Conservatory for the Arts
About the Conservatory

New York Times best-selling author enthralls Creative Writing students and offers insightful advice

Our Creative Writing Conservatory students gathered in the cozy Sussex Room recently to experience an enthralling workshop led by New York Times best-selling writer Natashia Deón.
Ms. Deon opened up about her writing process, offering inspiration and useful tips to our Mayfield writers.

“Natashia is a powerful writer and speaker. She’s known for strong characters and bringing all of one's experience to the page,” said Kimberly Gomez, Conservatory for the Arts Chair and Creative Writing Conservatory teacher. “I had wanted to bring in someone who could speak to my students' work in suspenseful short stories.”

Deón’s debut novel, Grace, is a modern take on traditional ghost stories and uses a ghost narrator to call attention to social justice issues and to protest subjects such as slavery and racial discrimination.

From the minute students gathered, they were taken with Deón’s expertise as she discussed storytelling techniques.

“Use everything. In world building and dialect writing you are creating a world that doesn’t exist and a language that doesn’t exist,” she said.

Students felt that the intimate workshop setting helped them feel more comfortable to explore genre writing.

“Ms. Deón came and taught us a lot about writing for scary situations. The quick writes we did were super fun,” said Marie Bland ’19, “It was really cool to learn from an established, award-winning author!”

Reading from her own novel and sharing her writing process—such as writing ideas down immediately and taking pictures with her phone—offered encouragement to students, who found Deón’s talk easily relatable.

“I had never tried writing in a person’s perspective that wasn’t similar to my own. I chose blindness and I had never thought about doing that before,” said Lucy Martinez ’22.

A practicing criminal attorney, law professor, and UCLA creative writing professor, Deón inspired the students in many ways.

“The only thing that matters is putting something on the page. I wrote this whole novel on the notes sections of my iPhone, one sentence, one paragraph... you write wherever you can,” said Deón. “The worst thing is losing a sentence; I will write with anything, that’s the sickness.”

None of her words, however, were lost on our girls.

“As a lawyer and how she’s super successful as a writer as well is an example to all of us,” said Katrina Dolendo ’19.
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Established in 1931, Mayfield Senior School in Pasadena, CA is a Catholic, independent, college preparatory school for young women grades 9-12. Noted for its rigorous academic program, which includes 28 Advanced Placement and Honors courses, Mayfield’s curriculum is underscored by a philosophy of educating the “whole child,” which also encourages commitment to and excellence in the arts, athletics, community service and spiritual growth. The nurturing environment at Mayfield Senior School allows each student to flourish in an atmosphere of personal attention.