Kickstart your writing this summer at The New School! These creative writing workshops are designed to get students producing high-quality writing in short order. Classes begin the first week of June and run through the end of July, either on campus in Greenwich Village or online. Registration for these and other courses is open now at newschool.edu/ce:
Pick Up Your Pens: Kickstart Your Writing Routine
On campus with Jessie Sholl
Tuesdays and Thursdays, June 2 - July 21
Writing is largely a matter of habit (to paraphrase Flannery O’Connor), yet it’s not always easy to maintain a consistent writing practice. This course offers a supportive push for writers of all levels toward creating and cementing that habit. For both fiction and nonfiction writers, and at any stage of a project—from facing a blank page to a completing a draft of a story—we’ll use exercises, writing prompts, and a constructive critiquing process to improve our writing practices as well as our work.While the focus is on loosening up and kick-starting our creativity, the exercises in this course connect to and explore important features of both fiction and nonfiction writing—including description, voice, character, plot, and revision—as well as ways to apply them to current and future projects. We also read pieces by acclaimed writers about process. By the end of the course, each student has a good start on a new piece or have a clear direction in which to take a piece they’d already begun—and have a solid foundation for a regular writing practice.
On Location: Writing from Art at The Met
On campus and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with Star Black
Mondays through Thursdays, June 1 - June 11
11:00am - 4:00pm
New York City has a long tradition of artistic exchange and collaboration between writers and painters and of exchange between writing and the visual arts. Kenneth Koch and Larry Rivers, John Ashbery and Jane Freilicher, and James Schuyler and Fairfield Porter were close friends and collaborators. Derek Walcott and e. e. cummings both painted and wrote, and photographers like Rudy Burckhardt documented friends creating art in their studios The class splits its time between The New School, where we share our writing, and the city’s preeminent art museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Students meet at The New School from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., break for lunch, and reconvene on the steps of The Metropolitan Museum of Art at 2:00 p.m. We spend the remaining time exploring its collections and writing flash fiction and “ekphrastic” poems, prose poems, and flash fiction responding to art. We spend the first week writing in The Met’s European Painting Galleries, Sculpture Courts, Medieval Art and Armor Collection, and Costume Institute. The second week is devoted to writing in the 20th Century Wing, Contemporary Art and Photography Galleries, Asian and Islamic wings, Rooftop Outdoor Projects, and Egyptian Collections. On the final Thursday of the course, the class visits and writes at the nearby Neue Galerie, located at Fifth Avenue and 86th Street, then enjoys a picnic and an outdoor reading in Central Park.
Advanced Fiction Writing: Revise and Polish
On campus with John Reed
Tuesdays and Thursdays, June 2 - July 21
8:00pm - 9:50pm
The workshop is an opportunity for writers to speed their creative and technical maturation. This course is for students who are beyond introductory courses and are ready to take their writing to a higher level. Workshop time is dedicated primarily to student work; assignments look toward and initiate tasks commonly encountered by aspiring writers. The intention of the course is to help individuals prepare themselves and their work for the next phase of their vocation, be it approaching editors, agents, and literary journals or applying to graduate schools. These subjects are addressed realistically and reasonably, with the quality of the writing always foremost on the agenda.
From Silence to Poem
Online with Richard Tayson
June 1 - July 31
Beginning and advanced writers work on dismantling silences in their lives and generating poems from personal experience. We work in a safe, functional community to open hidden places within ourselves. The heretical Gospel According to Thomas says, "If you do not bring forth that which is within you, that which is within you will destroy you. If you bring forth that which is within you, that which is within you will save you." This notion informs our work together, enabling the writer to follow the poem's impulse in order to break old habits and write something challenging and difficult.
Questions? Don't hesitate to contact Creative Writing at The New School:
writingprogram@ newschool.edu | 212.229.5611
Learn more about continuing, undergraduate, and graduate writing programs at The New School: newschool.edu/writing
MFA in Creative Writing '03 alum Sean Manning was profiled in a New York Times feature of Rhapsody Magazine, for which he serves as Executive Editor. Rhapsody Magazine brings literary fiction to in-flight reading on United Airlines:
As airlines try to distinguish their high-end service with luxuries like private sleeping chambers, showers, butler service and meals from five-star chefs, United Airlines is offering a loftier, more cerebral amenity to its first-class and business-class passengers: elegant prose by prominent novelists.
Sean Manning is also the author of The Things That Need Doing: A Memoir (Broadway/Random House) published in 2010.
A new episode of Audiograph, the podcast series of the The New School's MFA in Creative Writing program, features a second installment of readings by New School MFA faculty members and alumni. The results of a three-day marathon bring us David Lehman, Sara Lippmann, Lori Lynn Turner, Gregory Collins, Dale Peck, Sarah Weeks, and Hettie Jones reading from their own work and speaking to The New School and NYC writing experience and life.
The Audiograph series, produced by MFA alum Luke Wiget, broadcasts digital audio about the people, publications, and events of Writing at The New School. This special edition of the podcast was produced in conjunction with MFA alumni Luke Wiget and Sam Farahmand's drDOCTOR podcast series. You can find drDOCTOR on iTunes at drDOCTOR, online at drdoctordrdoctor.com, and on Twitter @drDOCTORdrDR.
And here's a handy PDF of just the writing courses: CEWritingFlierSummer2015v2
Writing at the New School offers Continuing Education courses in poetry, fiction, nonfiction, dramatic writing, journalism, writing for children and special topics. Our short form students go on to publish articles with national newspapers and magazines, from The New York Times to Cosmopolitan to Vice. A great many of our long-form students have gone on to sell books to large and small publishers. In 2013, our students, alumni and faculty published over 35 books; in 2014, over 40. Our authorial successes include some of the biggest names in writing: Mario Puzzo to Jack Kerouac to Madeleine L’Engle. And our faculty is made up of an exciting array of contemporary authors who are also dedicated teachers.
Additionally, Creative Writing at The New School offers an internationally renowned Master of Fine Arts, and a Summer Writers Colony, open to both degree students of the School of Undergraduate Studies and Continuing Education students.
Register online or by telephone:
New Audiograph Episode: faculty member Darcey Steinke, author of the novel Sister Golden Hair, joined MFA Fiction coordinator Helen Schulman for a Fiction Forum at The New School on Monday, March 16. Sister Golden Hair is on the short list for CLMP's Firecracker Award for Fiction!
MFA in Creative Writing faculty member Jeffery Renard Allen has been awarded a 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship for Fiction! Allen is the author of the critically acclaimed novel Song of the Shank (Graywolf Press), named one of New York Times' 100 Notable Books of 2014, as well several other books of fiction and poetry. Guggenheim Fellowships are awarded annually to scholars, artists, and scientists on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise.
The National Book Foundation has also named Allen as a Fiction judge for the 2015 National Book Awards.
Paul Auster, the internationally acclaimed author of Sunset Park, The Invention of Solitude and The New York Trilogy, among many other works of fiction, poetry, memoir and translation, joined faculty member and MFA Nonfiction coordinator Honor Moore to discuss his latest memoirs Winter Journal and Report from the Interior, as well as the craft of nonfiction. The Nonfiction Forum took place at The New School on Monday, December 8, 2014 in front of a packed room of students, faculty, and members of the NYC community.
By Creative Writing at The New School / in Faculty, Fiction, TNS Lit Scene / January 23, 2015
Tiphanie Yanique, Writing professor at The New School, will be featured at BAM in Brooklyn as part of the Eat, Drink & Be Literary Festival 2015 on Tuesday, March 3rd. Yanique will read from her debut novel Land of Love & Drowning, winner of the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize from the Center for Fiction, and then will join Paris Review editor Lorin Stein for a conversation about the creative process.
The Summer Writers Colony at The New School is an intensive three-week creative writing program in which students share and critique one another's ongoing projects in a daily writing workshop moderated by a member of university's distinguished faculty. In the evenings, literary salons bring notable writers into conversation with the students and faculty of the colony. The three-session salons consist of two days of instructor-led study of the selected text, followed by an author appearance on the third and final day of the salon.
Writing at The New School is excited to announce the literary salon visiting writers for the Summer Writers Colony 2015:
Jericho Brown is the author of the poetry collection The New Testament. Brown is the recipient of a Whiting Writers' Award and fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University and the National Endowment for the Arts. His poems have appeared in The Nation, The New Republic, The New Yorker, The Best American Poetry, and Nikki Giovanni's 100 Best African American Poems. His first book of poems, Please, was published by Western Michigan University Press in 2008.
Nathan Englander is the author of the story collections What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank and For the Relief of Unbearable Urges, as well as the novel The Ministry of Special Cases. He was the 2012 recipient of the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award and a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for What We Talk About. In 2012, Englander's play The Twenty-Seventh Man premiered at The Public Theater, and his translation New American Haggadah (edited by Jonathan Safran Foer) was published by Little Brown. He also co-translated Etgar Keret's Suddenly A Knock at the Door published by FSG.
Leslie Jamison is the author of The Empathy Exams, a critically-acclaimed collection of essays that won the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize, as well as the novel The Gin Closet. Jamison's work has appeared in places like Harper's, Oxford American, A Public Space, Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Believer. She is a columnist for the New York Times Book Review, and is currently finishing a doctoral dissertation at Yale about addiction narratives.
Dorothea Lasky's fourth poetry collection, ROME, was published by Liveright/W.W. Norton in 2014. Her previous poetry collections include Thunderbird, Black Life, and AWE. She's also written several chapbooks, including Poetry is Not a Project (Ugly Ducking Presse, 2010). Lasky's writing has appeared in POETRY, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The Atlantic, and Boston Review, among other places. She is a co-editor of Open the Door: How to Excite Young People About Poetry.
Brando Skyhorse is the author of the memoir Take This Man. His debut novel, The Madonnas of Echo Park, received the 2011 PEN/Hemingway Award and the Sue Kaufman Award for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Skyhorse has been awarded fellowships at Ucross and Can Serrat, Spain. Skyhorse is a graduate of Stanford University and the MFA Writers’ Workshop program at UC Irvine. He is the 2014 Jenny McKean Moore Writer-In-Washington at George Washington University.
Justin Torres is the author of the critically acclaimed novel We the Animals. Torres has published short fiction in The New Yorker, Harper's, Granta, Tin House, The Washington Post, Glimmer Train, Flaunt, and other publications, as well as non-fiction pieces in publications like The Guardian and The Advocate. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, and most recently a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. The National Book Foundation named him one of 2012's 5 Under 35.
Students registered for the Summer Writers Colony gain entry to each of these literary salons. Noncredit students may also register for individual salons outside of the Summer Writers Colony program. For more information about the Summer Writers Colony and Continuing Education at The New School, visit our website.
Writing at The New School is proud to announce the winners of the 2014 Chapbook Competition! The competition is open each year to the graduating MFA class. Winners are selected by acclaimed writers who are not affiliated with The New School. A winner is selected for each of the program's four concentrations: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Writing for Children.
Fiction Winner: Gillian O'Neill, "The Cottage"
Fiction judge Justin Torres, author of We the Animals, has this to say of O'Neill's winning short story:
"The Cottage" is a very evocative story that is also very short. When I reached the end I thought, surely this is not the end! My other thought was, surely I've just read the winner. Judging is a strange business. The stories for this contest were all strong, all laudable. I wondered, should I pick the sexiest story? The boldest? The most imaginative? The saddest? "The cottage" is all these things--sexy, bold, deeply imagined, sad. But where "The Cottage" is superlative, and undeniable, is in the quality of the writing itself. O'Neill's writerly instincts, her pacing, her use of dialogue, the clarity and variety of her sentences, somehow exhibit both maturation and promise. This story could, to my mind, go on, go deeper--or not. There is, after all, something satisfyingly startling in its sudden termination. Either way, it is a winning story written in winning prose. And most importantly, and what seemed most worthy of recognition, was the certainty that O'Neill herself will go on writing, going ever deeper. So my initial thought, surely this not the end, might be seen to have arisen from a kind of general hunger for more from this author, and an awareness that I had just read the work of a writer with a brilliant career ahead. Let me then revise and rephrase that thought, and in doing so, offer a toast to O'Neill: surely this is just the beginning!
Nonfiction Winner: Anna Fridlis, "The Edge of the Known World"
Nonfiction judge Ted Conover, author of Coyotes: A Journey Across Borders with America's Mexican Migrants, said this of Fridlis' winning manuscript:
This storyteller has her own voice, and the power to conjure up a faraway place and time. I happen to have read Chekhov's Sakhalin Island and I admire the way Fridlis invokes it to help set her desolate stage; the slow reveal that this is the story of her grandparents adds meaning and tension. On the last page I wanted to know what happens next to these humble people on the edge of the world.
Poetry Winner: Steven Klett, "A Field Full of Mirrors"
Poetry judge Rachel Zucker, author of The Pedestrians, said this of Klett's poems:
Initially, I was seduced by the short, funny poems in “A Field Full of Mirrors”—poems like “Van Gogh” and “Moss”—poems that made me laugh out loud. I wanted to send these poems to friends who don’t usually read poetry because I knew they would like them and laugh out loud as well. What kept me reading and liking Steven Klett’s poems was the way the humor, strangeness, charm and sonic pleasure of these poems dig until they hit something deeper, something substantial. Steven Klett’s poems are playful and pleasing to the ear: “As night wore out its welcome/ we made headway with wine”; “We sleep on beaches/ and speak with the intimacy/ of a clam to its shell.” The poems are quick witted but never rushed. Klett looks at relationships and the human condition as if he were an explorer, turning over a rock, peeling back a piece of bark, slowly, carefully, full of precision.
“There’s a still/ in the air/ that I just can’t shake”
“My hands are heavy/ with your sleeplessness”
“If there is such a thing as exile/ our modern age experiences it / as Ella Fitzgerald”
Klett’s poems employ the pathos of James Schuyler’s short poems and the syntactical high jinks of Robert Creeley. Like Schuyler and Creeley, the cleverness isn’t snide, isn’t facile. These are fresh-feeling lyric love poems that snap like elastic. “Two people in a dark corner/ have the capacity to get along,/ and by get along/ I mean seek comfort/ in the fact that they have one another/ until they’re miserable” writes Klett. Later, “The swaying fields have me again./ This feeling is neither true nor fruit.” The poems are funny, but they sting too, as poems should.
Writing for Children Winner: Chelsea Schoenbeck, Born to Run Away
Writing for Children judge Aaron Starmer, author of The Riverman, writes of Schoenbeck's submission:
Like so many great stories, Chelsea Schoenbeck’s Born To Run Away is about a very specific moment. Two friends reunite after a year apart and confront unresolved issues surrounding the death of a young woman named Amelia. Heartbroken and confused, Lee was Amelia’s best friend. Aloof and wandering, singer-songwriter Rhett was Amelia’s friend too, but their friendship had grown into something more. Lee and Rhett are haunted by what could have been, because Amelia had made promises to both of them. And she could only keep one of those promises. In fluid, patient prose, Schoenbeck follows Lee as she tracks Rhett down in Malibu. Carrying little more than a notebook full of letters and a mysterious box under her arm, Lee hopes to tie up loose ends. But the wonderful thing about a story like this is that once the loose ends are tied, everything unfolds. That specific moment may be over. Amelia’s story may have ended. But Lee and Rhett have new roads in front of them.
A reading will be held in the fall of 2015 to celebrate the release of these chapbooks. Congratulations to the winners, and thanks to the judges for their careful consideration of the many submissions!
Writing at The New School alumni and faculty have had another incredible year of publication. By our preliminary count, 36 MFA and Riggio: Writing & Democracy alumni and students published 39 books with publishing houses big and small, including full-length poetry collections, novels and novellas, short story collections, books for young adult and middle-grade readers, as well as anthologies and critical studies. Additionally, 11 faculty members in our graduate and undergraduate programs published new books this year. Even more impressively, many of these books have been included in numerous "Best Books of 2014" lists from critics at the New York Times, NPR, Publisher's Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, and many more. We will continue to add to this list as we hear of more publications, but for now we are proud to share the list:
Lisa Marie Basile (’12), Apocryphal, Noctuary Press
Christopher Beha (’06), Arts & Entertainments, Ecco
Mark Bibbins (’98), They Don’t Kill You Because They’re Hungry, They Kill You Because They’re Full, Copper Canyon Press
Selene Castrovilla (’06), Melt, Last Syllable Books
Christine Chia (’15), Separation: A History, Ethos Books
Kitsy Clare aka Catherine Stine (’03), Model Position, Inkspell Publishing
Julia Cohen (’08), I Was Not Born, Noemi Press
Amy Ewing (’12), The Jewel, HarperTeen
DuEwa Frazier ('11), Deanne in the Middle, Lit Noire Publishing
Lisa Graff (’06), Absolutely Almost, Penguin Young Readers Group
Brian Gresko (’09), When I First Held You: 22 Critically Acclaimed Writers Talk About the Triumphs, Challenges, and Transformative Experience of Fatherhood, Penguin Group
Errol Hall (’01), Divided Loyalty, Trafford Publishing
Anne Heltzel as Avery Hastings (’08), Feuds, St. Martin’s Press
Mira Jacob (’03), The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing, Random House
Sara Lippmann (’02), Doll Palace, Dock Street Press
Gianmarc Manzione (’04), Pin Action: Small-Time Gangsters, High-Stakes Gambling, and the Teenage Hustler Who Became a Bowling Champion, Pegasus Books
Justin Marks (’04), You’re Going to Miss Me When You’re Bored, Barrelhouse Books
Patricia McCormick (’99), I Am Malala, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Roberto Montes (’13), I Don’t Know Do You, Ampersand Books
Danielle Pafunda (’02 ), The Dead Girls Speak in Unison, Coconut Books
Christopher Pastore (’03), Between Land and Sea: The Atlantic Coast and the Transformation of New England, Harvard University Press
Allison Power (Editor) (’11), New York School Painters & Poets: Neon in Daylight, Rizzoli
David Pratt (’01), Looking After Joey, Wilde City Press
Greg Santos (’09), Rabbit Punch!, DC Books
Samantha Schnee (Translator) (’05), Texas: The Great Theft by Carmen Boullosa, Deep Vellum Publishing
Soraya Shalforoosh (’99), This Version of Earth, Barrow Street Press
Justin Taylor (’07), Flings, Harper
Amira Thoron (’04), For My Father: Poems, Pleasure Boat Studio
Andrew James Weatherhead (’13), Cats and Dogs, Scrambler Books
Rachel Zolf (’11), Janey’s Arcadia, Coach House Books
Riggio: Writing & Democracy Alumni
Marisa Frasca (’12), Via Incanto: Poems from the Dark Room, Bordighera Press
Patrick Hipp (’12), All the World is Lost, Wheelhouse Books
Writing at The New School Faculty
Jeffery Renard Allen, Song of the Shank, Graywolf Press
Mark Bibbins, They Don’t Kill You Because They’re Hungry, They Kill You Because They’re Full, Copper Canyon Press
Elizabeth Gaffney, When the World Was Young, Random House
David Lehman, Best American Poetry 2014, Scribner
Greil Marcus, The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll in Ten Songs, Yale University Press
Ariel Schrag, Adam, Mariner Books
Susan Shapiro, The Bosnia List, Penguin
Darcey Steinke, Sister Golden Hair, Tin House Books
Rene Steinke, Friendswood, Riverhead
Lynne Tillman, What Would Lynne Tillman Do?, Red Lemonade
Tiphanie Yanique, Land of Love & Drowning, Riverhead
Creative Writing MFA Information Session: Meet faculty, current students, and alumni of the MFA in Creative Writing Program for an information session and reception on Wednesday, January 7, 2015. The info session will begin at 6:00pm in Room 510 of 66 W. 12th Street. Admissions representatives will be on hand to give tips about the application process.
By Creative Writing at The New School / in Faculty, Fiction, TNS Lit Scene / December 10, 2014
Tiphanie Yanique, Assistant Professor of Writing, has won the Center for Fiction's Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize! Yanique received the award for her critically acclaimed novel Land of Love & Drowning.
The Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize is awarded to the best debut novel published between January 1st and December 31st of the award year. The author of the winning book receives $10,000. The Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize was originally established in 2006 as the John Sargent, Sr. First Novel Prize. The Prize is in honor of Center for Fiction board member and well-known non-fiction author, the late Nancy Dunnan, and her journalist father, Ray W. Flaherty.
Listen to Yanique discuss the novel at length with School of Writing director Luis Jaramillo through our AUDIOGRAPH series!
Tiphanie Yanique, Assistant Professor of Writing and author of the new novel Land of Love & Drowning, in conversation with School of Writing director Luis Jaramillo for a Fiction Forum.
Sarah Gerard’s novel Binary Star is forthcoming from Two Dollar Radio in January 2015. Her essay chapbook Things I Told My Mother was published by Von Zos. Other fiction, criticism, and personal essays have appeared in the New York Times, New York Magazine, the Paris Review Daily, BOMB, Bookforum, Slice Magazine, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, and other journals. Her journalism has appeared in the Tampa Bay Times. She holds an MFA from The New School and lives in Brooklyn.
Check out her website for exciting news about her book tour!
MFA '14 Fiction alum Stephanie Danler has sold two books to Alfred A. Knopf, as reported in the New York Times! Sweetbitter, the first to be published (in 2016) was Danler's creative thesis at The New School. From the Times:
'Sweetbitter' is both a coming-of-age and coming-to-New York story, and a novel about the seductive pleasures of food and wine. The story unfolds inside the glamorous, cutthroat and sometimes seedy world of elite Manhattan restaurants. Ms. Danler, 30, who’s from California and went to Kenyon College in Ohio, moved to New York in 2006. Since then, she’s cycled through several restaurant jobs and earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at the New School, where she studied with Helen Schulman and Jonathan Dee and worked on 'Sweetbitter.'
For more on Stephanie's book deal, and the incredible story of how she got her manuscript into the hands of an agent, read the full story online.
There is nothing ordinary about third grader Sophie Simon. She spends her time thinking about getting her little hands on a graphing calculator for Calculus and reading The Principles of Civil Disobedience (for fun). Which is why I was drawn to Lisa Graff’s book, Sophie Simon Solves Them All, in the first place.
I caught up with Lisa Graff, a New School alum via email, to get the 411 on her book, plus her tips for aspiring writers.
LH: How long did it take you to write “Sophie Simon Solves Them All?”
LG: Sophie Simon is a chapter book, and chapter books are usually about half the length of middle-grade novels, which are what I write most often. Since a first draft of a middle-grade novel takes me about six months to write, I foolishly anticipated that this book would take me only a few months or even weeks to write. I should have known better. The first draft of Sophie ended up taking nine months, and I had a lot of revisions to do from there. It was a good lesson that “shorter” often equals “harder,” since you have to do all the work of squeezing character and plot and humor into so few words. There’s really no space to muck around, and that can prove to be quite a challenge.
LH: Sophie Simon is a genius and she has to overcome many obstacles to stay that way. Did you face any challenges growing up as a smart girl?
LG: Well, I’m very flattered that you assume I’m smart. No, I don’t remember any particular challenges of that vein. I was a very good student, the kind of nerdy kid who eagerly anticipated the first day of school every year. School was fun for me—I followed all the rules and worked hard and got good grades and teachers liked me. Looking back, I think the inspiration for the book may well have come from my older brother, Ryan, who is a real-life genius (I sadly, cannot claim that label). Ryan isn’t much like Sophie in most ways, but he did grow up with the burden of that fancy brain of his.
LH: If the story had been about a boy do you think he would face similar obstacles?
LG: I think it would probably have been a very similar story. Most of Sophie’s challenges come from her parents, who want her to be “normal.” In real life, of course, girls are often asked to conform to social norms more than boys, but this wasn’t an issue I dealt with in this particular book. I was mainly concerned with the idea of parents who completely misunderstand their own children. In Sophie Simon all the members of the child cast, boy or girl, have parents who don’t get them at all, and who try to fit them into boxes where they don’t belong.
LH: Why do Sophie’s parents discourage her from reaching her full potential?
LG: I loved the idea of parents who are completely un-thrilled by an overachieving child, since this isn’t something we see a lot of in real life (it’s also a bit of a tribute to Roald Dahl’s Matilda, one of my all-time favorite books). But I think it also speaks to the larger theme of the book, and one that is, sadly, all too common amongst real-life children, which is parents putting their own aspirations on their kids, instead of letting them decide who they want to be for themselves.
LH: Did you have to do a lot of research for your story? What tips do you have for other storytellers about conducting research?
LG: I did do a bit of research for the book. There are references to everything from Gandhi’s Salt March to Dandi to the Greensboro sit-ins to anti-gravity boots, so I had to make sure I got all of those things right (and could reference them in a way that would be clear to a six- to nine-year-old crowd, which was not always easy). Probably the thing I spent the most time researching was ring-tailed lemurs, since one particular lemur makes a very memorable appearance.
Whenever I have to research anything for a book, I go a little nuts, and try to learn everything I can about that subject—even if what ends up in the story is only a single sentence. I’m not sure this is the best way to approach writing research, but it is fun.
LH: Can we expect a continuation to this story? Maybe Sophie solving it all in High School too?
I’m so glad you enjoyed her story! I don’t know if we’ll ever see more of Sophie—but I never say never.
Thanks so much for having me drop by!
Laura Elizabeth Hernandez is a seasoned media professional with more than 10 years of experience in production, publicity, marketing, sales and administration. Her extensive experience includes positions at Latina Media Ventures, where she worked in production and sales for Latina Magazine;Fortent Inc., International Soccer Marketing and Reynardus + Moya Advertising. Hernandez is also a writer whose work has appeared on latina.com, lossip.com and The Huffington Post.
Lisa Graff is also the author of Umbrella Summer, The Life and Crimes of Bernetta Wallflower, The Thing about Georgie, Double Dog Dare, A Tangle of Knots and her most recent book Absolutely Almost.