I'm back home after a blast of a weekend.
I'd had some experience with live workshopping from the Madrid Writer's Critique Group, but nothing near as extensive and intensive as this. We spent three glorious days in a German castle with a moat and a gorgeous garden, sipping tea, coffee and wine, chatting about everything, crittin' and writin' writin' writin'!
I got to meet six writers who've gone straight to my list of favorite people.
Ruth Nestvold organized the whole affair. I never imagined she'd have such an exuberant personality. She had us laughing the whole time and she was generous with her knowledge of writing and the publishing world. Imagine having someone who is as accomplished and talented as she is, locked up in a castle with you and knowing she can't run away from your questions! Awesome! Thanks, Ruth, for putting this together.
Nancy Fulda is sweet and funny and also shared her writing and editing experience. She endured my conversation for the two hour drive from Frankfurt to Mosbach and back. Big thanks for picking me up and dropping me off at Frankfurt!
Deanna Carlyle writes chicklit and YA and has a great eye for plot. She was the only one of us from outside the genre, which was good, since she challenged our views of how things are and showed us how an SF story looks like to a mainstream reader. Her insight was hugely valuable and she's a blast to be around with.
John Olsen has a beautiful lyrical writing style. I loved the story he had up for critique. He made us a three course meal for supper on Sunday that was absolutely great. Great sense of humour. He stoically put up with five jabbering women.
Aliette de Bodard. What can I say? I already knew her from Liberty Hall, and she's already great over the Internet but she was absolutely hilarious in person. We shared a room and chatted long into the night. She and I were the only two people there who'd grown up outside of the US, so I found we shared some common experiences. We've both decided to write in English because our other languages don't have a strong Speculative readership. We've both come to American culture in a roundabout way. What can I say? I can't wait to see what she writes next.
The weekend also turned out to be totally affordable. We paid 127e for three nights of lodging and food. Although we doubled up, the rooms were so huge that I didn't feel cramped. There was loads of little nooks to write in. The bathrooms were humongous, with a fresco of Botticelli's Aphrodite, of all things. There was a giant bathtub (yes, I took a bath, something I haven't done in years).
In the garden, there was a plastic mannequin in a nightgown half submerged in the river. The leaves from the trees kept falling. We have mostly perennials in Spain, so watching red crunchy leaves fall was a treat.
I wouldn't be surprised if some of us end up setting a story in that castle.
It was decided that there had to be another workshop next year. Villa Diodati lives!