On July 20, 2014, the final day of the summer residency, the MFAC program will have a Graduate Recognition ceremony, honoring the men and women who have just completed their studies and will receive an MFA from Hamline University. Between now and then we’ll be posting interviews with many of the grads. Laurel Murphy is today’s grad; she lives in Shorewood, Minnesota.

What do you do when you’re not working on packets?

I rev up interest in reading at an after school tutoring program where I work with Somali, East Indian, and Asian students. I also love three cats, four young-adult-type children, and my husband of 33 years.

How did you hear about the Hamline MFAC Program?

I learned about the program through searching for a writing discipline in the Twin Cities. 

What was your writing experience prior to entering the program?

I wrote in journals and on used envelopes and throughout margins in books. I took several writing classes at the Loft and finally leapt into the MFAC.  

What do especially remember about your first residency?

Feeling exhilarated yet overwhelmed, curious and confident, and awed by Jane ReshThomas. 

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 believe I’ve focused on historical fiction for middle-grade readers. I entered the MFAC thinking I’d focus on YA and write riveting realistic fiction. I have tried poetry which I thought I wanted to try but was afraid and found I
like it. 

Tell us about your Creative Thesis.

The school year 1963—1964 displayed turning points in civil rights, in a unique presidential loss, and in Beatlemania. The historical fiction perspective of my creative thesis provides an opportunity to reintroduce women’s basketball to Minnesota.

What changes have you seen in your writing during your studies?

My writing is better focused and more effective.

With packet deadlines removed as an incentive, do you anticipate it will be harder to keep writing? Any plans for your post-Hamline writing life?

No, despite the lack of packet deadlines, I will maintain my writing life, in large part because of Claire Rudolf Murphy. She has insisted that I prepare for the future beyond Hamline. I will do everything possible to have my novel published. I will write and finish additional books. I will become better organized in my non-writing life so that I may continue writing with my family’s blessing.

Any thoughts for entering students or for people considering the program?

Enjoy the ride. Don’t try to steer your preconceived plans. Trust your advisors. Learn how much there is to learn, and never be afraid to THINK. Dream like crazy and write outrageously.