The Department of English hosted a public reading with novelist Olympia Vernon Tuesday in Ballroom B of the Student Union.
Vernon was originally pursuing a career as a cop, but changed her mind after a college professor encouraged her to get her Master’s degree in Fine Arts.
Taking her professor’s advice, Vernon began digging in her couch cushions for loose change to copy of one of her old novels to send to Louisiana State University, where she was accepted with a full tuition waiver.
Reflecting back, Vernon said she now realizes that her professor was right in urging her to pursue a career as a writer.
“I can imagine myself as a cop pulling over a speeder and saying, ‘Oh, okay cool, you’re late? Well maybe I can turn my lights on so you can drive even faster to get to your girlfriends house before she leaves for the airport’,” Vernon said. “I’m just too liberal.”
Vernon is now a critically acclaimed author of three novels, “Eden,” “Logic” and “A Killing in This Town.”
After opening with a poetic journal entry dedicated to the late Whitney Houston, the Louisiana resident read aloud to a room of around 50 students and faculty attendees.
After the reading, Vernon took questions and gave writing advice to the audience.
“…[I]f you ever happen to stop in the middle of your writing, always stop on a scene when something is about to happen because when you pick back up, you’ll get that same rush all over again,” Vernon said.
Vernon also explained her interesting writing process to the audience.
“My process is very dangerous,” Vernon said. “I don’t eat for days when I’m writing. I usually get a vision. I don’t use notecards or anything because I think when you try to map it out like that you piss off your characters. It’s like you’re telling them what to do.”
Several of the audience members purchased copies of her novels “Eden”, “Logic”, and “A Killing in this Town” for thirteen dollars each at the close of the reading.
Brian Williams, freshman, engineering major, said he found Vernon’s multifaceted and often controversial characters interesting.
Dr. Deborah Hall, creative writing professor, also found herself intrigued with Vernon’s creative writing style.
“It’s certainly a way of writing that’s probably hard for beginning writers to do but once you learn the techniques you can progress to a process that is less restricting and more imaginative,” she said.
Vernon completed a fourth novel last year, entitled “Queer”, about a gay man named J.D. Foster on trial in rural Mississippi. Finding a publisher for this manuscript has been difficult, due to the controversial subject matter.