Adjunct Jaime Karnes is making a permanent stay at SNHU as the Assistant Professor of English. Before SNHU, she taught at Rutgers University after receiving her Masters from the same university. Karnes and her husband decided to move from New York City to New Hampshire to raise their daughter Greta Anne.
“I never wanted to be one of those New Yorker moms. You know, the ones with bulky strollers struggling to get on and off the subway. It felt more natural to raise our daughter with grass and trees and mountains,” Karnes said.
Before teaching, she worked at a marketing company as a creative director/copy writer, but she knew she had to switch gears when it sapped her creativity for writing.
“I would spend all day editing or writing copy and come home with no energy left for my own writing. I found that teaching doesn’t do that to me. In many ways, teaching inspires my own craft,” she said.
She currently teaches fiction and nonfiction workshops, as well as Context of Writing and Advanced Creative Writing. She prefers her role as a professor to be a discussion facilitator, where students are asking and answering their own questions. Karnes will continue to teach the workshop courses in the fall, and she looks forward to a list of novels she is developing for her Context of Writing course.
“I love the work of my mentor, novelist (and Director of the Master of Fine Arts program at Rutgers-Newark) Jayne Anne Phillips. We’ll likely read one of her novels—perhaps her most recent “Quiet Dell” or “Lark & Termite”—as part of the six I will teach in the course,” she said. The Context of Writing course is different from workshops for the insight that it gives into the publishing world.
“We’ll be discussing the publishing industry, and perhaps we’ll even get to speak with published authors on that challenging process, as well as an agent or two,” Karnes said.
In the future, she hopes to get the chance to teach special topics courses. She expressed an interest in teaching one that explores the presentation of trauma in literature, but also plans to ask her current students what they would like to study in the future. While teaching, Karnes is in the works of having her first novel published, titled “The Great Darkness.”
“It’s based on the Duplessis Orphans and inspired by real events that plunges into one of the blackest stains on modern Canadian history. In a financial scheme, over 20,000 orphans were wrongfully deemed insane and sent to mental asylums by the Duplessis-led government, in collusion with the Catholic Church. The novel takes place from 1953-1954,” Karnes said.
She began writing around third grade, when she typed the entirety of Beverly Cleary’s “Ramona Quimby, Age 8” on her grandmother’s old Remington and gave it to her father as her own creation.
“I loved mimicking the worlds my childhood idols created, especially Roald Dahl, Judy Blume, and E.B. White. Sometime early in high school, as a teenager, I began my own work—creating my own worlds,” she said.
Karnes’s writing is most inspired by A.M. Homes, Joyce Carol Oates, Amy Hempel and Jayne Anne Phillips.
“These were writers I read as a teenager and they solidified my need to create my own fictions,” she said.
She is most interested in writing about the human condition, in terms of the dark side of it, why people behave badly, what motivated that behavior and what challenges it.
“I’ve been told many times that I’m dark. I’m not exactly sure what that means, but I have a feeling people sense that I’m inclined to examine the underbelly of everyday existence in my work,” Karnes said.
To students wishing to further their writing, she said, “Read. Read. Read. Then reevaluate how you read and go back and read some more. Writing is 80 percent reading and 20 percent doing. Also, don’t be afraid to write what you don’t know! Writing is about exploration and we learn by doing, so sit down for at least 30 minutes a day. Even if you don’t write a word, make sure you sit there. Learning to write on a schedule is like training for a marathon. You’ve got to exercise your mind in the same ways.”
In her time thus far at SNHU, Karnes has been able to make connections with her students that have made SNHU feel like her home. Kaitlin Tetreault, a student of Karnes’s, is excited that she will be sticking around.
“I think she’s a great professor with a lot of practical, professional advice to offer students. She also looks after students who may easily slip through the cracks and can inspire even the most hesitant writers,” Tetreault said.
Karnes is excited to continue her work with SNHU and its students.
“I’m also looking forward to the publication of my first novel, with the jacket reading Assistant Professor of English at Southern New Hampshire University, and sharing that moment with my students. I’m thrilled to be here and grateful for the opportunity to mentor so many dedicated young people,” she said.