Brendan Kiely, the author of numerous best-selling young adult novels, visited the Gill campus today to speak to students in the Upper School and work with them during a writer’s workshop.
Kiely held two 50-minute sessions in which he spoke to the students about his life, how he came to be an author, and why it is important to be active and present when dealing with social issues.
"I want to write books about how we talk about these types of problems so that we can solve them and get over them," he explained to the group. "I want to help us think about what it means to be better listeners, to listen to folks in our communities that have been silenced or not been heard or been told not to speak up."
A big theme throughout Kiely's presentation was how to write about difficult situations. He stressed that while some issues may be uncomfortable to tackle, it is important to always have the text be a "listening heart" to what is going on in the world.
The best way to start, he explained, is by taking in everyday life.
"You are accumulating stories right now," he said. "In the lunchroom, what you do on the weekend, what you say to friends. If you catalogue what you do, then you have a wealth of information already inside you to help jumpstart any story."
He concluded each session by allowing time for the students to ask him any questions about his life and career. The student questions ranged from whether anyone had ever told Kiely that he inspired them to how long it takes him to publish a book.
In response to the publishing question, Kiely offered, "The most important thing is staying committed. It took my first book ten years to get published. My second book, All American Boys, only took one year to get published. The second time around was so much quicker because I put in the work and stayed committed during my first one. Staying committed is essential to everything."
Kiely ended his day on campus by hosting a writing workshop that focused on the questions: why do we write and why do we enjoy writing.