In Print Festival of First Books to feature emerging authors

<p><strong>In Print Facebook, Photo Courtesy</strong></p>

In Print Facebook, Photo Courtesy

Student writers and first-time authors will come together for the 13th Annual In Print Festival of First Books at 8 p.m. March 28 and 29 in the Student Center Ballroom. 

The event will feature creative nonfiction writer and author of “Flesh and Stones: Field Notes from a Finite World” Jan Shoemaker, fiction writer and author of “How to Survive a Summer” Nick White and features poet and author of “You Ask Me to Talk About the Interior” Carolina Ebeid. 

Matt Mullins, director of creative writing at Ball State, said the event is unique because it allows students to connect with professional writers who understand the “perspective of the students who are often themselves working on trying to publish their first book.”

“A lot of student writers have this dream, ‘I’m going to write a book.’ How do you do that?” Mullins said. “These are people who have just done it, and so the experience is fresh in their mind. They have insight into their experience that our students can really value.” 

During the first day of the In Print Festival, each author will read a portion from their work. On the second day, Kristen Elias Rowley, editor-in-chief of The Ohio State University Press, will join the three authors in a panel discussion over literary editing and publishing. 

As an editor, Rowley works with first-time authors throughout the publishing experience from manuscript drafts to book launches and publication.

“What I especially provide to first-time authors ... is guidance on the publishing experience, what the process looks like, what things mean, etc.,” Rowley said. “My goal is to demystify publishing and make it a collaborative, transparent, enjoyable experience for authors.”

Additionally, Rowley said she is “looking forward to being part of an event that brings people together to talk about books.”

Beyond selecting authors who have published their first book within the last year, Mullins said that the English Department also tries to select authors from a variety of presses. 

“Diversity is a big interest for us,” Mullins said. “We try to bring in writers of color, LGBTQ writers and an equal number of women and men. We’re trying to find a balance for diverse voices out there.” 

During the event, the English Department will also host different booths during both nights of the event where attendees can talk to people from the Indiana Writers Center and Reacting Out Loud. 

Ball State’s student-run literary magazine, The Broken Plate, will also have a booth where they will be debuting their 2018 issue. 

In addition to the two-night event, the visiting writers will also go to creative writing classrooms, where students will be able to ask them questions about their books and the writing process on a one-on-one basis.  

“One of the things that we pride ourselves on in the English department is the kind of experiential or immersive learning,” Mullins said. “It’s really important to us that our English students and our creative writers especially have access to authors who are walking the walk and talking the talk.” 

White, who is also an assistant professor of English at The Ohio State University, said that he “love[s] speaking with students about creative writing”  and he always learns something new when he talks to students. 

“One aspect of teaching creative writing that I have to continually learn is that as soon as we make some rule about fiction — some argument for what narrative can and cannot do — there is almost always some writer who will come along and gleefully break it,” White said. “Art is mischief, and I love it so.” 

In past years, Mullins said that the visiting writers feel “wowed by the enthusiasm for creative writing here at Ball State.” 

He also said the authors have felt “inspired by the energy” students have, and students have been inspired by the authors’ personal stories about the challenges and joys of the publishing process. 

“For students to hear that, I think it’s a good example for them in terms of knowing what’s possible,” Mullins said. “They walk away from the experience of ‘In Print’ thinking, ‘I can do that. I can do that too if I really apply myself and dedicate myself like they did. I can do that.’” 

Contact Nicole Thomas with comments at nrthomas3@bsu.edu

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