Classy talk with Adrianne Harun

Posted Thu, 8/15/2013 - 11:55pm by  |  Category:

What is the title of your class?

Story Architecture

People should take this class if…

They want more insight into the way they are structuring their writing and want, as well, to gain a surer hand in shaping a story, novel, or memoir.

Can your students connect with you on social media? If so, how? 

Oh, sure: Twitter @AdrianneHarun or Facebook. (I suspect I’m gradually becoming a Facebook slut. I just accepted a friend request from someone I waved to on a bus.)

Are any of your works online and available to the public? (If no, we’ll remove this question from your survey 

Yes, I have a few links on my website, the aged www.adrianneharun.com.

What excites you about the material you’re teaching?

Narrative structure — narrative architecture – guides and animates a storyline in subtle and vital ways. I love the thrill of discovering a story’s shape, of playing with both the intuitive and the conscious positioning that elevates a series of events into irresistible, dynamic story.

Tell us a bit about your previous teaching experience.

Lucky me, I teach in two stellar MFA programs: the Rainier Writers’ Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University and the Sewanee School of Letters in Sewanee, Tennessee.

What do you like best about teaching at Hugo House?

This will be my first time teaching at Hugo House, and I’m excited about being part of such a vibrant writing community.

What’s the best piece of writing you’ve read in the past year?

I’ve read a slew of interesting work, not all of it fresh off the presses. Teju Cole’s Open City was remarkable, and both Kate Atkinson’s Life after Life and Monique Roffey’s The White Woman on the Green Bicycle were deep pleasures. I thought Michael Griffith’s Trophy was that rarity: a very funny, smart, language-drunk, event-driven novel.  For a class I taught this summer, I reread Tim Winton’s The Turning for the sixth or seventh time and loved it all over again. For the same class, I also fell under the thrall of César Aira, consuming An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter.

What books made you want to write?

No one book is to blame. I loved so many as I was coming along, and yet I can’t remember ever wanting to write. I only remember wanting to write better, a continual state, and nearly every good book I read keeps that desire alive.

If there was one piece of advice you could give an aspiring writer, what would it be?

Just one? Okay, I’ll put it all in one ungainly sentence: Be fearless and fiercely truthful, remember something has to happen in a story, write steadily (whatever that means for you), read widely and consciously, and be as serious as you can about your writing, but please don’t take yourself too seriously.

If you were to meet your favorite writer in person later today, what would you say to them?

“I love you, Mr. Trevor,” she babbled, spilling wine upon herself. *

[* Feel free to also substitute any of the following for Mr. Trevor: Miss Munro, Mr. Millhauser, Ms. Oates.

For Vladimir Nabokov, I would have had a whole other strategy: a butterfly net and an alert, far-off expression. And of course, I’d be trembling.

And I wouldn’t say a word to Shirley Jackson either. Surely she’d expect me to simply give her a long, inscrutable look and move on.]

What are you reading now? If you could pair it with a beverage (alcoholic or otherwise), what would you choose?

I’d love to say that I’m reading an elegant little smoke of a novel, one dense with witty dialogue, perfect to pair with a highball or Manhattan, but in truth, I’m reading a lot about soldiers in the Great War, and so I suppose the perfect drink would be either a searing cup of strong tea or a ration of rum.