On July 19, the MFAC program will have a Graduate Recognition ceremony to honor the men and women who have just completed their studies and will receive an MFA from Hamline University. Between now and residency we’ll be posting interviews with the grads.
Tiffany Grimes is today’s grad; she lives in St. Augustine, Florida and can also be found on Twitter: @Qtiffany.
What do you do when you’re not working on packets?
I’m a huge fangirl, which is why my etsy shop is called FangirlBoutique2014; I sew nerdy skirts, pouches, and scarves. I obsess over Harry Potter and frequently visit Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade (in Orlando). I also spend lots of quality time with my cats (Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, Lady Sybil Cora Branson, and Former President Andrew Jackson). My day jobs: nannying three kids and working at Barnes and Noble.
How did you hear about the Hamline MFAC Program?
I researched low-residency creative writing programs and found Hamline. Two seconds later I found out that a friend from my undergrad was also applying (Meg Cannistra), and that my undergrad Children’s Lit professor and the nicest, most inspirational person I have ever met (Becky Stanborough) had graduated from Hamline. Seemed like a good sign!
What was your writing experience prior to entering the program?
I started writing in elementary school (at about the same time I learned how to write sentences). My childhood was troublesome, so writing was an outlet, even when I was just writing in a journal. By sixth grade, I knew I wanted to be a writer. In high school I was sure I would be a journalist, but by college, I knew fiction writing was for me.
What do you especially remember about your first residency?
Everyone was so nice and asked every twelve seconds how I was and reminded me that it was okay to be overwhelmed. Then, I spent a few days with a fever (what better way to spend your first residency?) before [classmate] Judi Marcin reminded me that she’s a doctor.
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?
Throughout the program, I focused on young adult (though I started with sci-fi and ended up with realistic fiction). I never thought I would dabble in fantasy, but I’ve started a fun project about ghosts and guardian angels (which is so so different from my realistic fiction piece).
Tell us about your Creative Thesis.
My Creative Thesis is a realistic young adult novel about a fourteen-year-old girl named Tate. When her mother died and her father decided he couldn’t handle being a father, Tate became a foster child. After three horrible homes, she ended up with a perfect sister and a wonderful mother, but suddenly dad wouldn’t let her be adopted. Every time she sees her father, he seems more and more put together, with a new girlfriend and now a baby on the way. Her sister, Caleigh, starts college when Tate starts high school, and Tate feels empty without her.
She starts trying to be more like Caleigh, getting into uncomfortable situations, always thinking about what Caleigh would do. Later in the novel, it becomes clear that Tate is hiding something very important from herself, something she needs to deal with and accept in order to move on.
What changes have you seen in your writing during your studies?
I’ve been able to take more risks and write from deep down, even if it means uncovering memories I’d rather not remember. (Thanks, Jane). But my writing has become more realistic and less void of emotion, and for that I’m grateful.
Any thoughts for entering students or for people considering the program?
So many people told me not to go to Hamline (because of money or life experience or time), but I ignored them. Hamline has been the best decision I have ever made. Follow your dreams. If writing is for you, you can’t run away from it.