O&A with John Lineberger



John Lineberger is a senior at UNCC studying English with a concentration in creative writing and a minor in Film Studies. He is the author of “Anna,” a relatable short story about a recent high school graduate who is unhappy with where she is in life. John graciously agreed to answer my semi-invasive questions earlier this week, and has even offered up some words of wisdom for the Sanskrit readers who are hoping to publish their own short stories one day! Our Q&A session is posted below for your enjoyment.


Q:  How old are you, and where are you from?

A: I am 21 years old and I’ll be 22 in May. I grew up on a farm in a middle of nowhere place called New Salem, NC. I’m currently living in Mint Hill, NC, which is where most of my family is.


Q: How long have you been writing? What got you started?

A: In third grade, we had this thing called Station Wednesdays. One of the stations was a creative writing table where you’d roll three dice to get your protagonist, antagonist, and setting. Then you had to write the story. That was when I first got into it. I didn’t start writing from that day onward though. When I was 18, I was really into YA dystopian/fantasy fiction and got the idea that I wanted to write a fantasy novel. That was when I really started writing again.


Q: What is your main inspiration behind “Anna”?

A: The piece is largely inspired by the song “Evelyn” by Gregory Alan Isakov. I love the mood and minimalist aspects of it. I am also currently very interested in these “thinking” novels that are seeing some popularity, such as Colm Tóibín’s novel “Brooklyn,” which was just made into a film. They are stories that don’t exactly have a main plot line, but just show life, with various obstacles and a sense of people trying to come to terms with their own identities.


Q: What sorts of pieces do you enjoy writing the most? (Genre, topics, etc.)

A: I used to love fantasy, but I’ve moved away from it in the past two years or so. I mostly like to write YA and literary fiction, just focusing on telling the stories of people’s lives and trials rather than some grand adventure. When it comes down to it, real life can be just as grand.


Q: What is your favorite novel and why?

A: This question is next to impossible for me. I’ll name a few just for an idea – “Looking for Alaska” by John Green, “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak, “The Boston Girl” by Anita Diamant, and “The Invention of Wings” by Sue Monk Kidd. I also thought that I didn’t like Faulkner after reading “Light in August,” but I’ve just now finished reading “The Sound and the Fury” and I’m pretty obsessed with it.

I like stories that tell the lives of people over years and decades. Having multiple PoVs is also a great dynamic.


Q: What is the absolute worst novel you have ever read, and why was it so terrible?

A: In 11th grade English, I had to read “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne and I hated it with a passion. I’ve never re-read the novel to make sure, but I still remember it as being a terrible book that was too long, full of propaganda, boring characters, and a really lackluster and hard to believe ending. Last year, I had to read Hawthorne’s short story, “Young Goodman Brown” and I had similar opinions of it as well.


Q: What are your plans after college? Do you intend to continue writing?

A: I do plan to continue practicing my writing. I’m not sure where the road will take me immediately after college, but I’d like to become involved in either film-making or publishing, the latter of which would require me to move long distance. I am also putting a lot of thought into getting my masters, but I plan to take at least a year off school before I make that plunge. I could see myself settling as a college professor one day, but I’d like to get more out into the world first. I hope to write several novels in the future.


Q: Do you have any writing tips to share with the readers?


  1. Figure out the novels that you really like and analyze them as closely as possible for what they do specifically to impact you.
  2. When you realize that you don’t understand why someone does, did, or would do something, whether in fiction or in real life, pursue that question.
  3. Find friends who share an interest in fiction or human behavior, and have thoughtful conversations with them.
  4. Make sure you are ready to take a lot of criticism from people who don’t like your writing style or types of stories.
  5. There are very few people in the world who can read your work and give insightful feedback that directly leads to you making a change. Look for those people and don’t settle.


Be sure to read John’s “Anna,” which can be found here on our website!



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About the Author

Tierra Holmes is a senior studying Art History and History at UNCC. When she isn’t chained to her computer working on research projects, she enjoys marathoning Korean dramas and spending money she doesn’t have. After graduation, she hopes to curate a museum or gallery and possibly guest-star on Mysteries at the Museum.