The Writing University conducts a series of interviews with writers while they are in Iowa City participating in the various University of Iowa writing programs. We sit down with authors to ask about their work, their process and their descriptions of home.
Today we are talking with Eilidh Spery, a University of Iowa Junior from Colorado, majoring in English with a minor in Spanish.
1. Do you have a plan or project in mind for the next semester?
Next semester, I'll be studying in Spain for five months, and I'm planning to use this trip to write a nonfiction piece, article-length or maybe longer, about my adventures and misadventures abroad. I want to record any and all interesting experiences I have: a search for chai lattes, adventures navigating the metro, successes and embarrassing mistakes in speaking Spanish, and time spent wandering on my own. Besides this nonfiction piece, I'm also thinking about writing something in the mystery genre, possibly a cozy mystery story. I've been fascinated with mysteries for my entire life; one of the very first stories I ever wrote, when I was around seven years old, was about two rat detectives who solved a mystery about a missing hermit crab shell. Ever since then, I've wanted to produce a polished mystery story, and that is one of my main writing goals for 2018.
2. What does your daily practice look like for your writing? Do you have a certain time when you write? Any specific routine?
I do not have a set daily writing practice, but I find that I do have a set of writing preferences. These include writing with a chai latte next to me (which is the best beverage for inspiring writing), writing in busy coffeeshops or in my room in bed with yellow lamplight shining on my computer, and writing with books nearby to inspire me. I also tend to be more motivated and creative, strangely, when there's something abnormal going on with the weather. Rainy, snowy, or cloudy days call me to write. I think there's something about seeing the world changed, suddenly different from how it normally appears, that makes me think of fantasy worlds or of detectives walking around corners with coats snapping behind them.
3. What are you currently reading right now? Are you reading for research or pleasure?
Currently, I have a lot of Agatha Christie novels on my bookshelf to be read. My all-time favorite, which I frequently reread, is And Then There Were None. Even after reading it many times, I still get caught up in its suspense and am still amazed by the story's ending every time. I also recently read Tower of Dawn, a novel by my favorite author Sarah J. Maas. It's part of her epic fantasy series that I've been reading for years now. I always preorder the books before they come out, and usually end up carrying them around with me in my backpack once they're here. I usually have to pace myself while reading them so I still get my school work done and get sleep, because she writes the kind of fiction in which I completely lose myself.
4. What is something the readers and writers of Iowa City should know about you and your work?
I am fascinated by the idea of fantasy and adventure in the everyday. I am the sort of person who walks around daydreaming about dropping into a sinkhole and discovering an underground civilization of lizards, or suddenly getting hit by lightning and developing the ability to fly. Everything around me has creative potential and I keep a running list in my phone of phrases, images, and moments I encounter on walks or during my week which inspire me to write. I am really interested in details of a landscape and how they become almost more than reality when you look at them; birds are reflected in the water below them so that you can not tell which are the real birds and which are fake, or fireworks leave slim smoke ghosts in the sky.
5. Tell us a bit about where you are from -- what are some favorite details you would like to share with us about your home?
I am from Lakewood, Colorado, which is a small area right up against the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. I was born and raised in Colorado. This is my first time living out of the state, and I find that I miss the physical landscape of the state in particular: the mountains on the horizon, the dry cold of the winter air, the scruffy trees and jagged rock cliffs on the side of the road as you drive into the foothills. There's a balance between civilization and wild in the state that is fascinating to me; drive for an hour into the mountains and you'll leave the busy cultural explosion of Denver behind. It has the best of all worlds, though I may be biased.
Eilidh Spery is a University of Iowa junior from Colorado and is majoring in English with a minor in Spanish. She currently plans to get a Masters degree in English or Creative Nonfiction after graduating next year. Besides searching for the best cup of chai, she spends her time lost in fictional worlds, playing guitar and traveling.