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Writer’s Symposium by the Sea: Everything You Need to Know

Authors Anthony Doerr, William Finnegan, Maria Hinojosa and Navarre Scott Momaday will be appearing at the 28th Annual Writer’s Symposium by the Sea from Feb. 20 to Feb. 24 at Point Loma Nazarene University. 

The Writer’s Symposium by the Sea is an event that was started by Dean Nelson, chair of the PLNU journalism department. The goal of the event is to bring in writers of different backgrounds and genres to stimulate conversation applicable to almost anyone, but specifically targeted toward aspiring journalists and writers. The past symposiums have brought in well-known writers and figures such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Cornel West, Alice Walker and many others.  

This year’s arsenal of guests are all Pulitzer Prize winners, with three of them winning them for books they’ve written. Maria Hinojosa won one in audio reporting for a podcast titled “Suave” that was produced by the media company she founded, Futuro Media. 

Anthony Doerr is most well known for his 2014 book “All the Light We Cannot See,” which won him the Pulitzer Prize for fiction that year. The title is also going to be released as a series on Netflix, the release date has yet to be announced. However, he has gained recognition from multiple other  novels, such as his 2021 work “Cloud Cuckoo Land” and 2005 book “About Grace.” The author hails from Boise, Idaho and has been writing short stories and novels since 2002. Doerr’s interview with Nelson will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 21 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Brown Chapel on PLNU’s campus. 

Members of the surfing community will most likely be familiar with the name William Finnegan, as he is regarded as one of the most influential surfing writers of all time. Finnegan is a staff writer for The New Yorker and has written on various topics in his time as a writer. He has written journalistically and authored books on politics, the economy and surfing. Finnegan’s memoir “Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life,” published in 2015, won him a Pulitzer Prize and increased his popularity within the surfing community. Finnegan’s interview will be with Ben Cater, head of the PLNU Honors Program, on Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 7:00 p.m. at an unspecified  location on campus. 

The third author being interviewed, Maria Hinojosa, has written multiple books and has been influential in media journalism. Hinojosa was a key player in the making of “Latino USA,” a radio segment on National Public Radio. She has been the host of this segment since its formation in 1992. In 2010, she started her own media company, Futuro Media Group. Hinojosa has written a few memoirs, one that’s written from the perspective of a mother and one that’s written based on her experience as a Mexican American woman. Hinojosa’s interview with Nelson is on Thursday, Feb. 23 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in Crill Performance Hall on PLNU’s campus. 

The final author being interviewed for this annual event is N. Scott Momaday, an author popular for his writings about the Native American experience. Momaday has written memoirs as well as fictional books and contributed poems to magazines that have been incorporated into his books. His Pulitzer-Prize winning novel “The House Made of Dawn,” is a fictional book that is suspected to contain aspects of his real life as well as parts of his imagination. Momaday’s interview with Nelson is virtual and will be streamed by UCTV on Friday, Feb. 24 at 7:00 p.m.

Ashley Montaño has been helping coordinate this event for the past five years and gave some insight on ways in which the event has changed over time and the impact it has had on people. An addition to the event that has appealed to many audience members is live music. Certain musicians from the area will be there to greet the audience with music to set the mood for the night. 

Montaño gave some comments on what the atmosphere of the event is. 

“The interviews are always so good because if you haven’t read the authors or not, Dean does a really good job at explaining context and making questions understandable for everyone,” Montaño said. “It’s a cool combination of cultures all meeting in one room.” 

For those worried about not being able to relate to the event because they aren’t aspiring writers or journalists, Montaño said not to fret. Montaño also said that even those who aren’t thinking about going should give it a second thought. 

“I think they should give it a shot because there’s no other event like this in San Diego. It’s such a unique opportunity to go and listen to someone talk about something that gives them passion,” she said.

Second-year journalism major Nick Hancock had positive remarks about his experience at the 2022 symposium as well. Hancock had a few takeaways from the event that have helped shape his habits and improvement as an aspiring journalist. 

“These people get invited to speak for a reason. They have a lot to share, and the stuff they talk about can be really eye opening. It never hurts to hear what some really smart thinkers have to say,” Hancock said. For tickets and other information, visit https://www.pointloma.edu/opportunities/writers-symposium-sea.

Written By: Cade Michaelson