Megan Ross entered the Iceland Writers Retreat Alumni Award thinking there was no chance on earth she’d get it. But, sure enough, she won, attended, and has gone on to publish her first book as well as a number of other publications. She thinks IWR is ideal for any writer looking to jolt their creative energy. Read on to hear more about author Megan Ross.
Iceland Writers Retreat (IWR): When and why did you choose to attend?
Megan Ross (MR): I entered the Iceland Writers Retreat Alumni Award thinking that there was no chance on earth I’d ever get it. But, I did! This was in 2015 and I went off to Iceland in 2016.
IWR: What was/were the highlights of IWR for you?
MR: The people, exploring Iceland, and immersing myself in the literary culture(s) of a country so far removed from my own.
IWR: What was the most unexpected thing about it?
MR: I was already mesmerized by what I’d seen of Iceland before, but I had not expected to be exposed to such wit and dark, dry humour, or the magic and folklore Icelandic literature is steeped in.
IWR: Did you have any good take-aways/tips/lessons you remember from IWR?
MR: Every writer taught me so much. I’ll never forget Neel Mukherjee telling our workshop about editing and being edited by hand. Cheryl Strayed’s entire workshop was one brilliant tip after another while Miriam Toews, for me, patterned a means of exploring grief, and writing it, without drowning in sorrow. Elina Hirvonen offered a series of writing activities that were more visual in nature, and more stimulating in a way, for the writing process. Mark Kurlansky pushed us to rethink different genres and forms of writing, and the entire event itself was helpful in learning about the business side of publishing as well as writing.
IWR: Had you published a book when you attended?
MR: Not yet.
IWR: What have you published since?
MR: Milk Fever (uHlanga Press, 2018), my first book – a collection of poetry exploring young motherhood, girlhood and sexuality by the seaside. Several essays, poems and short stories that have been critically acclaimed and awarded the Brittle Paper Award for Fiction, included in a Lammy Award-finalist anthology. I am wrapping up my first novel now and am about to start writing my second soon.
IWR: Who do you think would benefit most from the IWR?
MR: Writers who are looking for a sense of community, an adventure, or those who feel like jolting their creative energies again.
IWR: What do you think is most unique or special about this event?
MR: Erica and Eliza are two phenomenal women whose energy and verve permeates the entire event. The pace is fast, there’s so much to see and the energy of Iceland – especially at night, walking through the warmly-lit streets of Reykjavik – is so profound that even the memory of it is enough to inspire me.
Learn more about the incredible Megan Ross: