Currently live where?
Anything else, like website/blog/Twitter you are ok sharing?
I’m @AlexFallgren on both Twitter and Instagram
What do you do when you’re not working on packets?
By day I’m a Teen Services Librarian so I spend a lot of my time helping teens make cool stuff and talking about life problems. The rest of the time I tend to stare out at the lake while imagining myself as the protagonist of an indie movie, go to as much music and theater as I can, and take too many photos of my cat.
How did you hear about the Hamline MFAC Program?
Through Nina LaCour’s Podcast “Keeping A Notebook.” I had no idea this kind of program existed, and I hadn’t been looking to do an MFA. But when she mentioned Hamline on her podcast I immediately googled it and stared at the faculty list thinking “I have to go to there.”
What was your writing experience prior to entering the program?
My background is in music and theater but since storytelling lies at the heart of both, that experience helped me tremendously when I was ready to put pen to paper. I started in creative non-fiction and for the last few years I’ve performed with a storytelling group in Chicago that has a collaborative process a lot like workshop. The leaders and participants of the group encouraged me to pursue writing in a way that no one had before. I did some online workshops but I knew I needed something to get me to the next level. Enter Hamline.
What do you especially remember about your first residency?
What I remember most is the way the faculty made sure to reach out to the incoming students, to make us feel at home. These were writers I’d admired for years, and they’d just casually ask to join our lunch table or catch us between lectures to make sure we weren’t too overwhelmed. It was so clear how deeply the advisors care about the students and want us all to succeed.
And I remember my first workshop, having my words held with such love and care. Workshop can be a very vulnerable place and I felt so supported and encouraged.
Have you focused on any one form (PB, novel, nonfiction, graphic novel) or age group in your writing? Tried a form you never thought you’d try?
I’ve mostly written contemporary YA, but I did try a fantasy-esque upper middle grade project that I loved and I want to get back to at some point.
Tell us about your Creative Thesis.
HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN is a queer contemporary YA about a girl forced to choose between her loving Mormon family and the group of queer friends – including the girl she loves – who feel like home.
This is the story that made me go, “Well, I guess I need to learn how to write a novel.” Hannah downloaded herself into my mind and would not let go until I wrote her story. It’s changed dramatically since its first iteration, but it’s always been about the intersection of faith and sexuality. In most coming out books, either the parents wholeheartedly embrace their kid in the end, or they’re irredeemably awful. I wanted to explore the in-between space of that: what happens when your family really does love you and also really can’t support you as your authentic self?
What changes have you seen in your writing during your studies?
I’m so much more willing to try things now. I used to get stuck in beginnings, but I’ve learned to keep going, to trust that the back of my brain knows the story even when the rest of my brain does not. And now that I’ve revised a full novel, I see how drastically projects can change. It’s easier now to try things and trust that whether it works or not I’ll have learned something along the way.
Any thoughts for entering students or for people considering the program?
For incoming students: Talk to the advisors!! I promise they are lovely and truly want to get to know you and help you succeed. Also talk to the other students and alumni and ask them lots of questions. Literally everyone in this program genuinely wants to help you!
p dir=”ltr”>For people considering the program: Coming to Hamline is the single best thing I’ve ever done for myself. It transformed the way I saw myself as a person, greatly developed my writing craft, and gave me a writing community that will stay with me for many years to come. I have never been a part of anything so unreservedly supportive.