Hider/Seeker Explores How People Pursue and Avoid Spirituality

A KPU creative writing instructor’s new book of short stories is available now from Anvil Press Marcus Barichello

Jen Currin reads from newly published book of short stories titled Hider/Seeker. (Marcus Barichello)

Jen Currin reads from newly published book of short stories titled Hider/Seeker. (Marcus Barichello)

KPU creative writing instructor Jen Currin recently published a book of short stories entitled Hider/Seeker. Though this is Currin’s first collection of short fiction, she has previously published four books on poetry and has won multiple awards for her writing.

“The collection works with characters who are spiritual seekers, people who are looking for some spiritual truth or truths in their lives,” says Currin. “There are also people who are hiding, that are not consciously looking for spiritual truth in their life.”

Currin often explores these spiritual truths via complex relationships between people.

“Writing about [the] diversity of relationships and the complexity of relationships is really at the heart of the book,” she says.

One of the stories that best exemplifies this is “Beach Story”, which follows two characters who have deep feelings for—and issues with—one another.

“Both of [the] characters are hiding in some ways,” Currin explains. “They’re both hesitant to admit the truth, which is that they can no longer be together because they want different things out of life. They’re so drawn to each other that they’re still trying to make something work, but as a writer, I hope it comes across [that] it’s not going to work.”

“I think there’s a level of denial which is so familiar to most humans,” she adds.

Currin’s stories are moving and emotionally rich, displaying tragic relationships or situations that require the characters in them to persevere. This often leads to heartbreaking endings where the characters are left seeking a human connection.

Currin says that the book is heavily fictionalized, though she does draw upon emotional events from her life.

“I’ve had a lot of experiences. A lot of them were great. Some of them were not. I think it’s all fodder for the practice,” she says. “If you have the point of view that this is all learning, I’m here to learn. Then the way in which you approach even devastatingly painful experiences is different.”

Currin has been a creative writing instructor for years and says that she has learned a lot from watching her students grow and develop.

“I’m very grateful to work with them,” she says. “Getting to experience and learn about their processes and their work—it gives me more empathy for the struggle and … more insight into the diversity of the practice of writing and the diversity of stories that are out there.”

Now that the book is finally finished, Currin is relieved. Although she still scribbles and makes edits in her finished copy, she is relieved that the hours of writing, editing, and revising has come to an end. She says that she’s ready to celebrate her accomplishment with friends, colleagues, and even former students.

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