Alumni Snapshots: Q&A with Katharine Coldiron '99

Alumni Director Carrie MacVean Grimes '91 enjoyed catching up recently with Katharine Coldiron '99, who is enjoying life in Southern California with her husband Matt Mason '99. Keep an eye out for Katharine's upcoming book, Ceremonials, which will be released in February. 
Tell us some highlights of your journey since you graduated from Severn.  
The main one was reconnecting with, and then marrying, Matt Mason '99. We've been together since 2006 and married since 2011. No plans for children, but we have a wonderful life together. We moved to California in 2012. I became certified as a paralegal and a yoga instructor, both of which jobs I did for a while, but for some years I've been pointing my nose toward being a writer. In 2017 I picked up a master's degree in creative writing from California State University, Northridge. This year I published two book reviews in the Washington Post, which has been a dream since I was a teenager working on the Anchor. My first book is coming out in February from a small press, and I can't wait. 

What has surprised you about your path?
It wasn't the end of the world when I had to start over again (which I've had to do a lot). Nothing about my life has gone in a straight line, or happened in the way I expected, but even though that has caused me a lot of anxiety, it's turned out to be kind of great to be messy. 

Who or what have been an inspiration to you in your personal and/or professional life?
There are more politically correct answers to this question, but the true answer is Richard Nixon. A totally morally bankrupt man who was also a supreme public servant - which reminds me that people are complicated, and not all one thing - who was defeated again and again, sometimes humiliatingly, and always bounced back and tried again, right until the end of his life. Saying that I admire Nixon might give the wrong idea about me, as I don't endorse his beliefs, private behavior, moral bankruptcy, or the ways in which he harmed the nation. But what an endlessly fascinating figure he was. 

What is your “why”? (What motivates you/gives you a compass)?
 
Truth. 

A book you recently read and recommend—and why.
 
Oh, I hate this question! I'm a professional book critic, I read twenty books a month, and most of them don't get to me as a reader. The only book I've read for pleasure recently is Claire Dederer's Love and Trouble, which is prickly and real and unique. If you want to understand women over forty, it's a perfect primer. It's also remarkable at the sentence level - Dederer's craft is finely honed. 

Who was a mentor to you at Severn and what wisdom/guidance did they impart to you that’s still a part of who you are?
Dr. Heslin, absolutely. He helped me believe that I could be free. I was so wrapped up in adults' expectations of me, and he helped me believe I was OK the way I was. 

Severn School in one sentence. 
Hard to leave behind. 

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