
Dozens of fun and free events to welcome new and returning Roadrunners.Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
Join Roadrunner Nation for this season's home opener versus Big 12 foe Baylor. Come early to tailgate then cool off inside the Alamodome and enjoy cheering on your 'Runners!Alamodome, 100 Montana St., San Antonio