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Writers Institute presents award winning author Laura van den Berg

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Laura van den Berg visited the Writers Institute at the University at Albany to give a seminar for students last Thursday, April 21. As an excellent writer, van den Berg was bound to give the audience a treat, and that she did.

Held in the Standish Room in the Science Library, the seminar started off with a spokesperson from the Writers Institute, who gave a short biography and started the discussion with few questions.

The real treat came when the floor was opened up to the audience. Many students asked questions about everything from her writing process to more personal questions, such as how to work with struggles in writing, and how to get ideas as. Throughout, Van den Berg answered all questions in depth and with kindness. She was never aloof and never put down a question as stupid or irrelevant.

“You can ask me anything…it is virtually impossible to embarrass me with anything,” van den Berg said.

Van den Berg was raised in Florida and now lives in Boston with her husband who is also a writer. She is also a teacher – she expressed that she experiences much joy from both professions.

She has written two short story collections: “What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us” (2009) and “The Isle of Youth” (2013).

“Find Me” is her first novel, released in 2015, and she revealed that she has a new novel in the works as well as some new short stories.

As a child, she did not enjoy school and eventually completed high school by finishing a GED. While attending night school, the idea of writing fiction never crossed her mind until she realized she didn’t enjoy her first major, philosophy, and decided to try a fiction workshop.

Van den Berg also talked about her writing process. To her, she said, struggles and insecurities were things to embrace about the writing process, not a sign of weakness or insufficient talent or worth. While short stories are the format in which she enjoys to write most, she said that she enjoyed writing novels as well.

For Van den Berg, a novel is a story that has too much to offer and a short story would not do it justice.

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