Maurice Carlos Ruffin, the newest Grisham writer-in-residence, is teaching an advanced fiction workshop at the University of Mississippi for the 2020-21 academic year, while creating new works of his own.
“I am looking forward to getting a lot of work done. This Grisham program is great because it’s designed to give writers like me the time to create new work,” Ruffin said. “I’m just getting started now, but I really have a feeling – a positive feeling – that I’m going to get a lot of good writing done here.”
Ruffin is originally from New Orleans, and he is currently a creative writing professor at Louisiana State University. He described it as “a lot of fun with so many great people and great food.”
He said that he usually starts his day off either with exercise or writing (or reading), and he wants to make sure that he is moving forward in his life. Since Ruffin has always been good at storytelling and writing, he felt that it was written in the stars for him to become a writer.
He gets inspiration from life experiences and the people that he cares for. In fact, his characters are often based on New Orleans residents. However, writing stories with impact is not an easy task to accomplish, according to Ruffin.
“One of the hardest things while writing is getting started because you have a blank page, and you don’t know what you’re going to write about until you start writing,” Ruffin said.
Ruffin’s novel “We Cast a Shadow,” published last year, is drawing a lot of attention from critics and the public alike. The novel was nominated for six different awards, one of them being the Iowa Review Award.
“It’s about a family dealing with racism in the future, and I like it personally because I enjoyed writing it, which was important to me. And secondly, I feel like it speaks to the present moment where people have so many questions about race in America,” Ruffin said.
He is currently working on a short story collection as well as a new novel that he just started here at the university.
For all the new or struggling writers out there, Ruffin stated that it’s important to read as much as possible in order to become familiar with the techniques of being a good writer.
“It’s also important to reach out to people who can give you advice, whether those are teachers or writers in the world, or even just people in your life you trust to tell you how they feel about what you wrote.”
Ruffin said he’s very grateful to the university and John and Renee Grisham for the opportunity.
“This is a wonderful opportunity, and I’m very thankful for the opportunity to be the Grisham writer-in-residence,” Ruffin said.