Carole Duff does it all: a veteran teacher, serious flutist, avid naturalist, and, of course, creative nonfiction lover, reader, and writer. Carole volunteers as one of Hippocampus Magazine’s flash readers, helping out from her home in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. She was kind enough to answer a few questions about her upcoming session and trip to Lancaster for our annual writing conference:
Q: Tell us a little about your involvement this year at HippoCamp.
A: I’m offering a breakout session titled, “Becoming a Writer in the Third Chapter of Life.” During this session, we will define life stages and note how wants and purpose change; identify early wounds and use tools to journey toward healing; and explore the nuts and bolts of being a writer.
Q: 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.
A: The most memorable memoirs I’ve read in the past several months include Natasha Trethewey’s Memorial Drive, Laraine Herring’s A Constellation of Ghosts, Aileen Weintraub’s Knocked Down, and Susan J. Tweit’s Bless the Birds. I enjoy reading memoirs similar to my own and those that take me on a journey different from mine. What the best have in common is narrative arc—a transformation—and fine literary craft.
Q: 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 to want to come back?
A: In the past few years, I noticed many HippoCamp attendees were in their third stage of life. These writers are less interested in earning a living and more interested in the eternal search on the page. Since I am well into this journey and an experienced presenter, I knew I could offer practical how-to advice, examples, and encouragement.
Q: What’s going to keep you busy between now and HippoCamp?
A: At present, I’m querying small and university presses that might be a good fit for my memoir. I’m also writing and submitting guest blog posts and companion pieces. And since I’m also a serious flutist and avid naturalist, I practice and work outside every day. Then there’s our granddaughter’s visit.
Q: 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?
A: I look forward to the opening reception, debut author readings and the book sale table, the panels, breakout sessions, keynote, and conversations during meals. HippoCamp attendees are universally friendly and supportive.
Q: We love introducing Lancaster to attendees. If you live here or have been here before, what would you recommend to other attendees? And, if this will be your first time here, what are you looking forward to?
A: As a visitor, I always check out the Central Market.
We can’t wait for Carole to join us this year! HippoCamp 2022, a creative nonfiction conference sponsored by Hippocampus Magazine and Books, is Aug. 12-14 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. For more information or to register, visit our official conference website here.
(Learn more about the conference and see details of all previous years at our magazine website’s HippoCamp page.)