Would Dr. Cooper have been tough on Samwell Tarly?: An Interview with Dave Hill

Dave Hill, a graduate of Indian Springs School (‘02) and a writer for the hit HBO television show Game Of Thrones produced some of the program’s most riveting episodes such as “Home,” “Eastwatch,” “Winterfell,” and many more. The Mire interviewed Dave Hill about his involvement in writing for such a huge television program and how he adapted to that life from his high school experiences. Hill’s friendly and laid back nature show in his answers– making this interview not only a learning experience, but also fun. Scroll down to learn about which character Mr. Hill most identifies with and how the show manages to write an episode.  

Riley Berry: First off, “The Battle of Winterfell” was crazy. But, more importantly, I love diving into the entire universe of the show– that there’s a history and world to explore and delve deeper into than what we see. How did you learn to condense the huge world of Game of Thrones?

Dave Hill: In every scene, we had to figure out exactly what background mythology was needed for the scene to make sense to an audience and figure out how to get it out emotionally through character and conflict instead of droning lectures and exposition. I am sure high schoolers can in no way sympathize.

Riley: I know from reading the books that the detail in certain character paths and story is immaculate.  What do you think that you miss translating from page to screen? And then how do you go about adapting the show to meet the desires of the creators and viewers, while also pleasing Martin himself?

Dave: The books are all first-person so the reader is privy to a character’s innermost thoughts and emotions. We obviously don’t have that. We have to tell our story in the third-person, and figure out to communicate that inner life through dialogue, action, and – most importantly – great actors who often can do more with one look than we can with many lines.

Riley: You wrote for some arguably some of the most important episodes in the series, those being “Sons of the Harpy” and “Home.”  When writing those episodes did you have most of the power of what happens or was it more of a shared effort by you and the creators and other writers? Also did you feel pressure or worry when writing those particular episodes knowing that they were crucial to certain characters stories?

Dave: We all break the story and outline the season together in the writers room, and our outlines are very detailed – our season 6 outline was 160 pages, for example.  Then each of us goes off into a room alone to flush everything out into a blueprint for production/cast/directors. Sometimes, at the granular script level, we realize we’re missing a scene that we need, or that a scene we had in the outline we don’t need after all.

As for the pressure – yep, and you kids will learn how to best deal with it on your 21st birthday.

Riley: What is it like working for one of the biggest television series in the world? How did you initially feel when you began writing for the show? Were you a fan of the books before? What other fantasy books did you read as a teen? In the world of Game Of Thrones which character is your favorite to write about and who do you identify with the most?

Dave: I’m Samwell Tarly. Just check my yearbook photos.

It is pretty insane that this show is my first writing gig in Hollywood. I’d say pinch me, but I don’t want to take the risk. I was terribly excited when I got promoted, but I was also too oblivious to know when to keep my mouth shut. My first day in the writers’ room was tough because I didn’t even know what I didn’t know – which is good ideas vs bad ideas. Luckily another writer, Vanessa Taylor, gave me much-needed encouragement and helped me get to a place where I didn’t embarrass myself… as much.

I read the books for the first time when I worked for Benioff and Weiss’s agent. Their manager’s assistant was a friend and sent me the first book on cassette tapes. I don’t even want to think how many people reading this have no idea what tapes are. But anyway, I was driving to Vegas in my crappy used car – which had a tape deck – and got so into GoT that I drove around the Strip a while so I could finish out a tape side. Anyone who’s sat in Vegas traffic will know that this is the truest definition of captivation.

Riley: Knowing that you once attended Indian Springs, were there any aspects of high school writing and English classes that you still carry with you to this day in your job?

Dave: Besides learning how to write?

Riley:  If you could give high school students any advice for what they could take with them from school, maybe especially Springs, what would it be and why? What advice would you have wanted as a student? What advice would Martin give? Or Jon Snow?

Dave: Nothing that happens on the internet is real.

Every career you can choose will require you to write logically and persuasively. All those papers may seem pointless now, but the facts will fade and the skills remain.

Dr. Cooper was much harder on us than he is on you.

Book Review: If You Cross the River

 
Geneviéve Damas, If You Cross the River
Translated by Jody Gladding
Milkweed Editions
2019, 152 pages, paperback

I remember the fables that were told frequently in my youth, like The Boy Who Cried Wolf and The Hare and The Tortoise — passed down generation to generation to remind us not to lie and that slow and steady wins the race.  If You Cross The River is a modern fable about the power of friendship, self-determination, and the tremendous impact of education. The author of this fable, Geneviéve Damas, is a Belgian  novelist, playwright, and actress. After completing a law degree, she determined that she wanted to pursue a career in theater instead. She has acted, directed, and wrote award-winning plays for both children and adults. If You Cross The River is her first novel, forthcoming in a new translation from from the French by Jody Gladding (an author herself) for Milkweed Editions in May 2019. Already, the book has gained International acclaim.  Due to this novel being a translation, the overall story, arrangement, and verbage were quite different than the novels I’m used to reading– both because of the nature of the fable and the non-American, literary tradition. Although the world of this book isn’t quite applicable to my life  (I am quite fortunate. I have a supportive, loving family, I’ve had a formal education, and I don’t many restrictions on my life) If You Cross The River, spoke to me due to its fablistic sense of symbolism for young adults.

Illiterate, isolated, and confined to short length by a bitter, abusive father, François Sorrente has spent his seventeen years of life within narrow borders. His daily regime consists of tending to the family pigs while also managing household chores. François can’t help but wonder about the outside world that he has been closed off from and his particularly his place in it (as do most young adults). He wonders about his mother, who he doesn’t remember at all, and is never spoken of. And about why the opposite shore of the river, where his beloved older sister, disappeared many years ago, is uncrossable? Driven by this curiosity, François turns to the resources and folk of his town to help make sense of the pieces of information missing from his life. He begins reading lessons with a curé, falls into an affair with a village woman, and becomes friends with a piglet named Hyménée. As François questions both his past and the path forward, he begins to unfold the true story of his mother and sister, and becomes a changed man with this new understanding.

I adored this novel for this symbolism and the momentous changes that the main character, Francois, went through. Francois, himself, also becomes symbolic. He grew up with an abusive father, his mother and mother figure–his sister–abandoned him, his brother died, he was illiterate, he had an identity crisis as he looked nothing like any of his family members… Francois goes to the curé (French for priest) to learn how to read. Through reading, and other connection, he tries to conquer his isolation. No matter how weird it sounds, but being friends with the pigs and learning the empathy that was often lacked in his household, he transforms. And this is universal. The boy accomplished everything he wanted to despite all of the obstacles he had to face. He also did everything in his power to figure out his identity and the world beyond his village.  And, SPOILER ALERT: He crossed the river.

Throughout this novel, you have to pay attention to the prose–as every word has symbolic meaning behind it. I can say that no word was unnecessary. For example, at the beginning, he talks about about how his father kept him “from running off to the other side of the river where life led you and you never came back the same.” This is symbolism that the other side of the river is the door to the outside world and new opportunities. Every word fit precisely how they should have with all of the meaning behind it and that is probably why the length is a short, sweet 130 pages. I do wish that it could have been a little longer, and that the ending wasn’t as abrupt. Understandably, fables typically aren’t too long so I understand the author’s  choice.

This book is relatable to everyone in a symbolic way and is also an eye-opener to those who are fortunate enough to be provided education, happy household, and lack of a confining atmosphere. Overall, This book would be  great for readers of The Mire because as humans, especially young adults navigating through life, we contain a curiosity about the world around us and our place there.

–Emma Storm ’19

Book Review: A People’s Future Of The United States- SPECULATIVE FICTION FROM 25 EXTRAORDINARY WRITERS

Edited by Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams, A People’s Future of the United States: SPECULATIVE FICTION FROM 25 EXTRAORDINARY WRITERS
One World
2019, 432 pages, paperback

GENDER INEQUALITY, SURVEILLANCE, homophobia, controlled birth rates, cranial digital chips – these sound dystopian, but also strangely familiar. How far are we actually from these developments in the United States? China had the one-child policy for decades, homophobia is existent worldwide, and women still have to fight for equal rights in almost every aspect of life. A People’s Future Of The United States, edited by Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams, is a collection of 25 short stories from various established and emerging writers that focus on how the United States could look in the future. Through these dystopias, the stories provide a haunting look at the issues we encounter in news in our daily life.

As a whole, the stories in this collection combine new technology and new social norms with people we would today consider victims of systemic injustice, persecuted under current law. For example, in “It Was Saturday Night, I Guess That Makes It All Right,” by Sam J. Miller, a gay man must hide his sexuality in public, while his job is to install surveillance cameras. In another story, “Our Aim Is Not To Die” by A. Merc Rustad, a transgender woman has to hide their real identity to not face imprisonment. In their society, citizens are required to post pictures of their day to the government for transparency reasons. In both stories, and many others, the narratives show how these policies impede a life in freedom.

Other stories focus on rebellious groups that fight for inalienable rights we have today, which have been taken away by oppressive governments. “Read After Burning,” by Maria Dahvana Headley, tells of a group of people that tattoo stories into their skin in order to remember, as they live in a world where books are burnt; teachers, scientists, and people of knowledge are murdered; and parents are prohibited to teach their children how to speak. As I read the stories, I was shocked that the issues seemed to be taken from the news, exaggerating certain societal or cultural norms to critique specific developments of today. For instance, Headley’s story focused on the prohibition of freedom of speech which exists in some Asian, Middle Eastern, and South American countries. Other stories focus on gender inequality which is still an essential struggle globally.

One story, “Calendar Girls” by Justina Ireland exaggerates the issue of women’s rights to the point of a Sci-Fi dystopia. “Calendar Girls”  follows Alyssa, an African American teenager who sells contraceptives on the street illegally. Ireland addresses the polarizing, but crucial topic of governmental regulated birth control. The story goes on by giving Alyssa the chance to fight for a change in her oppressive society, but the “reality was, she didn’t care (about women’s rights). She just wanted to live her life.” (p.204). This story forces the reader to think about our values, and our actions against injustice today. Do we stand up to change the system, or do we try to escape the system? Interestingly, most stories lead to the conclusion that improving his own situation is better than standing up for his own rights and trying to enhance the situation for all.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in dystopian novels, or possible future scenarios of the US. Most of the stories include technology that is already available, but not yet accessible to the public. Other stories exaggerate political and social issues we deal with today, as gender equality, racial equality, and the rights and governmental violation of privacy. The book takes social issues to the extreme and interrogates their effects on society and on certain individuals critically. Since most stories closely relate to life today, it challenges interested readers to think about these scenarios, making it a must read for everyone who wants to ponder about the political and social future of the United States.

–Tim Windbrake ’19

Book Review: The Word For Woman is Wilderness

Abi Andrews, The Word for Woman is Wilderness
Publisher: TwoDollarRadio
2019, 284 pages, paperback, $16.99

AS A MEMBER of our modern society, I can wholly identify with the urge to flee the confines of responsibility and technology to seek a freer life in nature. I quickly remember, however, that although I don’t have to go to work if I vanish into the forest, I would also have to give up Snapchat and, likely, indoor plumbing. As a woman, on the other hand, I can’t really identify with others who have actually done it – escaped into the wild. That is where Abi Andrews picks up, in her debut novel, “The Word for Woman is Wilderness:” a fictional story written similarly to a diary or journal, filled with natural science phenomena and social and political commentary as well as images and cuts from a documentary the protagonist is producing.

In “The Word for Woman is Wilderness,” Abi Andrews lives through Erin, a 19-year-old from England. Erin is a filmmaker and plans to make a documentary of her travels – a choice she often questions on the grounds of preserving her authenticity – that appears intermittently in the novel along with maps, diagrams, and sketches, as further commentary on her experiences.

Although, she really needs no further commentary as she leaves no stone unturned in her physical and metaphysical ramblings. Along the way, Erin immerses herself in the culture of each place she touches from England to Iceland to Greenland and finally to Denali National Park in Alaska. In each place she builds relationships with those she meets, from her “girl-crush” (12) she met in Iceland near the start of her venture, to the Native American woman who saves her life later on. Still, at the core of Erin’s rugged journey is the dissection of the ‘mountain man.’

Setting “The Word for Woman is Wilderness” apart from other feminist adventures is Erin’s personality.

Erin has the determination and grit demanded of a heroine, a ‘mountain woman,’ but her no-bullshit attitude and sharp, sarcastic wit are what make the novel equally refreshing and frustrating. As a testament to this no-bullshit attitude, Erin makes her intent clear within the first twenty pages:

“To prove to myself and everyone else that solitude is as much mine as any Mountain Man’s and that I do not have to be relegated to loneliness and displacement just for being female” (19).

Although here she focuses on “solitude,” she expresses similarly blunt opinions on the masculine connotation of the wild (She mentions Bear Grylls and Jack London among others) in contrast with the feminine connotation of environmentalism, on feminism’s roles in different cultures, as well as on authenticity and existence. The titles of each entry give a taste of the Erin’s sense of humor; on the same page she proclaims “HOW MUSHROOMS CAN SAVE THE WORLD” and ponders “THE VANITY OF MODERN EXISTENCE” (235).

Erin is curious. She’s introspective. She’s irreverent. I think Erin’s persona makes the novel such an engaging read, but, at times, she also gives me a bit of a headache. Erin’s wild tangents make sense in that they follow her thoughts as she observes the  world around her and the conflicts within her, but the massive range of subjects and the rambling nature of her commentary can become trying near the novel’s end. I was overall very engaged through the first half, following the different offshoots of Erin’s imagination eagerly, but I grew weary of the excessive spontaneity. After two hundred or so pages, even spontaneity becomes a predictable pattern. Still, I plan to return to Abi Andrews’ The Word for Woman is Wilderness again and again to satisfy my occasional longing for a life on the wild side, knowing I’m in for a laugh too– as evidenced in her sign off to the book:

“From Erin in the cabin in our wilderness,
Denali,
Alaska,
Earth.” (332)

Don’t miss this Independent release.

From Peyton in the classroom in our school,
Indian Springs,
Alabama,
Earth.

-Peyton Miller ’20

Book Review: Miracle Creek

Angie Kim, Miracle Creek  
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
2019, 368 pages, paperback, $27

“MY HUSBAND ASKED  me to lie. Not a big lie. He probably didn’t even consider it a lie, and neither did I, at first . . .”  This lie starts Angie Kim’s courtroom drama Miracle Creek, which explores the mystery of the sudden explosion of the Miracle Submarine– a facility that uses an 100% pressurized oxygen chamber to heal damaged cells through deep penetration of oxygen therapy. How does the lie relate to the explosion? Who actually caused the fire? These two questions preoccupied my mind while reading. Besides being a thrilling courtroom drama, Angie Kim’s masterfully plotted novel Miracle Creek, shows us the story through a new perspective– the eyes of the marginalized: recent immigrant families, their teenage child, and parents of a child with special needs. As a former trial lawyer, editor of the Harvard Law Review, and a Korean immigrant, Kim’s personal experience helps her deliver this thrilling courtroom drama with professional expertise and empathy.

Miracle Creek begins with the sudden explosion of the submarine on the August 29th, 2008 which causes the deaths of  two patients and results in the injuries of four others. The suspect of this mysterious explosion becomes the central question of the novel, which follows the trial. It might be Young and Pak Yoo,the new immigrant family who runs the business of Hyperbaric Oxygenation Therapy in Miracle Creek, hoping to gain a large amount of  insurance money to help pay for their daughter’s college education. It might be Elizabeth, the mother of an autistic boy in the submarine that day, who was found sneaking cigarettes at the time of the explosion. It might be the Yoo’s daughter, Mary, who ,tasked with monitoring the tanks, left her desk to attend to the autistic boy, Henry. One must read to find out.

This novel is told in multiple points of views and the narratives follow their motives from shifting perspectives. Unlike other courtroom dramas, this novel does not present objective truth to readers– instead, it tells the motives that drive the main characters, in their own perspectives, in order to show readers what the characters actually think about the fire. Kim does a brilliant job shifting between different perspectives, from the Korean immigrant couple, to a man with infertility, to a newly arrived teenage girl, to a mom with an autistic son in order to provide readers with these characters’ history. For example, while we don’t want to believe Elizabeth could be the murderer of her son, Henry, we see from Elizabeth’s eyes that she has long suffered in caring for Henry, who she takes to Pak’s hyperbaric oxygenation therapy. Through Elizabeth’s eyes, Kim convinces us that Elizabeth might be the culprit because she is desperate enough to escape her autistic son, who she realizes can never be her version of “normal.” The rotating perspective allows us to understand Elizabeth, even though we disagree with her actions. So does Kim treat the other main characters; they all have their own secrets and the suspicion of guilt, waiting for readers to discover.

While the multiple narratives do complicate and deepen the story, the plot sometimes seems crowded. Kim writes about six different character’s lives– each with their own backgrounds–which sometimes make it challenging to keep track the story. But even though it’s challenging, Miracle Creek is still worth reading. For anyone who is interested in thrilling courtroom dramas, Miracle Creek offers readers emotional depth through its different viewpoints (both in terms of characters and the type of characters) in this twisty plot. Ultimately, Miracle Creek offers a way to relate to difficult experiences–like being an immigrant or the mother of an autistic child–and provides insights on these topics–about families coming to America and challenging parenting–all wrapped up in this exciting plot.

–Sophia Cheng ’20

Interview: Angie Kim

Want to know more about the backstory of Miracle Creek or are you a writer who wants advice from Angie Kim on how to publish your work? It’s our honor to discuss these questions with Angie Kim, author of Miracle Creek. For me, it was such a pleasure to talk to Ms.Kim, with whom I share the same interest in the courtroom and have a similar personal experience of coming to America from another country. Read on to find out more!

Sophia Cheng: This book is amazing courtroom drama! I am wondering, Ms.Kim, When you first drafted Miracle Creek did you have an idea of the kind of book you wanted to write? What inspired you to write a courtroom drama with multiple points of view?

Angie Kim: I did have an idea of what I wanted to write about insofar as I knew I wanted it to take place in this Miracle Submarine, which is a type of medical device known as a hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) chamber. And I also knew pretty quickly that I want it to be a murder mystery with a courtroom drama taking place because I used to be a lawyer myself, and I find being in the courtroom really fun. Given that I have an experience doing courtroom trials, it seems like a good thing to utilize that experience, especially since I myself love reading courtroom drama!

Sophia: Yes, being a courtroom lawyer is such a cool experience! I’m so glad to hear that you get to put your passion of being a lawyer into writing this novel. How did experience in the law influence the plot? How is the vision of Miracle Creek on shelves different than the one that began in your head?

Angie : My legal experience definitely contributed. I considered lots of different structures. For example, focusing on what happened right in the aftermath of the explosion. You know: following a detective as they investigate, trying to figure out who did it and why, how… that kind of stuff. I also considered that we know who caused the fire from the very beginning who did it, and we are just simply trying to figure out exactly what the ramifications are for all the characters. Those are the different structures I considered. The fact that I have the legal experience  made me gravitate towards a murder trial. I wanted to have a setting like Miracle Creek with a lot of drama and potential for twists. So that’s the first part of the question.

As for the vision for Miracle Creek, I didn’t know who set the fire in the very beginning when I started writing. In that way, the ending is definitely different from my expectation because I didn’t know at first who had done it, and what the plot was going to be.  I thought maybe the climax would revolve around actually being in the courtroom and have witness experiencing something really dramatic that happened in public, in the courtroom. And yet when I sat down to write it, it didn’t happen like that.

Sophia: Speaking of the plot of Miracle Creek, it’s so twisty! It always kept me guessing about what would happen next. At the same time, it’s earned because these twists come at the right time in the plot (for example when the reader realizes who caused the fire. How did you plot the novel? Have you ever struggled coming up with these turns? If so, how did you overcome it? How long did you spend on writing this book?

Angie: I love twists in plots, and I was very into that. I did have a plot outline when I first started, but after I wrote three chapters, I would have to go back to the plot outline and change it completely. I would outline it again, and then would re-outline again after three more chapters. It was a very iterative process. So by doing it that way, I would have a outline that was constantly updated. One thing that I did was to make the plot more twisty every time I revised the manuscript after the first draft was done.

Sophia: It truly takes a lot of work! In Miracle Creek, you depict a Korean-American immigrant family’s experience. It’s deeply moving. As an international student who comes from China to study in the U.S, I can relate especially to Mary, the daughter. What drew you to these characters and to depict this experience?

Angie: It’s mainly because I’m an immigrant myself. I’m very much an older version of Mary. I was an only child, and I came over from Korea when I was 11 just like Mary did. My parents and I immigrated to Baltimore just like Mary did. Both of my parents came over with me though. So my dad didn’t stay behind like Pak. We came, and my parents had a grocery store in downtown Baltimore, which is a really dangerous part of the town— just like the Yoos. And I was left behind in the suburbs to live with my aunt and uncle. So, much better situation than what Mary had. But still I felt very lonely and isolated, and I didn’t speak English and I had some of the same experience that I tried to depict in the novel of Mary and the Yoos. So that was really a painful time for me and affected me a lot. So that’s one of the main reasons why I gravitated towards writing about it in this novel.

Sophia: Yes, it’s such a touching story! I can totally relate to this experience.

Angie: Oh, I’m so glad! That makes me so happy to know because one of my favorite things is hearing from readers who have had similar experiences as the character and telling me they recognize themselves.

Sophia: Since The Mire is created by high school students, we would love to know more about your life in school. What did you think you were going to be when you “grew up”?  Was being a writer your dream job when you were at high school? Did you enjoy writing at school?

Angie: I never really was a writer in high school. English was one of my favorite subjects, but only because I loved my English teacher so much. He was the kind of teacher that I still adore and would still be influenced by. But that wasn’t really my dream job. I went to a place called Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan for high school. It’s a performing arts boarding school. I double majored in theater and music. And so I wanted to be an actress; that was my dream job, and that was what I wanted to do. But, first of all, I don’t think that I was that talented in acting. Secondly, being Asian—especially back then because you know I’m now fifty, so this was thirty-three years ago—there weren’t many opportunities for Asian to have a fulfilling acting career. So given that, I decided that I should do what I could be good at, which was school. So I ended up going to Stanford for college—which I loved—and I went to major in Political Science and Philosophy. After that, I went to law school to be a lawyer. I think what attracted me to law was the idea I would be in the courtroom ,and that I would get to act out the story and be performing essentially for the jurors—because you are telling the story to the jurors, and you are also cross- examining the witnesses and questioning them. So that to me was very dramatic; being a drama major who wanted a career in theater but gave it up for practical reasons, it seemed like the perfect thing for me. So that’s why I turned to law.

I didn’t really enjoy writing at first, but at Stanford, I thought maybe I should be a reporter. So I worked for the Stanford Daily, which is the school newspaper,and, in law school, I was the Editor of a journal called the Harvard Law Review. So I did writing oriented things, but I never did any creative writing, certainly not fiction, until eight years ago.

Sophia: Speaking of your writing experience, any advice you would give to others wishing to pursue this career?

Angie: I would say read a lot. Read and read and read! Not only the stuff that you like to read, but stuff that is outside your comfort zone. Stuff that is winning awards, stuff that’s popular, stuff that’s not popular, all sorts of stuff. Read a lot of poetry to really get that into the rhythm of prose, and I would say write a little bit everyday. If you want to be a novelist, don’t just try writing a novel first and foremost. What I did is to get your start writing short stories and something that’s manageable; you workshop that, show it to other people, get feedback, and revise. Revise, revise, edit, and revise again, send it out to literary journals, and get it published. While you are trying to publish, you will get lots and lots of rejection letters. I got so many. Just keep going, once you’ve gotten sort of training experience, then I would say work on your novel.

Sophia: Thank you so much for sharing your experience and advice to us. Thanks for taking your time, Ms.Kim! Congratulations on your debut novel. I so enjoyed reading it and spending time with your characters!

Covered

Photo by Engin Akyurt 

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads only lives one”

-George R.R. Martin

On another windy Friday night, after a stressful dose of human emotion aka my most recent existential crisis brought on by the newest-released tearjerker at the box-office, I often find myself strolling the aisles of Barnes & Noble looking for the comforting sensation of a new beginning, a new story. Walking among a sea of covers and stories, I’m enamored with the possibility that they could transport me into an alternate existence decorated with eloquently-sketched romantic gestures and overly-dramatic adventures—allowing me to escape from a life of constant MathXL deadlines and 7:00AM Chick-fil-a.

I open the cover, scanning the pages as I prepare myself for the potential entrance, to a new beginning. As my pupils dart back and forth at the words on the page, the vast assemblage of sentences begins to transform into vivid images of my newest life, in which true love exists simply, and the underdog not only wins but starts a revolution in their efforts to do so. This life only spans a few hours, maybe days, as long as it takes me to finish the book. But in the short lifespan, a collection of letters, words, sentences, paragraphs, turns into a safe space to experience the most intense human emotions through the lives of fictional characters. As the bookshelves and pages fade into my newest fantasy world, I’m no longer alone with thoughts fueled my by the struggles of being an adolescent; I’m sharing someone else’s.

Although reading is said to be a lonely activity, the perfect book makes me feel like I’ve developed a relationship with the characters. Sharing their experience first hand provides me comfort.I can identify with  their thoughts, actions and lives. And although this newfound safe space comforting, this form of escapism has also enabled me to ‘practice’ a life through my imagination. Getting lost in these stories and characters gives me a sense of inspiration and fulfillment through my own confusing emotions, thoughts, and fears, it became easier to live other people’s lives, stories, instead of facing my own reality. When I stopped to think, it was easy to uncover the parallels between the aspects of the stories that captivated my attention and my own personal desires to live more freely, romantically; I want to live a story worth telling. Like the ones on the covers I admired in Barnes & Noble, ones with scrolling texts and flowers, lovers and beasts. Only after this realization did I understand that these stories should be used to inspire change, the pursuit of beautiful experiences in my own life, not escape and stagnation. A man who never reads may only live one life. But, a man who only reads never lives.

–Molly Webb ’19