On Oct. 18, 2022, multi-award winning author Cara Blue Adams joined the Drew English Department to present her new book, “You Never Get It Back,” at the first in-person Writers@Drew event since February 2020. Students and faculty met in the Founders Room of Mead Hall on the chilly autumn afternoon, where Adams shared the beginning of the first short story in her book and discussed her writing journey during a Q&A.
“I’m really excited to be here for a number of reasons,” Adams said upon greeting the audience. “My partner, Cam, taught here in the English department for a little while, so he has a relationship with Drew, and my mother actually grew up in Madison, New Jersey. So, out of all of the awards I’ve won, I think reading here is the thing that has impressed her the most.”
After reading from her book of interwoven short stories linked by the character and life of a young woman named Kate Bishop, Adams discussed the unique form of her book.
“What I love about this story form is that you get a really potent narrative here—a really distilled narrative,” Adams said. “You can get a lot of variety; you can move around a character’s life; you can move around a country.”
Adams addressed the process of reading a book of interwoven short stories compared to reading a traditional novel. She noted that, when the reader finishes one short story, they can put the book down and take a walk to meditate on what just happened. She also advised the audience of students and staff to acknowledge the beautiful places in the world that might be slightly new to the reader.
Professor Courtney Zoffness, organizer of the Writers@Drew event and Director of Creative Writing added that in this technique of interwoven stories, Adams’ linking several short stories through one character allows the reader a familiarity that deepens their understanding of the next short story.
“I think every author, even if it’s otherworldly, needs to draw on their own experiences in their own ways.” Adams stated after being asked if any of her characters were based on herself. “You need to understand immense grief or what a sip of water feels like after thirst.”
Adams, having gotten an MFA at the University of Arizona, wound up working at a law firm for five years and thought about going to law school. However, her love of literature and writing led her to work as an editor in Louisiana for The Southern Review for the next five years. Her experience as an editor helped her to revisit her love of writing with new knowledge.
From her editing experience, Adams provided one last bit of wisdom. She advised the aspiring writers in the audience to focus on the endings of their stories. “If the story’s ending isn’t good, you know, it was twenty minutes, and then it all fell apart at the end, you know. You’re probably not gonna recommend that story to someone else.”
Keep an eye out for future Writers@Drew events on Drew Today, as they are reemerging as an in-person experience on campus.
Featured image courtesy of Melaina Schimpf.