Amy Hassinger and Teri Grimm may be authors of different genres, but they were both together, reading to the same audience in the Memorial Union Building (MUB) on Thursday night as part of the English Department’s 2016-17 Writers Series.
Hassinger is an author of three books: “Nina: Adolescence”, “The Priest’s Madonna” and “After the Dam”. She read a passage from the third book during the event.
Hassinger’s work has been published in The New York Times, Creative Nonfiction, The Writers’ Chronicle and The Los Angeles Review of Books. She has won various awards, including ones from Creative Nonfiction, Publisher’s Weekly and the Illinois Arts Council.
Grimm, author of “Becoming Lyla Dore”, read poems from that collection. A Florida native, she currently teaches at the University of Nebraska.
Grimm’s writing has been published in Green Mountains Review, The Rumpus and Sugar House Review. She is also the recipient of a Nebraska Arts Fellowship.
UNH professor Susan Hertz opened the event by welcoming the two writers.
“We’re very fortunate to have them,” Hertz said, addressing the audience. Students, faculty and community members filled the seats in the MUB Theater one as Hassinger and Grimm were introduced.
“It’s always difficult to choose sections of a book to read to people,” Hassinger said before beginning her reading of “After the Dam”.
As Hassinger read a chapter from her novel she captured the attention of audience members and even managed to make them laugh.
Grimm’s collection of poetry, “Becoming Lyla Dore”, is composed of a series of persona poems told in the voice of Lyla Dore, a fictional film star.
Grimm also delivered a brief history on silent films and their relationship to Florida, her home state.
The final 15 minutes of the event was dedicated to a Q&A session where audience members could ask Hassinger and Grimm questions about their writing choices.
The questions posed to the duo mainly dealt with the process of writing a novel and the factual research that goes into writing fictional pieces.
“It’s a real balance between research and the story,” Hassinger said. “You have to ask yourself: What does this have to do with my story?”
“I’d like to think that all the research that didn’t make it in the book enriched it,” Grimm said.
Hassinger also pointed out the similarities between her own genre of writing and Grimm’s poetry. “We tend to create these boundaries in the study of creative nonfiction,” she said.
The last question that the two women answered was: “How do you know when you’re done with a piece?” The pair agreed that removing yourself once you’re tired and sick of a piece is the best idea and that often times coming back to the piece at a later date is beneficial.
According to the two writers, the writing community, reflection and honest readers are crucial to producing a solid piece of work.
The writers’ novels were available for purchase at the event, along with the opportunity to get them signed.