Saturday, February 12, 2011

Seton CC's February Visiting Writer: Norman Prentiss, author of "Invisible Fences"

Seton Catholic Central High School welcomed its second guest in this year's Visiting Writers' Program yesterday in Norman Prentiss, Stoker Award-Winning author of Invisible Fences, a novella that's also been shortlisted for the Bram Stoker Award in the category of Long Fiction.  Our first visiting author was Claudia Gabel, author of Scholastic's In and Out series, editor at HarperCollins, and author of the genre mash-up, Romeo & Juliet and Vampires.

My Creative Writing class and other members of the SCC student body read several selections of Norman's work, from his Stoker Award-Winning story "In the Porches of My Ears" to "Glue Traps" and "Control", and several read Invisible Fences, also. 

For about eighty minutes, Norman shared his background, how he grew up on horror, how his academic training in English & Literature helped shaped his craft, and he shared his perspectives on "quiet horror", what the word horror means to him as a person and writer.

Norman also detailed the work he's done with Cemetery Dance Magazine and how that helped him not only learn the craft but make connections in the industry.   He shared his experiences at Borderlands Press Writers' Bootcamp, and also talked very eloquently about the need for a young writer to be careful when and where to see their first work published.

Norman spoke about personal influences, and how real-life can often inspire powerful stories, but how a really good story must be more than just a "wouldn't the be cool if" twist on actual events.  He also talked about how some story elements - even as powerful as they are - just won't fit into a story, and the necessity of pulling those elements out and saving them for later.

Also, Norman shared artwork - of the brilliant master Steve Gilberts - for an upcoming mini-collection forthcoming from Cemetery Dance, from which he offered a reading sample to our students.

Finally, Norman shared - most telling in his friendly, relaxed demeanor - the importance of professional behavior and leaving a good impression, how important it is to show editors and others in the industry that not only are you a good writer, but also a good person, too.  On that count especially, Norman made an impression upon the Seton students that only added to the impression his writing made on them, one that will last for a very long time.