Talking Location With author Kathryn Hughes – Central Spain
A Writing Course in Italy – Paradise
1st May 2016
We are talking to award-winning author Sue Moorcroft about her writing courses that take place in Umbria and what leading them involves for her. She writes contemporary women’s fiction with occasionally unexpected themes. The Christmas Promise was a runaway best-seller, reaching #1 in the Kindle chart. The Wedding Proposal, Dream a Little Dream and Is this Love? were all nominated for Readers’ Best Romantic Read Awards and Darcie’s Dilemma for Readers’ Best Short Romance. Love & Freedom won the Best Romantic Read Award 2011 and Dream a Little Dream was nominated for a RoNA in 2013. Sue’s a Katie Fforde Bursary Award winner, a past vice chair of the RNA and editor of its two anthologies. Over to Sue….
My job’s lovely. Not only do I get to lose myself in the novels I write, creating worlds and filling them with people who let me spin their stories, I also have the absolute pleasure of delivering workshops in places such as Italy.
When, a few years ago, Arte Umbria first opened discussions about leading a week-long creative writing course, I admit I thought the venue was Cumbria in north east England. When I realised it was Umbria, in central Italy, I was ecstatic. I love travel, sunshine and the company of writers. Here was the opportunity to combine them all.
Leading a residential course isn’t like being on holiday. Even allowing for travel and a couple of excursions, there are a lot of tutoring hours to fill. Planning interactive workshops, writing handouts, assessing the course participants and creating a schedule to allow for one-to-ones and feedback takes time. Luckily, as I’ve been teaching and writing courses for a while, I do have a lot of material to draw on.
As the date draws near I get pretty tingly with excitement. The participants send me a few pages of their work to open the gate to our working together and I start to gather my teaching materials. (Last year my marker pens for the flip chart were covered with pictures of Minnie Mouse because I almost forgot them and that’s all I could find at the last minute.)
The venues a gorgeous 300-year-old hunting lodge on an estate in the Umbrian mountains. The hosts run a variety of courses each year so they know how to extend a welcome to tutors and delegates alike. The accommodation’s beautiful, the food’s fantastic and the wine flows.
I find the delegates know how they want to distribute their time, and that helps me tailor the course. This person would like more private writing time, that person would like some group feedback on an awkward scene, this one is orientated towards technique where another just wants to stretch his imagination. We seem to find our way naturally from terrace to pool, shade to sun, solitude to group activity.
There’s something about a gathering of writers that unlocks creativity, which is why I’m also talking to Arte Umbria about hosting a writing retreat. I love helping the delegates but one day I want to visit Arte Umbria … and just write.
In 2017 Sue’s course will run from 28 June to 5 July. Click here on the Arte Umbria site for more details on how to get away from it all and concentrate on your writing in glorious and peaceful surroundings. Sue will facilitate workshops, private writing time and feedback sessions.
For books set in UMBRIA to get you in the mood, just click here