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The Student News Site of Trinity High School

The Hiller

The Student News Site of Trinity High School

The Hiller

Q&A with Erica Howsare: Author, Trinity Alumna

Photo Courtesy of Mrs. Macino.
Erica Howsare visited Trinity High School on Wednesday April 24, 2024 to talk about her career in writing. Thank you Erica!

Q: When did you attend Trinity? Tell me about your high school experience.

A: I went to Trinity for K through 12 and graduated in 1995. In high school, I was pretty studious and did lots of extracurriculars (probably too many), and I was especially involved in music–drum major of the marching band, district and regional band, etc. I’m grateful for some of those experiences but if I could talk to myself at age 14, I would say “Make sure you slow down, goof off and have fun, too.”

Q: Where did you attend college and how did your experience influence your career?

A: I went to Oberlin College in Ohio, which was fantastic. It is a place where you can really explore who you are and try out many different classes and experiences; you don’t have to get too specialized too early, which I think is appropriate for people who are just barely adults. I had the luxury of not knowing what I wanted to do and taking a while to figure it out (I was lucky not to have a lot of student loan debt, which really helps). I did study writing at Oberlin, but also art history, philosophy, history, photography…I even fell in love with geology there. I can’t claim that I planned this out, but all of that exploration really did set me up well to be a writer who is a generalist, not an expert on any one thing, but good at critical thinking and making connections between different ideas.

Q: What inspired you to write your book, “The Age of Deer”? 

A: I remembered being around hunting culture when I was growing up in Washington County, and I realized that deer were lurking at the edges of my adult life too–as roadkill, as eaters of my garden, and as beautiful creatures I enjoyed spotting in my rural area. I’ve been very interested in questions about how humans relate to nature, and it occurred to me that our relationship with deer, because it is so complex, would be a really good way to ask those questions.

Q: Tell me about your journalism career, where did you work? 

A: In 2002 I started freelancing for a local alt-weekly newspaper in Virginia, where I live, by writing a travel column (I got the job because I offered to take the photos myself). Soon I was also writing art reviews, news stories, and whatever else needed to be done. From 2006 to 2010 I was a full-time staffer there, editing several sections and doing a ton of writing. In 2010 my daughter was born so I went back to freelancing. I still occasionally write for the same paper. I’ve also gotten into publishing book reviews and essays in national outlets like LongReads and The Los Angeles Review of Books, which is very fulfilling although it is a much harder way to make a living than writing for the local paper.

Q: What works have you written? 

A: I have published two books of poetry (I got a Master of Fine Arts in poetry in 2005) and “The Age of Deer” is my first nonfiction book.

Q: What advice would you give someone pursuing a writing career? 

A: Keep a journal and read a lot of books. There are many different ways to make money writing, but you probably won’t write anything worthwhile if you’re not a reader. Also, find other writers to talk to and exchange work with. Give each other feedback.

Q: What is the hardest obstacle you have faced in your career? 

A: All writers face rejection. You have to have a thick skin and keep on going–“onward” is a motto that I and a lot of writers I know try to live by. You fail a lot but you just say, “Onward!” As a freelancer, I have to constantly invent the job. It’s not like just showing up to work; you have to always be thinking, what could I write next, and who might want to publish it? How can I talk them into paying me to do this?

Q: What is your favorite Trinity memory? 

A: I was always happy when I got to travel someplace. That happened through my involvement with music, but I also remember going to an Odyssey of the Mind competition in Altoona, PA, and having a blast with my friends on that trip. A lot of Nirvana and a late, silly night.

Q: What future plans do you have?

A: I hope to continue publishing nonfiction and I will keep on homeschooling my two daughters, who are 10 and 13. I also teach writing privately.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

A: It’s a big world out there. For anyone who feels out of place at Trinity or in Washington County, know that you will find your people eventually!

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About the Contributor
Charlotte Magon
Charlotte Magon, Sports Editor
Outside of school, you can usually find Charlotte searching for her next fascinating read, snuggled up with one of her cats, or outside enjoying nature. This is her first year with The Hiller and she is so excited to be a part of it.
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