Craft on Draft is a reading series created and managed by alumni of GrubStreet's Novel Incubator program and devoted to great fiction—and the mechanics behind it. Three authors read and discuss their work, plus that of one lucky audience member. So grab a drink, a page of your own writing, and come craft your own draft.


Previous Craft on Draft Events


Writing about rage, fear, love, and longing is hard. Too little can leave the reader cold; too much can turn cliché. Join us as authors Jeanne Blasberg (Eden), Rachel Kadish (The Weight of Ink), and Mira T. Lee (Everything Here is Beautiful) discuss the delicate art of conveying emotion.

Jeanne Blasberg, author of the novel Eden, is firm believer that you are never too old to change course. She is a voracious observer of human nature and has kept a journal since childhood. After a career in finance, Jeanne enrolled at Grub Street, where she turned her attention to memoir and later fiction. Eden is her debut novel. Jeanne and her husband split their time between Boston and Westerly, RI. When not writing, she can be found playing squash, skiing, or taking in the sunset over Little Narragansett Bay.

Rachel Kadish is the author of the novels The Weight of Ink, From A Sealed Room, Tolstoy Lied: A Love Story, as well as the novella I Was Here. Her short fiction has been read on National Public Radio and has appeared in the Pushcart Prize Anthology, and her essays have appeared in The New York Times, Salon, and Tin House. She has been the Koret Writer-in-Residence at Stanford University and a fiction fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts, and has won the National Jewish Book Award, the Association of Jewish Libraries’ Fiction Award, and the John Gardner Fiction Award. She lives outside Boston and teaches in Lesley University’s MFA Program in Creative Writing.

Mira T. Lee has been published in numerous quarterlies and reviews, including The Missouri Review, The Southern Review, Harvard Review, and Triquarterly. She was awarded an Artist’s Fellowship by the Massachusetts Cultural Council in 2012, and has twice received special mention for the Pushcart Prize. She is a graduate of Stanford University, and currently lives with her husband and two children in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This is her debut novel.


“What happens next?” From genre to literary fiction, that’s the question that keeps readers turning pages. Come hear Kelly Ford (Cottonmouths), Stephanie Gayle (Idyll Fears), and Crystal King (Feast of Sorrow) discuss how they use suspense to hook their readers.

Kelly J. Ford is the author of Cottonmouths, which Lambda Literary calls “a tale of resentment, venomous betrayal, and the wounds hidden beneath familiar surfaces.” Kelly is an instructor for GrubStreet Writing Center, and her fiction has appeared in Black Heart Magazine, Fried Chicken and Coffee, and Knee-Jerk Magazine. She is Arkansas-bred and Boston-based.

Stephanie Gayle is the author of My Summer of Southern Discomfort, Idyll Threats, and the newly released Idyll Fears. Idyll Fears has been called “a gripping read, a ticking-clock thriller populated with nuanced characters and anchored in convincing police work.” Stephanie’s short fiction has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize. She lives in Arlington, MA and works at the MIT Media Lab doing basic math for professors too smart to do basic math.

Crystal King is the author of Feast of Sorrow, which Epicurious calls “an upstairs/downstairs drama meets food porn meets historical fiction.” Her writing is fueled by a love of history and an obsession with the food, language, and culture of Italy. In between her social media/marketing day job, she has taught writing and social media at GrubStreet and several universities including Harvard Extension School and Boston University.


Everyone loves a great protagonist, but great novels also need strong secondary characters. Come hear authors Camille DeAngelis (Immaculate Heart), Sara Farizan (Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel), and Annie Weatherwax (All We Had) discuss how they create terrific supporting characters who bring out the best, and worst, in their protagonists.

Camille DeAngelis is the author of the novels Immaculate Heart, Petty Magic, Mary Modern, and the Alex Award-winning Bones & All. She’s also written a book of practical philosophy, Life Without Envy: Ego Management for Creative People, and a first-edition guidebook, Moon Ireland (revised edition coming April 2017).

Sara Farizan is the award-winning young adult author of If You Could Be Mine and Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel. She has been featured on Buzzfeed, Mother Jones, NPR, and has had the opportunity to tour as far away as Australia for her books.

Annie Weatherwax is the winner of the Robert Olen Butler Prize for Fiction. Her short stories have appeared in The Sun Magazine, The Southern Review, and elsewhere. Her debut novel, All We Had, now a major motion picture, was published by Scribner.


Easy Rawlins, private eye. Jane Eyre, governess. Atticus Finch, lawyer. Who would these characters be without their jobs? Come hear authors Louise Miller, Jennifer S. Brown, and Hank Phillippi Ryan discuss their characters’ careers, why they chose them, and how employment informs their narratives.

Jennifer S. Brown is the author of the historical novel Modern Girls (NAL/Penguin), and her writing has appeared in Fiction Southeast, The Best Women’s Travel Writing, The Southeast Review, The Sierra Nevada Review, Bellevue Literary Review, and elsewhere.

Louise Miller’s debut novel The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living was chosen by Bon Appetit Magazine as one of the “8 Food Novels You Need To Read This Summer.” She is a pastry chef who is also a graduate of GrubStreet’s Novel Incubator program, a yearlong workshop for novelists.

Hank Phillippi Ryan is the on-air investigative reporter for Boston’s NBC affiliateand the bestselling author of eight mysteries. Her newest book, What You See, is an Agatha and Anthony nominee and Library Journal Best of 2015.


Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. What would these novels be without the historical people and events they feature? Novelists Michelle Hoover, Emily Ross, and Dawn Tripp discussed how real life events influenced and shaped their novels.

Michelle Hoover is the Fannie Hurst Writer-in-Residence at Brandeis University and teaches at GrubStreet, where she leads the Novel Incubator program.

Emily Ross received a 2014 Massachusetts Cultural Council finalist award in fiction for her YA thriller Half in Love with Death.

Dawn Tripp‘s Georgia, a novel about the American artist Georgia O’Keeffe, is an ABA Indie Next Pick and has been described as a “tour de force” by Publishers Weekly.


Imagine Harry Potter without Hogwarts, Huck Finn on the Nile, or Beloved haunting Beijing. Settings animate the story. Novelists Patricia Park, Stephanie Gayle, and Anjali Mitter Duva discuss how they created the settings of their latest work.

Patricia Park , is the author of RE JANE: A Novel (PDB/Viking, Penguin). Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Guardian, Slice Magazine, and others.

Stephanie Gayle, released her second novel, Idyll Threats, published by Seventh Street Books, in September 2015.

Anjali Mitter Duva, is an Indian-American writer raised in France. Her novel, Faint Promise of Rain, was published by She Writes Press in October 2014.



Imagine J.D. Salinger deciding Holden Caulfield shouldn’t tell his own story, but handing the job to an omniscient narrator? Choosing the right point-of-view can make or break your novel. Hear Chris Castellani, Daphne Kalotay, and Celeste Ng discuss how they chose (and rejected) points of view, until they hit upon the right one for their novels.

Christopher Castellani is the artistic director of Grub Street and the author of three novels: All This Talk of Love (2013), a New York Times Editors’ Choice; The Saint of Lost Things (2005); and A Kiss From Maddalena (2003), winner of the Massachusetts Book Award.

Daphne Kalotay released her second novel, Idyll Threats, published by Seventh Street Books, in September 2015.

Celeste Ng is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel Everything I Never Told You (Penguin Press). Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, One Story, Five Chapters, Gulf Coast, The Millions, and elsewhere, and has been awarded the Pushcart Prize.

CREATING KICK-ASS CHARACTERS (Tuesday, October 7, 2014)

Holden Caulfield, Katniss Everdeen, Oscar Wao—fictional characters as unforgettable as our own family members. Join novelists E. B. Moore, Jennie Wood, and Kate Racculia for a reading and discussion of how they created their own unforgettable characters, trait by trait, from first draft to final. 

E.B. Moore, in her debut novel, An Unseemly Wife, gives stunning and palpable energy to a 19th-century Amish woman in her journey to find a new life.

Jennie Wood, graphic novelist, author of the Flutter series, brings into dazzling focus the maturation of young Peyton as he discovers his true self in her debut novel, A Boy Like Me.

Kate Racculia, in her second novel, Bellweather Rhapsody, casts the Bellweather Hotel in the Catskills as a central character inhabited by an ensemble of eccentrics-turned-sleuths as they search for clues to the fate of the missing flautist.

Our authors shared their novel openings, both their first drafts and the final results, how they started, where they ended up and why, and all the editing decisions in between.

Lisa Borders

Stephanie Gayle

Henriette Lazaridis Power