Accidental Gems

accidental gems
My husband’s doctorate is from Penn, and so I was fortunate enough to have access to their spring/summer issue—a treasure trove for writers. You, too, can read these gems at!


accidental gems
Carmen Maria Machado, current Writer-in-Residence, combines sci-fi, horror, folk tales, and pop culture in stories focused on women’s experience. Her debut collection Her Body and Other Parties was a finalist for the 2017 National Book Award. She responds to three questions.


  1. What do you like about the short story format?
  2. How do you start writing a story?
  3. Your stories reference folk legends and contemporary pop culture. How are those tools for you as a writer?
accidental gems
Jennifer Egan, class of ’85, won a Pulitzer Prize for 2011’s A Visit from the Good Squad. In her interview, she answered numerous writing questions.


  1. When did you first feel like a writer?
  2. What is your writing and research process like
  3. Do you seek input from other writers?
  4. Many reviews of your latest book, Manhattan Beach, have noted how different it is from your other fiction. Did you feel that it was a departure for you?
  5. What was the experience of writing Manhattan Beach like?
  6. How did your undergraduate experience shape you as a writer?
  7. What advice would you give to students interested in a career in writing?
accidental gems
I’m not a translator of literature, but really good translations are out there. Apparently Emily Wilson’s translation of Homer’s Odyssey is one of those. “I think because I’m living in, writing in, thinking in my particular cultural context, I’m able to see things in this old poem which maybe weren’t visible before, and I don’t think that’s about imposing something on it that isn’t there. It’s about bringing something out of it.”


I doubt it’s my background as a psychologist that makes me see the work of Angela Duckworth, Distinguished Professor of Psychology, as relevant to character building and plot development. Her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance was on the New York Times Bestsellers list for more than 20 weeks. Read more about her!


accidental gems
But wait! There’s more! This magazine has fascinating articles on everything from history to economics to micro-science. Enjoy!