One exciting aspect of being a student of Mount Mary University’s rigorous Master’s program is the opportunity to meet professional writers. In the fall of 2013, I attended a reading of novelist, teacher, and cultural critic R. Clifton Spargo from his critically acclaimed book, Beautiful Fools, The Last Affair of Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald. Later that year, I also attended “Science Fiction and Fantasy: Writers on World and Language Building,” a panel discussion featuring authors Matt Forbeck and Patrick Tomlinson.
I was fortunate enough to participate in a salon style interview with Oprah Book Club author Christina Schwarz this past April as an Advanced Novel Writing student. This was truly a wonderful experience to spend time with a successful author, face to face, asking the questions that all aspiring authors want answered. Along with four other Advanced Novel Writing students, I presented a series questions for Schwarz, to which she happily obliged. Our questions ranged from marketing and publicity to Schwarz’s thoughts on the writing process.
Schwarz shared a great deal about her experiences writing. Her first novel, Drowning Ruth, was a labor of love that took over two years. With time on her side, she was able to thoughtfully consider those characters who were as real to her as a close friend. Ruth presented Schwarz with a pleasantly surprising introduction to the world of professional writing. In spite of its success, she remains down to earth and realistic about her work and her expectations. I learned from Schwarz that, even for a professional who has seen commercial success, writing is not a simple endeavor, nor is easy. It is a craft that must be honed from years of practice. The best thing you can do to improve your skill is as simple as it can be: sit down and write!
Christina Schwarz has published 4 novels: The Edge of the Earth (2013); So Long At the Fair (2008); All is Vanity (2002) and Drowning Ruth (2000), the last of which was an Oprah Book Club selection in 2000. Schwarz grew up in southern Wisconsin and frequently uses the Midwest as a setting or to give her characters an identity. Schwarz has a B.A. and an M.A. in English from Yale.