Mentor Kaitlyn Greenidge’s debut novel We Love You Charlie Freeman landed on March 8th and we couldn’t help but respond with our love for Kaitlyn. Ahead of its publication, we had the pleasure of asking Kaitlyn a few questions about her role as mentor, her relationship with her mentee Angel Pizarro, and her life as a writer.
How have you and Angel grown together as a pair and individually as writers?
During our first meeting, Angel set as a goal that she would like to try new things and push herself to seek out new experiences. So we’ve tried to think of new places in the city to visit that neither of us have been to before. So far, we’ve gone to a really great bookstore in Koreatown (Angel is super interested in Korean culture and language), Museo Del Barrio for the exhibit on the Young Lords — a movement neither of us knew much about, but we learned a lot and were able to make really great connections with present day politics, news, and art.
What has your experience been like writing and publishing your debut novel? What has it been like working with Angel during that time?
Honestly, I have had a dream experience in that my publisher has been very supportive, especially since I am a debut author. I have a really wonderful editor and publicist and an agent who respected the amount of time I needed to try and get the book right. As for Angel, I have to say, I am continually impressed and inspired by her courage, self-awareness, and ability to analyze her surroundings. It’s great to talk with her about all these things and it inspires me to keep working hard and writing — since Angel works really hard each week to keep up with school, family, job and Girls Write Now commitments.
In publishing your first novel, you’ve just showed your mentee that dreams come true. What have you shared with Angel about your writing experience?
We talked about writers’ block, and how often times it can stem from other emotional blocks in our lives — how if we are are unsure about a personal issue, it can make us unsure in our writing. We talked about just sitting down and trying to write through it rather than worrying about what other people might think or feel about your writing. We talked about honoring your own feelings and reactions in your writing as a strategy to work past emotional blockages.
What has been your highlight as a pair so far? What are you looking forward to?
Once school work calms down, I look forward to taking more field trips together. I’m looking forward to hearing about Angel’s choice for college — I’m so excited that I get to see her prepare for this next step. She is so persevering and thoughtful, I have no doubt she’s going to be a great student, and I think great things are in store for her. I have to say, reading the news everyday, it can seem like there’s very little hope for our future. But the work of Girls Write Now and, most importantly, the girls in the program, gives me tremendous hope and excitement about what the future holds in store. I can’t wait to see what these girls dream up in the coming years.