a program of The Indianapolis Public Library Foundation

2018 Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award Winners and Finalists - Approaches to Writing

We asked each of our winners and finalists how they approached writing and loved the wide variety of responses! We will be sharing their thoughts throughout the week of the Award Dinner. 

Brubaker-Bradley-photo-for-website.jpg#aKimberly Brubaker Bradley - National Author Winner: My stories spend years in my head before I start writing them, and even then I'm an extraordinarily messy writer so it can take me many, many drafts to get the story down correctly. I usually start with a setting that intrigues me and a character I like who has a problem. And then I go to town. My two most recent novels were set in World War II in England because I became intrigued with the evacuation of British schoolchildren; right now I'm working on the story of the real-life young Muslim boy who was instrumental in the discovery of King Tut's tomb.

Sasso-photo-for-website.jpg#asset:585:thSandy Eisenberg Sasso - Regional Author Winner: I write to tell good stories and to make sense of the world. Writing is the way I wrestle with questions that do not have simple answers, or any answers as all. I love how the sound and rhythm of words have the power to evoke laughter, tears and hope. I believe in the capacity of children to think deeply and I write to honor their rich imagination.  

Oloomi-photo-for-website.jpg#asset:589:tAzareen Van der Vliet Oloomi - Emerging Author Finalist: I consider writing to be an act of communication, a gesture of affection and empathy toward others, a form of call & response. To encounter readers and to hear how my work has given them language for something immeasurably challenging, made them laugh hysterically, or feel less alone with the cruelties of history—well, that is hugely humbling. My journey toward literature was heavily propelled by exile/displacement and by a great sense of mystery as well as a deep desire for insight into the human condition—a curiosity that is impossible to satisfy and that, for me, has led to more questions and therefore to the production of more literature. What I am trying to do to through it all is to contribute to a culture of memory and to gain whatever insight I can into what it means to be human.

Klehfoth-photo-for-website.jpg#asset:588Elizabeth Klehfoth - Emerging Author Finalist: I was a reader before I was a writer, and even before I could read the words on the page, I loved books. I loved books because of the way a good story made me feel, the way stories allowed me to inhabit someone else’s experience or transport me to a different world altogether. Some of my earliest memories are sitting on the carpeted floor of the library during story time and listening to the librarian read the picture books aloud. I sat transfixed as she turned the pages, both there and somewhere else altogether. So my approach to writing is always this: write for that kid sitting cross-legged on the library floor. Write to make them feel something, write to make them see the world through a different set of eyes, write to take them somewhere they’ve never been, somewhere they might not even have dreamed of going.

Kennedy-photo-for-website.jpg#asset:587:Deborah E. Kennedy - Emerging Author Finalist: To me, writing has always been an act of empathy. Almost all of my stories start with characters whose lives and opinions and desires are very different from my own. In telling their stories, I hope to understand them better and, in turn, communicate that understanding to my readers. If someone picks up a book of mine and ends the day sympathizing with a character they would typically write off as boring or ignorant or otherwise not worth their time, then I feel I have succeeded.

Thom-updated-photo.jpg#asset:586:thumbna James Alexander Thom - Lifetime Achievement Honoree: THE LONG FLOW - A story idea has to hit me powerfully to get me started working on it, because any novel I write will require a two-year commitment of my mind and heart, at the very least. 

Most of them have taken me three years or more. I worked on "From Sea to Shining Sea" for six years. Most of that time was spent on research, because of the scope of the novel and the dynasty of characters. My novels are about real characters and events, and I owe my readers historical accuracy and vivid verisimilitude.

Because of that long attention span, I choose a story that has moved me, inspired me, impressed me so strongly that I feel I have to share it with as many readers as I can reach. 

And then I try to write it well enough to engage my readers' attention just as far.

A writer who works this way must aim to live a long time, and must be able to keep generating the storytelling excitement.

Sometimes I feel as if I'm drowning in the endless river of my story. But I have to keep swimming. There In the long, long flow, that's where the deep meaning is.