What’s one thing you hope your students will take away from the class?
How to ask the kinds of questions that spur writing further.
What sorts of writers will you be reading/assigning in class? Why?
The workshop will focus on student writing, but we’ll look at how Margaret Atwood and Angela Carter have reworked fairy tales to delicious effect, covering story structure, characterization, and atmosphere in one fell swoop. I’ll bring in more stories based on students’ needs and interests.
Can your students connect with you on social media? If so, how?
Definitely. My twitter handle is @ancawrites. I’m also on Facebook.
Are any of your works online and available to the public?
- “Sugar” in Gastronomica
- “Old Boyfriends” in Propeller
- “The Zoo” in Washington City Paper
- I also have many writing prompts on the Ploughshares blog.
What’s your teaching philosophy?
I’m big on variety–in the types of stories I teach, in the kinds of exercises I bring in, even in the different ways a workshop can be run. I’m also big on asking questions and we’ll focus on asking essential questions in this workshop.
What advice do you have about getting into the habit of writing regularly?
Turn off the computer. Turn off the phone. Put on a kitchen timer if it helps you stay put. Tell yourself no one has to read it–that this is just for you. Some days you won’t write things you want others to read; some days you will. The only thing to do is keep writing.
What are you working on right now? Where did the idea come from?
I’m working on a novel about a struggling artist who takes a job as a paralegal just before the economic crisis of 2008. Inspiration came somewhere between the Bernie Madoff scandal and Damien Hirst’s sculpture “For the Love of God,” a diamond-encrusted skull with real human teeth.
What’s your favorite word in the English vocabulary?
Marzipan and scuttle are in a fight to the death.
Let’s talk writing inspiration—what’s the No. 1 thing that drives you to write?
The urge to deepen my experience of life.