Professor Silas Hansen is an Associate Professor of English and the Director of the Creative Writing program at Ball State University. He will be the host of this year’s In Print Festival of First Books (the sixteenth in the series), with this being his second time. He first hosted last year.
This interview was conducted by Anthony Herring.
For those unaware, what is the In Print Festival of First Books? How might it be helpful for those who wish to publish their own works?
The In Print Festival celebrates first books: we bring three writers to campus-a fiction writer, a poet, and a nonfiction writer-whose first books were published in the previous year. Students read the books in their classes, learn about the writers, and then get to interact with the, during the two-day event. On Tuesday, the three writers each read from their work; on Wednesday, they’re joined by an editor to talk about writing and publishing and to answer the students’ questions.
How has In Print been for you as a host? What is your favorite aspect about it?
This is only my second time as host of the event-and last year was entirely online because of COVID. I’m excited-but also nervous-for my first time hosting the in-person event. My favorite part of In Print has always been seeing my students get to interact with the writer, so I’m glad that aspect is back.
How do you search for guests for In Print? Is there specific criteria put in place while doing so?
The creative writing faculty typically meet as an area to suggest debut writers. We get the chance to hear about new books at the Association of Writer & Writing Programs Conference, we all keep up with then latest issues of literary magazines, and we do some research to see what books are coming out from small presses. We typically try to find a balance between small independent presses, university presses, and the big New York publishing houses-we want students to see that there are a lot of different options for seeing their work in print.
How has the pandemic affected how In Print is planned?
Unfortunately, last year’s In Print had to take place entirely online. It was a great event, but the best parts of the festival-the students actually getting to meet the writers, ask their questions in person, have their books signed, etc. couldn’t happen. This year, we are really excited to be able to have an in-person event. This year’s we wanted to keep folks as local as possible, since we didn’t know in the fall how things might look by March-but there is no shortage of amazing writers in the Midwest, so we are thrilled to welcome Amanda Lima (Chicago), J.R. Jamison (Muncie!), Dionne Irving (South Bend), and Abigail Cloud (Bowling Green, Ohio).
What advice would you give to any first-time writers?
Read everything you can-things you love, things that challenge you-and keep an open mind about what you read. Also, find your community of writers-by attending events like In Print! You can learn so much from each other outside of class, too.
Lastly, anything else you want people to know about the In Print Festival?
It’s free and open to the public. Readings are Tuesday at 7pm in TC 120 and the panel is Wednesday at 7pm in TC 121.
For more information about this year’s In Print Festival, visit their website.
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