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Fall Conference 2022 Faculty Spotlight: An Interview with KaToya Ellis Fleming

We are excited that KaToya Ellis Fleming editor of Lookout Books will join us as a Manuscript Mart reviewer and faculty member for this year’s conference. Manuscript Mart provides writers with the opportunity to submit their manuscripts and get feedback from a leading editor or agent like KaToya Ellis Fleming. Fleming will also teach a course titled Write Like an Editor. A description of her course is listed at the end of this interview.

KaToya Ellis Fleming is an assistant professor of publishing arts at UNC Wilmington and editor at Lookout Books. She was previously in residence in Little Rock, Arkansas, as the 2019–20 Oxford American Jeff Baskin Writers Fellow. She holds a BA in English from Spelman College and an MFA in narrative nonfiction from the University of Georgia and is currently at work on “Finding Frank,” a bibliomemoir. Her work focuses on race and culture in the American South and has appeared in the Oxford AmericanThe Rumpus, and the Georgia Review and elsewhere.

Communications Director Katherine O’Hara spoke with Fleming about literary advocacy, her favorite spots in Wilmington that conference attendees should visit, and how she fosters time outside of writing.

Katherine O’Hara: In light of our current climate and with book bans across the country, what does it feel like to be a writer right now? What are writers’ responsibilities to the wider community?

KaToya Ellis Fleming: It feels…complicated to be a writer right now. But it always has. It also—as it always has—feels urgent and important. Writers have always challenged the world to look at itself because by our very nature we reckon on the page with life’s pain, its uncertainties. Given voice to its truths. There will always be those who try to silence truth. As writers, it is our responsibility—in spite of that—to keep on telling it.

KOH: For conference attendees visiting the Wilmington area for the first time, what favorite local spots would you recommend they visit?

KEF: My favorite restaurant in Wilmington is The Bridge Tender which isn’t far from the conference hotel. Definitely go there if you can get a reservation. And local indie bookstore Pomegranate Books is a must-visit for bookish folks. (Grab a cup of tea while you’re there.)

KOH: When you’re not writing, how do you like to spend the weekend? What are books or hobbies you’ve enjoyed lately?

KEF: When I’m not writing I enjoy hanging out at the local breweries and finding excuses to be at the beach (my latest excuse is amateur astronomy). This weekend I’m excited to dive into two books that have been on my to-be-read list for some time—The Secret Talker by Geling Yan and White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi.

Write Like an Editor with KaToya Ellis Fleming

So, you’ve written a book. Or a short story. Or an essay. Now comes the dreaded next step—revision. This workshop will give you some pointers on how to write with an editor’s eye. Learning some basic editing skills and knowing the differences between the different types of editing (Yep! There’s more than one!) can help you make stronger choices in your writing. Knowing how to strike the correct balance between action and exposition or dialogue and description can make the editorial process a little less painful and result in you having to kill fewer of your darlings (although some darlings’ deaths are inevitable, and we’ll discuss how to handle these). 

Learn more about Fall Conference 2022, including how to register for a Manuscript Mart meeting with Fleming and her Write Like an Editor course here.