Welcome to Writers4Higher
This issue, Writers4Higher features
Hi Adrian. Welcome to the Writers4higher family.
I grew up in a gnat-cloud of stories—my mother was a novelist and a constant storyteller. I learned from her that, through story, we get a second shot at life, an activity that is by its very nature, always first draft. Finding significance and meaning beyond, “…and then this happened, and then that happened,” is the writer’s job.
Like my mother, I can’t exhale without starting a story. As I write this I am working on my fourteenth novel. Some, including the epic first novel which took twelve years to write, rest quietly in drawers. The eight that have been published are middle-grade and young adult fiction. In my writing I try to give a voice to young people rarely featured in books. My characters are almost always the children of the working poor. My stories explore the real-life struggle of growing up in constrained circumstances. But although my characters have empty pockets they lead rich lives, and the stories are always about a truth larger than the individual lives portrayed. Featured themes include race prejudice, finding home, courage, and self-esteem.
Where do you see your writing taking you in the future?
That’s hard to say. I call my method of writing “blurting.” I often begin with a sliver of an idea. My latest novel, “Summer on the Moon,” was inspired by a story heard on a school visit about a cardboard box a kid used as “his place.” That cardboard box was all I needed and I was off and running on a story that, in the end didn’t contain a box at all, but which thoroughly explored a kid’s need for territory. I rarely have more than a vague sense of my destination, often discovering the meaning of a story in the process of writing it. My future writing will depend on some chance remark—so please tell me something interesting.
I also write songs. They often depict the lives and experiences of people who are a bit older. What is it like to fall in love later in life? How do you face the knowledge this is as good as it gets? Songwriting and performing as half of the musical duo, Hot Tamale, will continue to get lots of my time.
I also post essays to my weekly blog, Slow Dance Journal. I enjoy writing essays, a more up-front form for expressing an opinion.
For years I have critiqued the writing of others at workshops and conferences. I am now editing novels as part of my writing day. As I “teach” the writers I work with I learn from them as well and get as excited about their stories as I do about my own (I realized this was true when they began waking me up at night, demanding attention).
How do you use your talents/time to help others?
I see myself first as a writer, but coming in a very close second is my role as a teacher. I teach creative writing to aspiring fiction writers of all ages. But perhaps my most important teaching assignment takes place every Sunday at The Front Porch Library, the library my neighbors and I started for the kids in Seminole Manor Neighborhood in what used to be my father’s house—not wanting to sell his place I had to come up with a good excuse to keep the house across the street from my own.
The Front Porch Library has nearly two thousand books and weekly programs on just about anything you can think of: simple machines, human anatomy, local wildlife, quilting, China, cooking from scratch. With the help of volunteers and neighbors I am able to give something to the kids who so often inspire my novels—and learn a thing or two about simple machines myself.
Would you like to find Adrian?
Here are links:
The Front Porch Library
Hot Tamale Band
Fiction with a Southern twist