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Blair Hurley

Piper Writers Studio Instructor 2019

About Blair Hurley

Blair Hurley is the author of The Devoted, published by W.W. Norton, which was longlisted for The Center for Fiction's First Novel Prize. Her work is published or forthcoming in The Georgia Review, Ninth Letter, Guernica, Paris Review Daily, West Branch, Mid-American Review, and elsewhere. She received a 2018 Pushcart Prize and scholarships from Bread Loaf and the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts. She teaches creative writing at McMaster University and the University of Toronto's School of Continuing Studies.

Find Classes with Blair Hurley

Date: Wednesday, March 20, 2019, 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Type: Generative Workshop, Workshop
Genre: Fiction, Flash, Novels, Short Stories

The most powerful short stories and novels are built on a foundation of great scenes. Scenes convey the fears and desires of characters in tense, funny, wonderful real-time action — so why are they so difficult to write? In this class, we'll explore the 3 P's of great scenes (person, place, and problem) and discuss how to get in and out of a scene efficiently. We'll discuss the differences between scenes, exposition, and “habitual time”, and why putting emotional moments in scenes can provide poignant experiences.


More About Blair Hurley

Hurley, Blair “Surviving 8th grade: How a shy Irish Catholic girl found refuge in Yiddish ClubSalon, August 21, 2018.

Eighth grade can be hell in so many ways, for so many lonely kids. In my version, I’m the kid who keeps a book open beside my tray at lunch, who hides in corners of the halls, who tucks herself into the front seat of the bus on the ride home so I can chat with the kindly bus driver. I’ve been bullied for two years by two tough girls who demand to know why I’m reading all the time. They call me nerd, loser, weirdo. They stuff garbage in my school mailbox, they write “BLAIR IS STRANGE” dozens of times on the class homeroom blackboard so that everyone will see.


Hurley, Blair “The Uneasy YokeGuernica, September 11, 2018.

When I was eight, I went to a Saturday-night sleepover at a friend’s house. The next morning, before my mom could pick me up, my friend’s mother bundled me up in my coat and we all went off to church. I remember the crisp white of the newly painted pews in the great lofty sunlit space. Bulletin boards crowded with colorful flyers for bake sales and charity auctions. Children’s crayon drawings in the halls. The minister in long white robes delivered a sermon that was boring, but pleasant enough for me to daydream while looking at the rainbow-tiled windows. The church was one of many liberal Unitarian churches scattered across Boston, with “Save Darfur” banners and pride flags hanging on the doors.


Agsar, Wendy Joan Biddlecombe “Give & Take with Novelist Blair HurleyTricycle, Winter, 2018.

Nicole Hennessy, the protagonist in Blair Hurley’s debut novel The Devoted, has abandoned her religious upbringing in Boston, America’s “most Catholic city,” during her turbulent teenage years. Taking refuge instead, she embarks on a drug-fueled, Dharma Bums-inspired road trip in hopes of meeting the 16th Karmapa in Colorado. But after a year on the road, she returns to her hometown and later finds her teacher at a local Zen center.


Paje, Maikie “Finding Her Way: The Devoted By Blair HurleyThe Rumpus, August 15, 2018.

Hurley is no novice to writing about the traditions and trappings of Buddhism. Among her many publishing accolades, she won a Pushcart Prize for her short story “The Home for Buddhist Widows,” published in West Branch in spring 2016. Her hand is confident and steady as she layers Zen teachings into the already complicated history of her novel’s focal character.