Emerging Voices: Profiles in UNO’s Writers Workshop is a series of profiles following writers currently studying at UNO. The profiles cover the personalities of these various writers and the projects they’re currently working on. For this installment, Gateway Contributor Jeff Turner spoke to UNO Senior Madison Larimore…
Madison Larimore is the editor for Creative Nonfiction at 13th Floor Magazine. Her signature project, “Humankind: A Perspective Collection” is a compilation of profiles about real people written as monologues from their perspective.
Talk a little bit about “Humankind.” What is your process? How much of your writing there is based off observations? What have been some reactions to the various profiles you’ve done?
The main thing with “Humankind” is that I wanted to start a project and write about real people in an interesting way. Profiles in the news are usually about celebrities and politicians and the like, and I wanted to focus in on normal people in a way that would interest people. The interviews can take about two and a half to five hours (depending on the persons), they’re about 120 questions. I transcribe the questions, and then I start looking for a theme and a narrative arc based off what’s available to me. As far as the reactions, I always really enjoy seeing how the person reacts when I give them the finished profile. A lot of people say the interview process is kind of like therapy, and I think people often surprise themselves with their answers. It’s great when people say they feel really cool or confident in the profile when they don’t always come off that way. It’s my favorite part, seeing everyone’s reactions.
Larimore has been published in online journals. Her story, “Homeland”, published by Oyster River Pages (available at their website, oysterriverpages.com/homeland), has an air of nakedness to it, like the reader is being made privy to something deeply personal.
What drew you to Creative Nonfiction?
I started with fiction in elementary school, but I moved into creative nonfiction in high school as a response to trauma. I went back to my writing in college, and began to write essays based off of my journaling. After a long period of time with the truth, I found it hard to go back to fiction. I think your own life is a source of inspiration and observation.
What philosophies do you bring into your writing? What is your “mission statement”?
I have a favorite quote by Alex Haley, “Every death is the burning of a library.” What I keep in mind doing Humankind is that when a person dies, we lose all their stories. I feel that way about myself and my own stories as well.
What are some projects you might have in mind for further down the road?
I plan to keep doing “Humankind” for the rest of my life, but I’m also working on a collection of short stories of my life as well. This would contrast scenes from childhood and would look for contradictions.
You lead the Writing Club here at UNO as well. How did that get started?
I started Writing Club a year ago with Dr. Todd Robinson as the advisor, I think writing classes are really cool and you get to know people really personally, but I don’t see that outside of the classroom. I started writing club to serve as a place where people could build lasting relationships outside of the classroom. The most important thing of a writer’s craft is receiving feedback.
Madison Larimore will graduate from UNO in May 2019. She plans to move on to graduate school out of state. On top of continuing her writing, she intends to become a teacher. She will be giving a Ted Talk on “Humankind” on Feb. 16 in cooperation with UNO.
There is a website for “Humankind” where all of the stories are available for reading here: https://humankind.blog/