Amelia Cotter ’07
Major: B.A. German, History; Employment: Writer/Author (www.ameliacotter.com)
Amelia Cotter ’07
- English & Communication Arts
Tell us why you chose to attend Hood? Was there a particular moment when you knew Hood was where you wanted to pursue your bachelor’s degree?
I knew from the moment I opened that big envelope full of brochures and information from Hood that it was going to be the right fit for me. I wanted to attend a small college with a big personality, and Hood felt like my destiny and a place where doors could open for me. It felt like someplace faraway, like a gateway to the world, even though Frederick is only about an hour and a half from my hometown of Bel Air, Maryland. Hood had everything I was looking for academically, and immediately felt like home, even before I ever set foot on campus.
What prompted you to pursue a degree in German? Did you have a specific related career or job in mind when you chose this major?
I was originally a Biology major and have still been able to pursue my interests in animal welfare and wildlife conservation in other ways. I had a life-changing experience during the summer between freshman and sophomore year, when choosing a college major felt like the most important decision I would ever have to make, and I decided to change my path to German and History. The choice to pursue a degree in language, literature, and history ended up making a lot of sense with my ultimate career path of becoming a writer and storyteller.
Do the work first, have the fun after. This will help you create healthy habits down the line as well. I kept a pretty disciplined schedule when it came to balancing my classes and extra-curriculars and did some kind of homework or studying every day. The most vital aspect of that was to give myself plenty of “me” time to retreat and take care of myself and my responsibilities. I also went to bed at a reasonable hour and got up early…ate my vegetables, and so on. These things sound cheesy, but structure and focus are key in achieving your goals, especially in this world where there is so much expected of us, and so much constantly pulling at our attention and energy. To that end, have fun and try to give yourself a day off as well. The world will take all of your time if you’re willing to give it. Practice now saving some of that time for yourself.
Your writing seems to be focused on the paranormal, especially in your books This House: The True Story of a Girl and a Ghost and Maryland Ghosts: Paranormal Encounters in the Free State. How did you become interested in these tales and how you go about researching your material?
I always wanted to be a writer since I was a little kid, and I was always fascinated by ghost stories. Even before I could really read, I would spend hours at the library, browsing the Occult section and picking up old Gothic romance novels. Now, the paranormal has taken on a life of its own as, at times, this bizarre cultural phenomenon. Lucky for me and my books sales, I guess, but I remember when connecting to history and historic places, and with your hometown and community, through ghost stories and urban legends was thrilling and made the world a more wondrous place. I have never been too concerned about proof that ghosts are real or not, but am fascinated by peoples’ experiences, the exploration of why the supernatural fascinates us so much, and the ways we relate to the world and each other through what I consider to be these modern mythologies. I also love a good old-fashioned scary story. My research takes me to some odd corners of the world and the internet for sure. One day, I’ll be interviewing someone about their experiences at a haunted place, and the next day I’ll be combing the Library of Congress for plat maps of that place. Folklore is important, history is important, and peoples’ personal experiences are important, and the three don’t always line up with each other. I’ll spend hours in newspaper archives trying to find out if a famously haunted speakeasy was ever even a speakeasy at all. But even if it wasn’t, it doesn’t mean it’s not haunted, or that the legends and stories behind the hauntings are any less valid or cool.