As we expand Stories, our digital media brand, we are thrilled to introduce two outstanding artists from our community to lead the editorial vision of Girls Write Now: Kathryn Destin, a mentee alum, and Morayo Faleyimu, a mentor alum and anthology committee member.
As Editors-in-Residence, they will lead our editorial vision and will facilitate editorial forums to collect input from our newest class of program participants, and they will lead special projects designed to showcase the multitude of talents we have fostered in our 25 years of storytelling.
How did you get into writing?
Kathryn Destin: Writing is something I’ve always done. As an only child, I had a lot of alone time and I passed it by reading and writing. I wrote my first play in second grade. It was a love story, based on my friends, that took place on the set of iCarly. Although I’ve been writing most of my life, I became more serious about it in college when I took a class called “Joy, Activism, and Justice,” that combined academic writing with my creative passions. My final project examined how the career of Megan Thee Stallion reveals society’s treatment of Black women as a whole.
Morayo Faleyimu: The 1964 Louise Fitzhugh novel Harriet the Spy had a significant impact on me, specifically Harriet’s habit of carrying around a notebook at all time. I took inspiration from Harriet and began to keep my own notebook to write down ideas that hit me, details of my surroundings, and the interesting things I’d hear people say. I began to write more seriously in high school and experimented with genres. Magical realism became a great writing escape for me—so much so that, as birthday gifts, I gifted friends with my original, personalized stories involving the supernatural and details from their lives.
What are you passionate about?
KD: Anti-racism. I think all people deserve basic human rights. Right now, my focus is on supporting activists as they take a break from their work in the movement in order to meet their own needs. The work we do in these spaces is difficult, and it’s easy to get burned out. I’m also invested in anti-capitalism. Growing up as a middle-class person among working-class people, I became aware of the many privileges I had, and attending a wealthy college made the disparities across the student body even starker. I’m committed to unlearning the biases that I have to support the greater community.
MF: As a former classroom teacher, I’m passionate about education reform. Both in my career and in outside research, I investigate trends in education and how inequities can contribute to and perpetuate the lack of access to quality education. I see education as a liberatory tool. I’m also interested in the further expansion of education within the realm of reproductive rights. I previously worked in the nonprofit sector for a program that taught NYC young adults how to make informed, safe choices for their reproductive and physical health. Another topic of interest for me is environmentalism; this passion has been in me from a young age when I encouraged my family to save energy. It now manifests in pushing for a habitable and safe planet using renewable energy sources to welcome future generations.
What intrigued you about the Editor-in-Residence role?
KD: I wanted to connect more closely with the staff at Girls Write Now. And as a mentee, you’re often what people are looking at. By transitioning to editorial, I can build a platform for people to tell stories that I can’t. I want to share what they have to say, and I want to encourage them to try new things.
MF: Through my role as a mentor and member of the anthology committee, I have been exposed to the diversity of stories that emerge every year. Over time, I realized that many people are inclined to stick to the genres and pieces that they feel most comfortable with. So, when I saw that the Editor-in-Residence role required expanding the reach of the stories that Girls Write Now publishes, I saw it as the perfect opportunity to push audiences to interact with the stories that they are not initially drawn towards.
What are you most excited about for your work with Girls Write Now this year?
KD: I’m looking forward to updating the website, and I’m very excited about the Girls Write Now 25th anniversary book that will be published by HarperOne next year. In my role, I’ll also be working with the Diversity Committee, and this work is similar to what I did at Boston College, so it will be nice to be back in that kind of intellectual space.
MF: Experimenting with the Girls Write Now website to find out what might make it more interactive and engaging! I’m also looking forward to attending the Publishing 360 meetings and interacting with the mentors and other Girls Write Now staff.
What are you reading right now?
KD: I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy; Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut; Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez; and Hunger by Roxane Gay
MF: Why Don’t Students Like School by Daniel T. Willingham; The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron; Paris Stories by Mavis Gallant
What are you writing right now?
KD: I’m writing a limited series called “The Honeymoon Phase.” It’s a dramedy about a queer interracial couple—an Afro-Latina woman and a Korean-Filipino man—and how their cultures impact their relationships. One of the reasons I wrote this show was to show how diverse cultures can be because we often conflate cultures from similar areas. I also want to explore how a character’s own issues can put a strain on relationships. In addition to that, I’m also working on a collection of personal essays on body image and other assorted “-isms.”
MF: Currently, I have several stories in the beginning stages. One of them is a short story entitled “Maude” which is told through the eyes of a disgruntled, retired, elementary school teacher.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
KD: In 10 years, I want to be writing in the film and TV industry. Working behind the camera is where I feel most comfortable. I want to tell more POC stories, queer stories—the kind of stories we rarely see on network TV. I’d also love to have a dog by then. I’m a native New Yorker, but college gave me the opportunity to experience other cities. I’m curious about what my life would be like in a different city.
MF: I hope that I’ll be withdrawn from the hustle culture found in our society and especially exaggerated in NYC. I want to pursue creative fulfillment by making a living off of the fiction I write on the old-school typewriter many avid writers dream of. I aspire to be raising a family in a private house with a garden in the woods.