Writing With Your Ancestors: Infusing Memoir With Family History

Cost: $395

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What if you could transform your personal, familial and ancestral history into captivating stories that sell and inspire readers? Writing With Your Ancestors is for any writer who wants to tell their own personal story and infuse it with family history — whether it’s your parents’ and grandparents’ experience, or stretching way back to the foundations of your cultural identity. Instructor Kerra Bolton is an award-winning writer and filmmaker specializing in first-person narrative nonfiction that examines the meaning of connection and identity. This intensive four-week class combines practical family history research tips with guidance for navigating the emotional and cultural impact of connecting with your heritage. Writers will learn techniques to mine genealogical research websites, military history records and other archives, photo albums and family artifacts. You’ll also dive into the delicate art of interviewing family members (even the reluctant ones!) and learn how to transform oral histories and interviews into engaging written narratives. Each hour-long class includes instruction, small-group discussions, in-class writing prompts and Q&A time for connection and problem-solving. Writers will share their work and receive peer feedback in a supportive community. Whether you’re planning to write a series of essays, articles or a full-length book, this class will help you connect with your roots, polish your prose and zero in on which parts of your story resonate most with readers.

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This class is right for you if…

  • You’re working on a nonfiction article or essay that includes family history research.

  • You’re planning a memoir and want to strengthen your story by excavating unforgettable and authentic details.

  • You want to seed ideas for future stories through mining and integrating your family and ancestral history.

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All Narratively Academy classes are conducted online and accessible to students anywhere in the world.

Instructor Bio: Kerra Bolton is an acclaimed writer and filmmaker. Her work has been featured in Memoir Land, CNN.com, CNN Español, Hearst Magazines, The Times of Israel, New Worlder, Ebony and Panorama: The Journal of Intelligent Travel. She is currently working on her memoir, Water in My Bones, and her documentary film directorial debut, Return of the Black Madonna. Both projects trace her epic quest to learn to swim, dive and map sunken slave ships with Black marine archeologists. Bolton produced and starred in Detroit Rising: How the Motor City Becomes a Restorative City, released in 2020. The five-part docuseries followed Bolton as she witnessed restorative justice transform nearly every city sector during a time of racial reckoning. The series was an official selection of the San Francisco Independent Short Film Festival, called “illuminating” by The Mercury News and won “Best Web Series” (2020) at the Cyrus International Film Festival. Bolton is also the CEO and founder of Woodbine Ventures, a transitional career coaching company.

“While I’ve always been interested in my family history, I’d never really followed my inkling to delve deeper and write about the people who made my existence possible — until I took Kerra Bolton’s course. Kerra brings her wise, compassionate presence and deep understanding of the power of ancestral legacy to anyone who wishes to not only know more about where you come from, but channel that into your work. Kerra is a brilliant teacher, writer and person, whose guidance will take you to entirely new places. You don’t want to miss this course!” —Jordan Rosenfeld, freelance editor and author of nine books

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Registration Details: Seats in this class are limited and available on a first-come, first-serve basis. All purchases are final and nonrefundable. After signing up, you’ll receive an email receipt confirming your purchase. Prior to the start of your class you’ll receive an invitation to access the virtual classroom and view all class materials.

Questions? Email us at academy@narratively.com.

MORE: Check out all of our upcoming Narratively Academy Classes here.