Hillside Writing provides inspiring, instructive coaching through the experience and enthusiasm of writers and mentors who are experts in establishing the creative environment. Our distinctive approaches have developed from decades of practice helping students and writers to shape the products of their imaginations into effective and compelling sentences and stories on the page.
Allan is the Founder and President of Hillside Writing. He began his literary career at twenty-three, apprenticing under novelist John Irving, whom he assisted in several sentence-by-sentence revisions of a 1,000-page manuscript. The encounters with the writer's practice — specifically with the precise acts and art of revision — led Allan to editorial posts at The Atlantic and DoubleTake magazines and into the sentence-making of a wide range of fiction and nonfiction writers. Finding a special satisfaction in encouraging the creative process, Allan subsequently turned to the classroom to teach while earning a master's at the renowned Bread Loaf School of English. For fourteen years he taught and mentored young writers at Walnut Hill School for the Arts, in Natick, Massachusetts, where he founded an international magazine for high school poets, story-writers, essayists, and playwrights. Among other honors, his own writing has earned two consecutive Artist Grants in Fiction from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center, and a Promise Award from the Sustainable Arts Foundation. In addition to running Hillside, he teaches online writing classes for the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing, at Arizona State University. Allan brings an editor's precision, an educator's patience, and a mentor's dedication to every working relationship at Hillside. A selection of his writings on craft can be found on the Hillside blog, Sentence x Sentence.
Kate is an award-winning fiction writer as well as an essayist, editor, and teacher. She received a BA from The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona, where she was an editor at the Sonora Review and taught composition and fiction writing to undergraduates. Back home in Massachusetts, she further honed her editorial skills at the New England Journal of Medicine, where she helped to launch a feature devoted to personal essays and reported stories. Now, in addition to working as a freelance editor, she is a regular contributor of personal essays and close-readings to the blog of the acclaimed literary journal Ploughshares. Kate is also at work on a novel about musicians, and she collaborates with her husband to write and record songs that build the world of the story. In 2014 she received a Sustainable Arts Foundation award for her novel-in-progress, and in the same year she was named an Artist Fellow by the Massachusetts Cultural Council for her novella, Holy Family, which was published as a Kindle Single. She has been a fellow at I-Park Artists’ Enclave, and her short stories have appeared in The Baltimore Review, Word Riot, Harpur Palate, Night Train, and Day One. Kate delights in the connections and discoveries students and others make when they engage with experiences and ideas that matter to them. She brings her compassion, curiosity, and cold hard editorial experience to the effort. More of Kate’s writing can be found at kateleary.net.
Cara is a writer, a filmmaker, and a teacher. She began her career as a print journalist, working for several publications including The Boston Globe, The Atlantic Online, The American Prospect, and Harvard Magazine. She discovered that she didn’t love chasing breaking news but she did love exploring the longer stories — and particularly the people — behind the headlines. Her curiosity about people’s lives eventually led her to the world of documentary film and television. Her independent documentary Working Blind, which explored the predicaments and sensibilities of three newly blind woodworkers, won Best Documentary Short Film at the Somewhat North of Boston Film Festival, and screened at The Boston International Film Festival and the DIY Film Festival in Los Angeles. For the past eight years, she has helped to develop and produce shows for NOVA on PBS and documentaries for the Discovery Channel, the Travel Channel, and DreamWorks Animation. Throughout her career, Cara has taught fiction and non-fiction writing classes, helping students to find their own stories and discover engaging and meaningful ways to tell them. As excited as she is when she finishes one of her stories, she is equally excited by the process of helping others to write — and to finish — stories of their own. A selection of Cara’s projects can be found at CaraFeinberg.com.
Valerie is a teacher, an editor, a critic, and a widely acclaimed poet. She began her life in letters as an intern at AGNI Magazine, where she eventually rose to the role of managing editor. She has since taught writing at Grub Street Writers, Boston College, Boston University, and Newbury College, and she spent several summers as a coach in the Writers in Residence program for high school students at The Wang Center for the Performing Arts. For many years the leader of a practicum on editing at Harvard Extension School, Valerie is presently the poetry editor at Salamander Magazine as well as copyeditor at Post Road Magazine, and she supports the development of texts on reading and writing at MacMillan. A graduate of St. John’s College, she holds Master’s degrees in Creative Writing from Boston University and Trinity College, Dublin. Her book reviews have appeared in The Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, Harvard Review, and elsewhere, and her collection of poems, To the New World (2010), was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Poetry Centre Prize in 2011. Other writing honors include fellowships from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the Writers’ Room of Boston and grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and St. Botolph Foundation. At Hillside, Valerie continues her investment in helping writers to discover the emotional centers of their experiences and how to shape and share their stories on the page. Read more about Valerie at valerieduff.com.