Layne Fargo Meet-the-Author Event

By Elizabeth Laughlin

April is nationally recognized as the Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. For this month, the Haven Project focuses specifically on educating the IUP community about sexual assault and providing programming that shows support for victims and survivors of sexual violence. The Haven Project strives to create a safer campus community for our students by sending the message that sexual assault will not be tolerated and everyone should do their part in stopping sexual assault and all forms of violence.

To start off the month, on Wednesday, April 7, the Haven Project co-sponsored a virtual meet-an-author event with Layne Fargo, IUP alumna and published author. This event was a collaboration between the IUP Libraries, Haven Project, Office of Social Equity, Counseling Center, LGBTQIA Support, and the Indiana Free Library. Layne is the author of novels Temper (2019) and They Never Learn (2020), which is set to be in print on April 20, 2021.

Fargo is also a mentor of Pitch Wars and the cocreator of the podcast Unlikeable Female Characters.

They Never Learn, a psychological thriller, is in the process of being made into a TV show series. Fargo is currently writing the pilot episode and said that the experience has inspired her to write a sequel of the novel.

In They Never Learn, English professor Scarlett Clark murders rapists, stalkers, and abusive men. She is a professor by day and a serial killer by night.

“I like to write about things that make me angry, like the patriarchy,” Fargo said. “My literary agent calls it ‘my not-so-secret feminist agenda.'”

During the event, Fargo answered questions and talked about her experiences as a writer.

She also gave advice to aspiring writers about the writing process, as well as constructive criticism and the journey to publication. “You have to be willing to take rejection and criticism well,” Fargo said. “You should show your work to people who are honest but not cruel.”

In her spare time, Fargo likes to read young-adult fantasy and romance novels. She emphasized the character development often demonstrated in romance novels.

Fargo later discussed her writing habits.

“I like to write in the morning, since I'm a morning person,” she said. “And before writing the novel, I write a script and focus on dialogue.”

Fargo said she was inspired to write scripts by her theater/English double major at IUP. She often took part in IUP's TOST and Turned.

In addition, Fargo drew inspiration from buildings and spots at IUP. Throughout They Never Learn, Fargo makes references to the Oak Grove, Leonard Hall, and the IUP Stapleton Library.

She also met her husband, Nathan Miller, a fellow theater major, at IUP. He was very influential in her career.

“He never questioned my ability to succeed,” Fargo said.

When asked about her writing career, Fargo cited National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, as her source of inspiration.

“I have always written stories since I was a kid,” Fargo said, “but I didn't start writing seriously until 2012 when I joined NaNoWriMo.”

National Novel Writing Month inspired Fargo to finish her first novel. Having to write 50,000 words in a month challenged her to finish the piece. Although the novel was never published, it provided a solid foundation for her future work.

Fargo also talked about how rejection helped her to become a better writer.

“My first novel was rejected over one hundred times,” she said. “Now it is thrilling when I see my books in the book store. I would tell other writers to keep going.”

Layne Fargo lives in Chicago with her husband and their pets.