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Dark fantasy writer Zin E. Clarke wins with "Flowers from the Sea"

On the podcast: Current student Zin E. Clarke speaks on their award-winning novella.

Find the full transcript after the Episode Notes.

Episode notes

Current MFA in Creative Writing student Zin E. Rocklyn speaks on their Shirley Jackson Award-winning novella “Flowers for the Sea" with fellow speculative fiction author and Lesley University faculty Laurie Foos.

About our guest

Zin E. Rocklyn is a contributor to Bram Stoker-nominated and This is Horror Award-winning Nox Pareidolia, Kaiju Rising II: Reign of Monsters, Brigands: A Blackguards Anthology, and Forever Vacancy anthologies and Weird Luck Tales No. 7 zine. Their story "Summer Skin" in the Bram Stoker-nominated anthology Sycorax's Daughters received an honorable mention for Ellen Datlow's Best Horror of the Year, Volume Ten. Zin contributed the nonfiction essay “My Genre Makes a Monster of Me” to Uncanny Magazine’s Hugo Award-winning Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction. Their short story "The Night Sun" and flash fiction "teatime" were published on Tor.com. Flowers for the Sea is their debut novella. Zin is a 2017 VONA and 2018 Viable Paradise graduate as well as a 2022 Clarion West candidate.

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  • Transcript

    Georgia  Sparling

    [Intro Music] This is Why We Write, a podcast of Lesley University. Every episode we bring you conversations with authors from the Lesley community to talk about books, writing, and the writing life. I'm Georgia Sparling, and it's been a while. We took an unintentional hiatus since November. And I do have some news for you. Before we jump into today's episode, I wanted to let you know that this will be my last one hosting the podcast as I move on to a new job. I want to say a big thank you to all of you who have listened to the podcast over the years—we have what to me is an astounding almost 19,000 downloads for our little show. I've learned so much about podcasting and writing since this show started. So I may be leaving Why We Write but I want to let you know that I have handed the reins over to a fellow podcaster, avid reader,  and writer. I will let him introduce himself when he's ready. But he's got all that he needs to bring Why We Write into a new era. And I'm really excited to hear what it sounds like next. So definitely stay subscribed to this channel. Okay, now to the show. We don't often get to feature current students on the podcast but today Zin E. Clarke joins us to talk about their Shirley Jackson award-winning novella "Flowers for the Sea." Zin is in our MFA in creative writing program and sits down virtually with faculty member and author Laurie Foos to talk about speculative fiction, representation in books, and so much more. Here are Laurie and Zin. 

    Laurie Foos

    Okay. Hi, Zin. How are you? 

    Zin Clarke

    I'm good. How are you, Laurie? 

    Laurie

    So good to see you, and hear you. It is, it is a pleasure to be talking to you today about your novella, "Flowers for the Sea," which won the Shirley Jackson award for the novella character category. I just wanted to say first off, since you are a current student in the Lesley MFA, low residency program and creative writing, huge congratulations on this award. On behalf of myself and all of the Lesley faculty and staff, I want to say how thrilled we all are for you for this hugely prestigious award. How did you feel once you found out that you won? And can you share with us a little bit about how you found out and what your reaction was? I mean, imagine that would be an enormous thrill. 

    Zin 

    Well, it was yeah, it was definitely. I was actually on my way to New Orleans for World Fantasy. And it was the 29th. And I landed in Atlanta, and to get my connecting flight and I turned on my phone and my phone just went nuts. And I was like...

    Laurie

    Oh wow!

    Zin 

    What is going on? And as long as like I checked and made sure it wasn't from my dad to make sure there's nothing going on at home. Not from my brother, so I was like alright, cool. So then I looked and they were like congratulations. Oh, my goodness, I was like, no, wait, wait a minute. It—because I completely forgot. I forgot Shirley Jackson's were on. And someone just straight up texted me and said "You, you won the Shirley Jackson." And I was like, what? And I looked and I looked and I saw the official announcement on, on Twitter. And I kind of like, I was in the airport trying not to like, I squealed a little bit. I get on my next flight. I was—I was upgraded to first class. I don't know where like I had no idea. But I was upgraded to first class. And then so I sat there and my seat mate, I was like, I don't know you. I was like, I am so sorry. But I am celebrating right now. I just won a major award for my writing. He was like congratulations!  So we both got drinks. It was so nice of him. He was really sweet. He's really sweet.

    Laurie 

    That's great.

    Zin 

    Yeah, it was pretty awesome. Definitely pretty awesome.

    Laurie 

    So I'm going to read from the back of your book, just so people listening can know what it's about. And then I was thought we'd segue into a little bit of discussion about speculative fiction, just sort of generally and then come back around to your to your novella, which I loved by the way, and it's just wonderfully lyrical and surprising. And one of the things that struck me among many things is the way in which you use such beautiful language, especially as the horror elements increase. I thought that was a wonderful juxtaposition. So Zins novella "Flowers for the Sea" is about survivors from a flooded kingdom who struggle alone on an ark. Resources are scant and ravenous sea beasts circle. Their fangs are sharp. Among the refugees is Roxy. Am I saying it right? 

    Zin 

    Yep. 

    Laurie

    Roxy ostracized, despised, and a commoner who refused a prince, she's pregnant with a child who might be more than human. Her fate may be darker and more powerful than she can imagine. Yeah, so it's just wonderful. So anyway, I thought, let's talk a little bit about speculative fiction. And I said, and so as you know, in the Lesley MFA program, I teach seminars in magical realism and fabulism and I write fabulist I guess sometimes speculative, my new novel is speculative. And there are so many other spaces where we talk about these categories and what they entail and what they may or may not include. So I found a definition from speculative literary, speculative literature foundation that describes it as a catch all term, meant to inclusively span the breadth of fantastic literature, encompassing literature ranging from hard science fiction to epic fantasy to ghost stories, to horror to folk and fairy tales, to slipstream to magical realism to modern myth-making. And more that it means to speculate, to theorize the questions, "what if this happened? Or what if the world were this way?" often are the seedlings to speculative fiction stories. And I just wondered, does that gel with your own definition? And then asking those what if questions, can you talk a little bit about the world that you've built in your novella "Flowers for the Sea?" And are there particular writers or even craft books that you turn to to build that world?

    Zin 

    Oh, I would say that, yeah, that's a really fancy way of saying basically, what speculative fiction is it's, it's definitely about the what ifs. But it's what ifs that are based on on the reality that we live now. Though the worlds are seen may seem extreme, they seem too fantastical, they are so based on the reality of what is presented here. And it it seeks solutions is what speculative fiction does, or it presents. It presents a conundrum or an issue in a way that gives us a new way of speaking about it. But I would say that I just mostly am a not—a fiction dork. Like I love fiction.

    Laurie

    Mhmm.

    Zin

    So the major influence when I started this was N. K. Jemisin.

    Laurie 

    Right.

    Zin 

    N. K. Jemisin is definitely my number, probably my number one influence in my writing in general. And Butler, Octavia E. Butler is just she's my goddess, like,

    Laurie 

    I was gonna, I was gonna use the same word. Yes, she is. 

    Zin

    She's just an incredible, incredible author, I can aspire to reach the world that she created. But I also know that I have plenty. I have plenty of room to mess with other worlds as well. But it's like it to create my own world as well as what more so what I mean, I wanted to see myself on the written page. And speculative fiction was something that expanded my mind beyond a lot of the kind of  honestly, like really sad storylines that were being presented. I love Toni Morrison, I love Alice Walker. But I was kind of tired of those stories. And I want stories...

    Laurie

    The stories where women are brutalized and

    Zin

    brutalized and and just, and just, just, yes, just brutalized. There's no other way to put it. I don't necessarily that you think just sad, because that's an oversimplification, an oversimplification, but just brutalized. And I just, I wanted to explore something more. And when I wanted to explore something more is when I went to speculative fiction and unfortunately, the speculative fiction that is presented to you from the get go is by white men, right, just white men. So I started there and just started going a little bit deeper and then I found... I found Octavia Butler by accident because the cover actually had a white woman on it. But it was like at least it's a woman. And it went from there and I started digging from there. And from there I found Sheree Renée Thomas's "Dark Matter." And finding that collection was just was, was incredible that was just that spoke to me in so many ways.

    Laurie

    You just talked about something that I was thinking about in and I read your your essay in Uncanny Magazine, titled "My Genre Makes a Monster out of Me," which I love and which I encourage people to read. It's a beautiful, raw, and often heartbreaking essay about blackness, queerness, mental health, and disability. It spoke a lot to me as someone, the mother of a son with lifelong disabilities, as the mother of a queer daughter. I also have scoliosis, by the way, and you talk about not seeing anyone, and I've heard so many students, especially from so many LGBTQ students, students with invisible disabilities, and especially students of color, saying what you said here is that you did not see yourself you couldn't find yourselves represented in film or in books, and you especially talk about Disney films. And that, while you love them, I believe you love you love them, right? You were saying that how much you love the fairytale aspects of them. And even in the sanitized fairytale aspects. How did that fuel your writing? And did that fuel this particular novella? Does that fuel all of your writing is did you feel that like, that's kind of a mandate for you to to have readers be seen in your work?

    Zin

    I'm a selfish writer, not gonna lie. My primary focus is the little girl who grew up loving horror and speculative fiction, who didn't see herself. And as I got older, and also to open it...

    Laurie

    So did you read Stephen King as the as a? Okay.

    Zin

    Yep. Read Stephen King. Read Dean Koontz. Read all of them. 

    Laurie

     All the white men.

    Zin

    All the white men. Yeah. Oh, yeah. And so it was, it's also a way to gather other black women who aren't the who are, quote, unquote, different. When we're really not all that different, we're just varying human degrees of human as anybody else. But there's this assumption that, you know, black people don't like rock when we invented it. Black people don't like horror when we live it. Black people don't like science when we are scientists and we've invented things that we use in our daily lives and things like that. So there's this, especially growing up, you're alienated so far so much from, from your fellow peers, is what it really comes down to, that you are clumped into the stereotypical behaviors and thought processes and interests. And once you once we get older and we get bolder, and we realize no, no, these are these are ours as well. I want to I'm writing for for us as well. I'm definitely writing for the little black girl who loved rock and may have been picked on by misguided others. So it's just definitely it's a an avenue for just like you were saying from that essay to be centered in a way that is powerful. That is, that is consequential that is, is, is just good. Something that is good, something that we can hold on to, something that we can aspire to, something that we can surpass, anything that gives us the boldness to continue to expand to be more than what is being shown to us to act like if that makes sense.

    Laurie

    Yeah, I think it absolutely does. I had a student, an LGBTQ student a while ago, who said that her mission was to, to make LGBTQ people characters. Why does it? Why does the story always need to be about the struggle, which is I think what you were getting at in terms of the Toni Morrison and Alice Walker, which is so much about struggle. And why can't they? Why can't these characters be superheroes or secretaries? The LGBTQ character is just part of a story. So many people hearing that will will, will, will that will resonate with them? So I read—getting back to the novella—in another interview with you that that this came from a prompt the idea is that true?

    Zin

    Yeah, it was. I don't even... I honestly don't remember.

    Laurie

    Was it a Twitter prompt? Is that right?

    Zin

    Yeah, it was a Twitter prompt. From this particular bot, that is about the sea. And I've always been fascinated by the sea, like, I can't swim. Unfortunately, I'm one of those that wade in the water type of thing. Like I love the water, I love to be in the water. But at the same time, I also have a healthy fear of the water, because it is the least explored piece of our Earth. And we've explored the stars more than we've explored the ocean, which really freaks me out. At the same time, it's a fascination. So I subscribe to this bot. And the line was the children imitate razor fangs. I have no idea. Usually stories are percolating in my head for a little while. But I just took it and I ran with it. And I fell in love with it. And Roxy Roxy's voice was immediate. It was it. Like there was no no hesitation in making this a first person narrative. It was it just spring boarded. It like it was all of my frustrations with romantic relationships, with my place in the world, with this idea of motherhood, with so much there was so much frustration that I poured into this. And it took me about four weeks to write. I took a break I wrote for a solid week, then I took a break for about two weeks and another two weeks I finished it. Because I have a goal of doing NaNoWriMo after this after, 

    Laurie

    Oh, wow. 

    Zin

    You know how much I wrote for NaNoWriMo that year? Like 250 words, it was bad. I don't know what I was thinking. But yeah, it was it was it was it started out as a Twitter prompt.

    Laurie

    So as you were talking about this one thing I wondered, was it so much of the story about Roxy as a refugee on this ship, and that she is with child explores the idea of motherhood and childbearing as being a monstrous act, something something we can trace back. Right. I was thinking as far back as Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein," and what drew you to this matter? And also, you don't have children? Is that right? 

    Zin

    Correct. 

    Laurie

    I was wondering what was that like for you to write a birthing scene and what challenges did that present in depicting the act? I mean, it's not a traditional birth, right. But what challenges did that present? Because one of the things I thought was so wonderful about the novella is, is the is the length that that goes on. And as someone who has children, it is an incredibly powerful act. And so I think we see that too, is that Roxy comes into her power in giving birth. 

    Zin

    It really started from the horror stories, which to me is like, alright, so I remember my mom was pretty open about when she gave birth to me. She had to have a double episiotomy. And I remember, and I knew this from very young, and I knew what an episiotomy was.

    Laurie

    Like, my mother told me that stuff too. My mother used to say, every birthday she'd call me and say "you had an enormous head." [Both laughing]

    Zin

    A lot of what I've worked through my therapy through writing, essentially. But I think we take pregnancy and birth for granted, because so much can go wrong. Um, but for generations for centuries for so long, for millennia, we've been doing something right. And it's like, the more complicated we make it, the more the more accidents happen. Like my mom, my dad was raised by a woman who was was also—of the many hats she wore—she was also a midwife. So he would tell me stories about having to like fetch the hot water and the towels and things like that. And he wasn't obviously in the room he was boy. So but. And just like, knowing the processes, and understanding how there is this almost innate kind of sense to understand what's going on with the body and how to shift the body and to roll the body, we go completely against what, like, you know, squatting in a field and giving birth. The more technology that's introduced, while there are advantages to the technology, there's still a lot of disadvantages that take away the intimacy and power of giving birth. And it's something it's that relationship, that dichotomy that's always interested me. And also the fact that there's hormones pumped into your brain to make you forget the pain so that you do it again, like, what? That's insane?

    Laurie

    My daughter who's 17 keeps asking me that, is that true? And I say, Well, yeah, I think it is, it must be because you you remember the experience, but you can't remember, you can't get at that sensation. You... there is something that just...

    Zin

    That just blocked that out. 

    Laurie

    Yeah, yeah. I mean, I had another kid 16 months later, so it must work. [Both laugh]

    Zin

    Yeah, yeah. It's always fascinated me to it for the power that a female body has that the birth giving body has to bleed every month and not die, to hold life to... that life in itself will persist in any way that it possibly can. Literally leaching calcium from your teeth, in order to live in order to live like it's just, it's the the, the small sacrifices that end up building to so much that birth giving people make in order to continue life on this earth. So this was this was in service of reverence to my love of birth giving people. This was my admiration for them, my fear of them to be honest with you. Because it takes a kind of power that and a kind of strength that a lot of people don't quite give enough credit for. And I wanted to challenge the idea of this kind of soft motherhood, where everything is, you know, I literally had feedback from someone who said, Oh, I thought, I thought mother's like glow when they give when they have kids, when they're pregnant. And I'm like, Yeah, that's sweat. You know, I wanted to shed light on the reality of it.

    Laurie

    Yeah. And I think there's still so much taboo around even among women, that in talking about giving birth, that we when we retell our stories, we try to soften them, I think in some way, we leave out the, you know, the, the, the horror parts, because there are, you know, it is there is blood, and there's lots of pain, and all of that, and I think that you clearly it came across to me that that the act of birth for this character especially is an act of empowerment, and through this through the birth giving, she becomes empowered. So I think one the other thing is I was thinking that you you work so much in metaphor and so much of speculative fiction and fairy tale and, and so I was wondering if in the act of writing not just this story, but in any of your stories, are you a planner? Or a pantser? Right? So are you someone who plans? Are you someone who flies by the seat of your pants? I'll ask you that one first.

    Zin

    So I am a terrible pantser.

    Laurie

    I am too.

    Zin

    I am a pantser and I need to, especially for this upcoming project. I need to become a planner.

    Laurie

    Yeah, so can you tell us a little bit after you finish this question? Can you tell us a little bit about your next project?

    Zin

    As far as planning and pantsing? Yeah, I'm definitely a pantser. I it's more it's because of I like being caught up in the moment. And, and just the excitement of, ooh, what's going to happen next. And I'm almost like the reader in that sense.

    Laurie

     Right? 

    Zin

    Where it's like, oh, now it's up to me. Awesome! Like, right, like a choose your own adventure that I wrote. Right? Right. So it's definitely fun. It's fun being a pantser. But it's at this stage of my... 

    Laurie

    It's scary too! Scary. Yeah, yeah. Because then you think Oh, God. So I was wondering about since so much of it rests in metaphors, do you understand your own metaphors as you're going and or do you have to figure them out? So because I don't understand mine at all. So I'm just wondering if you understand yours? 

    Zin

    I definitely don't, I definitely don't. I—the thing is, is that I just write what comes to me. And then later on, I look at it. I'm like, oh, that's kind of Oh, that's amazing. Like, I pat myself on the backside, like, well, it's funny because my host who I'm staying with after the residency, I'm staying with a couple of friends. After this last residency at Lesley, she was talking about a young lady. And she said she's too young to see the inside of her face. 

    Laurie

    Wow. 

    Zin

    Right. And she just said it off-hand. I totally stole it. I totally stole it. I was like, I like Lana, Lana this is mine. But yeah, it's like moments like that, where you end up writing these things. And then later on, like, it's almost like something takes over when you write when I write. And in a lot of ways, it's like, like these kind of colloquialisms and things like that, like my father. And my both of my parents are from Trinidad. And there are times where they'll say these these sayings. And I'll get chills down my back. And I'm like, oh I need that. I need to write that and just turn something in my brain. Definitely in the moment of like, what am I writing? This is weird. It sounds pretty, alright I'll leave it. And then I reread it and I'm like, I am a philosopher. [Both laugh]

    Laurie 

    Those are the moments we live for. Right? Right. Oh, I'm a genius. I'm a genius!

    Zin

    20 seconds later, we're in the corner of imposing ourselves.

    Laurie

    Right. Sobbing in the corner. So I get into what you were just saying about. So you wrote also about in your that same essay about... And also in the interview, your family's from Trinidad, is that right? Correct. And you were born in the US? Yeah, I was born in Brooklyn. I was thinking about Gabrielle Garcia Marquez, talking about how he discovered in writing. I don't know whether this is an actual this actually happened. I like to think that it did. But on this trip from Mexico City to Guadalajara, he came up with the idea for "100 Years of Solitude" and had been working in this very different way and was a journalist for many years and decided that he needed to tell the kinds of stories that his grandmother told, which were full of magic. But she would tell them with a brick face and so that that's what he needed to do. And so that line between magic and what's magical, what's not real and what's real, is so such a hard line I think in in white America, right like the white mainstream. Perhaps because we were the our settlers were colonists were puritanical, I don't know. But in thinking about how that line might have been different in in the culture of your parents, let's say in Trinidad, is that line different? So do you think that and if so, the line between what's magical the mythical your own mythology, do you feel that that feeds into your work?

    Zin

    My parents country and which I consider my country as well, definitely fed into feeds actively feeds into my work. I really fell in love with storytelling through how my father would read me stories. He used to get stories from like, from odd job, so that's where, like, which is like a discount store. And we would get like these, we would get the hardcore grim versions, and another one was, wow, yeah, Giambattista another set of a series of fairy tales. But they're, they're pretty brutal. But yeah, I fell in love with the way that my dad would tell stories. So anytime when I started reading on my own, the way that he told stories is how I would read it. And then, of course, we have our own mythologies, we have our own folklore. And I like being in Trinidad is just like, being in a magical place. You feel the thinness of the veil between worlds, especially since we have this communication and reverence for the dead. And so, you know, they're stories of like, of wanting to have taken care of the dead. Like, we have All Souls Day, which is November 1, where, literally the cemetery of a party.

    Laurie

    El Dia del Sol Martez.

    Zin

    Yeah, like that. Yeah. Not not a lot of

    Laurie

    celebration and food, and yeah,

    Zin

    Food and music and lighting of candles, and like reminiscing and talking, just basically talking shit, and just having a really good time. And I think, you know, like the folklore, like, I will never forget the story of Duenne, which is the ghosts of unbaptized children. And you can tell that their Duenne by their feet are turned backwards. They're all naked, their waist, they were large sun hats, and you don't see their teeth, when they're wearing these sun hats. They just sound like regular kids, but their feet are turned backwards, and they always try to tempt you to come into the woods. This is all to basically make sure they came into the house on time.

    Laurie

    Right, right. Right. There are practical reasons. Exactly. Right. 

    Zin

    But at the same time when you're walking through the bush, and you hear that rustle, Oh, no. Oh, hell no. Exactly. Exact Exactly.

    Laurie

    Oh, wow. That's fascinating. So can you talk a little bit about what you're working on now? You talked about your next project? And you know, I will disclose that you were my student your first semester. Right? 

    Zin

    Yes, yes I was. 

    Laurie

    So do you have another novella that is,

    Zin

    I have another novella with zoo. So let's

    Laurie

    Is it also with tor with tor publishing. 

    Zin

    Yes. 

    Laurie

    Okay.

    Zin

    And my my novella was published by tor.com, which primarily sells novellas, as well as they do novel, novel novelettes and short stories online.

    Laurie

    It's so great, because because it's so difficult to publish novellas. Yeah, it's such an incredible I think it's my favorite form.

    Zin

    I think so too. I think it's a great form. 

    Laurie

    Yeah. And it's just, it's really hard to they're really hard to publish.

    Zin

    Yeah, a lot more indie presses are on them. So that's it's wonderful to see that novellas are starting to get the respect that they deserve. My editor and my agent have been incredibly supportive. And that's the wonderful thing about it. And so I'm working on that project is basically if Cinderella, Cinderella were queer, black and a mercenary.

    Laurie

    Oh, wow. Love that. Do you have a title? So far?

    Zin

    Not yet?

    Laurie

    Not yet. Okay.

    Zin

    I'm working on the title. As as A. J. Verdelle says, If your story is good, get the title from the story. So I was like, alright, alright, I'll trust that.

    Laurie

     It's true usually does reveal it. Although I don't know I'm still terrible with titles. 

    Zin

    I'm awful with titles. 

    Laurie 

    Yeah, they're very, very hard. Are you working on the novellas part of your program? Are you separating the two?

    Zin

    I think I might be working on it now as part of the program. I'm debating between that and a novel that I wrote on that I started writing a few years ago, which is dark fantasy. Basically, my pitch is people who can create weapons from their bones are hunted?

    Laurie

    Ooh, that's good. Your work delves so much into bodies. Yes. And, and I think that, I think that the fact that it gets to how we take bodies for granted, especially typical bodies, and that so much of I think about for myself at least that there was a, there was a quote from I think it was from Christopher Hitchens his memoir when he that he wrote when he was dying, and he said, I realized that I don't have a body, I am a body. And I think that's something that we forget, right? How how much our bodies able, it's an ableist idea, right, this idea that we can that we have the luxury, the privilege of forgetting our bodies, and I think that you write into so well. I'm still thinking about your novella. And and I'm so pleased to see also that I read some of your Goodreads reviews, and people really seem to have you really seem to have responded so well to the to this novella, I snuck a little peek at your Twitter feed, and people are sort of popping up there and telling you so that must really feel good, right? You have to you also have to navigate that space of not looking at your Goodreads reviews too much. Right? Obsessing over, over those kinds of things. Like do you go on Twitter a lot?

    Zin

    I definitely have taken a huge break from Twitter. Because I used to be on Twitter a lot more. But I definitely am actively pushing away all those thoughts so that I can go back to the essence of why I write. In the back of my head, I'm like sophomore slump sophomore slump, sophomore smoke slump. And I talked to Jason Reynolds about it. And Jason was incredibly supportive. He was just like, Yeah, you're right to be scared of it. But what are you gonna do about it, you got to still write.

    Laurie

    It looks like he has a way of distilling things. 

    Zin

    Right. Right. 

    Laurie

    Because I talked to him about. So for those of you listening, Jason Reynolds, we are so fortunate to have in our Writing for Young People, track at Lesley and I'm writing a middle grade novel. And so he was asking me how it was going and this and that. And I said, I'm scared. And he laughed, he laughed. He was like, What are you scared of? And I was like, I don't know. I'm just scared and he was like, okay, so be scared and keep going. And I thought, well, you know, of course. So. So I'm glad that was helpful. What he said to just to, you know, to... Okay, so you're right to feel that way. But gotta get back to the work. 

    Zin

    Yep. Exactly. And that's, that's pretty much where I'm at.

    Laurie

    Do you have a routine in terms of, in terms of when you write and, and I think you also work as a sensitivity reader, right. So you balance, I'm sure you're balancing that that part?

    Zin

    Yeah. Balancing freelance schoolwork and writing this novella has definitely been a challenge. But it's, it's invigorating.

    Laurie

    So in terms of the program, what drew you to Lesley and, and what sort of what's been the best part for you in terms of just the writing and fueling your own work?

    Zin

    What attracted me to Lesley was the intimacy of the program itself. It's not a program that is about just numbers. It's about quality of work. And the quality of the student body in general, what really made me sign up for Lesley was the kind of quiet successes that it has. Yeah, because there are a lot of alumni that I'm actually working with an alum now on, YA short stories Seressia Fennel, the program itself is while the nine days on campus are intense, they they're still a pace that doesn't, that has no desire to leave you behind. And be available. The availability of staff and faculty is, to me unheard of. I went to a small college and it for my undergrad and I still didn't get this particular kind of attention. So to have that and to be able to also be able to reach back and communicate with you Laurie. Like I don't feel like there's a way I don't feel cut off from you. Right like I worked with you first semester and I feel like it's still could go to you and be like, I have no idea what I'm doing.

    Laurie

    Anytime. Yeah.

    Zin

    So it's that's definitely what I love about Lesley.

    Laurie

    So you do editing work and, and sensitivity reading? Is there a place where people can find you if they are interested in?

    Zin

    I do have a website. It's terizin.com. So T E R I Z, as in zebra, I N, as in Nancy, .com. It needs to be updated sorely, but I can, but I still get communication from it. So you can definitely reach me through there. Or you can find me on Twitter @intelligentwatch. I love that.

    Laurie

    So can you talk a little bit too about sensitivity reading and what? How did you get started doing that? And I know that's become huge, especially in in, in YA fiction. But I think it's moved further into much more adult fiction. 

    Zin

    Absolutely. 

    Laurie

    People are seeking that out. And so why do you think people should seek that out? First of all, and and what is it that you provide?

    Zin

    Sensitivity reading in general is is is handing over your manuscript to someone of demographics that you are not of yourself. And don't have familiar don't have intimate familiarity with. Sensitivity reading is important because we're just too grown, we're too aware to be hurting marginalized groups at this point.

    Laurie

    Even unintentionally.

    Zin

    Even unintentionally, we're just we're just we're too grown for this, we have too much of have too many resources to avoid hurting other folks at this point. So it's definitely something that I believe in. Because there's so many good stories out there that ends up seeing but, but this one part was really, really ignorant. Like, we're just we're tired of saying that. So I provide services as far as fake background for LGBTQIA, for drug addiction, for depression, anxiety, in different disorders, things like that. So, you know, it's definitely something important because you don't want your story your your excellent story be hurt by something that is just straight up ignorant.

    Laurie 

    Right? To cause harm. Yes. All right. So I, we've been told we should wrap up, I could continue to talk to you for at least another hour, it's so cool to talk to talk with us in and and I am just thrilled for you as our, the whole faculty, we are just, I mean, there were just so many celebratory emails. So so we're just just thrilled for you. And and, you know, personally I'm so looking forward to seeing what you do next. Best of luck on your continued project and on everything that you're working on in your Lesley writing as well. And it's been a delight to talk with you.

    Zin

    Thank you. Thank you so much.

    Georgia 

    [Outro music begins] Thank you so much for listening to this episode. Check out our show notes to learn more about Zin and Laurie, who has an amazing body of wonderfully bizarre books herself. You can also find a link to our MFA program if you'd like to learn more. And again, a big thank you to all of you who have listened since I started this project. And as I said before, please stay, subscribe, and while you wait for new episodes, there are lots of backless ones for you to enjoy. So thank you again and happy reading and writing.