UA Undergraduate, Lota Erinne, Wins Greer Marechal Memorial Award in Fiction

Tell us about your background. Why did you decide to attend UA?

I’m an English and finance double major from Peachtree City, GA. I wanted to go to a big school out of state but still stay close to home. I’m also a National Merit Finalist, which means that I get 10 free semesters of tuition, and that definitely played a role in me deciding to come here!

When and why did you began to write prose?

 I began writing when I was five years old because I was bored in class, as kindergarteners usually are, and I never stopped. I’ve always liked reading, so it felt natural that I should try writing stories of my own. I wrote a little less in high school, but since declaring my English major and taking some amazing writing classes here at UA, I’m more passionate about writing now than ever before. (Shout out to Dr. Rawlings!)

Which writers inspire your work?

I admire Neil Gaiman’s prose, which is so dryly hilarious and intensely compelling. I empathize with and root for his protagonists, and I always feel like I’ve learned more about character development after finishing his books.

What was the inspiration for your story, “ Cool Blue”?

“Cool Blue” actually started as a response to a writing prompt in my fiction class. We were asked  to describe a character’s specific experience in great detail. I chose to depict someone’s first time seeing the ocean. I love the ocean and this writing experience was the closest I could get to going to the beach myself. I’m not sure how the rest of the story came to me, or once I decided to expand that scene into a full story. Honestly, the first line popped into my head and I went from there.

What role does revision play in your writing?

Revision is my favorite part of the process! It’s obviously fun to get ideas down on paper and watch a story unfold, but the real joy for me is going back and streamlining everything, turning rough work into something I can be really proud of.

What advice would you give to beginning writers?

I would advise new writers not to worry about whether or not what they’re writing is “good,” because it definitely isn’t. And that’s okay! Bad art is how you get to good art. You have to be willing to try new methods and techniques and log a lot of practice time before you really come into your own—and even then, no one’s first draft is a masterpiece. It’s also important to read a lot (not only fiction, but also books and articles on the craft of writing) and write as often as you can.

What’s next now that you’re graduating?

After graduating, I plan to work as a book editor, so I can put my love for stories and revision to good use. In the meantime, I’ll continue writing whatever interests me—poetry, short stories, a novel I’ve been plugging away at all year, and lately, screenplays. I’ll see where that takes me.



–Van Newell