Friday, March 15, 2013

Guest Author: Michelle Izmaylov


Today's I'm hosting Best Selling Author Michelle Izmaylov. I have known Michelle and her sister Nicole (featured yesterday) for a few years now, and have recently signed them to represent a book that they have co-authored. These two young ladies never seize to amaze me. Not just with their writing talents but also their personal accomplishments. To just name one ~ Last week Michelle was accepted into Duke Medical School! Enough said, right?! :)

Michele's Post: 

It was recently my great honor to be one of nine students instructed by Salman Rushdie in his Master Class in Creative Writing at Emory University. Though he had much advice to share, perhaps the most important relates to how we are taught to approach writing as budding authors. Write what you know, our teachers tell us. This is precisely what I attempted to do for so long: examine the minutia of human nature around me and recreate what I observed in text, such as familiar family conflicts or what I observed happening between my friends. 

However, Rushdie’s classes reminded me that it is important to experiment with many kinds of writing (especially for younger writers who have not yet established themselves within a given area). Because realistic fiction is the most familiar form, it is also the most explored area of writing. There is little innovation to be achieved, little new ground to cover. You may want to search for other areas of literary craft in which to stake a claim. 

For example, magical realism is far less explored, which deals with stories where magical elements are a natural part of an otherwise realistic, ordinary environment. And to truly stake your unique claim to territory in the literary market, I believe more writers should begin to look for literature that comes from a different place in the mind than what feels safe. For instance, I feel comfortable writing about love and what it means from the perspective of a young college student. I can also easily write about unrequited heartache in the ordinary setting of my school. However, this is a story nearly anyone on campus can tell. While I can make a college love story more desirable on the basis of language use and imagery, it would be easier to interest readers with a story that is truly unique. Such a story does not have to come from your own life; it can be drawn from careful research into events happening anywhere in the world. The most accessible places, like the crime pages of your local newspaper, can be a place to seek out unusual stories that have not yet been told. From there you can craft truly original stories rather than rehashed versions of that which has already been done by others.

Michelle Izmaylov is a medical student whose left and right brains are constantly at war, so she is on a trajectory to become a writer, illustrator, and physician. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Emory Pulse, a literary journal that publishes an annual anthology of short stories written by Emory’s students, and also a research coordinator for the Trauma Recovery Program at the VA Medical Center. Michelle has received extensive recognition for her writing in all genres, including the 2010 Blumenthal Award for Best Undergraduate Essay, a 2011 Forward National Literature Award in General Fiction, and a 2012 Artistine Mann Award in Creative Nonfiction for Best Nonfiction. 

To read more about Michelle take a look at her CNN interview

I'd like to give Michelle and Nicole a special thanks for participating in this tour and for sharing their pearls of wisdom on writing with us. I wish you ladies all the best! 

Happy writing my friends!


  1. Thank you for sharing your experiences from this course and I wish you the best of luck with your future endeavors!

  2. I started writing magical realism before I heard the term. I later heard a great definition. "It's writing about things that COULD be real."