Author Christina Bauer Visits MHS

Best selling author, Christina Bauer visited Malden High this week and held a writing workshop for the ninth and tenth graders on motivation, voice, and character as apart of her Fall 2018 tour. The idea of having this workshop originally came from English Teacher Yahaira Marquez. The first five students that signed up for the workshop would receive a copy of one of Bauer’s books with her signature.

Her biggest series up to date is called “Angelbound” , which revolves around a “part demon girl” who fights against evil and purgatory souls. She also has a sci-fi series launching in the spring of 2019. Bauer describes her work as a “modern-day fairytale” while the characters pertain to morality and not facing death.

At the beginning of the workshop, Bauer provided an introduction about herself especially on the aspect of being an author. Her writing genre is “ young adult fiction” which emphasizes female characters in heroic positions. During her career, she has written more than fifteen books and sold more than one million copies.

Growing up, Bauer always had aspired to become a writer despite people telling her that she would not accumulate much wealth. Beforehand, she majored in marketing and worked for companies such as “Microsoft and Cisco” all while she continued writing. Having and raising a son with autism, Bauer came to the realization of “all the wonderful things that he brings to everybody around him that don’t have to do with making money “ which would be “a big part of his future.” This inspires her to continue writing as a whole.

The first aspect of focus in Bauer’s writing was “voice”, to which she believes to be a great thing versus “writing, or film, or radioplay.“ It provides an opportunity to “really get inside a character’s head“ that allows free creativity. Although, she warned the students that there is a process to follow in “creating that voice and a lot of groundwork that needed to go in” shaping it.

As for creating a voice, Bauer explained the process of creating a Pinterest Board for potential story ideas and asks the question, “What if there were this character were doing x, y, and z?” From there she would make a character sheet. There are times, when she is in the middle of writing a story that “something else completely different comes out that [she] wasn’t even aware of“ about her story. To her, it shows that she was working harder to create a “better role.”

Towards the end of the workshop, Bauer instructed the students to do a small writing exercise where they voiced a situation to character from the pictures included in the writing guide or their own piece.

Author Christina Bauer talking to freshmen and sophomores about finding their voice. Photo by Neden Bernadin.

Having these types of workshops are quite essential considering that this year, the ninth and tenth graders will be taking a new updated version of the MCAS. Narrative and creative writing will primarily be the focus on the test and so the students going to be “asked to write more narrative pieces where they have to have character voice” and understand storylines, and dialogue which the English department can not focus on as much, explained by Marquez.

Marquez described the workshop experience as “eye-opening” because she was able to see how “different people approach the same topics or the same skills” since there is only so many conferences between the teachers at school. Marquez also pointed how bringing “people from the outside” will open up a new realm for a lot of the teachers and the English department as a whole.

Marquez believes that it is helpful for the students “to see and practice skills in different ways from different people“ in order to gain some new ideas and perspectives. Also, she thinks that “seeing different people in the real world that actually do these things” will help students understand how to incorporate these skills into their writing. Marquez wanted to hold this workshop with the sole purpose of forming “a connection between the school and the real world.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article was published with an incorrect spelling of Yahaira Marquez.

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