The University of Iowa

5Q Interview: Signe Nettum, English and Creative Writing Major

January 11, 2021

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the Writing University has been continuing our series of interviews with writers in the various University of Iowa writing programs. We ask about their work, their process and their descriptions of home. We are posting them now as examples of our shared community strength during this time.

Today's interview is with Signe Nettum, a junior double majoring in English and creative writing; Journalism and Mass Communication.


Signe Nettum

Signe Nettum is currently a Junior, double majoring in English and creative writing; Journalism and Mass Communication. She is from Madison, Wisconsin, but hopes to explore other cities in the Midwest. After graduation, she hopes to pursue an MFA in Literary Sciences and/or join the Writer’s Workshop.


1. Do you have a specific project that you will be working on this year?

I am preparing for this year’s National Novel Writing Month, this November. I will be re-writing a novel I wrote back in 2017 titled The Fae Child. It’s about a girl who is transported into Fairyland and must pretend to have magic and act as a fairy to save herself from those who hunt down humans. She asks the most famous hunter to guide her back home, pretending the entire time.

2. What does your daily practice look like for your writing? Do you have a certain time when you write, or any specific routine?

I am usually busy with school or other errands — sometimes of my own volition — so my writing is scattered throughout the day. My routine is to handwrite everything in my favorite brand of notebooks: Myndology. You can only get them online, in Appleton, Wisconsin. I set a small goal of 500 words a day, which usually turns into more during November.

3. What are you currently reading right now? Are you reading for research or pleasure?

I have a few books that are on my reading rotation. The one for school is Dante’s Inferno. I am also reading Pawprints and Predicaments by Bethany Blake; it is a cozy murder mystery. I also picked up a book called The Lost Queen by Signe Pike. Truth be told, I grabbed it solely because we share a first name — tell me, how many Signes do you know? — but I am enjoying it. It’s about Merlin’s sister.

4. Can you tell us a little about your experience as an English Creative Writing Major and your work with HORIZON Magazine?

I came to the University of Iowa knowing that I wanted to be a Creative writing major, so I started on the ECW with Journalism and Mass Communication as my second major. Alongside the main Foundation classes and various reading classes, I have explored many different angles in writing, including short story, postmodern, and historical fiction. I cannot wait to broaden my writing skills this next year.

I established Horizon Magazine this last August and I am the Editor-in-chief for the 2020-2021 academic year. After two years on campus, I learned that we only had a few magazines on campus, and there were some students who had positions on two or more or had been working on them for all of their college life. I wanted to give those who had never been a part of a magazine a chance to learn and gain experience. I also wanted to spread more positivity on campus with writing, because the main emotion I find in poetry and prose is negative. Conflict makes a story, but so can hope.

5. Tell us about where you are from -- what are a few of your favorite details about your home?

I am from Madison, Wisconsin, the great cheese state. Once coming to Iowa City, I realized I took a lot of my surroundings for granted. We had a free zoo, a free botanical garden, many lakes to fish, swim, and boat at — I learned to logroll when I was around ten years old. I live a few blocks away from Camp Randall Stadium, and I can hear the cheering a few seconds before the tv reports it.

It’s a Midwestern city that has big city vibes, while still holding small-town treasures.

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Thank you Signe!