Elane Johnson is a third-time attendee of HippoCamp and, this year, she’s part of our speaker line-up. She’ll be talking book proposals at our flash sessions on Sunday. We can’t wait to hear from her. In the meantime, we asked Elane a few questions about her upcoming participation in our writing conference.


HM: Hippocampus: Without sharing any spoilers, what can attendees expect from your flash session?

EJ: Attendees who come to this year’s flash session can expect to learn from me the precise meaning of “flop sweat,” plus they’ll take away a deeper understanding of the necessity of the Ta-Ta Towel. Those are the main things. But, as a bonus, they may also pick up a tip or two about writing kick-ass proposals that make editors and agents go, “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh,” and maybe even pass a tiny trumpet of gas as they relax for the first time in, like, forever. I think that attendees of all levels who are actively pursuing publishing or folks who find amusement in watching a chunky woman fall for a surprisingly long time and then struggle to get up will benefit from the content and horror humor of my presentation.

Literary citizenship is so important today, and by being part of our conference, you’re contributing to the CNF community — why is sharing with others important to you?

As a writer and teacher, I understand that without sharing, there would be no writing, no learning. No Twitter. Writers of CNF have a responsibility to support their fellows and to share knowledge that will strengthen the community—of writers and of all humans—by revealing universal truths that help people bond and that light the way for other writers. There is plenty of room for all writers, and being a writer is not a competition. Except writing competitions and Ph.D. programs. But you know what I meant.

What about visiting the Lancaster region excites you the most?

The second most compelling reason to visit Lancaster: I cannot wait to have the one-of-a-kind artisanal cheese plate at the Marriott’s Penn Station Grille. Each year, I try to recreate it at home for a couple of weeks because I miss it so. Fail! Besides cheeses that make you swoon, this thing has grapes that have been soaked in port wine, and I know damn well it’s what the angels eat.

What was a recent and memorable work of creative nonfiction you read – whether a book or shorter piece? (And what did you love about it?)

Now, if you’re looking for a heavenly way to spend a few hours, grab David Sedaris’s new CNF, Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977-2002. I was kind of miffed by the early diary entries, and I thought, “Are you freaking kidding me? If somebody can charge $28 a pop for adolescent drivel, I’m sure as hell going to dig up all those spiral notebooks that I’ve been lugging around since 6th grade.” But, then, I read the whole book. I belly-laughed; I sobbed; I once again recognized the genius of David Sedaris and how expertly he structures his books for maximum everything and how much I want to flee to London to stalk him, but he’s married to his former boyfriend, so he’d only see me as that chunky woman who’s there to scrub the nooks and crannies of his bathroom with a toothbrush. Sighhhh.


Elane, you gave us lots of great things to look forward to here, but we’re mostly salivating over those grapes. See you at the restaurant, er, conference, soon!

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