Aspiring writers, keep writing

MARIAH INMAN | Evergreen reporter

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Sharman Apt Russell shared tips on how to step up an author’s game when writing science fiction, non-fiction and young adult books.

“She’s a really versatile writer,” English professor Debbie Lee said, “so she’s written like children’s books, young adult books, science fiction.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Russell was featured in the Visiting Writer Series for her extensive knowledge of various types of book writing.

“She’s really good at each thing she does,” English Professor Peter Chilson said. “She’s won many awards, but she’s an expert on about three or four different types of writing, whereas most of the writers we bring, they have their favorite genre like poetry or screenwriting. But they don’t have this broad palette like she does.”

For the book ”Teresa of the New World,” she was a finalist a 2016 WILLA Literary Award for Children’s/Young Adult Fiction & Non-Fiction and 2015 Arizona Authors Association Award for Best Children’s Literature.

“Immediately, I saw I’m in the presence of a real writer who is able to connect the story to the art of the language, building a strong story with a strong visual setting and very well-developed characters,” Chilson said. “One of the other things is she’s political, she connects a lot of her work to environmental issues.”

Russell hopes attendees can find their outlet for getting their works out there. Russell encouraged everyone to write, no matter the number of people who view the work, she said at the event.

“Anyone can write a book and explore how to shape a book and enter into the adventure and light into writing a book,” she said. “Whether you self-publish or use fanfiction, or you go on a blog or you publish traditionally, more and more people can write, and I find that exciting.”

Russell read from three of her books: “Knocking on Heaven’s Door,” “Teresa of the New World” and “Within Our Grasp.” They are all on very different subjects connected to her consciousness, voice and psyche, Russell said.

She hopes the attendees related their book stories to the problems of today. She encourages those interested in social issues, to relate it to literature, Russell said.

“Writing has always been a way to talk about social and cultural issues, reflecting our fears and concerns of future,” she said.

For Russell, the act of writing is an engaging and dynamic process that allows her to express herself. She follows what interests her, which means she jumps around from box to box of book genres, she said during the event.

“I love just the act of writing, it engages me mentally and also emotionally. It requires my best self as a writer,” Russell said. “I have to be honest. I have to be intimate. I have to think clearly. I have to use different crafts that I’ve learned over the years.”

A nature walk and writing workshop with Sharman Apt Russell will be held from 3 – 4 p.m. today at the University of Idaho Shattuck Arboretum Amphitheater.