On January 17, Mr. Reed Farrel Coleman, author of 14 novels, including seven in the Moe Prager mystery series, visited Pomfret as a guest speaker. With the hope of new experience and learning, Pomfret invited him to speak as part of the Tuesday Night Speaker Series. Mr. Coleman is the former executive vice president of Mystery Writers of America. His novels have been translated into seven languages. As a prominent writer, he has received numerous awards, including the Shamus Award for Best Detective Novel of the Year and Macavity, Barry, and Anthony Awards. As a poet, Reed co-edited the poetry journals Poetry Bone and The Lineup. He also edited the short story anthology Hard Boiled Brooklyn. His short fiction, essays, and poetry have appeared in The Long Island Quarterly, Wall Street Noir, Brooklyn Noir 3, The Darker Mask, These Guns For Hire, Crimespree Magazine, and several other publications. Reed is an adjunct professor at Hofstra University.
During the question and answer session with Mr. Corrigan’s Mystery Literature class, who read Coleman’s Innocent Monster, the students were inspired by Mr. Coleman’s advice for aspiring writers and delighted by his friendly and approachable demeanor. When a student asked if he had any specific rules for writing, he emphasized his way of “building characters from the inside out” so that characters “resemble actual human beings.” However, he recommended the students develop their own specific styles as “one should do what works.” He further encouraged the young writers, regardless of genre, to fully live life, to observe the world, and to gain an understanding of the processes of emotions. He said, “Let your writing grow as you grow and try not to be easily discouraged. There are a lot of people in the world empowered to say no and very few empowered to say yes. Say yes to your efforts. Writing is just words on a screen or on a page. Don’t fall in love with what you’ve written. Fall in love with writing itself.”
While Mr. Coleman provided insightful advice, Pomfret students were engaged and eager with many questions about the author’s works and writing methods. After the session, Mr. Coleman acknowledged how impressed he was by the level of engagement of Pomfret students, remarking, “I love teaching my class at Hofstra University, but my students there are rarely as into it as you guys seemed to be. It seems to me that you are receiving a very high level—easily college level—English education. That will serve you all well as you go through life.” He stressed the importance of understanding literary context, which he believed was emphasized in Pomfret English classes.