Jervey Tervalon

Jervey Tervalon (6/50)

Writing & Literature

CCS was honored to showcase 50 individuals and activities during our 50th Anniversary in 2017-2018 to share our rich history. Take a look at the amazing people responsible for making our unconventional College possible!   

CCS: How has CCS impacted your life?  

Jervey Tervalon: My time as an undergrad was the most rewarding time of my life.  My interests expanded at CCS and I greatly benefited from classes with Robyn Bell, Marvin Mudrick and Allen Stephens.  Also, it was fun and such a compelling time that I wrote a novel, All the Trouble You Need, based on my experiences as a student at CCS that was published by Simon and Schuster and spent one week on the LA Times bestsellers list.

CCS: As a student, why did you choose to come to CCS? How did you find out about the College? 

JT: I discovered CCS by accident—I needed units because of my disastrous first quarter at UCSB and I took a poetry class with Robyn Bell and then a narrative Prose course with Mudrick and I thought I would never leave and in some sense I never did.

CCS: What was your favorite aspect of CCS as a student? How has that changed now you are a faculty member?  

JT: At CCS I had the freedom to think and pursue interests and take risks without the horrible conformity of most programs.  I received in my BA in Literature from CCS, a degree that felt more like the equivalent of a MFA.  I received my MFA from UC Irvine’s fiction program and I studied with Thomas Keneally and Oakley Hall and had a great experience but I learned to write and truly read at CCS.

At CCS I had the freedom to think and pursue interests and take risks without the horrible conformity of most programs.

CCS: Does a memorable moment stand out from your time as a student at CCS? If so, please describe the moment.  

JT: Mudrick sent my collection of stories I wrote in his Narrative Prose class off to a New York editor who rejected it but the rejected was so praise worthy that it kept me writing.

CCS: Why did you choose to stay and teach at CCS?

JT: It’s simply the best place to teach.  Mudrick used anonymity in his narrative prose class and seemingly few teachers allow students to have their work critiqued anonymously.  Separating the writer from the work helps the writer hear their work objectively.  It was incredibly useful to me and I teach my courses with his technique in mind. Mudrick also said students can write first rate fiction

CCS: How do you structure your CCS classes?

JT: A free flowing exchange of ideas and critiques, I’d rather hear the students passionately discuss a story then have me drone on about narrative minutia

CCS: What advice would you give to current CCS students?

JT: Take risks and put together a body of work. 

CCS: Anything else you would like to say about CCS? 

JT: Stay the course and keep kicking butt!