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Carling McQuinn

Carling McQuinn May 1, 2023

Winner of the 2023 Nick Adams Short Story Contest

Read the story: Phantom

This story really moved me. Luna’s observations of her beloved sister Sophie’s struggle with anorexia are skillfully detailed. The story unflinchingly renders the claustrophobia and pain of family love.”

— Final Judge Lan Samantha Chang

Carling McQuinn

More about Carling McQuinn:

  • Sophomore at Macalester College
  • Major: English
  • Minor: French and Economics
  • Hometown: Austin, TX

ACM: What sparked your interest in writing, and how did you get started writing fiction?

McQuinn: I’ve been writing stories since I learned how to use a pencil. I remember when I was in second grade, my best friend and I wrote this multi-part series titled “The Tale of the Girl Who Loved Writing” that we would read to the whole class. This was the moment, I think, when I realized that writing was something I would always love. Once I started writing, I couldn’t stop.

I’ve also been an avid reader my whole life; if I’m in the middle of a really good book, I find it hard to go back to the real world when I put it down. It’s always been my dream to write stories that provide readers with the escape that all my favorite books have given me.

ACM: Are there people (teachers, friends, authors) who have particularly influenced your writing?

McQuinn: Absolutely. My high school English and creative writing teachers were so supportive of my writing, and their feedback has been invaluable to me in this storytelling journey. I’ve also drawn a lot of inspiration from many fiction authors, specifically Fredrik Backman, Taylor Jenkins Reid, Erin Morgenstern, and Leigh Bardugo. Their books are the ones that I find myself constantly returning to.

ACM: In addition to fiction, are you interested in any other types of writing?

McQuinn: Fiction has always been my favorite genre to both read and write. There’s something incredibly rewarding about creating a whole new world through prose, even if it’s just a variation of our own. I am, however, interested in writing more with fantastical or magical elements.

ACM: Is there anyone you would like to thank?

McQuinn: Yes, so many! My parents and my brother have supported me endlessly on my writing journey. They’ve listened to me go on and on about so many story ideas, some of which I don’t even remember anymore, and for that I will be eternally grateful. My friends have also always cheered me on, and I’ve drawn inspiration from our relationships in my writing.

ACM: How have you developed your writing while you’ve been at Macalester? 

McQuinn: Macalester’s English classes have introduced me to many new books I wouldn’t have otherwise reached for. They’ve also helped me hone my writing in both academic and creative settings; I’ve learned to think critically about texts in an entirely different way. The creative writing classes that I’ve taken so far have also been fantastic, and the feedback I’ve gotten in workshops has helped me grow as a writer.

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