Van Newell received his MFA in Writing from Columbia University and a Screenwriting Certificate from the Act One Writing Program. In 2003 he was awarded a fellowship from the US Department of Education America Reads program. His fiction and essays have won the Hackney Award and the Alabama Writers Conclave Award and have been short-listed for a Pushcart Prize and the Lascaux Prize. His teleplays and screenplays have been short-listed for the David Angell Humanitas Prize, the Sidewrite Prize, and the Warner Brothers Writing Workshop. His writing has been published in Medium, New Guard Review, Weld, Postscript, Cumulus, Aura, Writersforum.org, First Draft, Birmingham Arts, and Ala-lit.com among others. He currently teaches in the Department of English at The University of Alabama.