Screenwriter and author Eugene Garcia-Cross speaks at Rose O’Neill Literary House

By Grace Hogsten

Copy Editor

For the latest installment of the Sophie Kerr Screenwriters Series, author and screenwriter Eugene Garcia-Cross visited Washington College and spoke at two events at the Rose O’Neill Literary House to discuss different aspects of his writing career.

On Monday, Feb. 19, the Lit House hosted “Selling a Network Series: A Q&A,” an event where Garcia-Cross discussed his experience in the screenwriting industry. Director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House and Associate Professor of English Dr. James Allen Hall, who met Garcia-Cross years ago when they both worked at a summer writing retreat, introduced the speaker.

Dr. Hall praised Garcia-Cross’s writing and gave a brief overview of the screenwriter’s career. Since earning his MFA in fiction from the University of Pittsburgh, Garcia-Cross has published two books: a collection of short fiction, “The Fires of Our Choosing,” in 2012, and a novel, “Miss Me Forever” in 2023. He worked as a screenwriter at NBC and as a staff writer for Peacock before entering his current position as an executive story editor at Disney+.

Growing up, Garcia-Cross never saw writing as a viable career because his schools and the people around him placed so much emphasis on subjects like science and math. In college, he felt lost; unsure of which major to choose, he planned to pursue a career in medicine.

That changed, however, as soon as Garcia-Cross enrolled in a creative writing course he had decided to take as an elective.

“I was hooked…I just became really fascinated with story,” Garcia-Cross said. “All of a sudden…I was somebody who never wanted to miss a lecture or a workshop.”

His passion for telling stories eventually led him to the television industry. Screenwriting is not a position a person can get overnight; Garcia-Cross spent two years as a writer’s personal assistant before moving up the ranks and earning his spot in the writers’ room.

The event also included a brief showing of a few scenes from a TV show episode Garcia-Cross co-wrote for the Disney+ series “The Santa Clauses.” He discussed the collaborative writing process and his experience working with various creatives in the writers’ room and on set.

            Sophomore Jenna Walton, who hopes to become a screenwriter and attends as many Screenwriters Series events as their schedule allows, was a member of the audience at Garcia-Cross’s first talk.

“As an aspiring screenwriter, it’s always best to listen to other screenwriters,” Walton said. “Coming to these events helps me understand facets of the industry that I may not have the strongest handle on.”

Garcia-Cross spoke at a second Literary House event on Tuesday, Feb. 19, where he read from his latest book, “Miss Me Forever,” and answered questions regarding the novel, which tells the story of a teenage Nepalese refugee who is resettled in the United States without his older sister.

According to Dr. Hall, “‘Miss Me Forever’ is about the leanings and absences and erasures and explosions that put the long in longing.”

Garcia-Cross said that his inspiration for the book came from his interactions with a community of Nepalese refugees in his hometown of Erie, Pa. Through teaching ESL and creative writing classes, he got to know many children in the community.

“When they were…accepted by the United States, they were also accepted by Australia, Canada, other countries, so they had friends, they had relatives that ended up in different places,” Garcia-Cross said.

The writer listened to his students’ life stories and eventually felt inspired to write his novel; even the book’s title quotes a phrase written by a young boy Garcia-Cross taught.

“[An exercise] I gave in the creative writing class was [to] write a letter to somebody that was close to you in the camps, who maybe didn’t end up with you here,” Garcia-Cross said. “There was a student who was writing about a friend of his that he had spent his entire life with…and at the end of the letter, I knew that…what he wanted to say was ‘never forget me,’ but the language wasn’t there, and what he wrote was ‘miss me forever.’”

One attendee of Garcia-Cross’s second event, freshman Zee Howard, said that she purchased a copy of “Miss Me Forever” at the campus bookstore before finding out about the reading.

“I actually bought the book first, because I looked at the back of it and I was like ‘Oh, I like this,’” Howard said. “I just decided to come and meet the author and, you know, find out why he wrote the book.”

Department Chair and Associate Professor of English and Director of the Sophie Kerr Endowment Dr. Courtney Rydel shared some insight on what made Garcia-Cross such a perfect candidate for the Screenwriters Series.

“We were very excited to get Eugene Garcia-Cross for the Screenwriters Series because he works in multiple genres,” Dr. Rydel said. “He’s both a screenwriter and a celebrated writer of fiction…and so that enables him to appeal to many students.”

The next events in the Sophie Kerr Screenwriters Series follow writer Joey Siara in the Lit House on Tuesday, March 5, and Wednesday, March 6.

Photo courtesy of Dante Chavez

Photo Caption: Dr. James Hall led the Question and Answer event with screenwriter Eugene Garcia-Cross on Monday, Feb. 19.

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