Meet Sonya Huber. She’s a Buddhist, is married with one son, has written two memoirs, uses Twitter and is a new assistant professor here at Fairfield University. Huber received her masters in Public Interest Journalism from Ohio State University, and her favorite genre to write is creative non-fiction.
The Mirror: You’re a new teacher here, are you excited to be at Fairfield?
Sonya Huber: Yes. I was at Georgia Southern University before this and I’m excited to first come to a place that has both a graduate and undergraduate program and a smaller school where I can actually work close to students. And I’m very happy that there’s a literary journal and a focus on learning the craft and also learning what to do with it. All those things are really good.
Q: Are you excited about the Dogwoods Project?
A: I am. I’m doing a bunch of it every day. The thing I’m playing around with recently is to try and figure out how, for the next issue, to get it on Kindle and e-pubs, so we can sell it that way and also have it as a print copy. But I’m just really excited to talk with students about the submissions. It’s a great learning experience; there is no better learning experience for writers than to see what other people are writing.
Q: What is your favorite course to teach that you have taught or are hoping to teach here?
A: Well I teach creative non-fiction which I love. There’s an advanced non-fiction that I think will be literary journalism and I love that because you get to take creative writers and make them go out and research and do things and that’s always really fun–to take people who have been brooding on their own experience and say “Ok, now go out and observe something and write about it.” I really love the overlap between journalism and creative non-fiction. I don’t know if it’ll be the spring, it might be next spring.
Q: You’re doing the literary magazine and teaching World of Publishing, but is your field more in creative non-fiction writing?
A: That’s my main. I stared out as a poet when I was in grade school, wrote bad poetry. I was into fiction for a long time while I was also doing journalism for my day job. When I was thinking about going to grad school, I said I had this novel I want to write…wrote a really bad novel. At the same time I was taking a non-fiction class as a continuing ed. student and the faculty member who befriended me and took me under his wing said “Well, why don’t you apply in nonfiction.” The more I took his classes, the more I fell in love with the genre. I still do a little fiction from time to time but non-fiction is my thing.
Q: You wrote a memoir, “Opa Nobody.” Obviously the memoir is in the category of non-fiction, but do you think the memoir is the essence of creative non-fiction?
A: First, “Opa Nobody” is a piece of my life but then it’s also family history and then German history. And then, the second book is “Cover Me,” a health insurance memoir. So I’m really interested in t idea of trying to tell the same life story in different ways depending on your life focus. That’s a really interesting question of whether the memoir is the essence of creative non-fiction. I think no. I think the essence of creative non-fiction is trying to tell your own story and engage with the rest of the world at the same time. So like, I can’t commit. I like using research in my work too.
Q: So then, what do you think is the hardest thing about publishing, or at least being published?
A: I think for advising students and also for teachers and people who have been in the business for a while, the fact that things are changing so rapidly means that I often don’t even know what to tell students what direction to go into. I think you know as a field, say journalism as one example and book publishing as another example, there’s so much change that it’s hard to know how to adapt your writing to those new outlets. I can go on forever about this.
Q: So you had all these jobs from waitressing to canvassing to editing, and since you do non-fiction would you ever consider writing those novels where it brings an issue to light?
A: You mean more overtly political writing? I actually have done that. I’ve always done regular journalism on the side. I was a reporter for a number of years I worked on a regional magazine, and a weekly paper and then I’ve done editorial work on political issues. So when “Cover Me” came out—I had done commentary on health care legislation and I write a lot about health care and health care access. It’s weird because a lot of creative writers don’t do that, and so I don’t often talk about that writing in academia.