Behind The Words
Science fiction and fantasy authors Bruce Coville and Tamora Pierce recently shared adventures in writing for young adults.
Their advice: Dream big.
The July 27 event was the first in a series of lectures on young adult literature made possible by a ProSEED/Crosswalk Grant from Carnegie Mellon University and support from Pittsburgh's Parsec organization, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and The Pittsburgh Foundation.
ProSEED/Crosswalk is a CMU-wide initiative designed to seed a wide range of ideas that build connections and collaborations across all CMU's campuses and their neighboring communities. The grants fund projects that nurture the spirit of innovation and encourage boundary-crossing creativity and novel experimentation.
Diane Turnshek, a physics special faculty member and author, worked with Barbara Carlson, a staff member in the Tepper School and Ian Betancourt (DC'16) to apply for the grant. They also drew on the support of some two dozen people including staff, instructors and librarians.
Authors Coville and Pierce have been favorites among readers for more than three decades. During the lecture, they shared methods they use to create engaging worlds and stressed the benefits of reading and writing fantasy and science fiction.
"Fantasy is important, because fantasy is a way to talk about big dreams, big ideals, big ideas," Coville said. "It is the jailers of the human spirit, the jailers of the imagination who have the greatest problem with escapist literature, because it is a liberating thing. And that scares people who think we should be squashed into little boxes."
Carlson, a founding member of Parsec, expressed her excitement about the opportunity to connect with young fans as they discover the fun of speculative and genre fiction.
"We've always looked at CMU as a source of scientists to come and give us talks," Carlson said. "But now, with this ProSEED program, we have a chance to get involved with younger people."
Attendees also could participate in a writing workshop with Jonathan Auxier (A'05), author of "Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes" and "The Night Gardener." The workshop brought together published writers and students experimenting with creative writing for the first time. The event coincided with Parsec's Alpha writing workshop for young adults.
The next event in the series will occur in November. Turnshek said she is interested in having students assist in planning upcoming lectures.
"If students can just kick back and read a fun book once in a while, it does wonders for their stress levels," Turnshek said. "I think that CMU students especially should write what they love and read what they love and just enjoy themselves a little bit more, and I want to encourage that."