Classy Talk with John Douglas Marshall

Posted Tue, 8/13/2013 - 9:06pm by  |  Category:

What is the title of your class?

Kick-Starting the Memoir

People should take this class if…

they want to stop thinking about writing a memoir and start making some progress on actual writing.

Can your students connect with you on social media? If so, how?

Sure, I’m on Facebook (John Douglas Marshall).

Are any of your works online and available to the public?

Pieces I have written (under my full name) are available on The Daily Beast, The Atlantic, and Huffington Post. These were all written after the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, where I worked for 25 years, ceased publication in 2009 and I lost my book-critic job there.

What excites you about the material you’re teaching?

Its proven ability to spark improvement in the writing of students.

Tell us a bit about your previous teaching experience.

This will be the tenth time I’ve taught this class at Hugo House and I look forward to another memorable experience of watching a group of students grow together as writers in a class where supportive camaraderie is a crucial element. That has always happened in the past; I expect it to continue this fall.

What do you like best about teaching at Hugo House?

The diversity of students and how, over the course of six evenings together, they bond. Many students in past classes have continued as writing groups after the conclusion of the course – a testament to what has been built there in such a short time.

What’s the best piece of writing you’ve read in the past year?

Two remarkable novels by Northwest writers: The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin of Portland, closely followed by Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter of Spokane.

What books made you want to write?

My grandfather, S.L.A. Marshall, was a newspaperman and prolific book writer, so that inspired my desire to write as a kid. However, I had no interest in military history, his forte.

If there was one piece of advice you could give an aspiring writer, what would it be?

Write something with care daily, even if it’s only a journal entry.

If you were to meet your favorite writer in person later today, what would you say to them?

That would be James Salter, and I would apologize for conducting such a lame interview with him for the P-I when he published his memoir, Burning the Days. I was too much of a fan and not enough of a critic during our hour together, although I have subsequently learned that Salter is known to be a tough, prickly interview.

What are you reading now? If you could pair it with a beverage (alcoholic or otherwise), what would you choose?

Just finished The Orchardist, which is set in the area around Wenatchee. Apple juice would be the obvious choice, but I’d prefer an apple brandy, thank you very much.