The Q&A by Nevada McPherson

JuniorNO WFZLet’s welcome back monthly columnist Nevada McPherson as she shares with us “The Q&A!” Enjoy!

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In my last post I talked about how you should take every opportunity to talk about your work when you get the chance, to see what others have to say and to learn from the questions people ask. Sometimes they catch you off-guard in a way that makes you have to say something from the gut, and it forces a writer to be in the moment, and to be authentic.

Last fall at the Louisiana Book Festival, I was on a panel with novelist Hunter Murphy entitled “From Uptown to Lowdown: New Orleans as Muse, Setting and Character.”  One of the last questions during the Q&A session was “Did Hurricane Katrina change the soul of New Orleans?” I was struck by the simplicity yet the enormity of the question. My “gut” answer was yes; it had changed the city and marked forever the end of the “old” normal in New Orleans.

In the conversation that followed we talked about what people love about New Orleans (food, music and culture), its past, present and future, about gentrification and why some people still hadn’t been able to return since Katrina. I talked about why I’d left even though I’d come to love the place as my adopted city, about how the uptown neighborhood I’d moved to years ago was changing all around me, with rent prices (including mine!) climbing out of reach and eclectic little pockets of uniqueness disappearing by the day.

Still, New Orleans is an American city like no other and I do know what it means to miss it. It still inspires me and I’ll never forget my walks around uptown and the French Quarter, the settings of my first graphic novel, Uptowners. It struck me later that my leaving New Orleans paralleled how my characters had been forced to leave their uptown home place and how they’d resisted at first but then finally left their comfort zone for parts unknown. Now I’m writing about their new adventures in the Uptowners sequel, Queensgate, while I’m on a new adventure of my own in a new place.

This was the first time I’d really talked about New Orleans since leaving, about how living there had affected my life, writing and art. When you open up and talk about things you’ve formerly kept under wraps for whatever reason (maybe it’s just that no one’s asked before, and now that they have you discover you have more to say about it than you thought!) it can be quite a cathartic and rewarding experience, and help you as a writer to see things from different angles. Perhaps it also has to do with what writer and researcher Brene Brown talks about regarding the power of vulnerability. When you open up to others and tell your truth, put yourself out there and open your heart—there’s power in that, and it translates into more powerful writing and storytelling.

Enjoy the rest of your spring—summers almost here!

Happy writing!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Originally from Georgia, Nevada McPherson lived in New Orleans for many years and now lives with her husband Bill and rescue Chihuahua, Mitzi in Milledgeville, Georgia, where she is a professor of Humanities at Georgia Military College. Nevada received a BA in English/ Creative Writing and an MFA in Screenwriting from L.S.U. She’s written over a dozen feature-length screenplays, one short screenplay, a short play, short stories and two graphic novels, Uptowners and Piano Lessons. She’s currently at work on her third graphic novel, Queensgate.

For more information about Nevada and her projects, visit www.nevada-mcpherson.com.

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