On October 2, Anna Cain’s Intermediate Creative Writing Class was treated to a special guest. Dr. Jennifer Lee Carrell, internationally bestselling author of two Shakespeare thrillers, Interred With Their Bones and Haunt Me Still, as well as a work of history, The Speckled Monster, joined the class to talk with students about all things writing.
Ms. Cain began the discussion by asking everyone to introduce themselves and tell the group what they are currently reading and writing. The range of answers was broad and impressive—everything from fantasy to mystery to history. The students then spent the remainder of the class asking questions and learning from Dr. Carrell’s insightful, thorough, and encouraging responses. Students wanted to know everything from how Dr. Carrell gets her inspiration, to which writers influence her the most, to whether writing energizes or exhausts her (both!) to how her books get their titles.
Students also got the opportunity to ask questions specific to their own writing. For example, a student who is writing a murder mystery asked about prewriting for the mystery and the best way to give out clues so that it’s not obvious. (Hints: Try writing near the end first so that you can move toward it; allow the characters and the reader to discover the clues at the same time.)
At the end of the class, Dr. Carrell encouraged the students as writers, offering insights about how to live a writer’s life. “Read and write everything,” she said, urging students to write poetry, songs, novels, short stories, journalism―anything they can think of―and to listen and pay attention to how different people use language.
The Gregory School is grateful to Dr. Carrell for her time with the class and is fortunate to have her as a current parent and a member of our Board of Trustees.
"The Gregory School gives teachers an extraordinary amount of creativity and flexibility to design their own classes. I don't have to follow a standardized curriculum, but can reshape my class every year according to the interests and needs of my students. I also just love the conversations I have with my students. Our discussions switch fluidly between nerd culture and high literary culture."
Anna Cain earned her B.A. in Arts from Colorado College. She joined The Gregory School faculty in 2017.