For author Kim van Alkemade, the writing process started with a short line in an historical archive from the Hebrew Orphan Asylum about how to deal with eight incoming bald headed orphans.

On September 24, the English Department’s Visiting Writers Series commenced with Alkemade, author of “Orphan #8.”

Alkemade began the event by describing the process of researching her historical fiction novel. For the author, the subject and setting of the novel was very close to home.

“My grandpa, Victor, grew up in the Hebrew Orphan Asylum,” said Alkemade. “It seemed like a subject we weren’t supposed to discuss…so I was really interested in finding out more about what his childhood life was about.”

By requesting historical documents and interviewing surviving subjects from the orphanage, Alkemade developed the story of a young nurse in 1919 who realizes that she was a subject of medical research while in the care of an orphanage as a child.

Alkemade performed a reading of part of her novel for the audience followed by a question and answer session about the development of her novel as well as the process of finding and working with an editor.

By hosting a question and answer session, students who are interested in the creative writing field were able to ask questions about the creative writing process and what it takes to become a published author.

Students who had read Alkemade’s book for class attended the event.
“As a writer, it was helpful to hear about her writing process,” said sophomore Hunter Peterson.

“All these writers are about exposing you to new things but at the same time inspiring you to go and do your own work,” said creative writing professor Kathlene Postma who also is an organizer of the Visiting Writers Series.

The Visiting Writers Series will feature poets, fiction and nonfiction writers.

The upcoming speaker, poet Jericho Brown, will perform on October 27 at 7:30 p.m. in Taylor Auditorium in Marsh Hall.

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