Valerie Laken's first novel, Dream House, received the Anne Powers Award and was one of Kirkus Reviews' Best Books of 2009. Her story collection, Separate Kingdoms, was long-listed for the Story Prize and the Frank O'Connor Award in 2011. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and has received a Pushcart Prize and an honorable mention in the Best American Short Stories. She holds an MA in Slavic Literatures and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan, and is currently an associate professor and coordinator of the graduate program in creative writing at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. She is at work on a graphic novel.
Photo Credit: Jaci Sumner
Workshop: The Art of Transgression
In the most basic sense, stories are about transgressions, about the moments when people step across lines they don't usually cross. When characters move beyond the boundaries of their normal lives they end up in uncharted territory, in trouble, in the thrilling space where they – and we – can discover what their real limits are. The experience is not just exciting but revealing, because when we are pushed to our limits, we learn what we are capable of. In this workshop we will do a number of exercises to generate and retool stories by pushing characters to cross their boundaries, get into trouble, and reveal who they really are.
Valerie Laken on the Web