Frances is the author of the novels, I Don’t Blame You, published in 2019 and Salad Days, published in 2021. Some of her shorter work can be found at The Believer Magazine, BOMB Magazine, Longreads, Vol.1 Brooklyn and elsewhere. She also teaches writing workshops and works individually as a counselor for writers. She lives in Portland with her husband and son.
This Spring, Frances will be teaching The Study and Practice of Autofiction. Here is what Frances has to say about this course!
Why do you enjoy teaching this class?
I just love the mystery of autofiction and how defining the genre is never static, always evolving. I also really enjoy discussing the work of contemporary autofiction writers, because the work is just so rich.
Why this genre?
I am really in love with autofiction. When I first started writing, I mostly wrote personal essay and memoir, but I often felt too exposed when my work was read or published. This genre blends the personal with the fictional in a way that allows a lot of room for experiment and creativity. The contemporary writers of autofiction (whether they identify with this genre or not) are profoundly interesting and groundbreaking in their voices and literary stylings.
How would you describe your teaching style? (in 5 words)
Organic, intuitive, present-focused and generous with a large side of humor.
How is each session structured?
I always start with checking in with each writer so see how the past week has been for them, in terms of their writing practices. We then spend time discussing the readings (craft essays and novel excerpts). The second half of the session is all about workshopping (mostly two writers, depending on class size).
Where do you draw inspiration from? (in your own writing or in your pedagogy)
In terms of writing, I actually take a lot from film: writer/directors such as Kenneth Lonergan, Noah Baumbach, and Alex Ross Perry are big inspirations for me. I (try to) learn about dialogue through films. I also draw a lot of inspiration through ordinary life. My personal work is a lot about the nuances of interpersonal relationships and interior struggles.
What would you want each person to leave with from taking this course?
A solid understanding of the art of autofiction and feeling good about the work they are doing, whether it’s a short story or the seeds of a novel. It doesn’t matter what we are doing or how much we are writing, what matters is that we feel good about our work. I want my students to leave feeling inspired to keep going.
Where will you be teaching/telecommunicating from?
From my home in Northeast Portland where there may be a dog barking intermittently.
Favorite book? Writers? Literary pieces?
I really admire Lucia Berlin and can read her stories in A Manual for Cleaning Women over and over again. And, I can’t be such a proponent of autofiction without being a devotee of Karl Ove Knausgaard. I consider Sheila Heti a teacher and I aspire to be as good a writer as Edouard Louis.
You can check out more of Fances’ work here.