Student Novelist: CJ Blair

Dunbar students are known for their impressive talents and academic ability, but one student seems to be going above and beyond. Senior C.J. Blair has proved his unique and incredible talents by writing his own novel.

“I began writing my novel, Hysteria, in 8th grade,” said Blair, “and finished it around winter break of my junior year.”

The book, set in rural Kentucky, focuses on issues of prejudice between three groups of people.

“In the book, I focus on a group of people I have chosen with a very distinct group of traits,” Blair said. “In some ways they are almost like vampires. They have pale skin and they move at night. A group of people living in the same area embodies prejudice against the group, and the story plays out as a 10-year-old boy attending a music camp in the area is being recruited by the prejudiced group to support their beliefs against the mysterious characters.”

For most students, writing a book would be almost an impossible feat. But for Blair, his writing skills are a talent he has worked to improve for numerous years, most recently at Dunbar.

“I have been writing for as long as I can remember,” said Blair. “I tried writing a couple other novels. With this particular book, I kept asking myself questions continuously, which helped me generate material for the book. Also, at that specific time in my life I was ready to take on a project like this, so I knew it was time to attempt a novel.”

There are numerous inspirations in Blair’s life that have helped him write such an outstanding novel, many of them stemming from his education at Dunbar.

“I took Mrs. Tara Wilkinson’s Creative Writing class during my sophomore year and that helped my writing immensely,” said Blair. “The curriculum is flexible and you are given the tools to experiment on your own time.”

Blair also credits Mr. Gary Egan on his outstanding teaching that had a big influence on Blair’s writing style and work ethic.

Outside of school, Blair also finds inspiration from a variety of books and authors.

“My favorite authors are Flannery O’Connor, Edgar Allen Poe and Cormac McCarthy,” said Blair. “Also, my favorite book of all time is Watership Down. It just always keeps coming back to me unlike other books I have read.”

As Blair is closing out his senior year, he is excited to pursue his writing further.

“I’m not sure about a career in writing but I definitely want to keep it as a part of my life,” said Blair. “I am looking at small liberal arts colleges such as Oberlin and Grinell, and I am hoping to study writing in college.”

Writing is a difficult past time to begin for many students as they find it difficult to express certain things on paper. However, Blair encourages students to take a leap and begin writing.

“Young writers are often told to write what they know,” said Blair. “They often take that too literally so they either write something completely out there or something too familiar. The best way is to use what you know for inspiration but remember to expand it to create an interesting story.”

Blair is excited to see where his future lies in the writing world and says he has several ideas for future novels floating around.