On Sunday, January 14, 2018 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. 

We will be featuring our soon-to-be alumni as they look back on their time at Hamline University. Today’s new graduate is Stephanie Bongas. She lives in Minneapolis, MN.

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

I like to hang out with family and friends, walk my Lab, Riley, along the creek, and go for runs around the lake.

How did you hear about the Hamline MFAC Program?

I heard about the Hamline MFAC program from Hamline alumni. I had been interested in the program for years and had even attended a Residency on a Lecture Pass. I finally decided to apply to the program when two Hamline MFAC alum joined my writing group. I was so impressed with their level of knowledge and knew it was time to take the next step.

What was your writing experience prior to entering the program?

I had been writing fiction for years, but was never satisfied with the results. I had taken classes and workshops at the Loft, attended writing conferences, and was in a writing group.

What do you especially remember about your first residency?

I remember the openness of the community and the feeling that I was where I needed to be.

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?

When I entered the program, I had only written Adult and Young Adult Contemporary Fiction. In the MFAC program, I wanted to experiment with new forms. I worked on a Middle Grade Fantasy novel and completed several picture books. I also worked on a Contemporary Young Adult novel.

Tell us about your Creative Thesis.

My Creative Thesis is a Middle Grade Fantasy novel. When protagonist, Quinn, sees her brother snatched from a fishing boat, she dives into the water to save him. Like her brother, she is captured and taken to an enchanted world. To save herself and her brother, Quinn must first accept her power and her true self.

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

I have a deeper understanding of how character impacts story. As Anne Ursu said, it is not about what happens in the story, the events that occur, it is about the emotional experience of the events and how they impact the protagonist.

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

Hamline’s MFAC program has wonderful faculty and a great community. You will learn so much!