Novelist speaks at conference

by Thane Hale, Staff Writer

FEATURES_StephanieDiaz_courtesyAuthor and San Diego State Alumna Stephanie Diaz spoke at the 31st annual SDSU Writers’ Conference held from Jan. 23-25 at the Marriott Hotel in Mission Valley.

Diaz said her interest in writing started at a young age.

“It stems from a love of reading, mostly,” she said. “But I have always liked to make up worlds. It’s partly fantasy because I can’t do interstellar stuff, or go to other galaxies, but I can write about it. It’s also a way of getting my ideas out. I’m kind of an introvert, so it’s easier to write sometimes than to talk.”

Diaz studied film production at SDSU and took screenwriting classes, in which she learned many skills useful for storytelling, but she has practiced writing for most of her life. She has wanted to be a writer since she was 5 years old. She proposed stories to publishers three times over seven years until she was eventually accepted. Meanwhile, she graduated in 2013.

Her young-adult science fiction novel, Extraction, was published in July 2014 and her next novel is due out in February.

An article about Diaz was published in the Cosmopolitan Latina magazine. Seeing the article, SDSU Writers’ Conference Coordinator Erin Quinn asked her to be a speaker.

The conference covers all genres of writing and will have workshops, one-on-one consultations with industry professionals, and other events to help prospective writers.

The speakers include authors, editors and literary agents. Diaz was part of the workshop The Young Adult Debut: Author/Agent/Editor Panel on Saturday, Jan. 24.

The writers’ conference has grown to become one of the most respected in the country. Many books have had their start there, being proposed and accepted by one of the editors. Prestigious speakers have included presidents and vice-presidents of book publishers, and often New York Times best-selling authors. Keynote speakers this year were MacGregor Literary Inc. President Chip MacGregor and New York Times best-selling author and award winner Jonathan Mayberry.

Quinn, who is a New York Times best-selling author herself, described why she liked working on the conference.

“When you go to a conference like this, the creative buzz in the room almost makes you high. Everybody is just so excited and there is all this creative energy running around. People are just bouncing around. It’s electric, it’s amazing.”