Carrie Mac is an award-winning author of twelve novels for the young adult (YA) audience, including eight contemporary novels and four works of speculative fiction. Her latest book is 10 Things I Can See From Here from Knopf, New York. She has also published short stories in journals such as Prism, Room, and The New Quarterly among others. Her essay If You Have A Good Seal The Chest Will Rise won the CBC Literary Prize for Creative Non-fiction. She lives in East Vancouver with her children.
Carrie’s advice for Writer’s Studio applicants
What are you looking for in your workshop group?
My groups work best when everyone in the room (including me) has one thing in common: we passionately want to improve our craft. We’re also open to workshopping and discussion, which comes together in the most dynamic way when there is a diverse group of writers who aren’t afraid to do the work, build connections and focus on their writing. I appreciate a good sense of humour and an ability to leave our preciousness at the door, so that we can dig in and get to the business of building our skills and our imaginary worlds.
What do you look for when reading an applicant’s submission?
I look for warmth in the letter, where people have let themselves be a bit vulnerable or personal in order to convey the excitement or the urgency they feel about their craft and the program. I can find this in the resumé too, if their excitement and urgency is reflected there, in the projects that they’ve spent your time on. These don’t have to be literary accolades, but can show that you have lived your life with your eyes wide open at times, and might bring that to your writing.
As for the writing sample, I look for voice. Does it read smoothly? Is the writer confident? Do they have enough of the basic skills that they will benefit from an advanced class?
No one piece of the submission wins me over; it is an amalgamation.