Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing

Theodora Goss


Theodora Goss was born in Hungary, and her writing reflects an Eastern European literary tradition in which the real and fantastical intertwine.  Her publications include the short story collection In the Forest of Forgetting (2006); Interfictions (2007), a short story anthology coedited with Delia Sherman; Voices from Fairyland (2008), a poetry anthology with critical essays and a selection of her own poems; The Thorn and the Blossom (2012), a novella in a two‑sided accordion format; and the poetry collection Songs for Ophelia (2014).  Her short stories, essays, and poems have been published in both literary and genre magazines and anthologies, including numerous “Year’s Best” collections.  Her work has been translated into ten languages, including French, Japanese, and Turkish. She has been a finalist for the Nebula, Crawford, Locus, Seiun, and Mythopoeic Awards, and on the Tiptree Award Honor List. Her short story "Singing of Mount Abora" (2007) won the World Fantasy Award.  She received a JD from Harvard, and an MA and PhD in English Literature from Boston University.  In addition to being a Stonecoast faculty member, she is currently a Senior Lecturer in the Boston University College of Arts and Sciences Writing Program, where she teaches expository and creative writing.

Selected Publications:

Songs for Ophelia, Papaveria Press, 2014.

The Thorn and the Blossom, Quirk Books, 2012.  Translated as Güler ve Dikenler, Artemis Yayinlari, 2013 (Turkish) and A Rosa Eo Espinho,Vergara & Riba Editorias, 2013 (Brazilian Portuguese).

Voices from Fairyland: The Fantastical Poems of Mary Coleridge, Charlotte Mew, and Sylvia Townsend Warner, Aqueduct Press, 2008.

Interfictions, coedited with Delia Sherman, Small Beer Press, 2007.

In the Forest of Forgetting, Prime Books, 2006.  Reprinted by Papaveria Press, 2014.

How I Teach:

My overall philosophy: As a teacher, I'm interested in helping you find your voice and the voice of the story.  Often, a story has a mind of its own, a way it wants to go.  I want to help you develop that story into what it wants to be, without focusing too much on the requirements of genre or marketplace.  The story comes first.  However, I also want to help you become the writer you want to be – a writer with an individual, but flexible, voice.  In commenting on manuscripts, I'm interested in larger issues of theme, plot, character, and setting, but I also focus at the level of the sentence and word.  Writing is a craft as well as an art, and as a writer, you need to know your tools: it's important to know the basics of grammar and prose style.

My goal, in working with you, it to help you find your own path and support the choices you make, including career choices.  But it is also to encourage creativity and experimentation.  An MFA is the perfect time for experimenting, for writing stories that take risks and seeing whether those risks pay off.  I want to encourage you to be fearless in your writing and in pursing your literary career.  After all, you're starting out the way we all started out, learning what we all had to learn.  Your stories are in you.  Your responsibility is to develop the skills and have the courage to tell them.

I'm interested in a variety of literary genres, and particularly in the spaces where those genres intersect.  In my writing, I draw on the conventions of fantasy, science fiction, and mystery as well as literary fiction.  I'm happy to work with students in any genre, and I believe that popular fiction can make as important a statement on the human condition as mainstream literature.

How it works in practice: When mentoring, I typically ask for electronic copies of manuscripts and make marginal comments using the word processing program's comment function.  If you work with me, you will get back an electronic copy of the manuscript with marginal comments, as well as a cover letter discussing my comments.  In the cover letter, I will also discuss how I think you're developing as a writer and additional issues you might want to consider, such as readings that might be helpful or suggestions for publication.  I will encourage you to submit!  I like to meet by Skype, and find these meetings particularly helpful because they allow us to talk about what you're aiming for in a specific story and where you're going in general.

Before the semester, I will work with you to develop a reading list based on your interests and needs; developing the list is primarily your responsibility, but I will suggest books that push you intellectually and in terms of craft.  I'm also happy to help you think about yourself in terms of your future career: to talk about publications you might submit to, conventions you might attend, or ways to create an online presence.  I have an academic as well as a creative background, so I'm happy to help you with a third-semester project that takes a more academic direction as well as with creative projects.  Writing should be both fun and challenging. That's what we'll be aiming for . . .