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Downton Apocalypse

Maureen McHugh interviewed by Katerina Stoykova-Klemer for Accents radio show on WRFL. Credit KRThompson

By Kristen Thompson, Associate Coordinator, Bluegrass Writers Studio

The only thing better than announcing that your visiting faculty for the spring semester is Maureen McHugh, and that James S. A. Corey is her special guest in workshop, is being able to announce that she's returning for the fall semester.

So it's my lucky day: Maureen McHugh is back for the fall semester and leading another workshop! 

In addition to being an award-winning speculative fiction novelist and short story writer (China Mountain Zhang, After the Apocalypse, The Lincoln Train), Maureen has also speculated things right out of fiction and into the world.

Fans of the video game Halo 2 will remember the alternate reality game that announced its launch - I Love Bees. Maureen was a writer and Managing Editor for I Love Bees, a marketing campaign that attracted three million viewers worldwide, and had several hundred thousand fans working together to navigate a series of puzzles built across media platforms - web, cell phone, pay phone, snail mail, and GPS. Gamers, up off the couch!

It's incredible how many people out there are looking for a challenge. Humans, unlike, say, woolly mammoths, crave a sense of accomplishment. When faced with blank days, we end up taking Buzzfeed quizzes: Are You a True Blood True Fan? Which World Leader Should You Marry? Which Downton Abbey Character Are You? Maybe we learn a little bit about ourselves, or have a good laugh. These days, both of those things are accomplishments.

But if we want more, we have to risk more.

The semester begins today, and some of our new students at Bluegrass Writers Studio will launch themselves from the high-dive while others test the water with a toe. But they all have one critical thing in common - they made the decision to apply. That was the bravest part. Now, they're out in the world of workshop, working together on a series of puzzles of their own.

It's fantastic to sit on the cusp of these sixteen weeks and see the students and the faculty about to fall towards each other into something great. I urge everyone to take Maureen McHugh's critique instructions and apply them to life, as she does: Make it true, and make it useful. 

Contact Information

Kristen Thompson

Published on August 18, 2014

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