I recently heard a story about the author Sonya Lea. For those not familiar with Sonya, she published a memoir, Wondering Who You Are, with Tin House; it chronicles her experience with her husband’s amnesia and how they built a new life without any shared memory of their past. The book was widely reviewed, nominated for a Washington State Book Award, and won an international memoir prize as well as an Artist Trust Award.
What’s this have to do with Hugo House? Until she took a class here, she was struggling to write a fictionalized version of the book. Her teacher at Hugo House helped her find a structure and voice to tell her true story.
I love these stories. They’re one of the best parts of my job.
In that spirit, I reached out to a few of our writers in our circle to hear what Hugo House means to them. I find their stories sweet, moving, and, above all, inspiring. They remind me why creating a new and permanent home is so important for our community.
Once you’ve read these stories, I invite you to share your own. You’ll find a link at the bottom of this post where you can share your story.
“As a writer, I am so grateful when I travel to a city and find a sanctuary for the arts. We need, more than ever, to preserve and uphold such places; without them, writing might begin to feel like a lost, private art instead of the connective tissue that brings people together and allows them to develop empathy as they imagine other lives, other ways of thinking. To me, books are not a luxury item, they are urgent. Hugo House respects and supports writers and their work, bringing them in contact with that other amazing resource: readers. It is a wonderful, important place that I am very glad to have visited.”
— Meg Wolitzer, New York Times bestselling author of The Interestings, The Wife, and other books
“I’ve sold my debut novel, If, Then, to Random House and it will be published in early 2019. I’ve taken various workshops at Hugo House and they were all integral in some way to finishing my debut novel, If, Then, which I sold to Random House. It’ll be published in early 2019.” — Kate Day, Hugo House student
“Seattle is lucky to have an organization like Hugo House, a place where people find their voices and tell their stories. I’ve taken many classes at Hugo House over the years and my writing and teaching has benefited from all of them. Thanks to the skills and confidence I built at Hugo House, I signed with a literary agent and my debut novel, The Other Alcott, found a publisher. I have no doubt that my book would never have found success if not for the top-notch instruction and supportive community I found at Hugo House.” — Elise Hooper, Hugo House student
Tree Swenson has been the executive director of Hugo House since early 2012. She previously spent ten years as executive director of the Academy of American Poets in New York, and was the executive director and publisher at Copper Canyon Press, which she co-founded, for twenty years. She also served as director of programs at the Massachusetts Cultural Council and is a former board president of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP). She holds an MPA degree from the Kennedy School at Harvard.