• Miller Kern

Author talks research, book series at 1st physical visit to Ball State

This article originally appeared in the Ball State Daily News

Award-winning author Eliot Schrefer visited campus March 10 for the first time – the first physical time, anyway. He’s spoken to English classes for four semesters through Skype.

Schrefer began his speech in Art and Journalism Building Room 175 by generating some laughs. He greeted his audience with, “It’s good to see you in full resolution.”

Schrefer’s talk was titled “Getting Others Into View: Crossing the Lines Between Teen and Adult, and Human and Animal, in Young Adult Literature.” He focused on his Great Apes book series, letting his audience gain a connection with the animals mentioned in his stories.

Bonobos were the main feature of Schrefer’s discussion. He showed pictures and videos of his experience with the apes in Congo. He sprinkled the visual elements with facts and jokes about the animals and his trip.

“It was interesting to hear about his experience in Congo,” Lauren Eades, a sophomore English education major, said. “Not every author gets to do that.”

Schrefer explained his writing process for his novel “Endangered.” He emphasized how important research is for a story. He discovered situations for his characters he didn’t even know existed prior to his research. The things he learned were included in his books as major plot points.

Audience members gained inspiration from his experience.

“I want to be a writer,” Lauren Cross, a junior English studies major, said. “So the whole time I was reading 'Endangered,' I was thinking, ‘Wow, he has a lot of experience.’ I liked getting to know him on a more personal level.”

The talk was open to the public, so attendees did not have to read Schrefer’s books to understand and enjoy his presentation. He included content that could be received by any audience member.

“What’s great about a speaker like Eliot is he brings the department together,” Susanna Benko, an assistant professor of English, said. “There are so many different majors in the department, and I hope all the students come together.”

After Schrefer was done speaking, the floor was open for the audience to ask questions. The questions led to further discussion of Schrefer’s writing for young adult literature. He explained the difference between writing for adults and writing for teenagers.

“I was impressed students were taking notes even though this wasn’t a class,” Schrefer said. “This was a very receptive audience.”

Schrefer and Benko will be available for a question and answer session from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. March 11 in Bracken Library Room 215.

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