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Multifaceted Author Gives Back at Principia
Posted By Trudy Palmer On February 16, 2012 @ 10:27 am In Uncategorized | 2 Comments
It would make introductions so much easier if one could just categorize Angela Sage Larsen (C’92) neatly. Children’s book author. Or artist. Actor, perhaps? How about author-with-a-conscience? But then there’s illustrator, publisher, workshop facilitator, Sunday School teacher . . . .
“I had actually planned on being a creative writing major when I arrived at Principia College [in 1988],” recounts Larsen, although at the time there was only one such class being offered. “But I got ‘distracted’ by art and theater. [And] the fact that I had such a strong liberal arts education and wonderful, encouraging professors inspired me go into the arts for a living.”
Years after graduating and working as a professional artist, Larsen returned to writing, developing the Petalwink storybook series based on paintings and sketches she had worked on over the years. Similarly, she had also drawn the bobby-soxer characters of her new Fifties Chix series before she began writing their story. “So it’s all come full circle—the art brought me back to writing, after all,” she says.
But it’s writing with a twist—or “kids’ lit with a conscience,” as Larsen and her husband and business partner, Whit Larsen (C’91), have dubbed it. The two of them are committed to celebrating children’s innocence as a way of countering popular notions about self-absorbed, materialistic teens. To this end, they self-published the first Petalwink book, which attracted an outside publisher for the rest of the series. A different publisher produces her Fifties Chix books. Larsen is also a proponent of good books with “strong girls.” However, having female lead characters doesn’t mean that the stories are just for girls. “On the contrary,” she is emphatic that “boys need to see and appreciate strong female characters just as much as girls do.”
Larsen herself often goes directly to her target audience—children in the middle grades—speaking to them in libraries and classrooms. Recently, our Middle School language arts department invited her to speak to sixth through eighth graders. With her signature mix of dramatic flair and ’tween-friendly dialogue, Larsen animatedly exchanged wisecracks with the students—while teaching them how to create strong, interesting characters for their works of fiction.
“Though the workshop is focused on developing characters for creative writing, there’s the underlying message to search for the qualities that express our own best character in real life and bring those qualities out,” Larsen explains. “The Prin students totally got it!”
Being naturally drawn to many of the books and movies that young adults take in, and teaching an eighth-grade Sunday School class, help Larsen keep pace with the dizzying changes between what’s in and what’s not among adolescents. However, she relates well to more mature audiences, too, including those at the College’s Summer Session. This summer, she’ll teach a course on the basics of getting published and how that relates to the writing process.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Larsen says, adding tongue-in-cheek, “The Summer Sessioners are almost as responsive as the middle schoolers!” Adults, show her what you’ve got!
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