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 Daniel Mauleon.
What do you do when you’re not working on packets?
Besides working on packets I work at Mall of America in Human Resources. When I’m not doing either of those I am likely playing video games or reading comics. That or frantically retweeting.
How did you hear about the MFAC Program?
A friend of my who did their undergrad at Hamline off handedly mentioned the program since he knew I was a fan of Gene Yang. At the time I was a first year teacher so going to grad school was very much out of the question. However, the thought of the program lingered in my head.
Heh. If I can share anything to people thinking about this program it’s this: If you feel like your don’t read enough. Or write enough. And therefore you don’t belong in a writing program. Dig deep.
If you have the passion and drive there is still room for you. Before coming here I had only ever written for high school and college assignments. I had two or three short stories on my computer. And I hadn’t written a comic script longer than a few
But I knew I had important ideas. And I knew I could write comics. The only thing holding me back was myself.
What do you remember most about your first residency?
In line with the previous comment, I felt a little out of place. I was constantly surrounded by really smart writers saying really smart things and taking down notes every second. Especially in regards to children’s literature I learned so much that
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?
Most of my work has been in comics. I spent some time writing picture books with Marsha Chall, but there is a lot of overlap in the two forms. I also wrote maybe two-three chapters of prose with Swati. We made the wise choice to turn my hybrid novel into just a graphic novel.
I’m still very interested in prose, but I decided to really focus my efforts into learning one form.
Tell us about your creative thesis?
My creative thesis started as superhero satire but I feel has become more grounded overtime. Or– well– as grounded as a superhero stories can be.
It follows two superhuman: Geraldo, who wants nothing more than to serve as hero for the Legion of Justice and Valor, however he is stuck cleaning up after the big heroic brawls. The other protagonist is David, who believes the only way his girlfriend will stay with him is if he keeps saving her. So he begins to set her up to be a damsel and ignores the lasting effects of her trauma.
What changes have you seen in your writing during your studies?
I’ve learned a mix really concrete skills (don’t break the 180 degree rule) and conceptual lessons (your protagonists must always take action). But on top of the mountains of things I’ve learned is my newfound confidence. In my final semester I finished my first ever draft of a story. Through guidance and support from the faculty and my classmates, I can finally consider myself a writer. It’s truly invaluable.
Any advice for entering students or for people considering the program?
Try new forms. I suppose, I personally didn’t do a lot of that BUT I really think there is a lot to learn when analyzing other styles of writing. Even though most of the lectures didn’t focus on graphic novels, there is endless overlap and I learned tons from each.
Congrats, Daniel. It's been wonderful to have you in the program and I look forward to celebrating with you.