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 Tasslyn Magnusson.

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

Sometimes I secretly help people raise money for good non profits but I’m trying to quit that habit. Mostly I write, read, and parent.

How did you hear about the Hamline MFAC Program?

I knew the amazing Anne Ursu and saw her passion and dedication to the program and sharing kid’s literature with the world.

What was your writing experience prior to entering the program?

I wrote as a kid and through high school and a bit in college. But in the past couple of years before MFAC I wrote short incredible creative passionate pieces to ask people to give me their money which were a mix of fiction and creative essay. I much prefer writing for kids. It’s a lot more honest.

What do remember most about your first residency?

Feeling like I belonged. That suddenly everything made sense in my world. That I never wanted it to end. And it was cold. And I live here. 

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 came into the program claiming I wanted to write non fiction for YA and worked with Claire Rudolf Murphy. After the first packet she and I agreed that I really was writing fiction and I should be happy about that – which I was. And probably loved middle grade. Everybody in workshops suggested I turn what I had written into a novel in verse and so second semester I worked with Ron Koertge. I was a poetry baby and had to look things up all the time – what is a sestina? Sonnet? I wrote a novel in verse and fell in love with poetry and the whole verse novel form. So much that I examined white space in verse novels for my critical thesis with Phyllis Root. And wrote two horror picture books. Everybody should work with Phyllis for their critical thesis. She is amazing. I continued to work on the verse novel and got Ron for round two of verse novels. Or so I thought. Then promptly (or not so promptly or not so willingly) I turned that verse novel into prose. I really miss my verses but there is always time for more. Plus, the story works better this way.

Tell us about your Creative Thesis.

It’s a story about a boy, Joey, who lives with mom and little sister Else. Life is going okay, not great, but not too bad. He finally gets permission from his mom to learn minecraft – all his friends have played for over six months. Else lives as a dog about half the time which is just about all he can take. But then his mom starts to get even weirder than normal, stops cooking, stops going to work, stops really taking much care of them. Or good care of them. And Joey’s forced to figure out what to do next at home, at school, for Else, and for himself. That journey involves a few challenges, particularly in the kitchen, but a part that I love – Joey makes friends with the butcher at the grocery store. What middle school boy wouldn’t want to hang out with the knives and other cutting implements? 

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

I work harder than I ever thought I would. And love it even more than I could imagine I would. 

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


Be willing to try anything in front of you – any writing exercise, any adviser. You never know how they or it will transform your world.