Currently live where? Lincoln, Illinois
Anything else, like website/blog/Twitter you are ok sharing?
My website is www.caitlinlore.com and you can find me on Instagram @caitlin_lore
What do you do when you’re not working on packets? When I’m not working on packets I’m a full time high school English teacher. I teach English IV, which is a senior level class, a creative writing class that’s for sophomores through seniors, and a fantasy & sci-fi class also for seniors. I also spend a lot of my free time reading (beyond the annotated lists if you can believe it!), and I’m a newbie LEGO nerd! I also really love watching British cozy mystery TV shows, which I just tell myself is research for my writing.
How did you hear about the Hamline MFAC Program? I heard about the Hamline MFAC program from good old Google…but about 10 years ago. I was in a liminal space in my life, realizing that I wanted to try my hand at this writing for kids things. Being the school-loving person that I am, of course that meant I started searching for graduate programs. I discovered Hamline, and after attending a virtual prospective student day and learning about the faculty, I knew this was the program for me. However, life happened which kept me from applying at the time, but I constantly kept up on how the faculty was growing, reading their books, and attended at least three more prospective student days. Turns out I entered the program exactly when I, and my stories, needed it most.
What was your writing experience prior to entering the program? Prior to the program I had written, revised, queried, and been rejected (a lot) on my first ever novel. I’d also been a part of a few national writing groups (SCBWI and SINC) and participated in local chapters, but as a busy teacher, my writing life wasn’t always my top priority.
What do you especially remember about your first residency? It was IN PERSON! I feel so lucky that I’m part of a cohort that got to experience residency live and in person. It was right before COVID hit hard here in the states, and so it’s a week that lives in this special place in my memory. It was a cold and wintery week full of nerves and excitement, and feeling like I had found my place and my people.
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 mainly worked in middle grade and young adult during my time in the program, completing two full first drafts which felt like a huge accomplishment for me. I never experimented with picture books, but the way my creative brain works, I know I have a few ideas sitting dormant, waiting for the right time to use all the amazing advice from Phyllis, Jackie, Lisa, and Marsha. I will say that I went into the program thinking I was going to focus on middle grade fantasy, as that’s what I’d mainly written before, but it turned out that I rediscovered my love for mystery, something I wasn’t sure I could ever tackle.
Tell us about your Creative Thesis. My creative thesis is a story my inner 12 year old would have loved. It’s a middle grade murder mystery called Trowel and Trouble: A Ruby Eloise Mystery, about a reluctant detective. Ruby is a girl who doesn’t know her place in the world, or what she’s good at, or really what she loves most. But when she stumbles upon the dead body of her neighbor, it catapults her into the world of solving a mystery and figuring how she fits into the world. It’s about friendship, gardening, and the relationship between kids and older generations. And oh, it’s set in the 90’s!
What changes have you seen in your writing during your studies? My writing has changed so much over the program, mostly in the way that I’m actually doing this thing called writing. I’m so much more disciplined, but I also trust more in my intuition, letting my stories tell themselves. I used to worry a lot about voice as well, mainly because in all the publishing research I had done before, everyone talked about voice and the importance of it, and it just felt like some unattainable element I would never master. But in learning to trust my writer intuition, I’ve been able to find my voice as a writer AND the voices of my characters.
Any thoughts for entering students or for people considering the program?
Hold onto hope because in-person residencies will be coming back and they will be SO WORTH IT. For anyone considering entering, MFAC will find you when you need it. When you’re ready to give up on your writing or when you’re ready to pursue it even more. When you think you can’t write or you’re wishing for something different, MFAC will scoop you up, tell you you belong, and give you words you never imagined you could write. And if you’re a full time teacher, or worker, or parent or anything else full-time, it’s still 100% do-able. You may feel like it isn’t at times, but you will find your words. The faculty are so encouraging and graceful, as are deadlines.