Session and Speaker Preview: Wendy Fontaine – Truth in Creative Nonfiction

wendy-fontaineWendy Fontaine is a returning HippoCamp speaker–and, as  California-resident, she is a contender for most miles traveled to get here. Last year she talked about memory, and her expertise in this area made her a perfect fit for our Truth in Creative Nonfiction panel. Wendy, a journalism professor at Pepperdine University, has been published in a variety of publications. We talked to her about her upcoming involvement in our conference.

Hippo: We don’t want to give too much away about your panel, but please share with us a golden nugget that you hope attendees will take away from your talk that isn’t found on the program description.

Wendy: I’m looking forward to a conversation about what truth in creative nonfiction really means. I’m a former journalist, and when I started writing creative nonfiction essays and memoir about six years ago, truth had a much more rigid definition than it has for me now.

After reading a lot of memoir and researching the neuroscience behind why we forget and why we remember, it became clear to me that there can be important meaning in the ways our memory malfunctions. Distortion is biologically inevitable, but in the hands of a skillful writer, distortions of memory can unlock more truth than memory itself.

What is your best advice for those attending a writing conference, whether it’s for newbies or veterans?

My best advice is to talk to everyone. HippoCamp is the friendliest conference I’ve ever been to. The staff, the writers and the attendees are kind and supportive. Not only will you make some great friends here, you will find people who energize your creative spirit. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Aside from speaking, what you are most looking forward to about being part of the HippoCamp?

I’m a huge, huge Mary Karr fan – who, by the way, also writes about distortions of memory in her book The Liars’ Club. So I’m looking forward to her keynote address on Aug. 13. I’m also excited to see and catch up with the friends I made at last year’s conference. I want to know what they’ve been writing lately.

What’s on your personal conference agenda? Perhaps share with us a session/event you don’t want to miss.

There are so many great sessions this year, but I’ll be sure to attend the agents and editors panel. Open mic night is a lot of fun too.

What are you most looking forward to about visiting Lancaster?

First of all, I love Lancaster! It’s one of the coolest little cities I’ve ever visited. Last year, I shook off my jet lag at Prince Street Café. I explored vintage stores, craft shops and art galleries. And at Central Market, I bought fresh raspberries and homemade soap and tried shoofly pie for the first time. This year, I’m going to stock up on those little Lancaster caramels. Yum!

We’re so excited that Wendy found Lancaster to be a fun and friendly place to visit, and we can’t wait to welcome her back to HippoCamp!