On Sunday, January 15, 2017 Hamline’s Creative Writing Programs will host a Graduate Recognition ceremony to honor all the students who have completed their studies and will be receiving an MFA from Hamline University. During the months of December and January we will be featuring our soon-to-be alumni as they look back on their time at Hamline University. Today’s new graduate is Ann Karazeris.

What do you do when you’re not working on packets?
I think about working on my packet. And when I’m not doing that, I work in the Office of Graduate Admission at Hamline helping other writers realize their dream of becoming a published author.  
How did you hear about the Hamline MFAC Program?
If I’m not mistaken it was Google.
What was your writing experience prior to entering the program?
I was an advertising Copywriter in my former life but always dreamed of taking the leap to become a “real writer”.  It was a very emotional decision for me to leave the world of salad dressing and semiconductor chips but I think I made the right choice.
What do remember most about your first residency?
Wanting to quit. I had just finished one of the three-day intensives on making a living as a working writer and it scared the bejeesus out of me. I was convinced I couldn’t do it. But a very wise woman sat me down and told me to stay the course. She said the program would keep me anchored and give me a sense of purpose. By golly, she was right. That wise woman was Mary Rockcastle, the Director of the MFAC program.
Have you focused on any one form (picture book, novel, nonfiction, graphic novel) or age group in your writing? Did you try a form you never thought you’d try?
I’ve focused primarily on YA fiction, mostly novels and short stories. However, in my third semester I tried writing a nonfiction picture book biography and horror picture book. Tried being the operative word. I think I’ll stick with making stuff up.
Tell us about your Creative Thesis.
My thesis is a novel I started as a second semester student. It’s YA contemporary fiction about a girl who loses her short-term memory due to a horrific trauma. She tries to figure out what’s happened to her so she writes herself Post-It notes and sends herself texts/videos. I’d tell you the ending but I don’t want to give it away.
What changes have you seen in your writing during your studies?
Aside from becoming a more confident writer, my writing seems to be more on the dark side now. I embrace the macabre. I love horror fiction. The creepier the better as far as I’m concerned. But, I don’t think I would have had the confidence to pursue this type of writing had it not been for the MFAC program and the wonderful, supportive Hamline community.
Any advice for entering students or for people considering the program?
Yes, and here it is: be a sponge. Soak up everything you can from as many people as you can – faculty, fellow students, alumni, guest speakers and writers.You’re in a literary mecca with some of the most creative minds in the industry. Be porous. There’s a lot to learn. And for heaven’s sake WRITE. That’s the only way to realize your dream. Believe me, if this small town girl from Detroit can do it, anyone can.