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Five Questions with Graduating Seniors, Diana Metzger, Sam Wilder & Stephen Zerance

By K. Tyler Christensen


Diana Metzger | Nonfiction Candidate

CA: How is the thesis going? Finished or scrambling?

DM: I'm in an exciting place with my thesis: I have some great bones and now it's time to begin filling that with blood and guts and vital organs. My thesis is part of a larger full length memoir that I'll continue to work on long past graduation and I think I have a solid start.

CA: If I were to pick up your book tomorrow what would the synopsis inside the book jacket read?

DM: I won't give away the good stuff and a synopsis will fluctuate, but I will say that it's a memoir that involves a journey that continues past what will be the last page.

CA: If you could be "blurbed" by any author who would it be and what would they say?

DM: I still say being blurbed by Oprah or Obama is a nice golden ticket. If I'm being serious and still shooting for the moon, I'd be honored to be blurbed by Cheryl Strayed and Joan Didion--two great lady memoirist's who are bold and vulnerable at the same time. I'd also buy a lifetime supply of Diet Pepsi and red tulips if Richard McCann would blurb me.

CA: What has the MFA been like for you? How has the MFA made you a better writer?

DM: The AU MFA has been a fantastic experience. I came in ready to be back in school and knew what I wanted from a MFA. I think those two things ended up being assets for me. After working in LA for three years, it was a real thrill and luxury to get to hit the books again. I also came from TV writing; I knew I had the dialogue thing down, but my prose structure and my grasp of how to really work a sentence were weak. Stephanie Grant was my first workshop professor and she had me looking at my work at the punctuation level alongside the story level: that was huge for me, and exactly what I wanted and needed. I've also learned from this experience that unlike TV writing, prose affords you the time and space to slow down and not just to smell the roses, but to be able to write about how they look and smell and make you go back to your senior prom. I really credit Richard and Elise for that help. I also had a professor in undergrad who told me that nobody cares about the life of a twenty-something so write something else, and I thank Andrew for proving her wrong and pointing me back towards myself. I also credit David for making me translate poetry and really have to zero in on the intentions of a single word. I also thank Middent's for allowing me to continue exploring my love of film and television and showing me that I can incorporate all my interests, I just have to be creative.

CA: Graduation speech, please.

DM: I think I've typed too much already. My speech: Thank you mom and dad for giving me their blessing to leave a paying job with a clear path to pursue a bold, lifelong, lofty dream/ Now I can focus on the fact that I'm getting married in a few months/ Does anyone know a good agent?


Sam Wilder | Fiction Candidate


CA: How is the thesis going? Finished or scrambling?

SW: Not finished, but not scrambling.  I'm more worried about formatting at this point.  There's rumor of a woman who lives in the dungeons of Bender Library whose job is to measure page margins within .0001 of an inch.  Story goes, she hasn't seen natural light for over a decade and sustains herself on the tears of graduate students.

CA: If I were to pick up your book tomorrow what would the synopsis inside the book jacket read?

SW: "Rednecks, moonshine and natural disasters.  The stories in this collection [can you tell I haven't chosen a hard-and-fast title yet?] are drenched in blood and whiskey, but still manage to find moments of light amidst the darkness."

CA: If you could be "blurbed" by any author who would it be and what would they say?

SW: I would choose Janet Evanovich, and she would probably say, "If it hadn't had been for the large amount of money Sam Wilder bribed me with, I would've put this book down after the second paragraph. The only positive thing I can say about Wilder's book is at least it was written in English, but just barely."

CA: What has the MFA been like for you? How has the MFA made you a better writer?

SW: My experience in AU's MFA program has been…interesting.  It's helped me become a better writer by forcing me to sit down and either write or think critically about my peers' writing.  

CA: Graduation speech, please.

SW: "Three years ago, I started a journey.  I'm now at that journey's end and I'm in debt.  Are there any girls in the audience who come from wealthy families?  Would you be interested in getting coffee or getting married?"


Stephen Zerance | Poetry Candidate


CA: How is the thesis going? Finished or scrambling?

SZ: Not finished but not exactly scrambling. I'm confident that I have something.

CA: If I were to pick up your book tomorrow what would the synopsis inside the book jacket read?

SZ: "Stephen Zerance goes all. the. way. This is a book about killing off your old self and emerging in a new skin and everything that comes in between." Someone else would write this.

CA: If you could be "blurbed" by any author who would it be and what would they say?

SZ: Oh there are so many. I'll just name some authors I'm reading right now: C. Dale Young, Aaron Smith, Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon.

I'd love for Lindsay Lohan to get caught stealing my book. I think she would because there's a poem about her in it. I don't even think stealing literature would violate her probation...it's not like she's reading scripts right now.

CA: What has the MFA been like for you? How has the MFA made you a better writer?

SZ: I wouldn't be the writer I am today without my MFA experience. I learned to take it seriously. Sometimes I even call myself a poet.

CA: Graduation speech, please.

SZ: As RuPaul, the great philosopher of the 21st century says: If you can't love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love any one else? Amen.


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