By Richard Mayne
It was the end of the semester, and I’d just opened my journal to my template of interview questions I would be asking Dr. Sharon Yang in her office at Worcester State University. She had a class to teach at 2 p.m., then another at 3:30 p.m., I was a student in the latter, in fact I had a paper due that afternoon. In many ways it was like any other Monday, except it wasn’t for Dr. Yang. That’s because she was soon to be Professor emerita, and would be embarking on her well deserved ride towards the sunset. I sat in her office on her last Monday morning to simply have a conversation.
Could you even sum up an entire career teaching?
“Well, I’m done. You don’t need to stick a fork in me to know that,” she joked, and we both shared a laugh. “No, in all seriousness, I’ve been teaching thirty years, twenty of them here. I can say, I’ve genuinely enjoyed myself. I’ve seen countless students go onto to grad school, I’ve had students go on to have successful writing careers. And there aren’t any voodoo dolls out there with my face on them that I know of, I supposed that’s a good sign.”
Have you been dreading retirement? Or looking forward to it?
“Oh, looking forward to it,” Dr. Yang responded. “I have so much to do, and so many things I want to accomplish. The stresses of teaching can get to you, and with retiring that’s something I won’t have to deal with. I like the idea of that.”
What are you looking forward to doing?
“Writing, traveling, gardening, actually being able to visit people, hiking, all types of things. Basically, everything that’s been on the back burner.”
Which did you want to be first? A writer, or a teacher?
“Well I guess it was a writer, when I was a girl I wanted to write. Though early on, even in high school, I sort of realized I’d have to do something else on top of it. You know, just to be able to make a living, and I always loved teaching, anyways. Teaching gave me the opportunity to talk about literature, and study literature, while still writing on the side.”
Why write mystery, specifically?
I’ve always loved mysteries. Mystery movies, books, novels, t.v. shows. As a writer, the genre allows me to interact with my reader, pretty intimately I’d say. I get to explore characters, their motives and personalities. I get to use the plot and really delve deep, you know. I get to play with the readers minds, take them on twists and turns. I really enjoy it, I really do. I have fun writing Mystery.
Yang’s two Mystery novels are titled, Bait and Switch (A Jessica Minton Mystery Book 1), and Letters from a Dead Man (A Jessica Minton Mystery Book 2). I’m sure in her retirement, Yang will be sending Jessica on all kinds of adventures. Yang is also an editor of another book titled, Gothic Landscapes: Changing Eras, Changing Cultures, Changing Anxieties, along with Kathleen Healey.
As a student, I’ve been fortunate to be able to take two of Yang’s classes, and have thoroughly enjoyed both of my experiences. I would like to thank Yang for all that she’s done for me personally, as both my professor and a mentor figure. I’m fortunate to have cultivated a relationship and built up a rapport with her while the chance was still available.
I’ll close this by saying, Dr. Sharon Yang is a wonderful professor and professional, who truly cares about her work. A true scholar, Yang has dedicated her career to the good of academia, and I believe academia is better off for it. Worcester State University is losing a pillar of its community, but now I suppose, the torch has been passed.
Bon Voyage, Dr. Yang. Thank you.