Meet the Fellow: Amanda Wenger

“I want to write a young adult novel that adults remember fondly as a formative experience.”

— Amanda Wenger

The 2021 WLT Fellowship Program marks the first year of the program and includes five emerging writers who will spend twelve months enjoying classes, connecting with instructors, attending the annual Agents & Editors Conference, and building their writing community. We’re happy to introduce them to you over the next few weeks.

Amanda Wenger is a Houston-based writer, comedian, and oral storyteller with a background in critical care nursing. She has performed with the Houston Fringe Festival and No Divide Kansas City; pre-COVID, she was a fixture at The Moth Live: StorySLAM and a guest storyteller on local KPFT radio program “So What’s Your Story?” Amanda has attended creative residencies at the Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences and the Wellstone Center in the Redwoods to work on her first young adult novel. She will attend upcoming residencies at Greywood Arts, Wildacres Retreat, and In Cahoots Residency. Her accolades include the Regional Advisor Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), the Yuyi Morales Diversity Scholarship from the Children’s Book Academy, an honorable mention for the Diverse Writers/Worlds Grant from the Speculative Literature Foundation, and a Joan Lowery Nixon Award nomination. She is currently a FORGE Fellow, a Writers’ League of Texas Fellow, and a graduate of both Artist INC and The Writing Barn’s Rainbow Weekend Workshop. Her novel manuscript was selected as a finalist for the 2020 Writers’ League of Texas Manuscript Contest. Connect with her at amandawenger.com or via @wengerwrites on Twitter and Instagram.

Scribe: What inspires you to write (even on the days when you’re not writing)?

Amanda Wenger: I’m working to finish a young adult fantasy novel called Winter at Candlesend, about a surly seventeen-year-old girl from small mountain-nestled town who finds a monster in the woods and brings him home to live in her village. His presence, and the mystery that surrounds him, forces the community to confront long-held secrets and question their entire way of life.

I’m a pediatric critical care nurse, and I see some of the challenges that young people face today. I want to equip them with the tools to handle whatever they encounter on their journey. While this novel is ultimately an uplifting adventure about love and friendship, it touches on difficult topics like bullying, mental health, and past abuse. It also invites readers to notice and evaluate structures of power.

I want to write a young adult novel that adults remember fondly as a formative experience. The book I needed at that age. (The book I still need at this age.) My goal is to say to them: Yes, the forest is dangerous. Let me chart you a path through it. Yes, the world is burning. Here’s a fire extinguisher.

Scribe: If you could ask one author (living or dead) one question about their writing process, who would you ask, what question would you ask, and why?

AW: I would ask Terry Pratchett for tips about jugging an ensemble cast of quirky characters!

Scribe: What’s one challenge you’ve faced in your own work that you hope to focus on during the year ahead?

AW: Pandemic fatigue has been my biggest challenge in the past year. I’m at my most creative when I can move freely through the world—traveling, enjoying other people’s art, and inhabiting shared physical spaces. I thought that being forced to lock down would result in greater productivity, but it really just made writing harder. Now that I’ve adjusted to pandemic life, I’ve been able to get back some of my pre-COVID momentum for Winter at Candlesend. My goal is to revise one chapter per week, and so far, it’s working! Fingers crossed.

Scribe: What drew you to the WLT Fellowship Program – why did you apply?

AW: As an emerging writer, I’m still building my network of creative friends and colleagues. For me, the biggest draw to the WLT Fellowship was the chance to join a supportive writing community. The fellows have a group chat and we’ve committed to meeting independently once a month to check in about life and our various projects. That, to me, is an invaluable resource on its own.

Scribe: Finish this sentence: As a writer, having a community is/means _____________________________.

AW: As a writer, having a community means building a feedback loop of creative energy.

Thank you, Amanda!

About the WLT Fellowship Program:

The WLT Fellowship Program offers emerging writers the opportunity to spend a full year honing their craft and learning about the business of writing.

Each WLT Fellow receives tuition-free access to a curated slate of classes, no fewer than two per month, plus special post-class sessions with the instructors. In addition, each WLT Fellow is invited to attend the annual Agents & Editors Conference in Austin, TX, with the registration fee waived and hotel accommodations provided, plus the opportunity to meet one-on-one with a literary agent during the weekend-long event.

The application process for the 2022 WLT Fellowship Program will open in November 2021.

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