On Sunday, July 17, 2016 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 month of June we will be featuring our soon-to-be alumni as they look back on their time at Hamline University. Today’s new graduate is Lina Torres.

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

Lots of things! Knitting, crocheting, smashbooking, doodling away, YouTube/movie/TV-watching, music-listening/dancing to, shopping, and, of course, tons of reading!
How did you hear about the Hamline MFAC Program?

I was a college senior, sitting at a carrel desk in the library, googling MFA programs to apply to. And then, lo and behold, Hamline appeared. I didn’t even know that there was such a thing as a program specifically designed for writing for children and young adults, which is exactly what I wanted to do! That same afternoon, I told my mom all about it, barely being able to sit still. I applied and here I am now! 

What was your writing experience prior to entering the program?

I’ve written since I was a little girl, be it for me or for school assignments. I always enjoyed writing little stories for homework. But, I guess I sort of experienced an epiphany when I was in 7th grade. That’s when my eyes opened up to the fact that I really liked writing stories and that people liked hearing them. So, I got my BA in Creative Writing. And, now, soon, my MFA.

What do you remember most about your first residency?

I was a little nervous but so excited. I was going to learn about what I wanted to do. All about writing, all the time. Faculty and grad assistants and students were all so welcoming and caring. They kept asking if I was doing all right and how I was feeling. By the end of the July residency, people were warning me about the January residency (being from Texas). Anne Ursu really helped out and gave me lots of tips. So, I survived and didn’t freeze to death! Though going to class every morning with snow everywhere was enchanting!
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? 
My first semester I tried picture books and learned tons! Then, the rest of the semesters I really focused on middle grade. I worked on two different middle grade novels, one on my second semester and the other on my third. For my fourth, I picked up the second semester novel to work at it again. Laura Ruby helped me tons and loads to give the novel the revision it needed. She helped me turn the story into a much better version of itself.

Tell us about your Creative Thesis.

Aoife Robles is a ten-year-old girl who’s working on improving her social skills and finding answers she can use for her family project in school. She deals with McGee, a school bully, at the same time that she applies the friendship advice she’s read in books and seen on TV in order to be friends with Mauve and Linus. All while staying on the good side of her teacher, coming up with witty remarks for the class pet Roger, and figuring out what happened to her father without upsetting her mom and her sculpting. It’s a middle grade novel that deals with mystery, time traveling, friendships, not judging people by what they seem to be, and lots of discoveries.
What changes have you seen in your writing during your studies?
I’m much more focused on scenes. I notice that my writing is tighter and my choice of words stronger. I now have a better grasp of how to
revise my novels and make them the best they can be. And, after this fourth semester
, I am much more confident as a writer.

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

Entering students: Enjoy the program and be ready to learn, learn, learn!

People considering the program: If you’re passionate about your writing and want to improve it, I think Hamline is the right choice for you. You won’t regret it. You’ll see your writing get better, meet awesome faculty, and wish to have an eidetic memory to record the tiniest morsel of valuable knowledge you’ll get! But don’t worry, a pen and notebook or a laptop will do.