Writers-in-Residence hosts Dennis Lehane

Author of ‘Mystic River’ and ‘Gone Baby Gone’ draws crowds during three-day visit to Flagler College

By Jennifer Swift | gargoyle@flagler.edu

The Flagler College Auditorium was almost filled to capacity for Friday night’s reading by award-winning novelist Dennis Lehane.

Friday night’s event marked the end of Lehane’s visit to Flagler as the most recent Writer-in-Residence.
Lehane read from his upcoming novel, The Given Day, and took questions from the audience afterwards.

Lehane spent three days lecturing various classes before his reading Friday, feeling the urge to spread his knowledge with aspiring writers.

Mara Phillips, co-senior-editor of The Flagler Review, said it was an opportunity for students to “pick his brain and learn his strategies” of writing dos and don’ts.

Lehane makes a practice of visiting campuses in order to “send the elevator car back down,” Lehane said. “I am a product of good teachers.”

His best known work, Mystic River, became a critically acclaimed film in 2003, receiving two Academy Awards.

More recently, his novel Gone Baby Gone was developed into a critically-acclaimed film directed by Ben Affleck, and soon Leonardo DiCaprio and Sir Ben Kingsley will appear in a move based off of his novel Shutter Island.

Yet Lehane appears nonplussed by these happenings.

“You can buy an Oscar,” he said.

He defines his greatest honor as having one of his short stories published in Best American Short Stories in 2005.

“I dreamed about it as a teenager,” he said, viewing peer recognition as more important than Hollywood’s approval.

“I write to go someplace I’ve never been before,” he said about his writing. “When you write, you are God.”

Lehane has been quoted in past interviews as having said he would never personally develop any of his novels into a screenplay, comparing it to operating on his own child.

Lehane’s presence has proved to be one of the biggest name authors to visit Flagler to date, as President William T. Abare Jr. hailed his visit to be “probably one of the best events we have had on campus.”

“I am deeply honored that he would come to our campus to discuss his thoughts on writing and other matters that affected his career,” Abare said.

“Especially with someone like Dennis Lehane, who is one of the most well-known writers we’ve had, it’s a cultural experience of learning someone else’s creativity,” Phillips said.

The Writer-in-Residence program aims to help English and creative writing students develop their skills by bringing in writers to hold workshops and discussions.

“I think that, especially for the creative writing students, it gives them an opportunity to learn about the craft and the publishing side of writing,” Phillips said.

According to Phillips, the program is a chance for creative writing students to develop their own talents.
“You’re never just writing, you are writing in conjunction with other people,” Phillips said. “It’s more of a collaboration.”

Upcoming visitors for the Writers-in-Residence program will feature Flagler’s own Liz Robbins and Constantine Santas, among others. For more information, visit http://www.flagler.edu/writers/.

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