Novelist Laurie Frankel's Writing Passion

Writer's Symposium

When Laurie Frankel speaks, people listen. Perhaps it's because she's spent years as a college professor or maybe it's because she's an expert storyteller whose words create images. Either way, she owned every room she spoke to as this year's Overlake Writer's Symposium featured speaker.

Frankel is the author of the New York Times bestselling book This is How it Always Is which is her third novel. "I could do this all day," says Frankel. "It’s really exciting to be back at school talking with students. Overlake’s sense of ‘We want you to talk, but we also want you to teach, but also want you to be a guest in our clubs’ is really nice and a welcome change from a book tour!”

This is How it Always Is tells of the story of a family made up of five children. As the parents of all boys, the family comes to accept and learn from the decision by the youngest child that is transgender. Although Frankel is the parent of a transgender child, she's quick to say that the story is not a memoir, but rather a complicated story of revelations, transformations, fairy tales, and family. She guided students through her experience of writing the book through editors, agents, publishers, critics, and fans. She credits her love of reading to be a better author and read 63 books during the writing process of This Is How It Always Is.

Upper School students read This is How it Always Is ahead of the Seattle author's visit, and students couldn't seem to put the book down after it was assigned. "I read the first sixty pages of the novel as required by my English teacher, stood up and stepped outside in the snow, came back inside and proceeded to finish the next 277 pages in one sitting," says Jaquelin N. ('19) who introduced Frankel in the morning assembly. "I turned every page because this novel is about more than transgender transformation. It's about a child's desire to express herself, a family's love, society's learning process, and, most importantly, the ability to live not as one or the other but instead to live in between."

Frankel says that makes her day at Overlake so different from a book signing. "It makes for a much deeper conversation because by reading the book I'm not spending time on the plot or story," says Frankel. "It gives us more time to focus on the writing process." That process was discussed in two writing workshops that Frankel lead with dozens of writing students in Discovery Hall. Leading the students through writing exercises, she offered tips and advice on writing from her experiences and those that spoke before her. "The last thing I want to do is suggest that you have to do all these things in life to be a great writer," Frankel told the students. "That said, there are similarities that we all can learn from in the process which do make a difference."

On Friday evening, Overlake will host the symposium with Frankel for all our community members including alums and the public. It's free and begins at 7:00 p.m. in the Library. Click here for more details.