Graduate of Cedar Crest College MFA Program to Publish First Book in March
All students in Cedar Crest College’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program have a goal of writing and publishing a book once they’ve graduated. And Terese Brasen is the first of the program’s graduates to achieve that goal. San Francisco-based independent book publisher Outpost19 is publishing her book, entitled “Kama,” on March 1.
The story centers on a teenage Viking girl named Kama and is set in 935 A.D. A feminist novel, the story deals with the subjugation, torture, and murder of women during that time in history. It is told from Kama’s point of view as well as by her grandmother. The inspiration for the book came from her family’s Scandinavian heritage and her collegiate studies of Scandinavian literature during which she learned about the Viking slave trade of women to the eastern world in exchange for silver.
“Writing a book is a risky experience and a little scary,” said Brasen. “I am showing everyone my inner world and letting them know what I imagine and think. I worked for two years from 5-6 a.m. every morning before going to work. I spent that hour living a very brutal life with Vikings before going to my corporate writing job. I am thrilled now that others will meet the characters from my inner world.”
Known as a low-residency, the Pan-European MFA in Creative Writing program started in 2012 and features three 15-day summer residencies coupled with distance learning for a total of 48 credits. In 2013 students visited Dublin, followed by Barcelona in 2014, and Vienna in 2015.
MFA degrees are offered in poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction, as well as dual-genre tracks. The faculty consists of award-winning, internationally acclaimed writers. Cedar Crest’s program is the first graduate-level creative writing program offered by an American college with residencies that take place exclusively in Europe.
“The three residencies are designed to help inspire the students as writers and to get them thinking about the importance of place and artistic tradition in these historic cities, as well as about global and cultural awareness,” said Fred Leebron, MFA Program Director. “The goal of the program is for students to graduate with a publishable-quality work in one or more writing genres while enhancing their creative writing skills, and preparing them for a successful career in a writing-related field.”
Each 15-day summer residency includes workshops, seminars, field experiences, and face-to-face classroom instruction from faculty. During the fall and spring semesters students work individually with a faculty member via online communication, creating and submitting work, and receiving feedback from their faculty mentor.
“Terese had a vision for her book when she entered the MFA program,” said Leebron. “She wanted to pursue her passion for writing and her dream of publishing a book. Her book is deeply realistic with a fully realized world, albeit a grim one. The story has urgency, risk, intimacy, and scope.”
A resident of Alberta, Canada, Brasen benefitted from the MFA’s distance-learning mentorship approach, since it didn’t require onsite classroom work at the Allentown-based college.
“The Cedar Crest MFA has changed my life,” said Brasen. “Writers need readers, not just after the book is published, but throughout the writing process. I wanted to make sure my readers and mentors were giving me the best possible advice available. And that’s what I received from the MFA. As we worked on the drafts, I could feel my book becoming stronger, more meaningful and more publishable. I’ll always be connected to Cedar Crest in some way. It is much more than a certificate or credential. I received invaluable advice and support. Now when I have a story idea, I am confident that I have the skills to tell that story well.”
“Kama is an important addition to our list,” said Jon Roemer, Outpost19 Publisher and Senior Editor. “It’s wonderfully crafted, and it’s a fascinating contribution to feminist literature. We’re proud to support the debut work of an author with immense talent and insight.”