Mount St. Joseph University

A Career in Writing

Arts, Humanities, English, Alumni, Current Students

By: Megan Simmermeyer

File Under: author, creative writing, department of english and modern languages, reading, success stories, writing

Emily Kirby, ’13

Emily Kirby discovered her talent for writing the summer before third grade. A fundamental element of writing well, however, is being able to read well, and during those years before third grade, Emily struggled with reading comprehension. So, her mother signed her up for tutoring over the summer. During those lessons, in addition to practicing her reading, Emily’s tutor had her write poetry, and to Emily’s surprise and delight, she discovered she was good at it. Her first poem, “My Little Star” so profoundly impressed her tutor and mother that they had it published in the local newspaper. Even at such a young age, Emily seemed destined to be a writer.

Though she struggled with reading in the beginning, Emily was willing to challenge herself. She read the Babysitter Club and Boxcar Children series in elementary school, and later began the daunting task of reading the Harry Potter series. At first, she was intimidated by the size of the novels, but she struck a deal with her father—read 100 pages of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and he would purchase her a card game themed after the books. Once she began reading them, however, she was hooked. “Suddenly, I was reading better and faster while I explored new worlds and ideas,” she says. “The more I began to read, the more I began to get story ideas of my own.” When she was 13, her mother suggested she become an author herself.

When she enrolled at the Mount, Emily decided to major in English, thus continuing her love of literature and writing. The classes she took helped to refine her writing as well as inspire many of her novels. She recalls the numerous poetry, screenwriting, and creative writing classes she took. “MSJ writing classes challenged me in ways I have never been challenged before,” she recalls. “My favorite part was when we gathered around to give comments about our writing.” She even kept one such writing with comments from Mount Associate Professor of English, Dr. Elizabeth Mason as a token of encouragement. However, her classes at the Mount weren’t the only things improving her writing. “The whole environment of MSJ improved me as a person,” she said. “Many of my views about the world were challenged and changed by MSJ. I began thinking not just what to write to tell a good story, but my responsibility as a writer.”

She believes books are powerful things, and one must be careful of what is in them for they can change people. Just as the reading of Harry Potter changed her life, Emily hopes to impact the lives of her readers, too. “If I’m able to change even just one person, everything I had done to be a writer would be worth it.” She believes seeing and hearing the reactions of her readers is the most rewarding part of writing. It makes up for the long hours spent revising and rereading her work.

Her next book—The Blue Codex, sequel to The Silver Codex—is tentatively set to be released in February. This self-published indie author is excited for the new installment, and she plans to continue writing for this series as well as her other novel The Lotus Caretaker. However, as excited as she is for the release of her new book, Emily does not stop writing, and her advice to other aspiring writers is to never give up. “Anyone who tells you to give up, use them as inspiration to create a villain,” she jokes. “Don’t give up.”

Keep up with Emily on her blog, and be sure to check out her books, available on Amazon and Barnes & Nobles. Take a look at the Department of Liberal Arts page, too, to see what it takes to earn an English degree like Emily.