MFA track: Nonfiction
Estimated graduation date: Spring 2013
Where have you lived?
There have been too many places. I was born in a small town along the Jersey shore. I spent my freshman year of college in Vermont before transferring to Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida. From there, I moved out to Hawaii to teach for five years. Now, I’m back in Florida for my MFA. Needless to say, I’m really good at packing and unpacking boxes. If anyone in the program is moving and needs some help, drop me a line!
What are some of your favorite places in Florida?
I really like St. Augustine. It’s the oldest city in the country, so the architecture is amazing. Also, it has a small town feel to it.
What does your writing space look like?
I write at a desk in the corner of my living room. I keep a lot of my favorite books around. The wall is covered with photos of the many places I’ve been and the amazing people I’ve met. I actually keep my writing space pretty neat. I can’t get the writing polished if the space around me is chaotic.
Are you a pen/pencil, typewriter, or computer writer?
For me, it has to be a computer. From a craft standpoint, fiction and nonfiction are more similar than people seem to recognize. The only overarching difference is the truth. So for that reason alone, research is crucial. Therefore, my computer is clutch.
When did you first realize you have a passion for writing? Describe the experience.
I’ve always enjoyed writing, but my passion was born while I was living in Maui. I’m a big surfer, so when an enormous real estate corporation had threatened to ruin our island’s most renowned surf break with a proposed development of 40 luxury homes and a golf course, I felt compelled to write about it. I worked with some environmental activists and Hawaiian cultural practitioners to write a piece that was published in both Maui Time Weekly and Surfing Magazine. Eventually, the developers pulled their conceptual plans. Today, the delicate bay remains intact. I found a passion for writing when I learned it could help make a difference.
What’s a book you’ve reread and why?
Ever since it was first published, I’ve loved Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild. It’s well researched, and the narrative takes a complex shape to reveal a tragedy that is simply inspiring.
What advice do you have for a graduate student in his/her first semester?
“Never, never, never, never give up.”