Writer-in-Residence Interview

In News, Writer-in-Residence

Interview with our current Writer-in-Residence, Laura Rees


Did you know that the Associates has a Writer-in-Residence? For the last 14 years, the Associates has offered a $20,000 fellowship for emerging authors. The recipient is selected through a blind judging process and spends at least 19 hours a week working in their private office at the BPL's Central Library in Copley Square during their nine-month residency (September through May). At the completion of their residency, they submit a complete manuscript to the Associates. All variety of projects are eligible for this program, including fiction, non-fiction, a script, graphic novels, or poetry, intended for children or young adults.

Since we just opened applications up to select the next Writer-in-Residence, the Associates sat down with our current writer, Laura Rees, to find out the inner workings of a young adult writer.

Associates: Hi Laura! We're so happy to have you here as our writer. Do you mind introducing yourself to our readers?

LR: Hi everyone! My name is Laura Rees and I'm originally from Beloit, Ohio. I studied English at Malone University in Canton, Ohio, and after graduation I freelanced in Hawaii for a few years before moving to Boston. I currently work part time for Harvard Business School and am finishing my master's degree in Literature and Creative Writing at Harvard Extension School.

Associates: Have you always been a writer?

LR: I was always "the writing kid." I had a babysitter who was really good at illustrating, so together we'd create all sorts of stories. I still have boxes of them! I always wanted to be a writer.

Associates: Speaking of writing, how is the book going? Can you share how you came up with the idea?

LR: It's going pretty well! My first draft is just about done; the plot and character arcs are all mostly figured out, which is a relief. The idea actually began when one of my writing professors posed the thought experiment that reproductive biology would shut down once all possible genetic combinations of humans had occurred. I found that so intriguing, and ran with it, writing a novella around it. When I was looking for ideas to submit for this fellowship, I realized that it could make a fascinating young adult story when told from the point of view of the last child born.

Associates: Have you always written for young adults?

LR: Chocolate covered espresso beans!

Associates: What's been the biggest challenge of writing this book?

LR: Not intentionally, but looking back on what I like to write and what I've written, YA just seems to fit. I've written all sorts of genres and styles, from memoirs to screenplays and beyond.

Associates: One thing that every writer struggles with is writer's block. What's your trick for overcoming it?

LR: Definitely working out the plot. I've always had a strong understanding of my main character, but how other characters intersected with him and how certain plot arcs came to be or came to end-that has been harder to pull together in a tangible way. But I think I got there!

Associates: And on the flip side, what's been the best or most exciting part of this fellowship?

LR: Having office space and dedicated time to write has been wonderful! And so important. It's given me the breathing room to experiment and be creative with the characters and the story.

Associates: I love that piece of advice! And I'm sure a good snack never hurts either. Do you have a favorite snack to munch while writing?

LR: Skip it! Skip whatever is giving you trouble and come back to it later. It may sound like the easy way out at first, but working backwards is effective too. It helps you figure out what was missing before or why a certain scene was tricky. Story threads work both ways.

Associates: Where do you hope to be doing to be in 5 years? Still writing?

LR: That's a hard one! In my dreams...my second book would be coming out and my first book would be adapted for a Netflix miniseries. Honestly, though, the satisfaction I get from writing is reward enough, so as long as I'm still producing work in five years I'll be happy.

Associates: And if you weren't writing, what would you be doing?

LR: I'm already living my ideal life, but if I had to dream up something different it would be backpacking or living on a sustainable farm. I love camping and being outside in the mountains.

Associates: Thanks for taking the time to meet with us today. We can't wait to see your books on the shelves!

LR: I can't wait for that either! And thank you to the Associates for this wonderful fellowship and giving me this amazing opportunity. Being awarded this fellowship was incredibly exciting and life changing.

If you or someone you know is interested in pursuing a writing career, applications are now open for our next Writer-in-Residence fellowship. Visit www.writer-in-residence.org to apply now.