Writing a story can often be demanding and stressful, but perhaps what one really needs is a sense of inspiration. Located in the humanities building, room 210, attendees were greeted by charming guest speaker Larry Baker, a professional novelist who presented us his latest story— The Education of Nancy Adams.
In a comedic sense of delivery, Baker first greeted the students by handing out books to the audience—they were not to keep them, but to pose for him, by raising his books upfront with a forced smile. Of course, it was all in good fun, as he spoke earlier, “My plan is to sing and dance. And tell jokes and do magic tricks.”
The novel that Larry Baker presented was The Education of Nancy Adams, a story involving a thirty-seven-year-old woman who fell in love with a much older man from twenty years ago. Now, he is a married principal and she is a widow teacher, but regardless of reality, she went pursuing the one she had loved.
In order to get a taste of the book’s story, Baker read a part of the story lasting about thirty pages long. A particularly funny moment was when Nancy (the main character) was flirting with one of her students when he disrespected her in class. Many of the audience had laughed at the character’s inappropriate behavior, but such is the case with Baker’s sly humor.
After the preview, the host Professor Roy Kooper opened presentation with questions and answers. Some asked for personal advice or how he generally tackles the everyday problems of writing a story-namely writer’s block, or how to create a satisfying ending.
One particularly noticing trait, was how he personally walked close to the attendee asking the question, as if he was sincerely listening to them.
“If you’re a writer that’s looking for a good character, create that person’s point of view–a real world,” Kooper said. “A writer has to create a character completely different to him, but at the same time has to prove he is that character in some way.”
“Every time I start with an ending, it was never the same when I finished…” said Larry Baker, who proved his point by using one of his stories, The Flamingo Rising, which was about a family running a theater. “I was ready to burn that puppy down, but halfway through I figured out that was not the ending. You want the ending to be unpredictable, such as when the reader gets to it, then ‘oh my god’ but then, ‘well of course, there’s no other way to end it.’”
Baker also explains his first experiences with the movie production involving the Rising Flamingo, the film published by the Hallmark company. At first, he was simply happy to receive his check but eventually grew displeased with how the company adapted his movie, and how much he was given zero creative control over the final product. Richard Russell, the screenwriter to the movie, had personally apologized to Baker about how the movie turned out, but Baker did not blame him as they both felt cheated out by the movie. Eventually, he came to learn his lesson.
“The moment you received that check is the moment you walk away and bid them farewell, and good luck. Once you’re done, it’s no longer the book itself,” Baker said.
Baker personally believes that books are to be read on paper rather than with use of electronics such as kindle or online displays. As a professor himself, Baker claimed he did not let any of his students use their laptops to take notes from his lectures. Though this may seem strict, he justifies his statement with facts.
“They’ve actually done scientific studies on the absorption and comprehension levels of a reader to an e-book versus another reader of any other print form,” Baker said. “Students perform better on test when they’re writing rather than when they’re typing.”
“Nobody inspired me to write because I was writing my own stories when I was fifteen-years-old,” Baker said. “The inspiration simply lies in my desire to tell stories. The best story is where you don’t want to stop reading, you want it to continue, and if you want to know what happens to these people til the very end.”
The presentation moved some students even went out of their way to buy the novel itself.
“I thought his voice was engaging, especially parts of the story,” Rose Mera said. “He really made me want to buy the book, It was really helpful to me and it’s gonna help me in the future.”
By Leslie Lo