August 31, 2021

Former-students-turned-authors share insights around the craft and the thrill of the publishing industry

Nobody ever before shelp gaining a book published was easy. But over the years, an impressive number of Arizona State University graduates have done just that, many of them in the famous young adult (YA) genre.

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And Professor Jim Blasingame, that had the plejiyuushikan.orgre of teaching some of those effective alumni, couldn’t be even more proud. The current recipient of a lifetime business award from the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of NCTE — the young adult literature arm of the nationwide expert organization for teachers of English — Blasingame has actually always believed in the power of literary works to shape minds and foster deep connections.

Now, a number of of his previous students are sharing their very own insights around the art of creating and also the thrill — and sometimes exhaustion — of the publishing industry.

In enhancement to’s renowned creative writing regime, existing students interested in exploring the craft for themselves might desire to look right into the digital Bachelor of Arts in English degree, which was freshly retooled, including a slimmed-dvery own crmodify requirement (from 45 to 36) so students have the right to make more reliable development towards completion. The level functions classes that run the gamut — from literature to rhetoric and composing to research study.

Would-be wordsmiths deserve to additionally discover a host of sources, including workshops, lectures and public readings, at the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing, which recently announced its fall 2021 lineup of events; and also events with the Center for Science and also the Imagicountry.

Editor’s note: Authors’ responses have been edited for size and clarity.

Bill Konigsberg, MFA, artistic writing, 2005

A aboriginal of New York City, Bill Konigsberg was a journalist prior to he was a novelist. He found empowerment in writing from the perspective of a teen, a time in his own life that was especially emotionally loaded. Today, tbelow is a composing award called for him (the Bill Konigsberg Award for Acts and Activism for Equity and also Inclusion through Young Adult Literature), and also he is currently at work on a YA novel dubbed “Two Boys in Love Forever before,” and also an adult literary novel referred to as “Scrambled.”

Question: Why did you decide to research English/writing?

Answer: I always wanted to compose fiction. I was told in college that it"s nearly difficult to make a living as a writer, so after college I initially took various other work that permitted me to create, particularly as a journalist. When I was around 30, I realized it was currently or never, that if I really wanted to be a novelist, I essential to execute something about it, and also so I looked at MFA programs. The faculty at is what attracted me there. Ron Carlson was on staff, and also he"s an exceptional writer, as was Melissa Pritcdifficult.

Q: Why did you decide to create in the young adult genre?

A: I didn"t also understand that young adult was a genre prior to I was writing from a teen perspective automatically, bereason that was a loaded and also crucial time in my own life, particularly because that"s as soon as I first came out as gay. When I took a class in YA literary works taught by Dr. Jim Blasingame, I learned for the first time that there woverall genre out tbelow that I might emphasis on, and also I did.

Q: What was the first book you publiburned, and also how did it feel to be publiburned for the initially time?

A: My first novel was “Out of the Pocket,” publiburned by Penguin in 2008. I was so excited to have actually a book out and also to understand that at any offered minute, someone was reading my work-related. It took a while to get supplied to that sensation, to not feel a tiny exposed to the world by having something so individual available to anyone.

Q: Is there anypoint you learned as a student at that has assisted you during your career?

A: I learned so much about the craft of fiction composing at I additionally learned in a really genuine way exactly how crucial it is to compose eincredibly day, that it"s not enough to call myself a writer and also write as soon as in a while; creating boosts the even more you carry out it, and it"s critical to have actually a everyday writing practice.

Q: What advice would certainly you offer to students hoping to embark on their very own writing career?

A: Go for it! Write the book you desire to check out, and enjoy eincredibly minute of the procedure. The best point about being a writer is the truth that you obtain to compose, so don"t acquire too much ahead of yourself and emphasis on getting publimelted. Stay in the minute and also savor the procedure.

Q: What are you analysis right currently, and/or what books might you recommfinish to young readers?

A: I just finished an amazing novel dubbed “When You Look Like Us,” by Pamela N. Harris. Before that, I review “The Passing Playbook,” by Isaac Fitzsimons.


Kara McDowell, BA, English, 2011

A self-prodeclared member of the “Twilight” generation, Kara McDowell fell in love via the YA genre while taking an advent to young adult literature course at She resides with her husband also and youngsters in Mesa, Arizona, and also just finimelted copy edits on her next book, “This Might Get Awkward,” which releases March 1, 2022, from Scholastic.

Question: Why did you decide to examine English/writing?

Answer: I constantly knew I wanted to be a writer. My elementary school had a publishing shop wright here we can take the publications we wrote and also bind them together and put an elaborate decorated cover on the front. I’ve been a voracious reader since I was a son, and I thought having actually a stack of publications that I composed was the coolest thing ever before. Sometimes I worried that being a published writer was too far-fetched of an idea, yet I constantly knew it was my goal.

Q: Why did you decide to write in the young adult genre?

A: I am very much of the “Twilight” generation. I was 16 or 17 when those publications were released. I, like everyone else, check out them and also ended up being obsessed. And then, in college, at the elevation of “The Hunger Games” craze, I took Dr. Blasingame’s advent to YA literature class and also fell deeply in love through the genre. It has actually grvery own so a lot since then and is currently a varied category complete of amazingly talented creators who are telling wonderful, understood for stories.

Q: What was the first book you publiburned, and also exactly how did it feel to be publimelted for the initially time?

A: My first suffer via a significant publisher was via a book dubbed “One Way or Anvarious other.” It was publiburned by Scholastic in 2020. It was so surgenuine to understand that my book was going to be obtainable for students to purchase throughout college book fairs. Those book fairs were the absolute highlight of my institution suffer as a son, so it was a finish dream to have actually my book had. I felt eincredibly feasible eactivity leading up to the release of my book: excited to check out it on shelves, nervous that no one would certainly choose it, worried it wouldn’t sell, anxious people would certainly think my primary character — who has actually stress — is a weirexecute. But it has actually been so wonderful to hear from readers who have connected to Paige and also are able to relate to her experiences through stress and anxiety. That has actually been the best perk of the job!

Q: Is tbelow anything you learned as a student at that has aided you during your career?

A: I vividly remember the day Dr. Blasingame had actually two publimelted authors come and talk to our course. I was starstruck. Honestly, I think the many beneficial point for me on my journey to coming to be an author was just the understanding that it’s feasible. I knew if I worked difficult sufficient and also refprovided to provide up in the challenge of rejection — and boy, was tright here many rejection — I would eventually be in their location one day.

Q: What advice would certainly you give to students hoping to embark on their very own writing career?

A: Read! Read, check out, check out. Especially in the genre you want to seek. You’d be surprised exactly how many of the human being that think they can compose a YA novel have actually never before read one.

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Q: What are you reading best now, and/or what books might you recommfinish to young readers?

A: One of my favorite YA books I review this year is “The Inheritance Gamings,” by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. It’s sort of choose a teenage variation of “Knives Out,” and also it is so much fun. I can’t wait for the sequel out this fall.