Mentors, Muses & Monsters
Tuesday November 13, 2012
This panel Mentors, Muses and Monsters: A Celebration of Inspiration and Influence featured Thomas Beller, Dani Shapiro, Maud Newton, and Elizabeth Benedict. Autumn - and the start of the new school year - is a fine time to consider our mentors, writing teachers who make a difference, and the myriad kinds of influence available to writers and aspiring writers. This panel examined the role of mentors in their literary development; whether books can be mentors, not just muses; whether "monsters" can be mentors too; and how their ideas of mentorship have changed as they've become mentors themselves. Panelists include Thomas Beller, Dani Shapiro (both students of the late Jerome Badanes), Elizabeth Benedict, editor of the anthology, Mentors, Muses & Monsters: 30 Writers on the People Who Changed Their Lives, and critic Maud Newton.
Thomas Beller is a writer and editor who teaches at Tulane University. He's the author of three books, the story collection Seduction Theory, the acclaimed novel The Sleep-Over Artist, and a collection of autobiographical essays, How to Be a Man: Scenes from a Protracted Boyhood. He co-founded the tri-annual literary magazine, Open City, in 1990, and is the creator of the Webby-nominated literary website, Mr. Beller's Neighborhood, which has produced two anthologies, stories from September 11, Before and After: Stories from New York, and Lost and Found: Stories from New York. He studied writing at Vassar with Jerome Badanes and received an MFA from Columbia University.
Dani Shapiro, also a student of Jerome Badanes, is the bestselling author of the memoirs Devotion and Slow Motion, and five novels including Black & White and Family History. Her stories and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, One Story, Ploughshares, Vogue, Tin House and other publications. She is a frequent contributor to The New York Times Book Review. She's taught in the writing programs at Columbia, NYU, The New School, Wesleyan, and Brooklyn College. Her new book, Still Writing: The Pleasures and Perils of a Creative Life will be published in 2013.
Maud Newton’s writing has appeared in the the New York Times Magazine, Narrative Magazine, the Paris Review Daily, Granta, Bookforum, the New York Times Book Review, the Los Angeles Times Book Review, the Awl, Barnes & Noble Review, the Boston Globe, NPR.org, the Washington Post Book World, and many other publications. She received the 2009 Narrative Prize for "When the Flock Changed," an excerpt from her novel-in progress, and the 2004 Irwin and Alice Stark Fiction Prize from City College for a short story, “Regarding the Insurance Defense Attorney.” At the University of Florida she studied with Harry Crews and Padgett Powell, and she has written about Crews for the Awl and the Los Angeles Times, and about Powell on her own website.
Elizabeth Benedict is the author of five novels, including the bestseller Almost and Slow Dancing, shortlisted for the National Book Award and the L.A. Times Fiction Prize. She’s also the author of The Joy of Writing Sex: A Guide for Fiction Writers, which is widely used in graduate creative writing programs, and editor of two anthologies, Mentors, Muses & Monsters: 30 Writers on the People Who Changed Their Lives, and an upcoming collection on mothers and daughters. She has taught writing at Princeton, University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Barnard, and elsewhere, and written fiction and nonfiction for many national and international publications.