Julia Seaton is a violin performance and honors humanities major Azusa Pacific University. She has won the 2021 Western Regional Honors Council award for short fiction with her piece “The Eye of a Cover.” Keep reading below to learn more about Julia’s inspiration from an exclusive interview with her.
What was your inspiration for The Eye of a Cover?
I wrote this piece entirely to process some foreign emotions, as an effort to reconcile myself a little more with the world. I don’t think I thought of this connection at the time, but my assigned reading for honors that summer was Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. I started reading it (most responsibly, I might add!) in May, but I quickly realized that I wasn’t in a healthy mindset to be reading the masterpiece. Writing “The Eye of a Cover” in August helped turn my perspective around, just as I hoped it would, and then Dostoevsky helped advance the healing process from that point. After all, he gives his readers no choice but to land directly in his characters’ souls and look at the world from a sparkling array of angles. Looking back, I am tremendously grateful for the sequence of events. I know I’m being a bit vague, but there’s the origin story without giving away my original interpretation of the piece — I don’t want it to have one “right answer.”
What was your biggest challenge while creating the piece?
The concept of a short story itself is a bit of a challenge to me! I have a wild penchant for writing descriptive words, dialogue, character development, the state of their toast at breakfast, etc. Several of my other works (that I’d love to publish someday!) are novels in the 8-12 age range, and a large portion of my editing work is downsizing. I knew I needed to exercise that skill, so I jumped over to the opposite side with this piece, trying to make every word count right from the beginning. In addition, I had realized a while ago that often the most emotional parts of stories — at least for me — are when much happens but little is said. Everyone experiences emotions differently, so long descriptions of exact internal reactions can sometimes distance a reader from the characters. (Of course, the pattern may change with different story goals, and I would be in peril of an insufferable ego if I penned a single emotional description like Charlotte Brontë does late in Jane Eyre.) But I had to stop thinking about what emotions I wanted the piece to convey and try to let the story speak for itself. At the time, I didn’t think there would be any readers, so I think that element helped prevent me from forcing a synthetic emotional effect.
What is your favorite part about writing?
I love writing from different characters’ perspectives. I think it’s an amazing gift that people have the capacity to imagine, despite all physically being in the same world and each limited to one physical life, and it’s fun to see how my own characters react — once they really come to life, that is, which sometimes takes a while. It’s a bit like getting to know new people without worrying at all about what they think of you, because surprise, they don’t have a choice! If I may sneakily add a second favorite part, writing makes me lose track of time, and that’s one way I know I love it. When I really care about a piece, it ultimately clears my mind, helps me understand myself better, and helps me see the world in a lovelier light.
Do you have any other creative hobbies?
I’d say that music is my primary creative outlet. I’m a violinist, and I’ve had the blessing of teaching it for almost six years. I also like sketching (especially portraits from photos and animal characters), finding “new” old music, baking, and dancing when no one is looking.
What is your dream future career?
I have many tentative plans! Here’s a chaotic and enticing compilation of several.
Monday – noon Wednesday: co-teaching a fourth-grade class.
Noon Wednesday – Friday evening: teaching violin.
Saturday and/or week evenings: rehearsing & performing with a small chamber ensemble, writing.
Sunday: serving in a church that I’ll have helped start (in all my spare time, I know) that encourages congregational engagement by helping different willing members study & prepare to deliver thoughtful Scripture-based messages.
Do you have any writers/ artists that inspire you?
There are so many! For simplicity’s sake, I’ll stick with a few authors who inspire me to write. I’ve already mentioned Dostoevsky and Charlotte Brontë, whom I admire (partly!) for their ability to peer inside their characters’ souls, and I cannot neglect Charles Dickens for the same reason. My favorite poets are probably Christina Rossetti, Wordsworth, and Tennyson, because they are Christina Rossetti, Wordsworth, and Tennyson. In the realm of children’s books, C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series guarantees a flurry of vibrant images, Sharon Creech’s The Wanderer offers wonderful lyricism and lasting impact, and Natalie Babbitt masterfully drops her sensible themes into imaginative worlds. I couldn’t say which characteristic I like best. However, in any genre of art, whether written or not, I always crave symbolism. There must be something I didn’t catch on the first read, glimpse, or listen that I can figure out later.
If you were a color what color would you be? Why?
I’d like to say green: some kind of green in a forest after a rain. I’m not sure whether it would be the cheery deciduous leaves overhead that wave with light streaming through them, or the calm and steady moss blanketing the trees, or the stubborn (I mean, determined) horsetail weeds. It depends on what situation I’m in. But I’m always Julia!