October 16, 2018 § Leave a comment
What a pleasure it was to spend part of a recent afternoon having this wide-ranging conversation with Colorado novelist Mark Stevens on The Rocky Mountain Writer podcast.
We discussed many topics of interest to writers and readers, including A Field Guide to Murder & Fly Fishing, travel and fiction, Ecuadorian volcanoes, Venezuela’s Orinoco basin, Eastern Cuba, fiction vs autobiography, the importance of place in fiction, dropping acid and pushing the bounds of objective reality, interiority and loneliness, The Grateful Dead and the Eleusinian Mysteries, fly fishing as metaphor, Ursula K. LeGuin, William Golding’s The Inheritors, Newport MFA & the Cuba Writers Program, and a recap of a talk I gave on “The Essentials of Voice” at RMFW’s Colorado Gold conference in September, 2018.
Listen to the entire podcast here. Mark also did a wonderful followup print interview here, in which we talked about life experience as a point of departure for fiction, the deep sources of story ideas, more on why I think dreams and hallucinations shouldn’t be off-limits for fiction writers, place-based writing as a response to environmental crisis, the challenge of endings, some of my favorite writers, and more. Enjoy!
September 23, 2016 § Leave a comment
Very much looking forward to this year’s Brattleboro Literary Festival! This has evolved into one of the premier literary events of the year, anywhere in the country, and I’m so pleased to be part of it. As a member of the author committee, I’ll have the great honor and pleasure of introducing fellow writers Sunil Yapa, Nancy Marie Brown, Jonathan Lee, and Meg Little Reilly.
If you’re anywhere near southern Vermont the weekend of October 13 – 16, 2016, you’d be crazy not to stop in. All events are free and open to the public!
May 12, 2015 § Leave a comment
Looking forward to teaching three intensive one-day seminars on critical aspects of the fiction writing craft this summer: descriptive writing, the novel opening, and point of view/psychic distance. I’m very much enjoying my association with GrubStreet, a Boston-based organization run by kind and wonderful people and frequented by many talented aspiring and established writers. If you’re within striking distance of downtown Boston, come join us!
March 13, 2015 § Leave a comment
It’s been a great experience working with seven talented aspiring novelists in my 10 week Novel in Progress course this winter. I find that focusing in on particular aspects of craft of fiction is immediately beneficial in terms of one’s own work, and even more so in the long term, because it leads to greater fluency and range as a writer.
For these reasons, and because I very much enjoy teaching, I’ve agreed to offer yet another 10 week Novel in Progress course on Thursday evenings beginning April 9th. If you’re near Boston and working on a novel, join us! We have a lot of fun. And if my current students are any indication, you will make great strides on your project.
If you’re interested but can’t commit to 10 weeks, your can join one these intensive, one-off classes:
Voice and Dialog in Historical Fiction (Saturday, March 28, 10-5)
Crafting the Killer Novel Opening (Saturday, April 11, 10-5)
The Lost World: Harnessing the Power of Descriptive Prose in the Novel (Wednesday, June 17, 6-9 PM)
February 14, 2015 § Leave a comment
After an eight month absence, I’m heading back to Havana. Much has happened in the intervening time, and it will be fascinating to see how these events are reflected in the reality on the ground. Whatever the case, Cuba is always an engaging and exciting place to be, so I’m looking forward to the trip.
I’ll be accompanying a National Geographic group, where my duties include, among other things, delivering a three-part lecture series: on Spanish colonial Cuba and the historic roots of the U.S.-Cuba relationship; on 20th century Cuba and the triumph of Fidel Castro’s Revolution; and on Hemingway’s three decades in Cuba. The group will spend time in Havana, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, and various interesting points in between, meeting with scores of wonderful Cubans, including many new friends and some old friends and contacts!
If you’re reading this and find yourself yearning to travel to Cuba to see what all the fuss is about, don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’ve got several affordable private trips in the works for the fall of 2015 and the late winter/spring of 2016, and the chances are there is still an opening!
December 8, 2014 § Leave a comment
Well, I must say I had fun this fall teaching several day-long classes on the writing craft at GrubStreet. It’s nice to have an excuse to spend more time in Boston, and GrubStreet students tend to be well educated, well read, open-minded, serious about writing, and eager to learn their craft. In this environment the learning experience definitely runs both ways. There’s something wonderfully inspiring about spending a stretch of time geeking out about craft with a bunch of other literary-minded introverts, and I believe it’s essential for a practicing novelist to keep educating himself in the analytical aspects of the craft. That’s exactly what teaching these classes does for me — and if I can help other aspiring writers get closer to their goals in the process, that’s certainly an excellent bonus.
I’m very much looking to teaching two more GrubStreet classes this winter. The first is a ten-week novel-writing class, in which we’ll be discussing many different aspects of the craft, including structure, scenes, dialog, characters, language, voice, point of view, image systems, backstory, the opening, and more, in addition to generating quite a bit of in-class work of either the first draft or the revised variety. The second class is a day-long affair focused on voice and dialog in historical fiction. So, Boston area writers, if any of this intrigues you, I urge you to take the leap! (And feel free to contact me if you have questions or doubts.)
July 6, 2014 § Leave a comment
This week I am once again privileged to joining a group of young American writers on Putney Student Travel’s Writing in Ireland program. We’ll be spending time in Dublin and on the stunning, mystical isle of Inishbofin off the Connemara coast. Very excited!
As anyone who’s been following this blog knows, in my day job I travel a great deal — mostly to Spanish-speaking countries with wonderful organizations like National Geographic Expeditions and the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center — but I have to say this is a special trip, one of my favorites. There’s nothing like working and adventuring with a group of passionate young writers who are up for anything and enjoy spending all day and night geeking out about literature and craft.
We’ll do field exercises to generate new work, have some feedback sessions leading to revision, and of course mount a final reading, which will take place this year on July 12th, 2014, from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m., at the Irish Writer’s Centre, located at 19 Parnell Square, Dublin.
If you’re interested to see what we’re up to and what an international travel program for young writers looks like, take a look at the program blog.