Better Know a Speaker: YA Author Natalie Tilghman

Natalie TilghmanNatalie Tilghman is the co-author of the novel A 52-Hertz Whale. She first published the short story, “Whale Boy,” which inspired the character of James Turner, in Cicada Magazine. “Whale Boy” won runner-up in the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ Magazine Merit Awards. She has a MFA in Creative Writing from the Rainier Writers Workshop. She’s speaking on our panel “The Craft of YA: Structure” at CWC 2015!

What does a day of work look like for you? What’s your process? 

First, I fuel up with coffee and find a seat at my favorite cafe. Usually, I will look over what I wrote previously so that I can reorient myself to my novel. Sometimes, I read another novel entirely as inspiration or to help me figure out how to implement a certain aspect of craft into my own work. And then, the writing begins.

What has been the biggest help (a piece of advice, a mentor, a particular residency) for your career? 

The writing community that I developed during my time as a student in Ranier Writing Workshop’s MFA program has been indispensable. The mentors were so supportive and inspiring. And I wrote my debut novel with another student!

Why did you choose to pursue a career in writing? 

The career chose me, I’m afraid. I’ve always put a pen to paper as long as I can remember. I was drafting “novels” as a child.

Why attend the Chicago Writers Conference? 

This is the perfect opportunity to build your writing network and your support system!


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