Alyson Richman, a No. 1 international bestselling author of a long list of novels, joined a Huntington High School English class virtually to discuss the creative writing process.
A Huntington UFSD resident and parent of two current high school students, Ms. Richman spent her childhood in both Long Island and Japan. The daughter of an abstract artist and an electrical engineer she graduated from Wellesley College with a degree in art history and Japanese studies. An accomplished painter, her novels combine her deep love of art, historical research and travel.
Ms. Richman’s novels have been published in 30 countries and 25 languages, according to her website. Her books have received critical acclaim in both the United States and abroad and been bestsellers across the world.
“The students were attuned to her every word and asked many thoughtful questions,” teacher Kelly Quintero said. “Ms. Richman spoke about her life as a writer, offering engaging personal anecdotes that inspired this next generation of Huntington writers.”
The high school students really enjoyed the presentation and interaction with the famed author.
“Although I personally do not want to become a writer myself, I found her presentation fascinating, as it’s not something we normally talk about on a daily basis at home,” said freshman Charlotte Gordon, a student in the class and Ms. Richman’s daughter.
The teenagers considered the virtual visit a treat, and it was just that. They all understood how valuable it is to hear from a currently practicing author, let alone one who has enjoyed so much success as Ms. Richman.
“Famous people always seem to be like a different breed,” senior Ethan Lovaglio said. “We almost never see them, and when we do, we freak out and gush over it. I know because I’m (somewhat) the same way. I’ve been to comic con almost a dozen times and meeting actors, artists and writers has always been a thrill. But this time was different. This felt like a real person, no one asking for autograph. It was a grown woman, speaking about her work and answering questions to a group of kids who just wanted to improve their writing. And really just hits different.”
Some students used the visit to further explore a possible career as a writer. Ms. Richman was happy to answer all of the teenagers’ questions.
“I’m considering a career in creative writing in the future and it gave a good insight into what she does as a writer,” sophomore Isabella Lima said. “It was very cool to talk to someone with a career in writing.”
The visit and presentation went beyond just creative writing for many students. “I learned that you can be anything you want if you put your mind to it,” sophomore Agostino Abbatiello said. “I liked her motivation and drive to pursue this career.”
Ms. Quintero has been a Huntington High School English teacher for many years and students have enjoyed taking her courses.
“Overall, I was taken away by the way Alyson Richman writes her work,” senior Kayla Owens said. “My ‘takeaway’ was really just how she likes to be original and not really focus on delivering the readers what they want. I just learned that you have to be creative and put your ideas together and you develop your story from that idea.”
When the class and the presentation concluded, students were left with lots to ponder the rest of the day and evening.
“The amount of time and dedication that it takes to fully complete a book never fully crossed my mind,” senior Joselin Chavez said. “It made me feel more thankful toward authors now that I have gained insight of the process.”
Ms. Richman discussed the books she has written and the subjects they have touched upon as well as what she is striving to accomplish with her writing.
“I really relate to her association of art and history and that being a gateway to writing as music is a lot the same for me,” junior Jonah Gillenwater said.
The writing process itself was a fascinating topic for the students and Ms. Richman spent a good amount of time discussing it in depth.
“I didn’t know that authors go to different states and/or countries to do research for books,” freshman Casey DiGioia said. “I learned that there are people that read the book and then make a cover. I always thought that when authors made covers they hired an artist or made it themselves!”
The session motivated many members of the class, which pleased both Ms. Quintero and Ms. Richman.
“The presentation inspired me to try not to give up while writing something because the ending could be better than the beginning,” sophomore Gabriela Campos-Nativi said.