It all started with a monkey queen. A young Maggie Montague invented the furry character in her first story. Now a senior, Montague has published several fiction and nonfiction pieces.
“Stories have always been a part of my life,” Montague said. “When I was little, my dad and I would create stories, usually rhyming and ridiculous, before bedtime each night. And my mom would always read me fairytales.”
Implementing her story background, Montague self-published a book in high school. She described the book as a fiction fantasy coming-of-age story.
“There were dwarves and elves and that type of thing,” Montague said. “But it was about a girl who leaves home when she’s 13 because of a deal her parents made a long time ago…I still have people who come up to me and their kids are reading my book and they say, ‘My son stayed up all night reading this.’”
Beyond the book, a few of Montague’s pieces have appeared in literary journals. Two of her works were published in Script, the student-run literary journal on campus.
“My advice to students who are looking for ways to get their writing out there is to take advantage of Script on our campus,” Montague said. “Script offers students the chance to submit their work and is a good place to start building up confidence in your work, even if it’s just in the Whitworth community.”
Montague also had a creative nonfiction piece titled “From One Synapse to Another” published in Apeiron Review, an online journal based in Philadelphia.
What’s the next step? Montague is currently working on a young adult trilogy.
“I would describe it as Indiana Jones meets the Avengers,” Montague said. “The only thing I have left is to finish revising book three and then I have to look more into literary agents and publishers.”
Although she used to consider herself a fiction writer, Montague said she has found a new voice in creative nonfiction.
“I like creative nonfiction because it lets you look at the world from your own perspective in new ways, which sounds strange, but you see new parallels and new connections that even when you were living in the moment, you didn’t see,”
Montague said. When writing a piece, Montague said inspiration can come from anything someone says, or even an unusual scene.
“The other day I saw a nun driving in a car and for some reason, that just struck me,” Montague said. “I mean, I know nuns drive cars, but I just had never really thought about it and it caught my attention.”
Montague said her initial inspirations can take her down unexpected pathways.
“I never know exactly where the inspiration will take me,” Montague said. “Sometimes you end up at a place that’s completely unrelated and you wonder how you even got there.”
Although the path can be unpredictable, Montague said writing helps her make sense of life and her experiences.
“It’s a way of translating the things I see in the world, or perhaps what I wish I would see in the world, into something that means more than the summation of its parts,” Montague said.
Writing also alleviates Montague’s stress level. She said it helps her regain sanity and composure.
In addition to that benefit, Montague said writing helps her learn how to live an effective life.
“Writing teaches you the value of being in community and of engaging with new perspectives,” Montague said. “In order to write, you can’t shut yourself off from the world; instead, you have to interact with the world around you. If you write in isolation, what new thoughts can you offer the world?”