“You Need to Calm Down”…It’s Time to Meet the 2019 Staff!

June 21st marks the official start to summer, and I don’t know about you, but to me summer means three things: more Disney remakes and sequels, a new Taylor Swift album on the way, and the return of our Young Writers’ Workshop!

That’s right, the 2019 K-State Young Writers’ Workshop begins this coming Monday, June 24th, and the staff is hard at work preparing for our young writers to arrive!

We’re all eager to meet the young writers, and here’s your chance to get to know all of us a little bit better before the workshop begins. While I know you’re excited, too, you need to calm down just enough to get through this blog post.

Mawi Sonna, Instructor

Mawi graduated from K-State in May with a B.A. in English and minors in Art and Spanish. She is an incoming graduate student in Creative Writing at K-State. When she’s not adulting, she loves planning her next adventure (Dinosaur Excavation in 2020)! Until then, she is super excited to meet everyone, write, and live in Manhattan with her cat, Sebastian.

What’s a favorite book you feel is underrated?

Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card (Sci-Fi).

What fictional character would you want to trade places with and why?

Any daughter of Athena or Apollo, or a Huntress of Artemis from the Percy Jackson series. I’d love to have powers, spend my summers at Camp Half-Blood, and  be part of a fierce girl group.

Where’s the strangest place you’ve ever worked on your writing?

During nap time at daycare — sometimes inspiration strikes, or there isn’t an ideal spot, and you just have to make do!

Zian Butler, Instructor

Zian completed her B.A. (2013) and M.A. (2015) in English at K-State. Currently, she’s packing up to move across the country to Virginia. Since last year’s workshop, she’s taken up painting acrylic on canvas and compiled a poetry chapbook! Zian has an eight-year-old son who keeps her on her toes and reminds her to be curious like his favorite book character, George.

What’s a favorite book you feel is underrated?

Maggie Nelson’s Bluets poetry book.

What fictional character would you want to trade places with and why?

Princess Ruto from the Legend of Zelda video game series (Ocarina of Time) because I would be a pretty blue gal that could breathe underwater!

Where’s the strangest place you’ve ever worked on your writing?

Weirdest place I have worked on my writing is the kitchen — not very adventurous.

Dustin Vann, Instructor

Dustin grew up in Junction City, KS and received his B.A. in English from K-State. He loved K-State so much he decided to return for grad school, and will enter his second year in the M.A. Program this fall. Dustin loves reading and writing YA fiction, but isn’t opposed to getting lost in a good mystery novel. He’s also terrified of bats, much like his favorite superhero, Batman.

What’s a favorite book you feel is underrated?

The Diviners series by Libba Bray. This series is basically X-Men meets The Great Gatsby and does not get the love it deserves! 

What fictional character would you want to trade places with and why?

Charlie Bucket from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Who wouldn’t want to own a chocolate factory? 

Where’s the strangest place you’ve ever worked on your writing?

I very much believe that actively thinking about your current work-in-progress (WIP) is a form of working on your writing. With that being said, the strangest place I’ve worked on my writing would have to be on a rollercoaster. 

Katy Karlin, Director

This is Katy’s sixth year directing the Young Writers’ Workshop, and she is very excited to return to the position. She is an associate professor of English at Kansas State University and teaches courses on fiction writing and film. When she isn’t teaching or researching, Katy can be found spending time with her dog and four chickens and biking around Manhattan.

What’s a favorite book you feel is underrated?

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, a lovely story about immigrant life in early twentieth-century New York.

What fictional character would you want to trade places with and why?

Queequeg from Moby Dick. He has great adventures, and he’s a great guy.

Where’s the strangest place you’ve ever worked on your writing?

An oil refinery.

Noelle Braaten, Program Assistant

Noelle graduated with a B.S. in Elementary Education and a Minor in English from the University of North Dakota in 2014. She taught 3rd and 4th grade before deciding to pursue further education at K-State. This fall, Noelle will enter her 2nd year as an M.A. student, studying Children’s Literature and Creative Writing.

What’s a favorite book you feel is underrated?

Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock features a family of Wisconsin dairy farmers, and protagonist DJ offers such an honest, authentic voice as she works toward trying out for her high school football team.

What fictional character would you want to trade places with and why?

Usually I’d answer almost any Harry Potter character because—you know—Hogwarts, but today I’m going to say Arya Starkfrom Game of Thrones because I really want some assassin skills. Make of that what you will.

 Where’s the strangest place you’ve ever worked on your writing?

A tree—I really enjoy writing outdoors, and sometimes the branches of a willow tree just call to me.

That’s us! Make sure to follow all our social media outlets on Facebook and Twitter so that you can keep up with all the excitement!   

We will see YOU next week at the 6th annual Young Writers’ Workshop!

—Noelle Braaten, Program Assistant

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