MFA, fiction writer, and veteran ghostwriter for the popular Sweet Valley and Fearless YA series. Ms. Gersh recently published the YA novel The Summer of Skinny Dipping (Sourcebooks, 2010) under the pen name Amanda Howells, and her short stories have appeared in Tin House, One Story, Open City, The Believer, and The Mississippi Review, among others. She received fellowships from Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
People often assume that creative writing can’t be taught, that you either have a flair for it or you don’t. I agree that talent can’t be taught, and I don’t think you can teach someone to have something to say. But I believe effective instruction can help writers make extraordinary leaps. By challenging students’ preconceptions about writing; encouraging them to think critically as well as creatively; and fostering a supportive, yet demanding environment, I push my students to work their “writing muscles” hard, in service of the stories they most want to tell. Writing for teenage/young adult readers is no less demanding or artful than any other form. In my UCLA Extension class, students will learn how to craft authentic, memorable, unique characters that grab their teen readers’ attention from the very first word, and never let go.
Our Students Say it Best!
“Amanda was great. Her lectures were wonderful. She was extremely receptive to comments and ideas and was always challenging yet supportive at the same time. Great job!” — Writers’ Program Student