Mary Troy, author of the award-winning novel "Beauties," recently spoke with Conference Publicity Chair Sarah Whitney. Sarah found out a little about Mary and the keynote speech she will give during the conference’s Saturday luncheon.
Like many writers, Mary didn't start out writing fiction. She was working as a technical writer for the University of Hawaii and taking an occasional writing class whenever she could fit one in. Mary, then 33, squeezed in a creative writing class one semester, and it wasn't long before she was published as a fiction writer.
Since then, Mary has published dozens of short stories and essays, as well as three collections of short stories---Joe Baker is Dead, The Alibi Café and other stories, and Cookie Lily. Her first novel, Beauties, released last fall, was named 2010 "Best Book" in the literary fiction category by USA Book News. Mary is director of the Master of Fine Arts Program at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and serves as editor for Natural Bridge, a journal of contemporary literature.
Q: What are you planning to speak about during your keynote address?
A: I’m going to talk about truth in fiction writing and the idea that fiction is truer than fact. The reason we write fiction is because we have a truth, or many truths, that we want to say or show. I really think that when you read a good novel or story, what keeps you going are these moments when you read a line and you say 'that’s exceptionally right; that’s true.'
As fiction writers, we tell these lies and make up these lies, and the whole reason we do it is to tell the truth.
Q: Why would you recommend interested writers attend the conference?
A: I think all classes on writing (which is, in a sense, what this conference is) do two things. One thing they do is inspire. Because you write in isolation, it can be frustrating. You could sit there, at your desk, day in and day out, working on one paragraph, and people look at you and think, 'what have you published?' So, just being around other writers, keeps you going. You;re reminded that even though you’re writing in isolation, you’re not alone.
The second thing is learning how other people have succeeded, what they’ve done, what pitfalls to avoid, and learning the techniques. You will learn that all yourself from reading, but if you go to a class or attend a conference, it’s a short cut. They’re all valuable shortcuts. You can learn from all your wide reading, but sometimes it’s nice if someone points out the important things to you.
In addition to her keynote, Mary will lead a master class,