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English Department Hosts Panel of Young Adult Authors

Published on February 24, 2015

English Department Hosts Panel of Young Adult Authors

Eastern Connecticut State University’s English Department hosted a panel featuring young adult authors Chris Lynch, Caragh O’Brien and Jason Reynolds earlier this semester. Eastern students were able to prepare questions and receive thoughtful answers and valuable advice from three novelists who have all had their books published by Simon and Schuster. Panel members answered questions about their books, discussed aspects of the writing process and gave advice on how potential writers in the audience could begin to brainstorm their next work. English Department Chair Lisa Fraustino hosted the event and emphasized the importance of being able to see the art of writing through a different lens. Addressing the audience, she said, “We don’t often get to look at [literature] from the writer’s perspective.”

The authors spoke briefly about their recent books but chiefly focused on the process of writing. They all agreed that one of the most vital elements of writing is to write about topics that you are truly passionate about. For Reynolds, who was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, that passion is family. “Most of my work involves family and dispelling the idea of broken homes… They’re not broken, they’re different,” said Reynolds.

It would be nearly impossible to write adequately about a situation in which you have little interest and certainly no passion, and these writers wanted to ensure that audience members knew that. Lynch said, “Writers have a different job as translators and conduits of situations and circumstances.” As a writer, it becomes necessary to convey such situations in new and creative ways and although that may be a lofty goal, it becomes attainable through having true passion for your topic.

When asked how they decided to advance their plots, the authors attributed that to their characters. “You cannot outrun yourself,” said Lynch, describing how the nature of his characters never changed and that ultimately dictated where his story would go. These characters should become real people, “who all have their own stories, issues and subplots.” By developing their characters so wholly, the authors create nuanced characters who are forced to make their own decisions. “What shows a person’s character is making really tough decisions,” said O’Brien, while discussing how the plots of her novels came to be. By allowing your character to dictate the terms of the story rather than allowing the story to create the character, the authors are able to create incredibly impressive works of literature that are consistent in their plot and complete in their character development.

Repeatedly, the three authors spoke of the importance of giving one’s ideas time to take shape when writing. “Writing has to have its own process,” said O’Brien. This process entails countless hours of brainstorming, research and constant revision.

It is no easy task to reflect the outside world through writing, which Fraustino touched upon as the event was concluding. “Writers must become astute observers of humanity,” she said. It is only through this astute observation, continued devotion to their craft and passion for writing that these three authors were able to create such complete works of literature. This process, although extensive, is well worth it, because as Reynolds put it, “At the end of the day, telling a good story is paramount above everything.”

Written by Ryan King

Categories: English