Contributor Interview

EL Barker

Spotswood high school

Pen Laird, Virginia

UNL: Tell us a little more about yourself. When did you first start writing? Why and how is writing important to you?

ELB: I’ve been scribbling words on paper since I could hold a pen, and my sister with her magical abilities could “interpret” the scribbles. I remember my first try at writing a book was around ten years old and I still have the notebook I was writing in. It’s important to me to remember and respect that little girl that just wanted to tell a story, even if her plot wasn’t the best.


UNL: Would you mind sharing how the piece you wrote came into being? What was your process like for creating it? How do you determine what is important to write about?

ELB: I had been having medical issues and was up at three AM staring at the ceiling and thinking. I decided to grab the nearest sheet of paper and started writing about the cloth. The very next morning I read it to my mom, and I had never seen her more proud. I enjoy writing about things that aren’t talked about in everyday society and if it makes people think then I did my job right.


UNL: Do you have a favorite place to write?

ELB: I love writing at my neighbors with four dogs all trying to cuddle with me. They’re adorable distractions.


UNL: We know you’re not from our usual regional pull of student writers, but how has the landscape and environment of home affected the way you write and what you write about? We all were so impressed by the scope and range of time and space in your story and how it stretches past regional boundaries. Would you speak to this?

ELB: Growing up in the mountains of Virginia creates a very caged environment. Many people are farmers, and at one point poultry outnumbered humans. But I also live on the edge of a city where there are malls and cinemas. I think my home made me into a very respectful person because of the fact that I grew up on two extremes.  The valley will always be my home, but I hope one day the world will be open to my exploration.


UNL: What you do you plan on pursuing after school? Have you thought of what your next steps will be? If so, how will writing factor into these next steps?

ELB: The current plan is to become an editor. I’m hoping to go to Mary Baldwin University and Major in English with a Minor in Creative Writing. Writing is something that I love but I don’t believe I will ever be good enough for it to be a job, but I hope that being an editor will still make that part of me happy.


UNL: Would you mind sharing what you’re currently reading?

ELB: I’m almost always rereading any of the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling, but I also just finished reading Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden.


UNL: Do you have any reading recommendations or advice for aspiring student writers in the upper Midwest?

ELB: The only advice I have is that someone out there will support your writing and they’ll be your biggest fan. For me, that’s my mom, who keeps me sane and is still proud of me for my scribbles when I was four.


UNL: Where can we go to read more of your work? Anything else you’d like to share with us?

ELB: I’m currently not published anywhere else but I do occasionally update my ongoing novel A Circle on tapastic under the username WritingEvil. However, I’m currently planning to redo the entire story during November for NaNoWriMo.


EL Barker

I'm E.L. Barker. I was born and raised in Virginia for the full sixteen years of my life. I'm currently going to Spotswood High School but dream of going to Mary Baldwin University to Major in English. I've been writing and telling stories since I could hold a pen, though most are barely legible. I hope to continue having something meaningful to write about for the rest of my days.