Kevin Nguyen ’09 was living in Brooklyn and working in tech. Each morning and evening, on the crowded subway filled with New Yorkers intent on ignoring each other, Nguyen wrote notes on his cell phone—bits of dialogue, science fiction story ideas, observations about race. Not until he realized he’d written 20,000 words did he attempt to weave within them a cohesive storyline. 

“There was no end goal,” Nguyen recalls. “It was not like, This is going to get me a book deal.”