September 27, 2022
Ithaca, NY | 53°F


Fantasy-writing alumna to give storytelling tips

Kristen Britain ’87 takes readers on fantasy-filled journeys in her national best-selling novel series, “Green Rider,” about an epic heroine who battles mysterious evil forces. She is also the author of several short stories and a cartoon illustration book.

Now living on Mount Desert Island off the coast of Maine, Britain supports herself by writing fiction novels full time. She will give a reading from her novel, “Green Rider,” and discuss her approaches to science-fiction writing during a presentation at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Clark Lounge. Staff Writer Aaron Edwards spoke with Britain about her inspirations in fantasy writing, her experience at Ithaca College and the importance of books in the Internet age.

Aaron Edwards: What got you interested in fantasy writing?

Kristen Britain: A love of reading, first of all. It was a friend who introduced me to J.R. Tolkien that got me interested in the fantasy. That led to reading other authors and trying to write my own. Tolkien’s prose is beautiful, his use of language and his ability to create a mythology in a world — it’s very encompassing.

AE: You majored in film production while at Ithaca College. What made you want to switch from film to writing?

KB: I never left writing. I was always writing and always wanted to be writing. So it was not a matter of jumping from one thing to another. For me, the film major was another way of telling a story.

AE: What are some things you took away from the college?

KB: Well, I did have a writing minor, and the writing courses and professors were wonderful. I learned a lot, not just about writing and stuff but a little bit about the world.

AE: What are some courses you suggest students take if they want to go into writing?

KB: A variety of courses are good because learning about writing is more than just doing the writing courses, it’s about taking courses outside of your field. Just get out and experience life a little.

AE: What do you like to do on your free time from writing?

KB: I live next to Acadia National Park, and so there’s a lot of hiking trails and sitting on the rocks looking at the ocean — that sort of thing. I try to get out and kayak during the summer. I have a guitar that I don’t play enough. And reading, of course.

AE: Where do you find the bulk of your inspiration?

KB: I find it out in nature. Out in the woods, walking on the trails, sitting by a lake. I find all the little places I go to are all pretty inspiring. The process of being in motion helps bubble up the creative juices. You’re doing something, but your mind is free to wander.

AE: What made you want to move to Maine after you graduated from Ithaca [College]?

KB: I entered the National Park Service in 1988, and my original intention was to follow my park service job. I think most people trying to break into getting published will find that they have to have another career to support themselves as writers. It’s not easy when you’re getting paid twice a year.

AE: What is your advice to aspiring writers of all genres?

KB: Just like an athlete needs to practice to be really good at their sport, a writer needs to write. Write as much as you can. Learn about what’s out there. Read your genre and read outside your genre and just experience life.

AE: What do you hope to leave the students with during your visit?

KB: I would like to leave them excited about books. I think there are so many distractions in life these days with the Internet and all the electronic gadgets that I would hope people would be excited about that one-on-one relationship between a book and the written word.

AE: Do you have access to a lot of electronics where you live right now in Maine?

KB: I would love to have some high-speed Internet, but I can’t get cable, I can’t get wireless, and I’m stuck on dial-up so it’s a big bummer.

AE: Does that lack of technology help you as a writer in any way?

KB: Probably the fact that I can’t get TV reception is a good thing, but, man, I would love to have that high-speed Internet.