December 7, 2018
Indiana: A Great Place for Writers

Local middle-grade author Robert Kent reflects on the many ways the Hoosier state supports aspiring writers.

Indiana is a wonderful place to live. The people are friendly and attractive, and the ones who aren’t attractive are even friendlier. The cost of living is comparatively reasonable and many, many flying saucers have been spotted in our clear night skies. If Indiana is good enough for the aliens, by golly, it’s good enough for me.

Indiana is also a great place to be a writer, especially one who’s written The Book of David, a serial horror novel about flying saucers pestering Hoosiers and inspiring them to have religious visions (based on a true story, kinda).

John Green lives here. So do my friends the authors Shannon Lee Alexander, Skila Brown, Lisa Fipps, Jerry Gordon, Laura Martin, Mike Mullin, Sarah J. Schmidt, and Barbara Shoup. There is a multitude of excellent writers here in Indiana, far more than I could list, and more talented Hoosier authors are preparing to publish their first works every year.

Indiana is filled with many comfortable reading spots (I’ve lost afternoons in parks and coffee shops with my Kindle) and venues to connect with other readers. There’s no shortage of opportunities to meet your favorite authors at various signings and conferences, both the local folks and the authors from out of town. I’ve seen Kate DiCamillo, Michael Chabon, and Neil Gaiman speak without driving more than an hour from home.

Indiana libraries host several events featuring writers every month. The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators holds multiple conferences in the state as do the Romance Writers of America. I met my literary agent at the annual Midwest Writers Workshop. And I don’t think there’s a better time to be had for writers than at Maurice Broadus’ annual MoCon held right here in Indianapolis.

There are many excellent universities that offer degrees in literature and creative writing. I have degrees from Indiana University in both. We also have the Indiana Writers Center where anyone interested in learning more about writing can take classes taught by professionals (and me).

In the few short years I’ve been working with writers at the IWC, I’ve heard back from multiple students who’ve published their first novels. Other students are closer to their writing goals than ever before. Many Indiana writers have made connections through the IWC and found critique partners and life-long writer friends.

Writing can be a lonely business through necessity. Luckily, Indiana has a wonderful community of writers who support one another.

There might’ve been a time when a young writer’s best bet was to flee our fields of endless corn for the East Coast to seek your writing fortune, although Kurt Vonnegut wrote some of the finest fiction the world has ever known right here in the Hoosier state. These days, a writer on the coast will be lucky to find a studio apartment the size of a closet for less than three times the cost of a mortgage payment on my Indiana house with six spacious closets.

In the modern world, a writer can work (and publish) from anywhere. There is almost no location on the globe a writer can’t access through a reliable internet connection.

Nine years ago, I started my enormously popular blog for writers, Middle Grade Ninja, right here in Indiana. The site started small, but through consistently providing content for writers, I’ve been able to interview authors from over the world, including Tomi Adeyemi, M.T. Anderson, Katherine Applegate, Bruce Coville, Jean Craighead George, Michael Grant, Dan Gutman, Hugh Howey, Ingrid Law, Lois Lowry, Andy Weir,  and many others.

I’ve enjoyed a long correspondence with Lynne Reid Banks, author of The Indian in the Cupboard, which was one of my favorite books from childhood. I also had the opportunity to converse with another hero, Watership Down author Richard Adams, and he read and wrote a blurb for my middle grade novel, Banneker Bones and the Giant Robot Bees. Both of these famous writers lived in England and I was able to chat with both of them from right here in Indiana.

I’ve also been able to interview more than 100 literary agents, editors, and other publishing professionals at Middle Grade Ninja, bringing a huge cross section of the world of publishing from all over the globe to my readers, who are also located all over the globe. And now I’m hosting regular live stream chats with writers and publishing experts on YouTube without ever leaving the comfort of my home office here in Indiana.

When I was a child seated in front of my father’s black and white Apple classic McIntosh, he told me that one day I would live in a very different world than the one he grew up in. I can scarcely imagine what the world my son will grow up to live in. But people will always need new stories from new voices.

There are more literate people in the world than ever before. There has never been a better time in the history of humanity to be a writer. If you’re a Hoosier who wants to write, reach out to the Indiana literary community and share your voice with ours. The entire world is literally at your fingertips.

 

 

Robert Kent is the author of the horror novels The Book of David and All Together Now: A Zombie Story, and the novellas Pizza Delivery and All Right Now: A Short Zombie Story.

Under the name Rob Kent, he writes middle grade novels such as Banneker Bones and the Giant Robot Bees and the upcoming Banneker Bones and the Alligator People.

He runs the popular blog for writers, Middle Grade Ninja, which features interviews and guest posts from over 500 authors, literary agents, and other publishing professionals, and was the recipient of Middle Shelf Magazine’s Best Blog award. Robert Kent holds degrees in Literature and Creative Writing from Indiana University and owns over 900 Batman action figures. He lives with his family in Indianapolis where he teaches courses at the Indiana Writers Center and is hard at work on his next book.

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