SPEAKER SPOTLIGHT: A Q&A With Dorothy Rice, If Memoir is a Slice of Life, How Many Pieces Do You Get?

We’re thrilled to welcome Dorothy Rice back to HippoCamp. Since her last visit to Lancaster, she’s ushered her second memoir into the world (Gray is the New Black), and we’re grateful that she’ll share some of her wisdom during a session called If Memoir is a Slice of Life, How Many Pieces Do You Get?

Thanks to Dorothy for participating in our Q&A — and for serving on our volunteer reading panel!

Dorothy RiceTell us a little about your involvement this year at HippoCamp.

If, like me, you write or contemplate writing memoir or personal essays, you may wonder how deep and wide the well is. I tend to stick with a writer for their voice and unique slant on life and the world. From that perspective, the topics and themes are perhaps limitless. In this workshop we’ll look at beloved “serial” memoirists and personal essayists and how and why they make it work. We’ll also talk about stumbling blocks, dead ends, and how to avoid common pitfalls such as redundancy and over-sharing.


Our motto is “memorable creative nonfiction.” Tell us about one of the more recent memoirs, essay collections, or individual essays you’ve read and why it was memorable.

“Frida Kahlo and my Left Leg” by Emily Rapp Black. The prose is elegant and introspective, and the topic—the author finding connection and resonance with Kahlo as an amputee—is thought-provoking and timely.


What made you decide to participate in HippoCamp this year as a speaker? If you’re a returning speaker, how did your past experiences encourage you to want to come back?

I was on a panel in 2018 and loved it—the panel, the conference, meeting so many writers with common interests. I was disappointed when the 2020 conference was cancelled—for all the right reasons—and am thrilled to be coming back.


What’s going to keep you busy between now and HippoCamp?

I’m enjoying a DIY writing retreat at the moment, in a tiny mountain cabin. I’ll be taking my grandkids to Mount Rushmore and the vicinity the last week of July—fingers crossed for a respite from the heat!


Since you’ll also be attending the conference, when you’re not wearing your “speaker hat,” what are you most looking forward to learning or doing? 

I’ll be attending as many sessions as I can, perusing the book table, meeting other nonfiction writers, and also getting out and about in Lancaster, which I fell in love with during the 2018 conference.


We love introducing Lancaster to attendees. Since you’ve been here before, what would you recommend to other attendees?

I love the history and all the old stone and brick buildings. Just walking around is a treat. Being from California, “historic” buildings have a different meaning.


Thanks again to Dorothy Rice!

To learn more about HippoCamp: A Conference for Creative Nonfiction Writers and see our full list of speakers and sessions, visit the official conference website.


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