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From Facts to Fiction: A Creative Conversation
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What inspired two Santa Cruz authors to take on Madam Lenin and Thorstein Veblen as subjects for literary novels? Join us for a discussion on how history and historical research shaped the latest writing projects of authors Elizabeth McKenzie and Kat Meads, and how these novelists employed “the facts” to serve their fictional plots. Together, Elizabeth McKenzie and Kat Meads will discuss their inspiration, their research, the process of turning historical facts into fiction, and the valuable lessons learned along the way.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Elizabeth McKenzie is the author of a collection, Stop That Girl, short-listed for The Story Prize, and the novel MacGregor Tells the World, a Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle and Library Journal Best Book of the year. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Best American Nonrequired Reading, and the Pushcart Prize Anthology, and recorded for NPR’s Selected Shorts. She was an NEA/Japan US-Friendship Commission Fellow in 2010 and is editor of the Chicago Quarterly Review. Elizabeth McKenzie’s short fiction has appeared, most recently in The Saturday Evening Post, and phren-z, and she is the author of two novels published by Random House. McKenzie is the editor of My Postwar Life: New Writings from Japan and Okinawa,released in 2012. She received the Gail Rich Award from the Cultural Council of Santa Cruz in 2012, and is currently the Fiction Editor of the newly launched Catamaran Literary Reader based in Santa Cruz.
Elizabeth’s novel-in-progress, The Portable Veblen, concerns the controversial economist Thorstein Veblen, disillusioning time at Stanford University at the start of the twentieth century, his turbulent personal life, and his impact on the life of a contemporary woman who studies his writings and legacy. For this novel she has extensively researched Veblen’s work and time at Stanford, including a visit to the archives at the University of Chicago where his original correspondence is housed.
Kat Meads is an award-winning writer of fiction, drama, nonfiction and poetry. She holds an MFA from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro and a BA from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She has received a National Endowment for the Arts grant in poetry, a California Artist Fellowship in fiction and two Silicon Valley Arts Council fellowships. Her short stories have won awards from Chelsea and Inkwell Magazine, her essays from New Letters, Lyra and Drunken Boat. Her short plays have been produced in Los Angeles, New York and the Midwest. She has been an artist-in-residence at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Yaddo, Millay Colony for the Arts, Blue Mountain Colony, Dorland, and the Montalvo Center for the Arts. She teaches in Oklahoma City University’s low-residency Red Earth MFA program.
Kat’s fifth novel, For You, Madam Lenin, explores the Russian Revolution from the female perspective and the price Vladimir Lenin’s comrade/wife, Nadya Krupskaya, paid for her unflinching loyalty to the cause. Stanford Professor Valerie Miner calls the novel “an astonishing book—authoritative, brave and compelling. A breathtaking read.” A recent interview with Kat Meads on For You, Madam Lenin can be found here.