The Uninspired Writer: How a Creative Writing Major Discourages Me to Write

There is a big similarity between Etienne St. Clair of Ms. Stephanie Perkins‘ Anna and The French Kiss and I. I am not talking about his gorgeous looks and smooth charisma. I am talking about not driving. As a consequence, I travel two hours via bus to go to school. It is very difficult, but since CSUN promised me an inspiring campus to study at, I create the sacrifice of spending 4 hours inside the bus almost everyday (2 hours going to school + 2 hours going home)

I am a junior in California State of Northridege or CSUN with a major on creative writing. Why did I choose that when I can easily attend other universities closer to my apartment? The answer is simple. I always wanted to be a YA novelist. When a representative talked to me about how CSUN had the ability to give me a Bachelor of Arts degree in creative writing unlike other school that I was considering to attend, I was beyond intrigued. She showed me this promising English program with a promised that CSUN English professor were there to inspire me everyday, but these last two weeks, my english professor made me feel like I was wasting my time in CSUN.

ENG 300 is a required class for me to complete my degree. I was actually happy to go to that class, because it requires reading contemporary American short stories and writing journals as part of the homework everyday. We were on our last two three weeks before the finals. We were gonna start reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Sir Jonathan Safran Foer. I started reading the novel early, for I was assigned to do a presentation on it. Before dismissing the class, our professor said that there were critics who said that Oskar Schell, a 9-year-old main character of the book, was a unrealistic character. She said it was bullshit (unfortunately, that was the exact word she used), and the she asked us who already started the novel. I raised my hand, and she asked me how was it. I gave her my honest opinion as person with a book blogger spirit on my blood. I said, “I believe Oskar as a narrator but I am having a hard time with her voice, especially he is a child narrator. I have read a lot of children’s book, so I know a child’s voice when I read one. He is believable as a character but the author’s writing style is really hard to get into.” My professor looked at me with a crease between her two eyes. She said that the book is not a children’s book. I said that I know that, but a child narrator is a child narrator, so the author should be able to deliver that. The class ended with me looking forward to still finish the book. 

But as I flipped the pages, my struggle to get into the author’s writing style was getting harder and harder. I know that my opinions about books are not universal facts. I believe that what is true for me about a book is not true for the others.

So I finished the book. Because it contains real pictures, I decided to create an introduction using Sir Ransom RiggsMiss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Ms. Tracy Holczer’s The Secret Hum of a Daisy, so I could say how a child’s traumatic experience was now very well portrayed in fiction. When I showed the books to the class, she kept interrupting me to skip the books. I was baffled to know that presentations could be interrupted when the professor did not like the way you started. I hid my shock with a smile, and continued.

The next meeting, we were still discussing the book. A classmate mentioned that the pictures in the book are not well placed. He said the pictures threw him off, because they were placed like very randomly. I backed him up by saying that I had the same experience. I mentioned that Ms. Morgan Matson’s Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour used the same method of fictionalizing real pictures. I continued by saying that a lot of YA authors have accomplished a good job by using real pictures too, but Sir Foer did not do a very good job in his book. The discussion continued and we talked about children’s traumatic experiences. I said that kids become very curious in fiction whenever they experienced something traumatizing. To back up my claim, I used the assigned text and Ms. Holczer’s book. I guess that was when she blew up. She told me that YA and children’s books are merely design for entertainment. They are not designed for reader response analysis. 

I just nod and nod. I was in no position to argue, especially I was ready to cry. My heart was ripping into pieces. I was there knowing my professors would inspire me everyday, but there she was making me feel like I was only wasting my time in CSUN. After the class, I excused myself and went to the restroom to cry.

I believe in the magic of YA and MG literature, but for that one moment. I felt my whole being was stepped on.

Maybe CSUN is not really for me. Maybe I don’t need that BA degree. Maybe what I need was an MFA. But right now, I really don’t know. I am laughing about this, but when I am alone in my room… Before sleep visits me, the memory of how she threw those words about how YA and MG literature are nothing but mere entertainment, I cry.          

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Let’s Get Dark: Interview with Henry Turner, Author of The Compelling and Thrilling Novel, Ask The Dark

Goodreads.com gives us the most random book recommendations (isn’t that the good part?) So when Goodreads recommended Ask The Dark by Sir Henry Turner, I know my TBR pile is going to be one book higher. And I know not putting this book on your TBR pile will be one of the biggest mistakes you’ll ever do in your life. 

I just had the amazing opportunity to meet Sir Turner while working at Barnes & Noble in Glendale. I also had the chance to interview him, but before that, let’s see what his debut novel, Ask The Dark, is all about.

Sir Turner’s Debut Novel

10150547_1622004204686368_68505058514111329_n(Click the Photo to go visit its Goodreads’ Page)

or

Click Here to visit the official Ask The Dark Website

Synopsis: 

Billy Zeets has a story to tell.

About being a vandal and petty thief.

About missing boys and an elusive killer.

And about what happens if a boy who breaks all the rules is the only person who can piece together the truth.

Gripping and powerful, this masterful debut novel comes to vivid life through the unique voice of a hero as unlikely as he is unforgettable.

Author Event

The book sounds cool? The book will be available for purchase April 7 (Tuesday). But why just get a copy when you can meet the author and get your book signed? 

AskTheDark-You-Are-InvitedFB (2)What: Ask The Dark book signing and official launch 

Where: Barnes & Noble at The Grove. 189 Grove Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90036 (Google Maps) 

When: April 7 (Tuesday) at 7:00pm 

Wristbanded : No, it is not a wristbanded event.

The Interview

Fearless_Kurt: How did the idea of Ask The Dark come to you? 

Henry Turner: I started writing stories about Billy Zeets, defining his character and finding his voice. He’s a complicated kid, full of contradictions and conflicts, both good and bad, depending on how you look at him. To sort these conflicts out, I realized he would have to experience circumstances that would put him under maximum pressure.

Fearless_Kurt: What can readers expect from Ask The Dark? 

Henry Turner: It’s a thrilling ride, with lots of incredibly scary ups and downs, in which you hang on to hope with your last ounce of strength. I think the best thing the reader will find in the book is Billy. I made him as real as I possibly could, so in reading what he has to say you feel you’re meeting an actual person. I’ve had readers tell me they felt like they weren’t just reading, but actually experiencing the story firsthand. I found that incredibly complimentary. It made me feel I’d created a character readers could truly relate to, and feel themselves inside his skin.

Fearless_Kurt: Billy is an unlikely hero, but as the author of the novel, would you call Billy an unlikely hero? 

Henry Turner: Heroism can’t be predicted, and happens only as a last chance for survival. And that’s just what happens to Billy. Everything in his life has fallen apart and he has come up against a vicious killer. He has no choice but to stand his ground and fight – and by fighting, he reveals sides of his character no one ever believed he had – least of all himself.

Fearless_Kurt: Since we’re already on the topic of heroes, how would you define a hero? 

Henry Turner: A person who hangs on and does what must be done and what is right, regardless of the odds.

Fearless_Kurt: Let’s talk more about you, sir Turner. Who are your favorite Authors? 

Henry Turner: I love classic authors like Twain, Stevenson and Jack London. At Askthedark.com you can find a longer list of writers who made an impact on me.

Fearless_Kurt: ASK THE DARK is a thriller carried by an in-depth study of its main character, and I can certainly see myself doing more of that. However, I’m also interested in fantasy/science fiction and historical YA – as well as Middle Grade stories with fantasy twists.  

Fearless_Kurt: One last question; what do you think is the perfect song for Ask The Dark? 

Henry Turner: I’m not exactly sure. All I know is it would have a lot of loud guitar. Maybe you can put this question out to your followers… I’d love to see what they come up with!

Yeah. What do you think is the perfect song for Ask The Dark? let me hear on the comments below. If you haven’t read the book, just make a little prediction, then come back after reading the book to see if your prediction is still cool. 

About The Author

(Source: AskTheDark.com)

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Henry Turner grew up in Baltimore Maryland, in Roland Park, an old neighborhood heralded, on a historical plaque outside its local shopping center, “The oldest planned Garden Suburb in the United States”. He went to public schools. He was always interested in storytelling in one form or another, and as a teenager he started making films with his brother and neighborhood kids. 

Henry wound up making five feature films, writing and shooting and cutting them. When his films won awards and attracted some attention he moved to Los Angeles, after getting a call from a movie production company that was looking for scripts. He stayed in L.A. and helped build a fledgling film festival that has since become well-established. He also wrote much freelance entertainment journalism, interviewing well-known filmmakers such as George Lucas, Brian Grazer, Quentin Tarantino, James Cameron, and many others. All along he was writing stories. 

During a year spent in Greece he made a total commitment to writing fiction. Returning to Los Angeles, he met his future wife, who encouraged him to study fiction writing with a novelist he admired – John Rechy. Henry stayed in Rechy’s private writing group for a number of years and also studied privately with Hubert Selby. Since that time he and his wife have had a son, Hugo, who is now nine. Henry Turner is now writing a new novel.

Visit his website: http://www.askthedark.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AskTheDark?fref=ts

or follow him

Twitter: @AskTheDark