When did you first feel like a writer?
I’d have to say that focusing on writing got me through really tough times as a shy, quirky teen: it provided a framework through which to see the world, a way to process a hypersensitivity to people and interpersonal dynamics, and an exciting, super-secret mission that lent escape and excitement to a challenging childhood.  I still like super-secret missions.
What's your philosophy about teaching a writing class?
I believe it’s essential to create an open, friendly, craft-focused community, where we all recognize we’re not here just for praise: we’re here to get better at our craft.  I like to look at stories first for what they’re trying to do: what tradition they fit into (experimental, realistic, scifi, mystery, tragedy) and then find ways to help them along. There are lots of different ways to write “well,” and advice & support should help a story (and writer) along it’s (her) own path.  And I like to ensure all comments are constructive and presented in a way that motivates the writer to make the project better.
And a little praise and camaraderie doesn’t hurt us all either: us writers are sometimes strange birds and we need to hang together.
If you could meet any fictional character, who would it be and why?
While it’s kind of a “wishing for more wishes” answer, I’d love to hang out with Dr. Who and go for Tardis rides.  Seems like you get to meet just about everyone that way. If we could tardis into books, I’d love to meet some of Deborah Eisenberg’s quirky, dreamy characters, hear Sonny play music out of James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues,” and go down the crazy well with Murukami’s character in “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.”


Doug Lawson’s fiction has been cited as a 2014 Distinguished Story by the Best American anthology, received an Honorable Mention from the O. Henry Awards, and has appeared in a good number of literary publications, including multiple times in Glimmer Train Stories and the Mississippi Review, as well as in Passages North, the Sycamore Review, and other places. He’s won Glimmer Train’s yearly Fiction Open, received a Transatlantic Review Award for fiction, a Henfield award, and a fellowship from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, and his books include A Patrimony of Fishes, Beasts of the Walking City (as Del Law), and Bigfoots in Paradise (forthcoming from Red Hen Press). He lives in downtown Cville, and his blog is online at


“He was very personable and knowledgeable. He presented the information in a very usable way.”

“Doug was open and supportive and patient. Very much “no pressure” while still encouraging people to speak up.”

“He created a safe, judgement-free learning zone. He knows his stuff, but doesn’t take himself too seriously.”

“Very conversational and made me feel comfortable.” 

“He was great—personable, lighthearted, sympathetic.”

“Doug’s personal experience as a writer and his supportive approach make him a great instructor.”


“The Night Witches” published by New World Writing