Perpich News

Anika Fajardo, Award-Winning Writer, Speaks During Common Experience and Visits with Literary Arts Students

Anika Fajardo, an award-winning writer (center), is pictured with her daughter, Sylvia Dieken (Music 2025) (left), and Craig Farmer, Art History Instructor (right)

December 5, 2023

Anika Fajardo, an award-winning writer, spoke with students during Common Ex on Monday, December 4th. Common Ex is a series of presentations where students hear about the artistic life from practicing artists, many of whom are Perpich graduates. Fajardo also spent time with the Literary Arts students during their arts block.

Reflecting on the experience, Anika shared, “The best part about this visit was the thoughtful questions from the students after my talk. I appreciated the way they were thinking deeply about the artist’s life.”

While with the Literary Arts students, Fajardo answered many student questions such as “What writing exercises do you use?”, “How do editors work?”, “How do you avoid offending people that you include in your memoirs?”, “How do you write for a young target audience?”, “Do you have a cat?”, etc. Following her very thoughtful, enthusiastic, and insightful responses, Anika shared more about her publishing history, tips and tricks of the publishing process, and the importance of creating a writing community.

“It was wonderful to have someone from our Perpich community, a parent of a current student, share their artistic practice,” said Rebecca Bullen, Arts High School Principal. “I am appreciative of the time Anika spent with not just the entire student body, but focused time with the Literary Arts students. Students asked amazing questions and we all left our time with Anika feeling inspired.” Anika’s daughter, Sylvia Dieken (Music 2025), is a current Perpich student.

Anika Fajardo was born in Colombia and raised in Minnesota. Her debut middle-grade novel What If a Fish (Simon & Schuster, 2020) was awarded the 2021 Minnesota Book Award. Her latest book for young readers, Meet Me Halfway (Simon & Schuster, 2022), was a finalist for the 2023 Minnesota Book Award. She is also the author of Magical Realism for Non-Believers: A Memoir of Finding Family (University of Minnesota Press, 2019), which was awarded Best Book (Nonfiction) of 2020 from City Pages and was a finalist for the 2020 Minnesota Book Award.

Her writing for adults and children has appeared in numerous publications including Brief Encounters: A Collection of Contemporary Nonfiction (Norton), We Are Meant to Rise: Voices for Justice from Minneapolis to the World (U of Minnesota Press), and Boundless: Twenty Voices Celebrating Multicultural and Multiracial Identities (Inkyard), as well as Travel + Leisure magazine. Fajardo also wrote Encanto: A Tale of Three Sisters (Disney), the middle-grade tie-in novel for the film. She has earned multiple awards from the Minnesota State Arts Board and from the Jerome Foundation.

When she is not writing, she teaches creative writing at Augsburg University’s MFA program. She lives with her family in Minneapolis.