Position: Staff Writer at University of Pennsylvania
Hometown: I moved a lot as a kid, but I consider Bethesda, Maryland, where I went to high school, my hometown.
What do you do at Mighty Writers? Tutor in the Teen Lounge on Tuesdays. I also led a Monday night fiction writing workshop called Eat Your WORDS: Food Fiction.
What did you like to write as a kid? I wrote stories, plays, poems, journal entries, histories of imaginary places——all kinds of stuff. I was particularly obsessed with writing “books.” I’d start with yellow legal pads from my mom’s office, turn them sideways and fill the pages with a story. Then in second grade, we got to make bound books using contact paper and cardboard. That was a big moment.
What do you like to write now? Fiction is still my favorite, and I’m lucky enough to do it professionally. My first novel was just accepted for publication.
What makes a Mighty Writer? Imagination and a good work ethic. Writing should always start with a fun idea, but you have to put in the time to carry it out.
“Writing helps us understand ourselves,
other people and the world.”
What keeps you coming back to Mighty Writers? The kids are so great. I love encouraging them through the writing process. I also love arguing with them about the NBA: “Who’s better: LeBron or Durant?” It’s a weekly debate.
How does Mighty Writers make your life better? Mighty Writers forces me to take a break from my own writing challenges to help kids with theirs. It makes me a better writer, thinker, family member and friend.
What was your favorite book as a kid? Oh, man, I had too many to pick just one. I was pretty much always reading a Nancy Drew mystery. D’Aulaires’ “Book of Greek Myths,” “The Witches” by Roald Dahl, and “Journey To America” by Sonia Levitin were all really important to me, too.
“To Kill A Mockingbird” or “The Girl With Dragon Tattoo”? “To Kill A Mockingbird.” It’s such an important American story.
What was the last book you read? “The Family Fang” by Kevin Wilson, about a family of performance artists.
Who influenced you to care about writing and how did they do it? My parents were both teachers. They loved to read and they encouraged every creative thing I ever did. I owe everything to their support.
Why is writing important? If you can write well, you can do anything—get into college, get a job, manage a business, make a law. But even more than that, writing helps us understand ourselves, other people and the world. When we commit words and ideas to paper, we’re forced to really think about what they mean. We learn by writing.