This week, New School student Aspen Matis will embark on any young writer's dream: a joint book tour with her teacher, bestselling author Susan Shapiro.
Shapiro, a Distinguished Teaching Award recipient, is known for her devotion and practical approach to helping students navigate the world of publishing. Since 1993, she has taught her popular "Instant Gratification Takes Too Long" method of journalism, where the goal is to write and sell a great piece by the end of the class, as many do.
At age 20, Matis enrolled in Shapiro's class as an undergrad and published her first essay in the New York Times' "Modern Love" column. She wrote about her 2,650-mile hike from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail to recover from the trauma of getting raped her second night of college. The piece inspired her stunning debut memoir, Girl In The Woods, coming out this month from HarperCollins.
Matis dedicated her memoir to Shapiro, without whom she claims the finished product would not have been possible. As Greenwich Village neighbors (and night owls), Matis joined Shapiro for her infamous speed walking office hours around Washington Square Park after dusk, sometimes as late as midnight or 1:00am. During these strolls, they exchanged creative guidance and support.
While leading Matis through the daunting process of tackling her first manuscript, Shapiro had a project of her own in the works. After publishing 9 successful books over the course of 12 years, the memoirist turned to fiction for the one story she'd never been able to tell. Recently released from Heliotrope Books, Shapiro's captivating novel What's Never Said was based on a past romance from her grad school days in New York. During the book's development, Matis assisted her mentor by providing insight into the mind of the novel's protagonist, a 20-year-old student.
This Friday, September 11th from 6:30-8:00pm, The New School's Creative Writing Program will host its first event of the fall, the "Secrets of Publishing Panel," featuring Shapiro and Matis. They'll be joined by New York Times "Modern Love" editor Daniel Jones, literary agent Ryan Harbage and Heliotrope Books editor-in-chief Naomi Rosenblatt. After their New York appearances, the two writers will jet-set across country to LA, where the festivities continue.
Sara-Kate Astrove, also known as SK, is an MFA Creative Writing student at The New School. She lives in Gramercy and enjoys rompers, jumpsuits and lurking.