Alex Albright Interview – Part-One 2-22-15

 2015 Pamlico Writers Conference and Competition

March 21, 2015 8:30am to 6pm

The Turnage Theatre

150 W. Main Street, Washington, NC 27889

Hello and thanks again for stopping by. Today we’re pleased to present our first of a two-part interview with another of our conference presenters, Professor, Alex Albright, ECU – Creative Writing-Nonfiction. The afternoon workshop Professor Albright will be presenting is called, “More Than the Facts: How Creative Nonfiction Transforms What Happened.” With so many articles on the internet about Creative Nonfiction, this session I believe will prove more helpful. First because you’ll have someone knowledgeable in the field presenting it to you. Second he’ll also be able to answer your questions on how you can use this style in your own writing. This one of a kind workshop and should prove very beneficial to all who attend. Now let me share with you a little about Alex Albright.

Alex Albright photo  2015




Alex Albright, Creative Writing, Nonfiction professor ECU
(photo by Tom Whelan)

He wrote, “The Forgotten First: B-1 and the Integration of the Modern Navy”, published by R.A. Fountain (October 2013), and is the story of a NC-based Navy band comprised of the first African Americans to serve at rank higher than messman. He and his wife also operate R. A. Fountain, bookseller, publisher and part-time music venue and internet cafe. In 2012 they won the NC Folklore Society’s Brown-Hudson Award for special contributions to “the appreciation, continuation, or study of North Carolina folk traditions.”

The Bertie Fearing Excellence in Teaching Award
R. Hunt Parker Award, NC Lit and History Society
Founding Editor, North Carolina Literary Review

Now on to our interview with Professor Alex Albright:

Q.  As a writer of history and creative nonfiction, is the research or the writing more rewarding?

A.  Not much is more rewarding than seeing the two come together. Research, for me, is often the more compelling task, especially so long as it continues to lead me in new and unexpected directions. And those new directions make it, sometimes, too easy to postpone the writing a little longer. It seems rare that I get far in the writing part without continuing to discover more research that needs to be done. But once I’m satisfied that the research is exhausted, I find a new kind of pleasure in manipulating structure and finding the best way to begin–which often doesn’t happen until near the end.

Q.  In writing historical nonfiction, how do you separate the creative from the historic?

A.  If what you’re writing is a novel, your responsibility to “fact” is less rigid: don’t intrude historical inaccuracies that will hinder your credibility. But if what you’re writing is creative nonfiction, it’s good to remember that the “c” part of the genre is really more about how you present your story than about how you enliven it imaginatively. CNF, for me, is still as historically accurate as possible, although there is always room for a strong speculative voice that can have the power of revising how historical facts might be seen.

Q.  Of your different writing genres, which is the one that feeds you emotionally and keeps you writing?

A.  Although my career has been built around editing and the writing of nonfiction and creative nonfiction, I still keep coming back to a poly sci-fi novel I’ve been working on for 25 years. And I’ve also still got too many boxes of research files that need attending. Just thinking about those files makes me want to get back into them, when I’m finally caught up with everything else. So the emotional motivation that keeps me writing is the realization that my time to get these things done is slipping away with every distraction I allow into my life.

Q.  What is the greatest stimulus to your writing (social need, student need, a personal muse, sense memory, etc)?

A.  Most of my work is driven by a curiosity to know how & why something happened. I’ve always been attracted to marginalized people and settings, and in those I find plenty of room for exploration. The mainstream seems to have a surplus of chroniclers; what we need, I think, are more people paying closer attention to the stories that, without close and immediate attention, will be forever lost. Eastern North Carolina is full of these stories; yet, many of the students whose work I read want to be elsewhere, writing about “there” instead of what they already know.

By Doris Schneider and Kaylene Wilson

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Don’t forget, the deadline to enter the writing competition is March 8, 2015.

Register early. Register soon.


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