The Writer's Path at SMU
Get to know Amanda Arista better:
What drew you to write in your genre?
I've always tended to focus on things that go bump in the night, things that are just out of the corner of your eye, things that are just brushed off as shadows or the wind. Its what I read growing up. Sweet Valley High? No way. Give me John Saul and Dean Koontz. So Urban Fantasy/Paranormal was a natural place for me to weave my stories. My brain just thinks in monsters.
What other genre would you like to write in?
I've had this Sci-Fi brewing in my brain, but I just have this voice in the back of my head that says that if you don't understand the entirety of time/space continuums, you can't write Sci-Fi. So I'm just leaving it up to Keith Goodnight, because he's brilliant.
What are your most influential books/favorite authors?
Neil Gaiman, Charles DeLint, and Alice Hoffman are my three most influential writers. They too dabble in that is-it-real-is-it-not-real inbetween while telling some amazingly human stories.
What do you think makes a story memorable?
Even if its got dragons in it, I want to learn something about human nature or explore a life/world that I could not be a part of. I think its why I tend toward magic and historical versus contemporary. I want to learn outside of my experience.
What do you think is essential in a classroom?
A common mission statement. I'm all for discussion and conversation as long as everyone is moving forward toward understanding. A little wandering is fine- some great teachable moments found in the bushes on the path, but I do like sticking to the path in general. But please, no worksheets.
What did you learn from your favorite and/or best teacher?
No one knows everything. All of my good teachers have been learners themselves and in that, it is okay to admit that you don't know everything. Good Learners create good learners who become good learner creators themselves.
What makes for the most "success" in student?
Willingness to play around and a willingness to ask questions. Engaging with the material helps the students as much as it helps me as a teacher tweak the material to their understanding. I've got pockets full of metaphors to help make my points, but if no one says anything, then I don't know which one will work. If the room is silent, no one wins.
How did you come to teach at The Writer's Path?
I was a student of the Writer's Path. I found the program online and took it from beginning all the way through the New York Seminar. I drank the KoolAid and am happily now serving it to others.