Alumni Authors Come to CSU

Justin Hocking (M.F.A., ’02) Turns Moby-Dick Obsession into Whale of a Guidebook for Life’s Dark Passages

Justin_HockingOn April 3, writer Justin Hocking’s  Moby-Dick obsession comes full circle. Hocking (M.F.A., ’02) returns to CSU, where the obsession began, as the featured author of the Crow-Tremblay Alumni Creative Writing Reader Series. He will read from his recently published book, The Great Floodgates of the Wonderworld: A Memoir.Hocking_book

Hocking first read Melville’s epic whale tale as a graduate student in creative writing at CSU. “I was happily surprised to find that the book is not the long slog that it’s often made out to be,” he says. “Especially in the beginning, it reads like a page-turning adventure story, and it’s loaded with humor. And I love the multi-genre and polyphonic nature of the book–it’s a novel, but it’s packed with long nonfiction sections, stagecraft, sea-shanties, poetry, lists, etc.”

Reading Moby-Dick was just the beginning. “What truly sparked my obsession was a book of critical theory that I found in the basement of the CSU library,” Hocking says. “Called Moby-Dick, An American Nekyia, it compares the narrative trajectory of Moby-Dick with psychologist Carol Jung’s concept of the night sea journey.”

Hocking says his understanding of Moby-Dick as a kind of archetypal guidebook for surviving life’s dark passages was inspiring. “I loved this concept, and increasingly latched on to it,” he says, “especially as I entered my own modest night sea journey.”

Hocking’s memoir chronicles this transformative journey. He moves to New York City, tries to maintain a faltering long-distance relationship, searches for publishing work, and as an outlet to restlessness begins surfing at Far Rockaway. Then he endures a traumatic incident that sets his night sea journey in motion. What incident is that? Come to the reading on April 3, or get your hands on the book to learn more.

Hocking says he is “beyond honored and excited” to be returning to CSU for the creative writing reading series. “I owe so much to the professors and the creative community who supported me during my graduate studies, and I’m looking forward to reconnecting with them.”

Ryan Avery Aims to Break the Book-signing World Record

Ryan_AveryRyan Avery (’09) believes that we are capable of doing so much more than we think. “My tagline is ‘Dream BIG,’” he says. “You only live once.” He used that motto and philosophy, along with focused discipline, to become the 2012 Toastmasters International World Champion of Speaking. He had no history of public speaking and just nine months to prepare. Now, Avery is onto his next personal challenge: set the world record for the largest book signing in history–right here at Colorado State University.

Avery’s goal is to have 5,000 copies of his book Speaker, Leader, Champion: Succeed at Work through the Power of Public Speaking, signed and sold – onsite at the CSU Bookstore in the Lory Student Center, or online through – on Wednesday, April 16.Avery_book

Why a world record? “I think it allows students, faculty, and the community to come together and be part of something big,” Avery says. Plus, “Money raised from this event will benefit the Alumni Association to support scholarships for future CSU students. I was the first person to graduate from my family and I want more people to experience what CSU has to offer.”

The idea for the event came together quickly. “We decided about a month ago,” Avery says. And, CSU pride has remained at the center of event planning. “My agent said, ‘Why don’t we do this at a big college like Stanford?,’ and I said, ‘Why don’t we do at the best college, CSU?’” Avery hopes that breaking a world record becomes an annual event at CSU.

How do you become part of history? Bring $15.95 and come to the CSU Bookstore between 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m., Mountain Time, on April 16. Participants will receive a signed copy of Speaker Leader Champion, their name printed in his next book, and bragging rights for being part of a world record, Avery says.

Can’t make it to campus that day? You can purchase a signed book online between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., Eastern Time, through the event website. The online cost, $19.95, includes shipping and taxes. You can even pre-register for the event whether you attend the event in person or online.

The current world record for the most books signed by one author in a single session is 4,649 by Sammy Lee (Hong Kong), who signed his book Autopilot Leadership Model in Shenyang, Liaoning, China, on January 19, 2013.

Avery co-authored Speaker, Leader, Champion with Jeremy Donovan, author of How to Deliver a TED Talk. “The book provides more than 80 strategies to help you advance your career.” Avery says. “It’s a perfect read for recent alumni, graduating seniors, or anyone who wants to use their voice to make a difference.”

by Carol Busch (M.A. ’02)