Rigorous and all-encompassing though the Hopkins curriculum is, some students are very explorative outside the classroom and pursue areas of personal interest, to unleash their creative talents into grand oeuvres. The Razor interviewed two young writers on campus: Tyler Stevens-Scanlan ’19, a comic book creator, and Caroline Vanderlee ’17, who has just completed a draft of her first novel.
Both students, who share a passion for literature, have produced creative stories. When asked how his interest in creating comics had developed, Stevens-Scanlan ’19 responded that “I've always taken pleasure in writing stories and after getting into the webcomics scene about three summers ago, I've been enamored with them as a medium for easily conveying tales without the need for intermediaries like publishers or the like.”
Vanderlee ’17 said that “I've always loved stories...and writing started out as an extension of that: I was just telling a story instead of hearing it...At the core, my love of writing comes from saying things that I feel need to be said.” Storytelling, was, and, of course, still is present in their lives and continues to feed their drives to seek the fulfillment of their ideas.
The writers were understandably reticent about revealing details of their work, but were happy to divulge the general premises. “I guess I could summarize it as high science fantasy,” said Stevens-Scanlan ’19 of his comic. “All that means is that I can have ghosts and gods and not play by any real rules, but at the same time have crazy space aliens. I've done more serious things before but I'd like to focus more on the characters while playing fast-and-loose with the setting.”
Vanderlee ’17 was willing to say that her novel is “set in space, about 400 years into the future, and follows a girl trying to unearth a conspiracy involving a missing persons case, a new strain of disease, and one very nasty politician.” On a characterization note, she added, “Space pirates make an appearance. Just throwing that out there.” The fleshing out of each student’s narrative installs a sense of vibrant life in accompaniment to their projects. Not just scrambled ideas on a napkin or messy notes in the margins of a notebook, these projects are arguably alive. Space pirates now seem all the more real.
Vanderlee ’17 indicated her passion for writing, but it is not synonymous with her career choice, saying, “I’m just going to see where [writing] takes me. I want to study science and engineering, not be a full-time writer, but that doesn’t mean I won’t try to get my writing out there.”
Stevens-Scanlan ’19’s response was similar: “I'd love for writing to be my job, comics or not, but I know how hard it can be to make a living in that sphere. I'm planning on getting my degree...in some sort of engineering or physics and writing on the side until I can make it my career.” He did, however, tell The Razor that he was “planning on buying my website [on February 11], actually. Hopefully if it gets some traction I can put it on some applications. I have a few written short stories I'm planning to edit and submit to competitions as well.”
When asked whether she thought of making a senior project out of her work, Vanderlee ’17 answered that “I thought about it, but ultimately decided not to, because I don't know how long editing my draft will take and I wanted to have some flexibility with it.” Thinking ahead to his senior year, Stevens-Scanlan ’19, who is currently a sophomore, said that “I plan on it, but I'm pretty sure it would be on a different new project, probably a standalone graphic novel or similar work.”