A Flash of Red: The Bard Interview

Bard Church

What brought you to Ambrose University?

I really identified with the campus culture and its focus on both personal and intellectual growth. Although I’m a business major, I appreciate the comprehensive education Ambrose has to offer its students–so many other colleges are just degree-factories, churning out graduates who couldn’t tell the difference between Nietzsche and Donne.  In fact, I’m taking an incredible course on psychopathology right now.  It’s been revelatory–to say the least.

Why not study at a university closer to home?

Next question.

Sorry. Um, do you have any favorite authors or books to recommend to other students?

More than you could list here.  I’d start with The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, anything by Dale Carnegie, and Alice Sebold’s memoir, Lucky.

You’re quite an omnivorous reader!

Would you prefer I only read within one genre? Or limit myself to sale banners on Amazon, like my sister?

I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to imply–

Of course you didn’t mean to offend me, but I really can’t stand it when people are impressed by someone showing the smallest amount of initiative. It implies that apathy is the new norm, don’t you agree?

Of course I do. Okay–moving on.  You enjoy cooking.  Where did your interest in food come from?

My mother was a wonderful cook–


Yes, was. She no longer cooks.

Why is that?

Would you prefer to continue this interview or to badger me into leaving? Right then. Yes, my mother was a wonderful cook and we spent many hours in the kitchen together when I was a boy.  She taught me to appreciate well-made food and, even as a university student, I am able to spend a decent amount of time in the kitchen preparing meals for myself. I find it a very agreeable way to spend an afternoon.

Do you have any favorite recipes?

I can share my recipe for quinoa salad with kale and chevre.  It’s rather delicious.

How else do you spend your free time?

I try not to have ‘free time’, as you put it.  I focus on my studies, I take care of myself and my home, and I have a part-time job to help with expenses.  My days are full, as they should be.

What’s this part-time job you have?

It’s a computer programming job, in a sense.

Oh, that sounds interesting. 

No, really it’s not.  At least–not interesting in the way it should be.  But it has its advantages.

Are you planning on pursuing work in computers once you graduate?  Why not major in computer science?

My father needs someone to take over the family business–we’re a coal family–and I have a head for it.  Computers are just a hobby for me and, in the case of my job, a means to an end.

One final question: If you could give one piece of advice for freshman starting their first semester at Ambrose, what would you tell them? 

Get to know your professors personally.  It just might change your life.



Story Ideas: Mining for Podcast Gold

I *heart* you, podcasts!
I *heart* you, podcasts!

NaNoWriMo is coming, as you’ve probably heard, which means all of us writerly types are scrambling for ideas so that we don’t face the dreaded writer’s blockade once it turns to November.  One place I have always found inspiration for stories, characters, and plot points are podcasts.

Now, I know we are in an age where you can find a podcast about pretty much anything (here’s looking at you, podcast inception), but below I list a few of my ultimate favorite sources of inspiration.  Since my writing tends towards examinations of human behavior and relationships, many of these podcasts focus on exploring our own complex species.

  1. This American Life.  Classic tight reporting with a thematic focus each week. Covers everything from immigration to murder to holiday stories.  Not to be missed, and their archive is absolutely worth the dive down the rabbit hole.
  2. Fresh Air.  Terry Gross is a phenomenal interviewer. Listen to enough episodes in a row and you’ll feel like you’re at the most eclectic and delightful dinner party with its masterful hostess keeping the good conversation flowing.
  3. StoryCorps. It doesn’t get more approachable than this podcast.  Ordinary people sharing how the extraordinary touched their lives. It regularly makes me cry out of its sheer realness.
  4. On Being. Listen to our world’s top thinkers, artists, and activists share their thoughts on faith, spirituality, and human connection. The interview with John Lewis changed my view of the world, and my writing, in profound ways.