A monthly roundup of writers past and present that we just can’t read enough of.
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Welcome to our monthly blog series in which we share some of our favorite writers, past and present. The Writers of the Month we feature are those writers who we always return to and no matter how many times we read them they make us feel something new. The ones who, when they announce a new book or film or television series, we go straight to the preorder page or queue it up. The writers whose Instagram stories we always watch and whose tweets we always retweet. The writers who feel almost like a real friend.
This series is not meant to determine the Best Writer, but rather to highlight the writers each of us at the American Writers Museum are particularly fond of in a given month, a day, a moment. We hope to introduce you to writers you’re unfamiliar with or inspire you to revisit a writer you haven’t read in a while. Perhaps you’ll see your favorite writer on one of our lists!
March is Women’s History Month, so we are featuring all women writers this month! You’ll also notice mostly screenwriters and the reason for this is twofold. One, we’ve watched a lot of TV this past year, as you surely have too. And two, we are excited to host bestselling author Jennifer Keishin Armstrong on March 23 to launch her forthcoming book When Women Invented Television: The Untold Story of the Female Powerhouses Who Pioneered the Way We Watch Today. Learn more about this book and register for the program here!
Edited by Nate King
You can’t see it at the moment, but I am bowing before the comedy writing genius of Tina Fey. She cut her teeth at Improv Olympic (goes by IO now, but just as I still call it the Sears Tower, there you have it) and Second City before making it to Saturday Night Live where she eventually became the first female head writer in SNL history. There was the defining movie Mean Girls, her book Bossypants, and the brilliantly absurd Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, but for me 30 Rock is the hands down favorite. It is dense with jokes and satire in layers and layers and still gets laughs with repeat viewing because the writing is incredibly insightful and just plain hilarious. 30 Rock is comedy high art and Tina Fey is its master.
—Christopher, Director of Operations
Who doesn’t remember The Office (of course the American version)? Mindy Kaling’s superb portrayal of Kelly Kapoor in the series earned her tons of accolades for her performance, but her comic genius shows in The Mindy Project. I hadn’t seen much of Indian American actors on screen and to be honest the portrayal of a lot of Indian characters hinged so much on weird prejudices (seriously, not ALL Indians have weird accents and we sure as hell don’t dress up like we are going to a wedding EVERY SINGLE DAY). Seeing The Mindy Project, I was so much relieved that while sarcastically satisfying the so-called assumptions (yes, she is a doctor in the series), she so brilliantly wrote about the struggles of a woman of color.
The Mindy Project is about Mindy Lahiri, an Obstetrician/Gynecologist in New York. The story follows Mindy as she strives to strike a balance between her personal and professional life while surrounded by quirky co-workers. Be it the relationships, the affinity for food, or the fact that women are far more intelligent than most people think, her comedic timing and the way she addresses all of these issues is simply amazing and a refreshing watch!
—Sonal, Assistant Director of Programming & Education
We just recently added Flannery O’Connor to our latest virtual exhibit American Voices, and I took the opportunity to familiarize myself with her life and work. Admittedly, I did not know much about O’Connor before but now I am glad I do. Perks of the job, I guess! I was saddened to learn O’Connor died at the young age of 39 from lupus, the disease that also killed her father. Yet her impact on American writing has not been diminished by such an untimely death. For example, former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey carried O’Connor’s collected stories with her in graduate school saying, “I learned a great deal from the precision of her stories—her clear-eyed look at the world around her, her unflinching investigation of human nature.” I am now looking forward to the upcoming episode of American Masters on PBS about O’Connor.
—Nate, Content & Communications Coordinator
Born in Sinaloa, Mexico, Saracho earned her degree from Boston University College of Fine Arts studying theater. Her career started off in Chicago, where she founded Teatro Luna in 2000, an all-Latina theater group. In 2012, she began working for television and was a writer for shows like Devious Maids, Girls, and Looking. Most recently, she created, co-wrote, and was showrunner for the LGBTQ and Latinx show Vida, inspired by the Richard Villegas Jr. short story Pour Vida. With the dialogue in Spanglish, she has described the show as being about American girls with brown queer perspective. Saracho is currently developing the TV show Brujas, about Afro-Latina witches in Chicago.
—Cristina, Guest Services & Operations Supervisor
Villalobos is known for her work as a film screenwriter, at which she is brilliant. What people may not realize about her is that she was also the head writer for Go, Diego, Go! for several years. Go, Diego, Go! is a kids’ show about Diego and his pet leopard as they learn about animals and their environments. I also happen to love this show to pieces. For some background, my best friend has a sister who is much younger than us, young enough to have been very into Dora and Diego when they were airing. So, of course, their mom would record those shows for her, but it quickly became a weekly ritual for me and my best friend (the teenagers of the house) to watch all the episodes we’d missed.
Even though it is a children’s show, it doesn’t talk down to people, and is well-researched and the characters are mostly well-rounded. It is simply a delight to watch, whether you are 6 or 16. I think a large part of this must have been from the heart that writers like Villalobos put into the show. I was also ridiculously excited that she is featured in our special exhibit, My America: Immigrant and Refugee Writers Today, and got to learn more about her writing process.
—Ari, Data Operations Coordinator