An Interview with IWR Alumni Iain Reid

An Interview with IWR Alumni Iain Reid

We are profiling some faculty and alumni leading up to the 2018 Retreat. Iain Reid was a faculty member at our first Retreat in 2014.

How did you find out about Iceland Writers Retreat originally?

I found out about it because my sister, Eliza, is a co-founder, and I remember her telling me about their idea to start the retreat. I thought it was very exciting, and I’m pleased to see how it’s developed and grown over the last few years.

Have you ever participated in a similar kind of retreat, either as faculty or as a participant? 

No, this was the first event like this that I attended.

What did you most look forward to about the Retreat?

I looked forward to spending some time in Iceland and also meeting the other authors and participants from various countries.

Did it match up to your expectations?

It exceeded my expectations!

How has writing influenced your life?

It’s influenced my life in many ways. Professionally, but also personally, as I’ve met many good friends through reading and writing. I imagine writing will (likely) always be a part of my life.

What do you find to be your biggest challenge in your writing life?

I find writing very hard. So, all of it is a challenge.

What are you working on currently?

My first novel is being adapted for film by Charlie Kaufman for Netflix. My new novel, Foe, will be released later this year in August.

Any final comments you’d like to share with our followers?

The Iceland Writer’s Retreat is an amazing event and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone who is considering attending. I’m very appreciative of my time there in 2014.

Iain Reid is the author of two critically acclaimed, award-winning books of non-fiction. His debut novel, I’m Thinking of Ending Things, was an international bestseller and named by NPR, and the Globe and Mail, among others, as a book of the year in 2016. It was short-listed for the Shirley Jackson Award and has to date been translated in over twenty languages. It is being adapted for Netflix by Oscar-winning screenwriter Charlie Kaufman. Reid’s new novel, Foe, will be published in August, 2018.

An Interview with IWR Alumni Maria Mutch

An Interview with IWR Alumni Maria Mutch

We are profiling some faculty and alumni leading up to the 2018 Retreat. Maria Mutch joined us in 2015.

She is the author of the memoir, Know the Night, which was a finalist for the Governor General Literary Awards in 2014, and the upcoming story collection, When We Were Birds (Simon & Schuster Canada). She lives with her husband and two sons in Rhode Island.

How did you find out about Iceland Writers Retreat originally?

I don’t remember the initial sighting but I stumbled on it somewhere on the internet; it was a friend, another writer, bringing it up later on, though, and asking if I wanted to meet her there that was the catalyst for going (so happy she did).

Have you ever participated in a similar kind of retreat, either as faculty or as a participant? If yes, how did the experience benefit you and/or your writing? 

I’ve been both a participant and faculty at various writers conferences. It’s energizing to be with other people who value writing and make it their priority. The most transformative sessions tend to be given by workshop leaders who emphasize the idea that, even while they’re giving their opinion on a method or a structure, really anything goes, and it’s all about finding what works for the individual writer. In a large group like a conference, you get to see all the different pathways.

What did you most look forward to about the Retreat?

I knew the setting was going to be pretty spectacular, and the workshop leaders were a huge draw, too. At the time, it was Adam Gopnik, Linn Ullman, Sjón, Taiye Salesi, Ruth Reichl, Barbara Kingsolver, Alison Pick, John Vaillant…

Did it match up to your expectations? 

Heck yes. And went well beyond. It was a great mix of workshop time, getting to know other writers, and going out to explore. I should mention, too, that the coffee, pastries and bowls (yes, bowls) of whipped cream that fortified us between class sessions were a ridiculous surprise (I was tempted to replicate this at home, but then thought better of it).

What was the biggest lesson you took from the retreat? Or perhaps a piece of advice, or writing exercise that had an impact on your writing?

My favourite workshops are always the ones where the leader speaks freely and at length about their process, and participants can ask questions. In Adam Gopnik’s session, he was candid, revealing what his writing day looks like and just how much reading it contains (2-3 hours worth). He also had interesting things to say about researching essays; he mentioned the importance of the peripheral figure, that often the best sources, and the most intriguing viewpoints, come from people on the fringes of an event and not necessarily from the central figures, who often have too much at stake to speak truthfully. This really struck me, and I think it works, funnily enough, for fiction also—that fringe elements and characters can sometimes end up being the real engines of a story, and represent a greater truth. I also loved Linn Ullman’s class, as she laid out her daily process and how to be attentive (and she told a great, funny story about her father, the famous filmmaker Ingmar Bergman—the gist of which was that if you want to appear to have thoughtfully read and enjoyed the bad poetry of a lover, you take off your glasses slowly, then put them back on, before speaking—and it still makes me laugh). John Vaillant’s workshop was a masterclass on persistence and how an essay for a magazine can turn into a full-length book. All of these authors underscored for the participants the need to fully show up for the process.

What and/or who do you find inspiring?

Just being in Iceland was inspiring and the effects continued on after I got back home. It was revitalizing to be in a place where literature (and coffee) has such a central place in the general culture. As part of IWR’s program, we visited the house of Halldór Laxness, the Nobel Laureate, and between this and taking in the architecture and interior spaces in Reykjavik, I came away feeling a strong connection between writing and physical space. It affected my approach to my own workspace at a time when I really needed it. I ended up creating a new office when I got back, one that is bright and somewhat spare and deeply influenced by my time at the retreat. I had started writing my story collection by that point, and the space enabled me to work with the “dark matter” of a couple of the stories, ones that had been especially challenging. The new space supported me, gave me light, in a sense, so that I could fully show up. It’s my favourite place to work. (Additionally, I learned while at IWR that those Icelandic sheep really do seem warm, and, since I’m always cold, I brought back one of the famous sweaters; a girlfriend also knitted a wrap for me from Icelandic wool, which I keep in my office for my writing sessions. The stuff works incredibly well for New England, which is sometimes colder, I’ve noticed, than Reykjavik.)

How has writing influenced your life?

Writing shapes virtually every day, including my sleep (I wake up fairly often in the night with an idea or a line that I then have to write down), and it greatly affects what I read. My book stack is generally skewed to research or books that I’ve picked because I love how someone thinks, especially if they’re innovative. I don’t usually have the anxiety of influence that writers sometimes talk about; I like to be inspired. I also look at art shows and films, and listen to certain types of music, for a kind of atmosphere or something sort of intangible for my own work.

What do you find to be your biggest challenge in your writing life?

I have the same issues with time that everyone has. My oldest son has significant disabilities and this sometimes means that what I had planned for my own workday has to be adjusted or let go. I did make the discovery, however, that I often get great ideas or breakthroughs in my writing when my kids are around, largely because my expectations are lowered and I’m more open. I keep notebooks and pens everywhere, so that I’m always ready to get things down when I’m otherwise occupied. I’ve learned to write on the weekends, also, so that I stay in touch with what I’m doing. If there’s a gap of even a couple of days, I notice that it takes more time to settle in again (it’s like a relative that you haven’t called for a long time—it gets harder and harder to pick up the phone).

What are you working on currently and/or is there anything exciting that has happened in your writing life since the retreat?

My story collection, When We Were Birds, is being released by Simon & Schuster Canada on April 24th, and I’m working on a novel which is set to come out in 2019.

You mentioned to Eliza that Iceland makes a brief appearance in one of your short stories, can you elaborate on that without giving away too many spoilers? 

There is a brief appearance of an Icelandic woman. When We Were Birds contains a contemporary version of the Bluebeard tale—the one about the man who kills his wives and keeps the corpses in a locked room—and in my version, the wives come from all over the world, including one from Iceland. I wish I could say that she gets revenge, but Blue does get his in the end. (Some fermented shark also appears…)

Any final comments you’d like to share with our followers?

Not long ago I was reading the Buddhist author, Dawa Tarchin Phillips; he was talking about the importance of travel (big and small) to get a new perspective and break out of limiting beliefs. I think this applies to writing, also, and it can mean simply hanging out with people who have a different viewpoint than you, or taking part in a retreat far from home to see how other people approach their writing. And then just being open to what transpires.

Iceland

An Interview with IWR Alumni Katharine Kroeber

An Interview with IWR Alumni Katharine Kroeber

We are profiling some faculty and alumni leading up to the 2018 Retreat. Katharine Kroeber joined us for our very first Retreat, and has continued to join us every year since!

How did you find out about Iceland Writers Retreat originally?

Therein lies a tale… Background info: I do not tolerate heat well – and heat, for me, is anything above 65F.  I had been to Iceland for a couple brief visits, and really wanted an excuse to return. One summer, I had a week from Hell; I was in a place where it was 110-115F every single day, hardly cooling off at night, and no a/c or pool.  I was with my kids, one of whom was also miserable because of the heat, and two people who were having severe executive function issues, so could never decide on anything.  It was horrible.  One morning I got on Facebook and my friend Alda (Sigmundsdóttir) had *just* that moment posted how two friends of hers were going to try to run a writers’ conference in Iceland, and did what did people think of that idea?  I sat there, with my unhappy children and indecisive relatives and the sweat POURING off of me and thought, “ICELAND!  In APRIL!  Cold, still kind of dark, rain and possibly snow…  YESSS!!!!!”  I instantly contacted Eliza and Erica and said, “Sign me up, please!” and they had to gently explain that registration wasn’t actually up and running yet… They told me when it would be and I set an alarm on my computer for the day and time.

Thus did I become the first person to sign up for the first ever Iceland Writers Retreat. And I’ve been to every IWR since!

Have you ever participated in a similar kind of retreat? If yes, how did the experience benefit you and/or your writing?

I had attended a few conferences and retreats many years earlier (all in the US), with mixed experiences.  Generally the presenters/faculty were informative and helpful, but sometimes not, and a lot of the attendees were, frankly, snobbish without good reason to be so (not that there is really a good reason to be snobbish!), and insular – both culturally and about genres of writing.  So I was a bit nervous about what the IWR would be like, but since the worst-case scenario was that I would be in Iceland for a week… oh, eek. help.  help…. there seemed to be no real down-side.

What did you most look forward to about the Retreat?

The small size of the workshops.  I liked that they didn’t really have a *theme* – it was loosely oriented towards travel and food writing, but, because it was the first one, it was sort of, “well, let’s see who we can get!”  I also liked that they were going to have readings by Icelandic authors, and some cultural experiences.  Quite apart from my love of Iceland, a writer’s retreat showing its attendees stuff about the unique place they were at seemed a really good idea.

 Did it match up to your expectations?

No, it far exceeded them.  To me, an important point is that, year after year, the faculty are not just Great Authors, they are good teachers (two potentially quite different skill-sets!). Most of them also like to mingle with the attendees [this has varied from year to year].

Another important point, which I’ve heard others bring up, is the internationality, both of the faculty and the attendees.  Most writing retreats don’t get people from 25 different countries.  That alone makes it a good experience for writers, not just the workshops, tours, etc.

What was the biggest lesson you took from the retreat? Or perhaps a piece of advice, or writing exercise that had an impact on your writing?

Having been to every IWR, it’s hard for me to pick out just one lesson or advice or exercise, and I do think that will vary from person to person.  Something *I* would advise anyone attending IWR – too late for the people this year, everyone pass this along to 2019’s crowd! – is to take a variety of workshops, or at least one out of your comfort zone, not just what you think will be Useful to you, or of Particular Interest.  Even if you’re intent on writing a memoir, take, say, a food-writing workshop.  You just never know where something that turns out to be helpful or inspirational, or a person who is that, will suddenly appear.

What and/or who do you find inspiring?

Pertinent to the IWR, I got a fun short story, “The Biggest Man in Iceland” out of an off-hand comment by Andri Snær Magnusson when he was doing a reading for the IWR at the house of Halldor Laxness. More generally… I know it sounds hokey, but truly, every person I meet, things I see, books I read, conversations I overhear, food I taste, places I wander, you name it.  I don’t understand people who get bored.  Being alive is kind of a privilege, and there’s just SO MUCH all around! That said, for me Iceland really is especially inspiring.  Among other things, there is a cultural almost *expectation* that people will be creative, or have some creative aspect to their lives, even if it doesn’t make heaps of money, rather than creativity being looked at with suspicion as it is in the States.

How has writing influenced your life?

For me, that’s a bit like asking, “So… how has breathing influenced your life?”  I simply wouldn’t exist without it.  I was inventing stories before I could write, and I’ve never been able to stop.

What do you find to be your biggest challenge in your writing life?

Three challenges:
1, Procrastination (which I’ll write more about later, har har har) on specific works (I should be working on X… I’ll work on Q and L instead!) especially on finishing things.
2, Perfectionism.  Just put the damn words down on paper, Katharine!!  Fix them later if you must.
3, I used to get helpful rejection letters.  For the last 2 decades what I’ve gotten over and over is, “Wow!  This is really well written!  Can’t use it!  Good luck sending it somewhere else.”
Maybe I should have trained myself to write trash??  Anyhow, #3, not getting discouraged, no matter what.

What are you working on currently and/or is there anything exciting that has happened in your writing life since the retreat?

The IWR is exhausting but also exhilarating; I come away inspired to put my nose to the grindstone.  Right now… as always, I have at least dozen of ideas in various stages of completion, poetry, fantasy, essays, illustrations.  I have several friends I’ve made through the IWR or just in Iceland who’ve talked with me about collaborative efforts; my main hope right now is that  some of these actually come to fruition.  Stay tuned for the next exciting episode!

Any final comments you’d like to share with our followers?

I wasted *far* too much of my life being afraid of far too many things.  I can’t exactly say, “don’t be afraid!”, but I can urge people to try to push through fears.  Some can’t be changed (nothing has altered my acrophobia, for instance, and it’s just common sense to fear the dentist!), but some can – “oh, wow, that wasn’t so scary, after all!” – and it is so very worthwhile to try.  On one trip in Iceland the small group I was with went to the lighthouse at Akranes, and of course the thing was to go to the top balcony outside and look around.  I was quite terrified of the last ladder, but one fellow traveller  kindly and gently and beautifully worked me through getting up.  I remained frightened, but I also was, and remain, so grateful to that woman for ensuring that I did actually get to the top and look around, and have an experience I would never have otherwise had.  Try for that.  But also, don’t beat yourself up if you can’t manage something.  Whoever you are, however you are, you have something of unique and therefore of infinite value to offer the world: yourself.

Meowmjá, aka Katharine Kroeber, was born in the 20th century, raised in the 19th century, and is still trying to adjust to the 21st.  The daughter of a professor and a sculptor, she grew up surrounded with story-telling and art from around the world, and with a certain amount of travelling.  She has lived in large cities with inordinate numbers of people, and small towns with inordinate numbers of cows or grapes.  Having an ADHD child and an autistic child has led her on some interesting metaphoric journeys.  At age 9, thanks to her eldest brother reading her bits of sagas, she decided Iceland would be the perfect place for her to live.  This dream has not yet come to fruition, but she’s working on it.  In the meanwhile, she persistently writes, draws, crafts, and makes cakes… and now has added massage to her list of skills.

Dust jacket front cover

An Interview with IWR Alumni Corrie Tan and Yan Naung Oak

An Interview with IWR Alumni Corrie Tan and Yan Naung Oak

We are profiling some faculty and alumni leading up to the 2018 Retreat. Corrie Tan and Yan Naung Oak joined us in 2015, and were also interviewed as part of a video we produced afterwards.

CORRIE TAN is a writer, editor and researcher from Singapore. She is currently the guest editor of the arts media platform Arts Equator, and was previously the arts correspondent and theatre critic at The Straits Times, Singapore’s largest English-language broadsheet. During her time with the newspaper, she co-organised and adjudicated the annual M1-The Straits Times Life Theatre Awards, which honours excellence in Singapore theatre. Corrie has also written about theatre and performance for The Guardian, The Stage, Exeunt Magazine and BiblioAsia.

YAN NAUNG OAK works at the intersection of civic tech and data journalism. He was one of the founding team members of Phandeeyar, an innovation hub based in Yangon, which is spearheading the use of technology to accelerate change and development in Myanmar. A 2017 School of Data fellow, Yan is passionate about open data and the power of new technologies to empower communities and civil society. He currently works as a data visualisation designer and data literacy trainer.

How did you find out about Iceland Writers Retreat originally?

We found out about the Iceland Writers Retreat through a former colleague of Corrie’s at the Singaporean newspaper The Straits Times, who had attended the inaugural Retreat. She painted a picture of Iceland as a writer’s paradise: a fiercely literary population whose love of books saw them through harsh, beautiful winters. 

What did you most look forward to about the Retreat?

Corrie and Yan

We both write in very different ways: Corrie has a background in cultural journalism, so she writes reviews, essays and discursive pieces on a regular basis; as an open data and tech consultant Yan’s professional writing consists mostly of report writing and grant applications. But we’re both drawn to a variety of different forms of writing: Corrie has dabbled in short fiction and poetry, while Yan often crafts thoughtful pieces of creative non-fiction. We chose our small-group workshops at the Retreat quite differently. Yan selected his workshops by form: travel writing, for instance, or crafting the “immersion paragraph”. Corrie immediately signed up for workshops conducted by her favourite writers, including Adam Gopnik, Barbara Kingsolver, and Sjon. But more than the opportunity to devote some time to writing, we were also there for our honeymoon! So the Retreat we were looking forward to was one both literary and romantic…

Did it match up to your expectations?

We found a wonderful community of fellow writers at the retreat from a wide range of demographics, and we loved the focus and intimacy of the small-group workshops. But more than that, the care taken to make every single participant feel involved and connected was what made the Retreat so memorable. We arrived at our hotel room to find a welcome bottle of bubbly from Eliza and Erica as a gift for our honeymoon: it can’t get more personal than that. We still have the note it came with, three years later.

One of our favourite experiences was the literary walking tour of Reykjavik, where two very charming Icelandic men introduced us to the ghosts and goblins and little folk who roam both country and city. We also absolutely loved our Golden Circle tour – led by President Gudni himself (before he was president, of course). We found ourselves discussing everything from Iceland’s first parliament at Pingvellir to the country’s recent economic crisis and resurgence. And what a treat it was to visit the home of Halldor Laxness, Iceland’s Nobel laureate for literature, and listen to Andri Snær Magnason regale us with his witty, darkly humorous poetry as we took shelter from a passing blizzard.

But I think one of the terms we’ve held on to all these years later is “multi-local”, introduced during a talk by the inimitable Taiye Selasi. As a “third culture kid”, Yan has often sought ways to define his sense of belonging to several countries, including Singapore, Myanmar, and the United States. We have both spent extended periods living abroad, away from our home countries, and as a transnational couple we’ve had to spend a lot of time negotiating border-crossings – be they physical, cultural or emotional. “Multi-local” resonated with us, to know that we’ve been able to adapt our lives – and our writing – to various geographical and cultural contexts.

What are you working on currently and/or is there anything exciting that has happened in your writing life since the retreat?

Corrie and Yan in Iceland

Corrie and Yan in Iceland

Last year, Corrie made her debut as a contributing theatre critic for The Guardian and Exeunt Magazine while we were based in London. After we came back to Singapore in late 2017, she was appointed editor of Arts Equator, an online platform dedicated to the arts and creative practices in Southeast Asia. She also writes reviews and does long-form interviews for the site.

Yan was a 2017 School of Data fellow, and he also writes for Open and Shut, a blog exploring the potential of open data to transform closed societies. He also conducts data journalism training for independent media in Myanmar, his home country, and has also analysed the country’s socio-political developments.

Getting to Know IWR Faculty Member Terry Fallis

Getting to Know IWR Faculty Member Terry Fallis

 

A two-time winner of the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, Terry Fallis is the award-winning author of six national bestselling novels, including his latest, One Brother Shy, all published by McClelland & Stewart. The Best Laid Plans was the winner of the Leacock Medal for Humour in 2008, and CBC’s Canada Reads in 2011. It was adapted as a six-part television miniseries, as well as a stage musical. The High Road was a Leacock Medal finalist in 2011. Up and Down was the winner of the 2013 Ontario Library Association Evergreen Award, and was a finalist for the 2013 Leacock Medal. His fourth novel, No Relation, was released in May 2014, debuted on the Globe and Mail bestsellers list, and won the 2015 Leacock Medal. His fifth, Poles Apart, hit bookstores in October 2015, was a Globe and Mail bestseller and was a finalist for the 2016 Leacock Medal. One Brother Shy was released in May 2017 and became an instant bestseller. The Canadian Booksellers Association named Terry Fallis the winner of the 2013 Libris Award as Author of the Year.

Workshops: The power of a plan: Outlining your novel and Make them laugh: Writing Humour

How did you originally get involved in the Retreat? 

It was a conversation with a friend, the fine Canadian writer, Allison Pick that introduced me to the Iceland Writers Retreat. She was on the faculty in 2015 and raved about the experience. And that was all it took. I researched the retreat and was very impressed with the program, the people, not to mention Iceland. As a closeted chess fan, I’ve read so much about the 1972 World Chess Championships in Reykjavik when Bobby Fischer defeated Boris Spassky. Then I read about Iceland’s strong literary culture and became slightly preoccupied—okay, “obsessed” is likely the better word for it—with somehow getting myself to Iceland for the retreat. So I proceeded to wage a two-year relentless campaign to elevate my profile in the right Icelandic circles trying not to look like I was waging a two-year relentless campaign. I’m sure Eliza wondered about my casual, friendly emails sent at strategic junctures. So you can imagine my excitement when the call came. I’m thrilled to be a part of this celebrated gathering in such a literary city.

Have you ever participated in a similar kind of retreat, either as faculty or as a participant? If yes, how did the experience benefit you and/or your writing? 

Yes, I’ve attended many writers festivals, workshops, and retreats over the years and have almost always enjoyed myself and learned something, too. Anytime I can commune with other writers, be they aspiring or established, I’m inspired. Writing is a rather solitary pursuit, so the chance to hang out with, and learn from, other writers always leaves me energized and motivated to dive back in to whatever novel I’m writing at the time. I think most writers need to recharge their creative batteries periodically. Festivals and retreats help me do that. But seldom is the cultural and geographic backdrop quite so stunning as will be in Iceland.

What are you most looking forward to about the Retreat?

Now that’s a tough question. As noted above, I enjoy spending time with other writers. There’s often an almost instant rapport among a group of writers, even a diverse gathering of scribes. I always look forward to those opportunities. I also really enjoy teaching and talking with writers who are working so hard to to break through. I know what that’s like. Of course, I’m really excited to see and experience a new and very special country for the first time. Finally, I’ve been listening to the New York Times Book Review podcast since it started. So I’m happy for the chance to meet Pamela Paul, the host of the podcast. (As a fellow podcaster, I understand that strange sensation when you feel that you really know someone even though you’ve never met them. That’s the power and intimacy of the human voice in your ear-buds.)

Is there a particular piece of writing advice (or a writing exercise) you would like to share with our followers?

Well, I’m leading two workshops, one on how to outline your novel, and the other on humour writing. I hope to impart some advice in those areas, but more broadly speaking, I’m often asked how I find the time to write when there’s so many other demands on our time including our families, our day-jobs, and the need to eat and sleep periodically. I think if you really want to do something—like write a novel or a short story—you can always, somehow, some way, find the time to make it happen. It requires commitment, belief, and some time management skills. (It occasionally helps if you are also a little deranged.) And when your desire to write overpowers the forces in your way, you may find as I did, that the writing doesn’t actually feel like work. It simply feels like it’s what you’re supposed to be doing.

Don’t get me wrong. Intellectually, I know that writing is in fact work—difficult, taxing and sometimes frustrating work. It just doesn’t feel like work when you’re doing something you love, or have wanted to do for a long time. So take that all-important next step. Make the move from wanting to write, promising to write, planning to write, and actually start to write.

What and/or who do you find inspiring?

I’ve always been inspired by polymaths—those rare people who were born with an extra helping of curiosity and have amassed knowledge, insights, and understanding across a dizzying array of subjects. Leonardo Da Vinci, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, even Stephen Fry might be examples. Curiosity is such an important asset for writers, and it is the gift that keeps on giving.

How has writing influenced your life?

Relatively speaking, I came to writing novels quite late in life. I didn’t write my debut novel until I was 45 years old, and that was 13 years ago. Yes, I know, I don’t look like I’m in my late fifties. It’s a cross I must bear. So I’ve spent the last decade or so trying to make up for lost time. If you had told me back in 2006 that in 2018 I’d be just finishing writing my seventh novel, I’d have suggested you check your medication. Becoming a novelist changed my life in many ways. Most of all, becoming a writer has made me extraordinarily happy.

What do you find to be your biggest challenge in your writing life?

I suspect I’m not alone in this, but I think finding the time and energy to sustain a disciplined writing life in the midst of everything else I have on my plate can be a considerable challenge. It is also difficult to strike the perfect balance between promoting your previous novel and writing your next one. Obviously, both are important. Both take time. Both yield rewards. But it divides your time, your mind, and your life. And that can be tiring.

What are you working on currently?

I am currently writing my seventh novel, If at First You Succeed. In fact, if all goes well—oops, I may have just jinxed myself—I should have the manuscript nearly finished by the time we land in Reykjavik.

Any final comments you’d like to share with our followers?

Storytelling is an ancient and noble calling. It may be a tough life—okay, it’s definitely a tough life—but the rewards are many. I’ve never worked harder, yet I’ve never been more fulfilled. I’m so thrilled to visit Iceland and I look forward to a wonderful, productive, and enlightening retreat with so many fine writers. I have no doubt that I’ll learn more and take away more from this experience than I can possibly offer in return. But I’m going to try!

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