Elizabeth Miller ’25, Staff Writer

On March 30th, Sara McDermott came to our very own Gabriel Library to talk about her novel Wolves at Night. McDermott is an IU alumni, and is also current adjunct professor. She teaches Communications classes for our aspiring young writers, such as Creative Writing, Novel Writing, Narrative and Screenwriting, and Short Scripts that Sell.

At 4pm, students and faculty gathered on the main floor of the library. For many students, this was their first time seeing their professor in person, as the writing classes McDermott teaches are usually online. Sister Elaine gave a gracious introduction, and McDermott gave an overview of Wolves at Night before reading a chapter to the audience. Here is the overview from the back cover:

Hundreds of miles of Alaskan wilderness…Hungry timber wolves…An outlaw ex-lover…Deadly con-men…And one young mother with a sick toddler.

Eleni, with her sickly two-year-old in tow, ventures to a remote cabin in the Alaskan wilderness to reunite with the child’s outlaw father and her former lover, Ben. What she doesn’t know is that the area will be swarmed by deadly timber wolves, that the terrible criminals Ben has wronged will be there looking for him, and that the “love of her life” might just turn out to be the greatest predator of all.

After reading, McDermott took questions about the writing process, the publishing process, and some general tips for writing. Here are some tips she gave:

  1. Read and write frequently

If you write every day, the better and faster you can become. Steven King writes every day, even on his birthday, to maintain his skill. Your style can also become more consistent the more you write. And, you can learn a lot about writing by reading works of other authors. 

  1. Writing exercises are good

It can be good to warm up with a writing exercise before jumping into your larger project. 

  1. Read something of the same genre as the genre you want to write

You might not realize at first, but what you read or listen to can really affect your writing. When writing a longer work, such as a novel, it can be very beneficial to read a book that is the same genre and even similar style to what you want to write. 

  1. Follow the rules or beats of screenwriting

Following the rules of screenwriting can be helpful for more than just script writing; it can also be helpful for novel writing. It can be a good start for organizing longer works and keeping on track with the pace of your story.

  1. Listen to your heart

If you have a lot of ideas, listen to your heart for which one to commit to. Work on the idea that you keep coming back to.

Towards the end of the event, McDermott took some time to sign books for attendees, leaving messages of hope, encouragement, and enthusiasm for her writing students and their future writing careers.

Sara McDermott publishes under the name Sara McDermott Jain, and you can sign up for her newsletter at www.saramcdermottjain.com.