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Writers@Drew from Drew University welcomes Cara Blue Adams
The series picks up in person with the award-winning author of You never get it back
October 2022 – Drew University Writers @ Drew hosted Cara Blue Adams, author of You never get it backa collection of interconnected short stories.
The event was Writers@Drew’s first in-person since February 2020, when the series moved to a virtual format due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
You never get it back was named a New York Times Editor’s Choice and received the John Simmons Short Fiction Award.
Adams, the recipient of countless awards for his work, read an excerpt from one of the stories in his collection, hailed as “a modern classic” by American writer Brandon Taylor.
Courtney Zoffness, assistant professor of English and director of Drew’s creative writing program, asked Adams why she chose a collection of interconnected stories.
“My personal motto is ‘why do when you can do too much?’ What I love about this form of story is that it can really summon a distilled narrative that can encompass as much as a novel, but in just 20-30 pages,” Adams said.
“The whole job of a novel is to pull you through,” she said. “A collection of stories says ‘it’s time to catch your breath; you can drop me off. You can get a lot of variety. You can give the reader time to reflect on their experience.
A student asked if Adams had ever based characters on herself or her experiences.
“I definitely draw from my own life and observations when creating my characters,” Adams replied. “Every writer draws inspiration from their own life experiences in one way or another. Being alive in the world and your own experiences is really important.
Another student asked how Adams works the exposition in his story.
“The exposition can be so tricky…and boring for some readers if it’s not done well,” she confessed. “We are often told ‘show, don’t tell.'”
“When writing an exhibit, it helps to try to be as lively, funny, specific and interesting as possible,” she said. “I try to figure out what a reader really needs to know and get rid of any exposition they don’t need to know.”
Zoffness and a student asked about Adams’ career path and her previous experience as a writer.
Adams shared that there is no set path to becoming a writer. “I’ve had such a strange career path – hopefully this will be encouraging for anyone who isn’t entirely sure what your path will look like after college or beyond. You can’t always know where your path will take you.
While earning her MFA from the University of Arizona, she realized she loved writing fiction. “It’s infinitely fascinating. It’s not something you can ever solve – and it’s infinitely difficult. No story is like another story; no book is like another book.
She spent five years as the editor of a literary magazine, but struggled to find time for her own writing. “There were always more new writers that I could discover. Editing, like writing, is a passion.
“Doing this work has helped me in my own work,” she said. “It helped me be honest with myself. You tend to be hypercritical as an editor, you find interference with that.
Adams advised the audience of students, faculty and staff to gain experience whenever possible. “People will believe you can do something if you’ve done it in the past.”
In addition to being a published author, Adams is an Associate Professor of English at Seton Hall University. “Being a teacher gives me the summers to focus on writing and it gives me a great community of people to talk about my ideas.”
Writers@Drew events are co-sponsored by The Casement Fund and the English Department and are always free.