Q and A with Lora Zill
Lora Zill, a teacher at Gannon University, is a speaker and widely published writer of poetry and nonfiction. She is a quilter and a stained-glass artist who also works with beach glass. Lora also plays the guitar and sings with her church’s worship team.
She will be teaching “Writing to Feel God’s Pleasure” and “Writing as Creative Expression.”
Q: Lora, tell us a little bit about your childhood.
A: I grew up in a town in Clearfield County, central Pennsylvania, just like Mayberry R.F.D. The area was known for mining and my dad was in the coal business. I and my four younger sibs roamed the town and woods and swam and fished in the ponds and rode bikes over the abandoned mine fields. My mother warned us not to play in the sinkholes that dotted the landscape. I’ve lived in NW Pennsylvania for 40 years and love the area for its water. I’m surrounded by lakes, creeks, and rivers and have kayaked, canoed, tubed, or sailed most of them, including over 50 miles on the Allegheny River.
Q: What was one of your favorite books as a child?
A: Like most every girl my age, I devoured Nancy Drew mysteries. But I also loved Jack London’s adventure stories and science fiction.
Q: What are you currently reading for pleasure?
A: The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende and God Help the Child by Toni Morrison.
Q: Have you ever visited the home of a famous writer? Would you recommend such a trip to others and why?
A: When I was in New Orleans I walked past William Faulkner’s home and rode by Anne Rice’s home. That’s as close as I’ve ever gotten. I recommend a trip to New Orleans for any reason!
Q: What animal do you most identify with as a writer and why?
A: None, except I love cats and have named pets after literary figures, e.g. Pip in Great Expectations.
Q: Do you consider yourself an introvert, an extrovert, or somewhere in between?
A: I’m definitely an extrovert, but I also need down time to recharge. Writing is hard because it’s a solitary pursuit and I get energy from hanging around other people.
Q: Can you share a story about the most embarrassing or funniest day in your writing life?
A: My most embarrassing (and funny) day happened here at St. Davids while I was still director. A toilet in HAL flushed before I expected it and I was so surprised I made some funny noises without thinking. A conferee washing her hands at the sink asked if I was OK. “I heard you moaning in there!” So I told everyone I had found a bidet. The keynoter even wanted to try it. The jokes went downhill from there.
Q: What advice would you give attendees to help them make the most of their time at a writers’ conference?
A: Realize you have a lot to learn and be open to receiving advice. Some humility is in order, too. Many conferees want to be published, but don’t want to submit to the often grueling and difficult process of learning how to write. You have to love the art and craft of writing more than you love yourself. Begin growing your rhinoceros hide because you will need it to survive what can be a brutal business.
Q: What are you most looking forward to during your faculty stint at St. Davids Christian Writers’ Conference this June?
A: I really enjoy teaching, learning, and interacting with conferees. I encourage and enjoy class discussion and letting conferees explore and reflect on their writing/artistic process. My goal is to create an atmosphere where we can relax and have some fun playing with language and trying out new ideas.
Thank you, Lora. Learn more about Lora Zill by visiting her blog at https://thebluecollarartist.com/.