Written by Haley Schvaneveldt
Photographed by Cameron Ohls
Grant Looper tilts back in his chair and adjusts his tweed jacket. Even on a typical day, when he is not being interviewed or photographed, Grant is well-dressed. At his most casual, he wears a Pink Floyd or Beatles T-shirt with his jacket and vintage watch. In contrast to his current polished style in both fashion and writing, Grant’s earliest career goals make us both chuckle. “At four years old, I wanted to be a pumpkin,” he tells me. Since then, Grant has considered scientist, police officer, and historian as potential occupations, even majoring in business management before finally settling on English.
Grant’s first discovery of writing began with the “nonsensical stories” he devised in the midst of summer boredom. These inspired him to take a creative writing course that, along with his affinity for the writing portions of his business classes, led to a middle-of-the-semester transfer into the creative writing department.
Several great authors were instrumental in Grant’s path to becoming the writer he is today. Grant tells me, “My entire life is inspired by Ernest Hemingway, including his love for cats!” In writing, Grant admires Hemingway’s “to the point, utilitarian writing style.” Grant explains that Hemmingway was one of the first authors in American literature to grasp the concept of depth freed from wordiness. “His vision is one I’ve had for my writing,” he says. Grant also draws inspiration from recent Nobel Prize winner and songwriter, Bob Dylan. “There’s just so much in his songs and in his lyrics,” he says, “They’re so gritty, and also visual and beautiful. Every one of his songs has that one line in it that is just the most profound thing you’ve ever heard.” Grant loves talking about his heroes of literature. “I could talk about Bob Dylan all day,” he says with a sigh.
When I ask Grant what he wants to accomplish with his own writing, he laughs and says, “My goal is to be on the required reading list to annoy high school kids. I want to be that author that students hate but that teachers love.” On a more serious note, Grant tells me that he wants to “capture the voice of southern millennials.” As a twenty-two year old resident of the small southern town of Easley, South Carolina, Grant has personal insight into the experiences of this demographic. He explains, “No matter what their background, southern millennials live in a completely different culture. Whether they are conservative or liberal, they are more progressive than their parents. This is brought out in the South more than anywhere else in the United States, I think. There’s a major culture clash there, and I think it’s the most interesting thing to explore.”
Other than being the next Ernest Hemingway, Grant’s future plans are to pursue a job in advertising for financial stability that will allow him to be “constantly working on fiction.” Grant is currently writing a novel for Senior Seminar that captures the southern millennial voice, and eventually getting it published is his number one goal. Until his novel his finished, however, Grant considers “Kent Street,” his short story included in this year’s edition of Ivy Leaves, to be his greatest success as a writer. In it, you will find utilitarian writing and beautiful, visual language that would make both Hemingway and Bob Dylan proud. Grant would have excelled at whatever career he set his mind to, be it business manager or professional pumpkin. However, I can’t help but agree when Grant evaluates his decision to become a writer in his to-the-point, understated way: “I don’t regret it at all.”