Abroad Writers Conference

Exciting News, JOHN BANVILLE, will be joining us in Kinsale




JOHN BANVILLE will be joining us at the Abroad Writers’ Conference in Kinsale, Ireland, August 6th at Blue Haven Hotel. Tickets will be 15 euros. 

William John Banville was born in Wexford, Ireland, in 1945, the youngest of three siblings. He was educated at Christian Brothers schools and St Peter’s College, Wexford. After college John worked as a clerk for Ireland’s national airline, Aer Lingus, before joining The Irish Press as a sub-editor in 1969. Continuing with journalism for over thirty years, John was Literary Editor at The Irish Times from 1988 to 1999.

John’s first book, Long Lankin, a collection of short stories and a novella, was published in 1970. His first novel, Nightspawn, came out in 1971, followed byBirchwood (1973), Doctor Copernicus (1976), Kepler (1981), The Newton Letter(1982), Mefisto (1986), The Book of Evidence (1989), Ghosts (1993), Athena(1995), The Untouchable (1997), Eclipse (2000), Shroud (2002), The Sea (2005),The Infinities (2009) and Ancient Light (2012). His non-fiction book, Prague Pictures: Portraits of a City, was published in 2003 as part of Bloomsbury’s ‘The Writer and the City’ series. In 2012, an anthology comprising extracts from John’s fifteen novels to date, together with selections drawn from his dramatic works and various reviews, was published under the title, Possessed of a Past: A John Banville Reader.

Among the awards John’s novels have won are the Allied Irish Banks fiction prize, the American-Irish Foundation award, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, theGuardian Fiction Prize. In 1989 The Book of Evidence was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and was awarded the first Guinness Peat Aviation Award; in Italian, as La Spiegazione dei Fatti, the book was awarded the 1991 Premio Ennio Flaiano. Ghostswas shortlisted for the Whitbread Fiction Prize 1993; The Untouchable for the same prize in 1997. In 2003 John was awarded the Premio Nonino. He has also received a literary award from the Lannan Foundation in the US. In 2005, John won the Man Booker Prize for The Sea. In 2011 he was awarded the Franz Kafka Prize. Last year, John was awarded the Irish Pen Award for Outstanding Achievement in Irish Literature.

Under the pseudonym Benjamin Black, John has published the following crime novels: Christine Falls (2006), The Silver Swan (2007), The Lemur (2008), Elegy for April (2010), A Death in Summer (2011) and Vengeance (2012). Later this year, Mantle will publish Holy Orders, the sixth book in the Quirke series. The first three have been adapted by Andrew Davies and Conor McPherson for the BBC, and will be broadcast later this autumn, starring Gabriel Byrne in the title role.

John (again writing as Benjamin Black) has also been commissioned by theRaymond Chandler Estate to pen a new Philip Marlowe novel which will be published by Holt in the US in 2014.

JOSIP NOVAKOVICH will be joining us in Dublin



He will be teaching a Fiction/Nonfiction Workshop for us in Dublin.

Josip Novakovich emigrated from Croatia to the United States at the age of 20, and recently to Canada at the age of 53. He has published a novel, April Fool’s Day (in ten languages), a novella in three forms, Three Deaths, and story collection (Infidelities: Stories of War and Lust, Yolk and Salvation and Other Disasters) and three collections of narrative essays as well as two books of practical criticism, including Fiction Writers Workshop.
His work was anthologized inBest American Poetry, the Pushcart Prize collection and O. Henry Prize Stories. He received the Whiting Writer’s Award, a Guggenheim fellowship, the Ingram Merrill Award and an American Book Award, and in 2013 he was a Man Booker Internatinal Award Finalist.
Novakovich has been a writing fellow of the New York Public Library and has taught at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Die Freie Universitaet in Berlin, Penn State and now Concordia University in Montreal.
This fall, Esplanade Books will publish his most recent collection of stories in Canada. He is revising a novel, Rubble of Bubles, and putting together another story collection, New and Selected.


Workshop Description:

The Art of the Microforms

A Multi-genre course, concentrating on the short forms, from a short paragraph to vignettes up to approximately 1500 words. The boundaries between narrative poems, lyrical essay, and flash fiction are frequently arbitrary, so let’s not worry about the definition of what we do in the short form, and play. The definition can come later.

Course Objective: To play with words in order to come up with good moments.

Come to class with several short pieces for us to give you constructive feedback now how to revise and improve.

The class time will be divided among the following activities:

  1. Critiquing your work constructively.
  2. Analyzing published paradigms of short form writing.
  3. Sketching and writing vignettes from prompts and assignments.

Even in the short form, the elements of fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction can be at play productively, so we will concentrate on plotting stories from the basic motives. Man is his desire, sid Aristoteles. We’ll sketch several stories based on primary motives, desire and fear.

Paradigms of microforms to be discussed and covered:

  1. Examples of quick writing

Grace Paley, Robert Coover

2. Myths, Parables

Story of Jonah, Prodigal Son. Tolstoy’s, Three Parables. Johann Peter Hebe, Man is a Strange Creature.

3. Fables and Fairy Tales

Aesop, Brothers Grimm

4. Short-Shorts

Franz Kafka, Kurt Vonnegut, John Cheever, Eudora Welty, Hemingway

5. Flash Fiction

Lydia Davis, Jonathan Wilson, Diane Williams, Dave Eggers

6. Absurdist and Surrealist Stories

Etgar Keret, Daniil Kharms, Dino Buzzati, Aimee Bender

7. The Lyrical Essay

Death of the Moth, Virginia Woolf

8. Very Short Essay, True Story

Mikhail Iossel, Why…, JN, “Ice”

9 Story as one scene:

The Use of Force by William Carlos William. http://www.classicshorts.com/stories/force.html

10. Prose Poems

Sandra Cisneros, Monkey Garden


Reading list:


Prodigal Son: http://www.allaboutjesurchrist.org/parable-of-the-prodigal-son-faq.htm

Story of Jonah: http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt1704.htm

Johann Peter Hebel: http://www.amazon.ca/The-Treasure-Chest-Unexpected-Reunion/dp/1870352432 and http://johnshaplin.blogspot.ca/2011/07/two-stories-by-johann-peter-hebel.html

Tolstoy, Three Parables: http://www.nonresistance.org/docs_pdf/Tolstoy/Three_Prables.pdf

Aesop’s Fable: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/21/21-h.htm#link2H_4_0001

Brothers Grimm, Fairy Tales: http://www.pit.edu/~dash/grimm001.html

Franz Kafka Short Shorts: http://franzkafkastories.com/shortStories.php?story_jd=kafka_passers_by

Dino Buzzati, Falling Girl: https://docs.google.com/document/edit?id=1tb7kGoJ3mhPONLIMeWj7ugYJGpJtILy3C5o2uHCQj4k

Lydia Davis: http://www.conjunctions.com/archives/c24-Id.htm

Aimee Bender: http://www.missourireview.com/anthology/we-content/uploads/2011/10/theremembererwithmaterials.pdf

JN: http://www.thebluemoon.com/4/spr99prevnovakovich.html

Mikhail Iossel: http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/why-why-why and http://www.classicshorts.com/stories/mouse.html

Daniil Kharms: http://www.sevaj.dk/kharms/kharmseng.htm

John Cheever, Reunion: http://www.puffchrissy.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/REUNION.pdf

Ernest Hemingway, A Very Short Story: http://records.viu.ca/~lanes/english/hemingway/veryshort.htm

Robert Coover: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2011/03/14/going-for-a-beer

Diane Williams: http://www.brooklynrail.org/2005/11/fiction/stories

Eudora Welty: http://grammar.about.com/od/shortpassagesforanalysis/a/Weltyteacher07.htm

Virginia Woolf: http://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/everythingsanargument4c/content/cat_020/Woolf_DeathoftheMoth.pdf

Jonathan Wilson: http://www.esquire.com/fiction/napkin-project/wilson-napkin-fiction

Etgar Keret: http://www.theguardian.com/books/interactive/2012/feb/23/unzipping-etgar-keret-short-story

Grace Paley: http://www2.southeastern.edu/Academics/Faculty/scraig/paley.html and http://biblioklept.org/2014/03/08/wants-grace-paley/ and http://radashort.blogspot.ca/2008/06/mather-by-grace-paley.html

Dave Eggers: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2005/jun/11/shortshortstories.fiction

Kurt Vonnegut: http://www.tnellen.com/cybereng/harrison.html


Dublin, Ireland



December 12 – 19, 2015

ABROAD WRITERS CONFERENCE will hold our next event in Dublin, Ireland, the UNESCO City of Literature.

















December 13 – 20, 2014 Granada, Spain


Otivar (Granada), Spain

December 13 – 20, 2014

This jewel of Andalucian architecture dating back to 1492, is set deep in the heart of the Spanish hinterland between the coast (1/2 hour’s drive) and Granada (1 hour’s drive). th Located at the end of a scenic Tropical Valley. The Mansion is set in a private, quiet and peaceful setting totally away from the hustle and bustle of the coast and nearest towns. Well___lower_garden_.jpg The ornamental Moorish gardens have been laboriously restored to their former glory offering guests the opportunity to wander or relax in total peace and tranquility. Surrounded by centuries old palm trees, shady borders and colourful exotic plants. Ancient cypress hedges border an attractive swimming pool that is fed by a natural spring. 780-480-0780-480-0780-480-0780-480-0

Authors teaching workshops and giving readings:

DAN CHAON – National Book Award Finalist Fiction

CLAUDIA EMERSON – Pulitzer Prize in Poetry

PAUL HARDING – Pulitzer Prize in Fiction

TERRANCE HAYES – National Book Award Poetry

JACQUELYN MITCHARD – Orange Finalist    


The closest airports to Palacete de Cazulas are, Malaga (80 miles) or Granada (30 miles).

Drivers approaching from the coast should turn inland at Almuñécar and take the old mountain road (A4050 – the Palacete is at km. 43.3) towards Granada. Exactly 4km after the village of Otívar there is a turning to the left which leads to Cázulas.

Those arriving from the direction of Granada should take the N323 towards Motril. After 14 km (just beyond Suspiro del Moro) on the new motorway there is a turn to the right signposted OTIVAR. Follow this approx 35 kms until you see the village of Otivar in the distance. Below and to the right is the house.

Palacete de Cazulas has a airport pick-up shuttle from Malaga. Must reserve before you leave.  I will arrange different times for the shuttle to pick-up participants. The cost for the shuttle is 35 euros per person each way.


Palacete Main House 780-480-0

Master Suite


Room 8

Deluxe suite $3,500 for a shared twin. Includes, room for seven nights w/breakfast and dinner/three course meal. Two 5 day writing workshops.

Supplemental fee for a single room $500. Fee for an extra guest in the room is $1,200.

Annex & second nearby villa Casita_1_Front.jpgAnnex_Blue_bedrm.jpg640x480_458090-344625-013-1402983830640x480_458090-344625-010-1402983830640x480_458090-344625-009-1402983830

$2,700 for a shared twin. Includes, room for seven nights w/breakfast and dinner/three course meal. Two 5 day writing workshops.

Supplemental fee for a single room $800. Fee for an extra guest is $1,000.

Please note, Jacquelyn Mitchard’s Full MS Workshop is considered two workshops because we limit workshop to only 6 participants.

If you want to add and additional workshop the fee is $800.


Saturday December 13, 2014:

Arrival at 2:00 pm

5:00 Orientation followed by a buffet dinner with wine

Sunday December 14, 2014

8:00 am Workshops

6:00 Readings

7:30 Dinner

Monday December 15, 2014

8:00 am Workshops

6:00 Readings

7:30 Dinner at a restaurant by the coast

Tuesday December 16, 2014

8:00 am Workshops

6:00 Readings

7:30 Dinner

Wednesday December 17, 2014

Excursion to see Alhambra of Granada

Dinner in Granada

Thursday December 18, 2014

8:00 am Workshops

6:00 Readings

7:30 Dinner at a restaurant in Otivar

Friday December 19, 2014

8:00 Workshops

6:00 Readings

7:30 Dinner

Saturday December 20, 2014

10:00 Departure


Fiction: Dan Chaon

Fiction & Memoir: Paul Harding

Poetry: Claudia Emerson, Terrance Hayes

Full Manscript Edit & Critic: Jacquelyn Mitchard




Dan Chaon is the acclaimed author of Among the Missing, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and You Remind Me of Me, which was named one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, The Christian Science Monitor, and Entertainment Weekly, among other publications. Chaon’s fiction has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including The Best American Short Stories, Pushcart Prize, and The O. Henry Prize Stories. He has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award in Fiction, and he was the recipient of the 2006 Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Chaon lives in Cleveland, Ohio, and teaches at Oberlin College, where he is the Pauline M. Delaney Professor of Creative Writing.   532588_755067945881_858143364_n


Claudia Emerson is an American poet who won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for her collection Late Wife. She is a professor of English and Arrington Distinguished Chair in Poetry at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia. She is a contributing editor of the literary magazine Shenandoah. She was born in Chatham, Virginia. Shel lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia with her husband. Awards and Honors The Association of Writers and Writing Programs Intro Award, 1991 Academy of American Poets Prize, 1991 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, 1994 (As Claudia Emerson Andrews) Virginia Commission for the Arts Individual Artist Fellowship, 1995 and 2002 University of Mary Washington Alumni Association Outstanding Young Faculty Award, 2003 Witter Bynner Fellowship from Library of Congress, 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry – 2006 Poet Laureate of Virginia 2008 – 2010 Library of Virginia Virginia Women in History, 2009 Guggenheim Fellowship, 2011   th


Paul Harding (born 1967) is an American musician and author, best known for his debut novel Tinkers(2009), which won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the 2010 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize among other honors. Harding was drummer in the band Cold Water Flat throughout its existence from 1990 to 1996. Harding grew up on the north shore of Boston in the town of Wenham, Massachusetts. As a youth he spent a lot of time “knocking about in the woods” which he attributes to his love of nature. His grandfather fixed clocks and he apprenticed under him, an experience that found its way into his novel Tinkers. Harding has a B.A. in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has taught writing at Harvard University and the University of Iowa. After graduating from UMass, he spent time touring with his band Cold Water Flat in the US and Europe. He had always been a heavy reader and recalls reading Carlos Fuentes‘ Terra Nostra and thinking “this is what I want to do”. In that book Harding “saw the entire world, all of history”. When he next had time off from touring with the band he signed up for a summer writing class at Skidmore College in New York. His teacher was Marilynne Robinson and through her he learned about the Iowa Writers’ Workshop writing program. There he studied with Barry Unsworth, Elizabeth McCracken and later Robinson. At some point he realized some of the people he admired most were “profoundly religious” and so he spent years reading theology, and was “deeply” influenced by Karl Barthand John Calvin. He considers himself a “self-taught modern New England transcendentalist“. Musically, he admires jazz drummers and considers Coltrane‘s drummer, Elvin Jones, the greatest Harding lives near Boston with his wife and two sons. Harding’s second novel, Enon (2013), concerns characters from his first novel, Tinkers, looking at the lives of George Crosby’s grandson, Charlie Crosby, and his daughter Kate.   Hayes2


Terrance Hayes is one of the most compelling voices in American poetry. Terrance is the author of four books of poetry; Lighthead (2010), winner of the 2010 National Book Award in Poetry; Wind in a Box, winner of a Pushcart Prize; Hip Logice, winner of the National Poetry Series, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award, and runner-up for the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets; and Muscular Music, winner of both the Whiting Writers Award and the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. He has been a recipient of many other honors and awards, including two Pushcart selections, four Best American Poetry selections, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and the Guggenheim Foundation. His poems have appeared in literary journals and magazines including The New Yorker, Poetry, The American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, Fence, The Kenyon Review, Jubilat, Harvard Review, and Poetry. His poetry has been featured on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.



Orange Prize Finalist Editor-in-chef for Merrit Books Jacquelyn Mitchard has written nine novels for adults, including several New York Times bestsellers and several that have enjoyed critical acclaim, recently winning Great Britain’s People Are Talking prize and, in 2002, named to the short list for the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction. She has written seven novels for Young Adults as well, and five children’s books, a memoir, Mother Less Child and a collection of essays, The Rest of Us: Dispatches from the Mother Ship. Her essays also have been published in newspapers and magazines worldwide, widely anthologized, and incorporated into school curricula. Her reportage on educational issues facing American Indian children won the Hampton and Maggie Awards for Public Service Journalism. Mitchard’s work as part of Shadow Show, the anthology of short stories honoring her mentor, Ray Bradbury, currently is nominated for the Bram Stoker, Shirley Jackson, and Audie Awards. She served on the Fiction jury for the 2003 National Book Awards, and her first novel, The Deep End of the Ocean, was the inaugural selection of the Oprah Winfrey Book Club, later adapted for a feature film by Michelle Pfeiffer. Mitchard is the editor in chief and co-creator of Merit Press, a new realistic YA Fiction imprint. A Chicago native, Mitchard grew up the daughter of a plumber and a hardware store clerk who met as rodeo riders. A member of the Lac du Flambeau Chippewa tribe, she is a Distinguished Fellow at the Ragdale Foundation in Lake Forest, Illinois. Mitchard taught Fiction and Creative Non-Fiction at Fairfield University and was the first Faculty Fellow at Southern New Hampshire University. Her upcoming YA novel, What We Lost in the Dark, will be published in January by Soho Teen. She lives on Cape Cod with her husband and their nine children.  

Short-Short Story Contest, judged by ROBERT OLEN BUTLER




Judge: ROBERT OLEN BUTLER–Pulitzer Prize Winner & F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Outstanding Achievement in American Literature


Three Winning Stories will be published in the 2014 February edition  of:



How deep can you dive into your imagination? How breathless can you make readers feel? How brief can you make your best stories? Dazzle us with your brilliant brevity and you might just win a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience during that magical month of December with Abroad Writers’ Conference at Ireland’s historic and awe-inspiring Lismore Castle in County Waterford.


In 500 words or less write a standout story that seduces us, sings to us, shakes us, grabs us by the throat, or that’s so quiet we have to strain to hear. Any subject and any genre, but whatever you do be interesting and make us care. Take the leap, you just might be about to lose and re-find yourself inside a twelfth-century castle in picturesque, hospitable, and literary-loaded Ireland.


1st Prize: Free Admission to award-winning author Ethel Rohan’s 3 Day “Brilliance of Brevity” Workshop*. single room for seven nights, conference & a Celebratory dinner in the castle with Judge, Robert Olen Butler.  Value $1, 085.


2nd Prize: A scrumptious full banquet dinner at Lismore Castle with conference luminaries: Robert Olen Butler, Karen Joy Fowler, Sarah Gristwood, Mariel Hemingway, Edward Humes, Claire Keegan, Jacquelyn Mitchard, Anne Perry, Michelle Roberts, Ethel Rohan, Alex Shoumatoff, Patricia Smith, Jane Smiley, and Lily Tuck.


3rd Prize: A complimentary pass to conference events at Lismore Castle.

Entries Accepted June 1st through July 15th,   Winners Announced August 15th, 2013

$10 Entry Fee: https://abroadwritersconference.submittable.com/submit

For Full Contest Details Visit: http://www.abroadwritersconference.com

For Full Conference Details & Registration Visit: http://www.abroad-crwf.com

*A $500 value to be used in full payment for Ethel Rohan’s “Brilliance of Brevity” 3 day/15 hr. workshop or can be applied as a $500 discount toward a conference package purchase

Getting to Know Best-Selling Author Jacquelyn Mitchard

Getting to Know Best-Selling Author Jacquelyn Mitchard

By Joan Brunwasser

I grew up with the story of Our Lady of Angels fire all around me. It was more than an event, it was a sunset on the bright stable way people saw their world. That fire blew that neighborhood up. There was no one who didn’t know someone who’d died in OLA. I was struck by how surviving an event could be just as paralyzing as dying in that event — that the survivors were changed forever.


Trial by Fire, The Backstory of Second Nature


me, literally, today by Chris Cohen [photo credit]

My guest today is best-selling author, Jacquelyn Mitchard. Her first novel, The Deep End of the Ocean, written in 1999,  was also the first selection of the Oprah Winfrey’s Book Club, making for a stellar career kickstart. Welcome to OpEdNews, Jackie.

hardcover book jacket by Jacquelyn Mitchard website


JB: I just finished reading Second Nature, a novel based on the 1958 fire that killed 92 children in their Chicago school.  What made you choose this as the backdrop for your book?

JM: That happened when I was a baby, and I grew up with the story of Our Lady of Angels all around me. It was more than an event, it was a sunset on the bright stable way people saw their world. That had been a close-knit, West Side neighborhood, filled with brothers who married sisters and cousins and grew up down the block from each other, who played cards and had dinner together on Sunday nights.

That fire blew that neighborhood up. People didn’t just move to the suburbs; they moved to Miami, to California, as far as they could from that school, because there was no one who didn’t know someone who’d died in OLA. A friend’s older brother died in that fire, and his presence in that house was as real as any of the living children, even those who never knew him. I was struck by how surviving an event could be just as paralyzing as dying in that event — that the survivors were changed forever.

JB: I grew up in Chicago, too, and that fire has haunted us ever since. You chose Sicily Coyne as your central character. At the time of the fire, she’s a 13-year old student. Why a girl and why that particular age, Jackie?

JM: Twelve or thirteen is the time in a girl’s life when she’s at the end of childhood and becoming aware of herself as a woman. It’s when her awareness of her body image is at its most self-critical. She’s not a little kid. Little kids adapt to injury; their awareness of themselves in a wheelchair or having lost hair to chemotherapy or sustaining a wound, those are real, but, if the kid has a reasonably supportive family, those things are tempered by the resilience of being accepted, at the deep heart’s core, for who you are rather than how you look. Sicily had this sense of herself, too.

So in a very real way, she became trapped in a damaged face — that was all anyone could see — and she was screaming, “Hey, look! I’m still me!” The burn itself was a source of both bitterness and toughness, but her sarcasm and bitterness came from being seen, yet unseen. And I’m just very attracted to understanding the psychology of that age of person, which is why the imprint for which I’m the editor -in- chief is a Young Adult imprint. It’s the age of being epic, living a week in an hour, a year in a month, a lifetime in a year.

JB: And, boy, has a lot gone on for Sicily. She’s a woman/child who had to grow up fast because of that fire and losing both of her parents.  Yet, she’s also very unsophisticated and sheltered in many ways. It’s an  odd combination. Can you talk about this?

JM: Like many “sick kids,” Sicily has been both coddled and deprived. Life itself has robbed her of so much; and yet she’s given everything but what she can’t have — the chance to be normal. She has every material advantage and she’s protected from the realities of paying bills and jockeying for social position.

People may whisper about her, but there’s a kind of holy deference for a kid who’s part of a local legend: her prerogatives are in line with her losses. And the aunt who adopted her, Marie, is torn between those two poles, as well — deeply and nearly neurotically protective of Sicily, but also determined to push her into as normal a life as is possible, for Sicily to be “not as good as, but better than.” The reason that some readers found Sicily annoying is that she really never grew up: she’s stopped, an accomplished adolescent but in her reactions and her emotional landscape, still a middle-school kid.

JB: Interesting. I didn’t find Sicily  annoying. I found her situation incredibly and painfully poignant. I admit I’d never really thought about what surviving such an experience might be like before.

JM: Many people thought of her as “spoiled” and “shallow.” Many other readers found her affecting and real. I think it often depends on what you’ve been through in life, and maybe what you’ve been through in books, what you tend to gravitate toward. Sometimes, people just really don’t have a big tolerance for real life in fiction, even though they say they want characters who are “real.” Like take Kinsey Mulhone, in Sue Grafton’s wonderful mysteries. She’s tough, thin, single, smart, and she never gets past the age of about 36. She goes down easy, like a cool drink on a hot day, so the story can gallop off everywhere.

when my last child was born, six years ago by Arty Hitchcock [photo credit]

JB: The Cappadora family was featured in your first book, The Deep End of the Ocean and you bring them back in Second Nature. In fact, we see that Beth Cappadora becomes surprisingly close to Sicily.  Why does using utilizing the reappearance of characters from one book to another seem like a good idea?

JM: With continuing characters, you have to be careful about flaws because unless it’s a very literary novel or the flaws are the point (I’m thinking here of John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany), you have to convince readers to embrace a character who has flaws, because there’s a belief about how you’d react in the same circumstances and that way is usually very positive or even heroic — and that’s exactly how I am too!

You try to think you’d be the best at this. But the psychology in this book is based on real accounts of people who are disfigured, and it affects people in ways that aren’t always attractive. It’s the same way as dealing with depression in another person. Depressed people are sad, and it’s awful that they’re sad, but they sometimes behave in ways that are deeply provocative or upsetting to other people. They’re not fun to be with.

Personally, I thought Sicily was just what she should be, smart and strong but also naive and bewildered, and really able to put up a good front by talking tough. As for the Cappadoras, it wasn’t a marketing decision. So many people, thousands of people, have asked me, what happened to [Beth’s son] Vincent? And I knew that Vincent would not have grown up to be a perfect human being, either, not given his temperament.

I thought, what if Sicily — with this new face which actually would be aesthetically very good, given that this book is set about ten or fifteen years in the future, when face transplants won’t be so uncommon — were to run toward love and fall for just the most attractive, worst possible guy, in the encyclopedia entry about commitment issues for reasons of his own past?

But it was natural, because she already loved Beth, who had documented this whole process [face transplant] because of Sicily’s past, because of the fire and its being the stuff of legend on the West Side of Chicago. Why think up new people to populate a place you already know, if the people who already know are already there, frozen in time, like the game Statue Maker? They were perfectly interesting people.

with son Rob, 1999 by Jill Krementz [photo credit]

JB: Agreed. All that medical information, both about burns and recovery and the whole field of organ transplants, was fascinating. And I found the most compelling images to be Sicily’s prosthetic nose, on the one hand, and her inability to eat properly, a routine task we do daily and take completely for granted. Was it hard to find the right balance between giving enough grisly details to make it real without grossing readers out or turning them off?

JM: Readers still found it grisly! I did an insane amount of research on burn injury and musculature and anatomy. For me, the prosthetic nose was one of the tenderest details, the way she had to take care of it because it was, you know, the Cadillac of prosthetic noses. It was just fascinating, like the way a prosthetic nose, for example, attaches (with magnets!).

I majored in Biology, and, I have nine children, thus, you know, nothing grosses me out. I’d have gone on forever. But yes, had to back off on some of the detail. Burn victims go through an incomprehensible hell — so, by comparison, the face transplant, even though it required, well, removing Sicily’s existing face, was relatively simple compared with the fifteen surgeries she’d had to try to mend the tissue on her face. In real life, that would have been more like thirty surgeries, each more appalling than the last.

JB: Magnets? Yikes! What a concept. The book is very steeped in firefighter culture and lore. It sounded very authentic to me. How did you accomplish that? Did you get to ride around with them?

JM: Oh, yes I did! I spent two weeks with the gallant ladies and gents at Madison Wisconsin’s Southside Station 6, and they taught me with generosity and detail. Firefighters in a number of cities surrounding Chicago also answered my questions. You know, there is no better job on earth than theirs. Indeed, they could get badly hurt; they could die. But who can do what they do, deny instinct for the greater good, as they do?

Despite danger, there is such intense training, minute attention to safety and detail, that tragedies such as what happened to Jamie Coyne are almost unknown. But authentically, if they happen, they happen in those kind of gruesome old buildings where fire can’t escape. My pal Eric used to be an English teacher before he became a firefighter, and he told me, “You know, you admire police. They lay it right down every day. But when the police show up, people grumble. When we show up, everybody cheers. Here come the Marines!” They’re just so cool. I guess they know it, but can you blame them?

my favorite, my ‘Wuthering Heights’ picture by James Schnepf [photo credit]

JB: Lucky you! Thank you, Jackie. Let’s take a break here.

When we return for the conclusion of our interview, we’ll talk about the time she called Buckingham Palace, how she juggles her writing and her family of nine children, and her quirky ambition now that she’s no longer afraid of heights. Please join us! 


Mitchard’s website

Submitters Website: http://www.opednews.com/author/author79.html

Submitters Bio:

Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of transparency and the ability to accurately check and authenticate the vote cast, these systems can alter election results and therefore are simply antithetical to democratic principles and functioning. Since the pivotal 2004 Presidential election, Joan has come to see the connection between a broken election system, a dysfunctional, corporate media and a total lack of campaign finance reform. This has led her to enlarge the parameters of her writing to include interviews with whistle-blowers and articulate others who give a view quite different from that presented by the mainstream media. She also turns the spotlight on activists and ordinary folks who are striving to make a difference, to clean up and improve their corner of the world. By focusing on these intrepid individuals, she gives hope and inspiration to those who might otherwise be turned off and alienated. She also interviews people in the arts in all their variations – authors, journalists, filmmakers, actors, playwrights, and artists. Why? The bottom line: without art and inspiration, we lose one of the best parts of ourselves. And we’re all in this together. If Joan can keep even one of her fellow citizens going another day, she considers her job well done. Joan has been Election Integrity Editor for OpEdNews since December, 2005. Her articles also appear at Huffington Post, RepublicMedia.TV and Scoop.co.nz.

Reading List for BORNEO, Gerrell Drawhorn

Historical Works

Thomas Forrest~ “A Voyage to New Guinea and the Moluccas” (1969) visited Brunei which he described as “Venice of the East” in 1776. He describes not only the villages, government and trade when Brunei was still at its peak of feudal power, but also the inter-relationship of the Sultanate with the Chinese and Sulu.


John Dalton~An English merchant, visited the Sultanate of Kutei on the Mahakam River in 1827-28. Dalton was detained by the Sultan, robbed of his trade goods, and threatened with death. He eventually was freed at the behest of several Bugis merchants who wished to ingratiate the English in Singapore. Earlier Dutch and subsequent British traders, such as Erskine Murray, met far worse fates. Dalton’s  description of the region was printed in a series in the Singapore Chronicle, and later in J.H. Moor’s Notices of the Indian Archipelago (1837).


James Brooke~  The first “white Rajah” and founder of an independent Sarawak, Brooke was a controversial figure in his own time and today. His friends and heirs, as well as his own writings portray him as an idealistic figure devoted to civilize and protect disempowered indigenous people, end slavery and piracy. His opponents attempted to color him as a blood-thirsty tyrant motivated by greed and imperialism. Brooke’s diaries of his first journeys and establishment of Sarawak were edited by Rodney Mundy (1848) Narrative of Events in Borneo and Celebes…From the Journals of James Brooke. Esq., Rajah of Sarawak, and Governor  of Labuan [John Murray, London].

There is a veritable library of works by and about the Brooke Dynasty. His nephew Charles Brooke Ten Years in Sarawak –Vedwin olume I (2006, facsimile reprint of 1866) is a portrait of his years, first as a fighter and administrator  on the frontier of Sarawak, then as the heir apparent (Rajah Mudah) after his brothers fall from grace, and finally as Rajah himself. Ranee Margaret Brooke My Life in Sarawak (1913) is the autobiography of the wife of Charles Brooke. Queen of the Head Hunters (1972). Is an autobiography by Ranee Sylvia Brooke, the wife of the third and final ajah, the distracted playboy Vyner Brooke, as the dynasty attempts the transition to self-rule, only to be prematurely stymied by byzantine wrangling and the imminent Japanese invasion. The White Rajahs: A History of Sarawak from 1841 to 1946 (1992) bySteven Runciman and Bob Reece’s The White Rajahs of Sarawak: a Borneo Dynasty (2004) are excellent scholarly overviews of the period.
Henry Keppel~ The Expedition to Borneo of the HMS Dido [1846; republ. 1991 Oxford Univ. Press, Singapore] Assigned to suppress the piracy of the Illanun and Balangingi clans from Mindanao, Keppel was persuaded by Brooke to attack the raiding “Sea Dayak” tribes along the Skrang and Batang Lupar rivers. This suppressed one of the key hindrances to Brooke’s authority and allowed him to extend his Rajahnate eastward.

The St. John’s –a family of diplomats and men-of-letters that were closely associated with Sarawak and the Brookes. The father, James Augustus St John (born the son of a shoe-maker as James John; 1830-1888) was a Welsh radical who took over from Richard Carlile as publisher of the banned journal “The Republican.  He wrote Views in The Eastern Archipelago in 1847, which was a beautifully illustrated table-book promoting Brooke and the establishment of Sarawak. One son, Horace  Stebbing
Roscoe St. John explored the same ground in (1853) “The Indian Archipelago: Its History and Present State.”
James introduced his third son Spenser St. John to James Brooke in 1848 and this resulted in him being appointed the Rajah’s private secretary. Spenser was appointed to be British Consul in Siam in 1850, and then to Borneo (serving in Labuan and Brunei) in 1855. In 1858 he accompanied Hugh Low  to become the second European to reach the summit of Mt. Kinabalu. Life in the Forests of the Far East (1862)  is an account of his experiences and explorations in the region
Hugh Low was sent to the Far East in 1844 by his horticultural father to collect rare orchids and other plants. Low spent several years accompanying James Brooke in Sarawak and was appointed Colonial Secretary after Brooke became Governor of Labuan. The beautifully illustrated Sarawak: Its Inhabitants and Productions Being Notes during a Residence in that Country with His Excellency Mr. James Brooke(1848) was the first scientifically oriented work covering the region. Low remained at Labuan until 1876 under St. John and other Governors and, as he defended British policies that protected the Brunei Sultanate, became estranged with the Brookes. He was the first European to ascend Mt. Kinabalu, arriving just short of the summit, in 1851. After his reputation was besmirched in Labuan, he served as the British Resident in Perak (1876-1889) where he developed experimental plantations that introduced rubber, coffee, pepper and tea to the region. He was key in founding the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society and its Journal. His knowledge of Malay culture enabled him to negotiate British Protectorate status over Brunei in 1888. His son, Hugh “Hugo” Brooke Low, (1849-1887) joined the Sarawak Service in and while on his many expeditions in the  Rejang and Batang Lupar tributaries collected the nucleus of the initial ethnographic collections in the Sarawak Museum. Brooke Low was intent on producing a major work on the peoples of North Borneo and his notes (many taken from other sources) were compiled by the ethnologist H. Ling Roth to produce the massive 2 volume The Natives of Sarawak and British North Borneo (1896).
Robert Burns (1849)  – Burns (who claimed to be the grandson of the Scottish poet) was an agent of a Singapore trading house that was in rivalry to Rajah Brooke, and was one of the first Europeans to explore the interior of the Rejang River and describe the mineral resources he found there.  Tom Harrisson called him the “first anthropologist in Borneo” because he left a vocabulary and sympathetic description of the Kayan people in The Journal of the Indian Archipelago and East Asia (1849: III: 138-152). Burns was murdered by Sulu and Illunun pirates after his Schooner, The Dolphin, ran aground on a reef off Marudu, Sabah.


Harriette McDougall Sketches of Our Life at Sarawak (1882) is a memoire of this Missionaries life as the wife of the Bishop of Kuching and Labuan during the tumultuous two decades from 1847-1867. She bore 10 children and only four survived the diseases and climate. She and her husband, Frank, also left an important record of the Chinese Gold-Miners Rebellion of 1856 which left most of Kuching looted and in flames and many in the European community killed. Rajah Brooke escaped by swimming down the Sarawak River. After contacting his nephews who were manning outposts on other rivers and recruiting his local Malay and Dayak allies, he was able to rout the Chinese rebels.


Rev. Edwin H. Gomes was the son of Rev. W. H. Gomes (an Indian Missionary under Bishop McDougall) and served himself under Bishop Hose in Sarawak for nearly two decades. He produced three works covering much the same ground, and these are somewhat marred by his use of material taken verbatim from earlier authors (such as earlier missionaries Horsburgh and Chambers) without credit. Many of the rituals which he describes had long fallen into decline by the years of his service.
The Sea-Dyaks of Borneo “(1907), Seventeen Years Among the Sea Dyaks of Borneo (1911) and The Children of Borneo (1907) the latter written for children and containing some beautiful watercolors.

Eda Green Borneo: The Land of River and Palm (1909) was intended to inspire support for missionary activities in Sarawak but contains much useful information. Green apparently made full use of the records of the Borneo Missionary Society in her production of the book. Like the Gomes works it draws from earlier missionary writers without giving them credit, and is somewhat out of date in terms of describing the “pagan” life of the groups described. It has, however, an excellent discussion of the history and expansion of missionary activities which is difficult to locate in other sources.

Ludvig Victor Helms~Pioneering in the Far East and Journeys to California in 1849 and the White Sea in 1878 (W.H. Allen, London 1882) A Danish merchant, Helms was one of the few to describe Bali and Lombok prior to Dutch occupation, with subsequent travels around the Pacific rim. In 1852  he started shipping antimony from Sarawak, and in 1856 was appointed the first manager of the Borneo Company, where he remained until 1872. His description of the Malay and upriver Dayak villages, natural resources and events during and subsequent to the Chinese Insurrection provide a third perspective to that of  Harriette MacDougall and Rajah Brooke.


Ida Pfeiffer~ A Lady’s Second  Journey ‘round the World (1855 Longman, Brown, Green & Longman: London) In 1852, an intrepid female explorer undertook an amazing cross island journey with only her Malay servant, a cook and a boatman. Pfeiffer’s travelled from Kuching, up the Batang Lupar (where headhunting and raiding still occurred unabated), and then into the watershed of the Kapuas River in the Dutch portion of the island. This was the first overland journey across the island by any European.


Lady Annie Brassey~ The Last Voyage To India And Australia, In The ‘Sunbeam’ Lady Brassey (1839-1887; wife of Thomas Brassey, Earl Hastings) was an English author best known for her four accounts of ocean journeys undertaken with her family. This volume, published posthumously in 1889, contains Brassey’s account of her family’s steam yacht voyage to India, Ceylon, Borneo and Australia, describing exotic locations and domestic life on board. She died off of Australia, after weeks of a severe fever (probably recurrent malaria, but some think it was leptosporosis caught from the bats in Gomontong Cave)


Frank Hatton North Borneo: Explorations and Adventures on the Equator (1886: Sampson, Low, Marston, Searle and Rivington; London) Hatton was a young geologist hired by the North Borneo Company to explore the minerals that might be exploited in the recently acquired territory. Hatton’s journals of 1881-83 are filled with descriptions of upriver areas that were previously unknown to Europeans. While Hatton encountered suspicious and sometimes hostile Dusun and Murut groups his death came when his rifle accidently discharged when he stumbled in the jungle while hunting an aggressive elephant.


K.G. Tregonning Under Chartered Company Rule: A History of Modern Sabah (North Borneo 1881-1963) (1965) An extended description of life under the rule of the North Borneo Company.


Tom Harrisson World Within (1959) Based upon his short undergraduate experience in Sarawak as part of the Oxford University Expedition, anthropologist Harrisson became part of a Special Services guerrilla campaign that parachuted into Central Borneo and the Kelabit tribe during WWII. This is his personal account of the “secret war”against the Japanese that he helped organize, the lifting of the ban on headhunting, and the rescue of Allied airmen shot down over the jungles. Harrisson later helped organize fighters in Lundu to resist the Brunei Rebellion.  Harrisson was always outspoken, opinionated and controversial and remains so to this day.

Judith M Heimann (1999) in her biography The Most Offending Soul Alive: Tom Harrisson and His Remarkable Life uncovers all the warts and attractions of one of the major figures of the period between the decline of the Brooke Raj and Merdeka (Independence). From 1950-196 he was Director of the Sarawak Museum and he and his wife, Barbara, initiated the Niah Cave excavations, helped found Sarawaks’ first National Parks, explored caves, began the first projects to rehabilitate orangutans, revitalized the Sarawak Museum Journal and trained the first corps of Sabahan anthropologists and zoologists.


James Ritchie Bruno Manser: The Inside Story (1994). Ritchie is a Malaysian newspaperman and this is a somewhat pro-government view of the involvement of the Swiss activist in the struggle of the Penan hunter-gatherers against the logging industry. Glossed over by Ritchie is the fact that Manser was not on the scene when the protests began, didn’t organize them, and merely carried their message and concerns outside of Malaysia. Nevertheless, Ritchie helped create a myth, and then found it easy to bash it down. He appears remarkably unaware of the culture of the Penan, their concept of land use, and quotes a single government-paid Anthropologist who argues that the Penan are “primitives” who must assimilate into Malay culture in the face of government extraction of lumber and palm oil plantations.

Natural History


Alfred Russel Wallace The Malay Archipelago It’s hard to believe that the two most popular travel books of the 19th Century were written by the co-discoverers of the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection, but Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle and Wallace’s The Malay Archipelago hit the best-sellers lists that reached popular audiences. Wallace’s work covers the whole region of insular SE Asia during his 1854-1862 explorations, but several chapters deal with his stay in Sarawak and his collecting orangutans and insects along the Sadong River, at Rajah James Brooks bungalow at Peninjuah, and his overland journey through Bidayuh country.


Odoardo Beccari Wanderings in the Great Forest of Borneo (1904, reprinted in for example 1990) – In  1865-67 Beccari accompanied his patron, the Marquise G. Doria in a collecting expedition for the Genoa Museum. He collected ferns in the Matang area, explored Wind Cave near Bau, and followed the trail previously taken by Wallace on the Sadong River to shoot orangutans.

William T. Hornaday~ Two Years In The Jungle (1885; reprinted OUP 1993) A taxidermist for Hornaday undertook a specimen-collecting expedition to India, Ceylon, and Borneo in 1876-79. He later became the chief taxidermist for the Smithsonian and collected live individuals for the National Zoo and NY Zoo, but also became a supporter of wildlife preservation.


B.F.S. Baden-Powell was an important aviator, balloonist and military innovator who supported the use of aircraft in WWI. He created man-lifting kites, and prototypes to hang-gliders. He assisted his brother, Robert, in introducing aeronautics in the Boy Scouts. He travelled to South Africa, Sudan, Egypt, India, New Guinea, Borneo, Australia, Polynesia and elsewhere. In Savage Isles and Settled Lands (Richard Bently & Son, London 1892)

Marianne North~ A Vision of Eden: The Life and Work of Marianne North (Webb & Bower 1980) North was a landscape artist but began specializing on botanical subjects after she was encouraged by Darwin to travel to the tropics. Like Ida Pfeiffer two decades earlier, she often travelled to areas where the locals were astounded that a European woman would attempt. Her paintings in nature were one of the few means to accurately illustrate rare and fragile plants like orchids, the Nepenthes pitcher plant, and many ferns in a period prior to color photography. She described many new species, some like Nepenthes northiana that were only collected much later. Her paintings, many of them reproduced

Robert W.C. Shelford~ A Naturalist In Borneo (1917) Shelford was born in Singapore in 1872 and educated at Cambridge. From 1897 to 1904 he was the curator of the Sarawak Museum, Kuching.



Ivor H.N. Evans~ After spending only a year (1910) as an official in the North Borneo Service, Evans returned to Britain take a degree in Anthropology at Cambridge. In 1912 he took a post as Curator and Ethnographer at the Perak Museum and studied the local cultures. His writings range from the Negritos of the Malay Peninsula to the Dusun and Bajau  of North Borneo with Among Primitive Peoples in Borneo(1922). He was imprisoned by the Japanese and his field notes destroyed. His consequently was not published until 1953.
The Head Hunters of Borneo‬: ‪A Narrative of Travel Up the Mahakkam and Down the Barito; Also, Journeyings in Sumatra‬ (1882) In 1879 Carl Bock, Norwegian naturalist and explorer, spent a half year travelling up the Mahakam river and down the Barito in what is today Indonesian Kalimantan. Although his purpose was scientific research he allowed his book to be influenced by the popular prejudice of his day with sensationalized tales of bloodthirsty Dayaks and cannibalism, as well as his obsessive efforts to locate a tribe of men with tails, of whom he had heard. Despite these defects it contains a wealth of information on Dayak life and custom. The twenty-eight beautiful color plates illustrate Dayak tattoo and costume, their houses and artifacts.

Carl Lumholtz Through Central Borneo: An Account f Two Years’ Travel In The Land Of The Head-Hunters in The Years Between 1913 And 1917 (1920) Lumhotz was yet another one of a long line of great Norwegian explorers/ethnographers and travelled through the Australian outback, Mexico, and in his last expedition, Central Borneo.


William Krohn In Borneo Jungles (1927) was an American pathologist sent by Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History to collect ethnological specimens in Borneo. He travelled up the Mahakam River of Kalimantan on steamships and government launches in staterooms. Still he did travel far enough off the river to experience Dayak home life, and collect a wealth of information on their spiritual world, sports and pastimes, music, arts and crafts, marriage, feasts and ceremonials–and persistent cases of head-hunting.


Charles Hose and William McDougall~ The Pagan Tribes of Borneo (1912) Hose joined the Sarawak Service in 1884. Hose interests in biology, expanded to include ethnography, as he rose to become Resident Officer of the vast Baram River district of Sarawak and as Supreme Court Judge. Retiring in 1907, he returned several times to Borneo and wrote several excellent works on his experiences.  He was also important in publicizing and encouraging the development of the oil deposits near Miri. Hose was an excellent photographer and his photos document many groups who had little contact with beyond the colonial outposts. Hose wrote several works on his adventures after his retirement includingNatural Man: A Record from Borneo (1926), Fifty Years of Romance and Research – Or a Jungle-Wallah at Large (1927) and The Field Book of a Jungle-Wallah: Being a Description of Shore, River and Forest Life in Sarawak (1929)




Frederick Boyle and Ashmore Russan The Orchid Seekers: A Story of Adventure in Borneo (Reprinted Natural History Productions KK) Serialized in Boys’ Own Paper (1892), and published as a novel in (1893) this children’s novel is fantastic tale of adventure, bravado and a liberal dose of colonial paternalism in search of a legendary ‘blue orchid’ by a German horticulturalist, Mr. Hertz, and his two boy assistants. The boys become involved in rescuing a Chinese girl who rescues Kuching from a plot to destroy it by mutinous opium-crazed gangs. Frederick Boyle briefly served in Sarawak under the Brooke Rajahnate in 1863 and had a passion for orchids. Boyle also wrote Adventures among the Dyaks of Borneo (1865; Reprinted 2007 Opus/NHP; KK)
William M. Crocker and Chester Skipwith Chapman Waiting For The Tide; or Scraps and Scrawls From Sarawak
This small illustrated volume, may be the first non-fiction to emerge from Sarawak, and is believed to be the first book actually printed in Kuching, is a series of short stories written by various Junior Officers of the Rajah’s government service. The “tall tales” are told as the officers wait around a camp-fire waiting for the tide to turn so they can proceed onward up the Sarawak River. The authors are given pseudonyms “A Pirate Story” by W. Fraser (actually Crocker, Police Magistrate and was Governor of North Borneo between1887-88), “A Jungle Heroine” by A. Perry (i.e. Alfred Robert Houghton, District Officer of the Sadong District 1863-1881); “Men With Tails” by T. Skipwith (i.e. Chapman Officer in Kalaka District 1864-76 and later in Perak); “To The Rescue” by O. C. Vane (i.e. Oliver Cromwell Vane St. John, Officer in Charge Paku, Upper Sarawak; Treasurer; and Sarawak’s First Postmaster 1860-84 ; nephew of Spenser St. John); “Adventure With An Alligator”, by H. Roscoe (probably O. C. St. John, but he used his father’s name); “Don’s Story” by W. H. Don (i.e. W.H. Rodway, Resident of Muka). Chapman and H.H. Everett provided the illustrations, which were lithographed in Singapore.

James Barclay~ A Stroll Through Borneo  (1982) Barclay was an oil worker in Miri who spent 5 months walking in the upriver areas of the Rejang and Baram rivers with Kayan, Kenyah and Punan guides. He returned in 1991 and was deported after he allegedly filmed a Penan blockade for a Canadian production company. He then wrote an article for the Guardian “Penan’s last stand against timber industry pirates.” Officially changing his name and obtaining a new passport he was detained again for two months in 1992 as a “prohibited immigrant”. He claims he was told, however, that he would be charged with drug trafficking (which carries a mandatory death penalty), was kept in poor conditions, denied food and water for two days, and physically abused.


Anthony Burgess – Burgess spent half a decade in Malaya and Borneo during the period of the “Insurgency” – when both communist and nationalist forces were attempting to wrest the region from waning British colonial rule. Burgess was a teacher in Perak and Kelantan when he penned his more famous and semi-autobiographical “Malayan Trilogy” (Time for a TigerThe Enemy in the Blanket and Beds in the East), later published as one volume as The Long Day Wanes.
Devil of a State is a 1961 novel by Anthony Burgess based on his experience living and working in Bandar Seri Begawan in the Southeast Asian sultanate of Brunei, on the island of Borneo, in 1958-59. Fearing libel suits, his publisher suggested he disguise the country (originally called Naraka – meaning “hell”) and characters and thus the setting shifted to a fictional East African nation called Dunia (meaning “world”). While in Brunei, Burgess became friends with the anti-monarchist, opposition politician Dr. A.M. Azahari, leader of the Brunei People’s Party, which opposed the formation of Malaysia and preferred a North Borneo Union of Sarawak, Brunei, and Sabah that would either be independent or in equal status with the Peninsula. Despite winning almost all the elective seats in the Brunei legislature, Azahari and some elements of the BPP attempted a failed guerilla revolt with the support of Indonesia.

Eric Hansen~ Stranger in the Forest In 1982 Hansen developed an obsession to walk across Borneo from North to South. He hired some local Penan guides and illegally walked from Marudi, across the border between Sarawak and Kalimantan near Bario, to Long Pia and by boat nearly to the coast and then, amazingly, returned, just short of his goal, fearful that he might be imprisoned in Indonesia without a visa and with an expired passport. Bartering shotgun shells for food his appearance prompts local panics of anthropophagous ghosts, resentments from Western missionaries, and curiosity from everyone he encounters along the way. Whether he actually crossed Borneo, or did so twice, is less important than the road traveled.

Eric Hansen~ Orchid Fever (A Horticultural Tale of Love, Lust and Lunacy) Hansen explores another obsession in this novel. The sometimes illicit desire to possess rare orchids is explored from the collections at Kew Gardens, into Minnesotan bogs, and Orinoco forests back to the jungles of Kalimantan and Sarawak.

Joseph Conrad  Perhaps the most famous author associated with Borneo, Conrad was an  officer on trading vessels that operated on the Eastern shore of Borneo where he made four visits. His first novel, Almayer’s Folly (1895) is a tale of a Dutch merchant obsessed with finding mythical gold deposits, his mixed caste daughters’ love for a tribal warrior, and her struggle with identity.  William Charles Olmeijer was an actual merchant in Berau.  He followed this the next year with the short story “Lagoon” of Europeans lost in the Bornean rainforest. Perhaps the most famous of Conrad’s “Eastern” novels was Lord Jim, which is loosely based on the heroic tale of Rajah James Brooke, though with a less successful outcome. Norman Sherry’s followed in the slipstream of the author to write Conrad’s Eastern World.

C.S. Godshalk  Kalimantaan (Little, Brown & Co. London, 1998)  Fusing elements of the events that occurred during the reigns of the first two White Rajahs, Godshalk creates a narrative that focuses upon the participants on the periphery of the events…the wives, mistresses and their Eurasian children, female bomohs (shamans), Chinese cooks, and young European officers set into a confusing and violent environment.

Agnes Keith~ Her first novel Land Beneath the Wind was the exuberant and humorous experiences of an American and her Canadian forester husband set down in the odd class-conscious and paternalistic British colony of North Borneo.  Her sympathetic portrayals of the non-Europeans along with her endearing caricatures of the people and wildlife won her the Atlantic Monthly Non-Fiction Award. Three Came Home is Keith’s second novel based upon notes hidden away in latrines and within her sons’ teddy bear detailing her three years in a WW2 Japanese prison camp on the outskirts of Kuching.  The book was made into a feature film starring Claudette Colbert. White Man Returns is the last of the series and encompasses the Keith’s return to Sabah in the aftermath of the destruction of WW2 when almost all buildings in the cities were flattened by Allied bombing and the people demoralized and starving as a result of years of Japanese occupation. It’s a more melancholy tale of reconnection with old friends and the realization that many have died during the war on the eve of Sabah’s independence and unification with Malaysia. The Keith’s ironwood bungalow Newlands was, like almost every structure in North Borneo, destroyed by bombing and fire during the war. It was rebuilt on the original plan when they returned and it is now restored as a Museum overlooking Sandakan Bay in Sabah.


Andro Linklater Wild People Sent on a mission by Time/Life books to chronicle the “primitive people” of Borneo Scottish author Linklater tears down the myth of the Iban people running about in chawats (loin-cloths) and living a life free of outside influences. He compels his photographer into an “arranged marriage” in order to obtain images of a wedding ceremony that ultimately drains his bank account. Linklater explores the modern Iban poised between tradition and modernity, while mocking the modern publishing industry.

W. Somerset Maugham catches the isolated malaise, murder and insanity of British colonial officers, plantation managers and their wives in post-Victorian Borneo and Malaya. Most of these stories were written prior to the end of Colonialism and in separate works but have been compiled in Borneo Stories (1976).  Virtue relates an affair between and older wife of a pathologist and a newly arrived District Officer which destroys the lives of all three when it is disclosed in an act of honesty.  Neil MacAdam is the tale of a Russian courtesan who falls in love with a British curator of orchids. Her demise comes at the mandibles of ants in the jungle.  Along several rivers in Sarawak there are powerful tsunami-like tidal bores that rush up the rivers during full moons. The Yellow Streak is the tale of a man vilified as a coward who heroically responds to the capsizing of the boat carrying the man and his bullies. The Outstation examines the conflict between a racist newcomer, a seasoned District officer and the explosive events that leads to a murder. In Flotsam and Jetsam an anthropologist stricken with malaria is trapped in the bungalow with a manically-depressed former actress and the husband that murdered her lover.


Redmond O’Hanlon Into The Heart of Borneo  A year after Eric Hansen walked across Borneo, naturalist O’Hanlon and poet James Fenton attempt an expedition to Batu in Sarawak with Iban guides seeking the rare Bornean Rhinoceros. Snarky and self-deprecating, the narrative theme is driven by the interactions of the prematurely balding Fenton, overweight O’Hanlon and his birding, and their guides efforts to keep them from accidently killing themselves.
Folktales and Local Writers
In the 1960’s and 70’s the government-sponsored Borneo Literature Bureau was the principal supporter of local writing. An excellent academic summary of this area of writing and the role of the BLB can be found in “The Cultural Landscape in Sarawakian Literature (Yeoh, Temizi and Sivagurunathan, 2012) http://www.ijalel.org/pdf/81.pdf Since the demise of the BLB the Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) has provided a means of publication of traditional writing.


Sarawakian writers have primarily taken up the effort to preserve traditional folktales rather than to create their own literature. Former Director of the Sarawak Museum Benedict Sandin (and Harrisson protégé) collected many Iban and other tales in the pages of the Sarawak Museum Journal and later made them more widely accessible in The Living Legends: Borneans Telling Their Tales (1980).  Jimmy Donald’s Keling of the Raised World (1991) also explores the Iban genre. Expatriate Heidi Munan has compiled a whole series of Kenyah and other tales in Sarawak Stories (1998) and a triptych collection of works in 2005: Melanau Stories, Iban Stories, and Bidayuh Stories. Jayi Langub has edited a collection Suket: Penan Folk Tales (2001). Robert Silas Ridu and others compiled King Siliman and other Bidayuh Folk Tales (2001)

Many of the Sarawakian writers exploring modern themes are of Chinese descent and emphasize perspectives of urban Chinese-Sarawakian and traditions. Angela Yong’s  One Good Thing But Not Both (1998), Different Lives, Different Fates (2000) Green Beans and Talking Babies(2003) are good examples of this. Cecelia Ong’s Short Stories from Sarawak: Death of a Longhouse and Other Stories (2006) reaches further and many of her tales explore the lives of other ethnicities in the country. Both writers explore the admixture of cultures and intermarriages that is occurring in Kuching and other larger cities. An edited collection of short stories by Ng Kui Choo and Judy Wee Double-Boiled Ginseng For The Mind”(2004) and like Yong and Ong are primarily works by female authors (and Chinese-Sarawakian) and keen on communicating the social context of the lives of modern Sarawak women.

Interestingly the two major poets in the area are male and both dwell upon the onslaught of modernity and the solace of nature and the forest. James Wong who authored A Special Breed and Shimmering Moonbeams is also Chinese-Sarawakian. Given that there is a long tradition of pantun poetry and recitation by both men and women in the Sarawak’s Malay community the lack of publication or original works in this area is puzzling. One exception to this paucity is Malay poet Abang Yusef Putih who has compiled two collections of poetry: A Rose Garden In My Heart and Another Day Wakes Up.

Riska Orpa Sari (edited by Linda Spaulding)  Riska – Memories of a Dayak Girlhood (1999) There are few works on Kalimantan written from the perspective of the indigenous peoples and this is the only one actually written by a woman. Riska Sari describes growing up in Kudangan in South Kalimantan and the increasing changes in the culture of her family, people and the environment as modernity and palm plantations come rushing in.

Authors teaching at Lismore Castle



Meet our instructors who’ll teach workshops/lectures at Lismore Castle, December 9 – 16, 2013.

Robert Olen Butler

ROBERT OLEN BUTLER — Pulitzer Prize Winner and F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Outstanding Achievement in American Literature


Robert Olen Butler has published twelve novels—The Alleys of EdenSun Dogs,Countrymen of BonesOn Distant GroundWabashThe DeuceThey WhisperThe Deep Green SeaMr. SpacemanFair WarningHell and (forthcoming this August) A Small Hotel—and six volumes of short fiction—Tabloid Dreams, Had a Good TimeSeverance, IntercourseWeegee Stories, and A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, which won the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Butler has published a volume of his lectures on the creative process, From Where You Dream, edited with an introduction by Janet Burroway.

A recipient of both a Guggenheim Fellowship in fiction and a National Endowment for the Arts grant, he also won the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. He has twice won a National Magazine Award in Fiction and has received two Pushcart Prizes. His stories have appeared widely in such publications as The New YorkerEsquireHarper’sThe Atlantic MonthlyGQZoetropeThe Paris ReviewThe Hudson ReviewThe Virginia Quarterly ReviewPloughshares, and The Sewanee Review. They have also been chosen for inclusion in four annual editions of The Best American Short Stories, eight annual editions ofNew Stories from the South, several other major annual anthologies, and numerous college literature textbooks from such publishers as Simon & Schuster, Norton, Viking, Little Brown & Co., Houghton Mifflin, Oxford University Press, Prentice Hall, and Bedford/St.Martin and most recently in The New Granta Book of the American Short Story, edited by Richard Ford.

His works have been translated into nineteen languages, including Vietnamese, Thai, Korean, Polish, Japanese, Serbian, Farsi, Czech, Estonian, and Greek. He was also a charter recipient of the Tu Do Chinh Kien Award given by the Vietnam Veterans of America for “outstanding contributions to American culture by a Vietnam veteran.” Over the past fifteen years he has lectured in universities, appeared at conferences, and met with writers groups in 17 countries as a Literary Envoy for the U. S. State Department.

Since 1995 he has written feature-length screenplays for New Regency, Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Brothers, Paramount, Disney, Universal Pictures, Baldwin Entertainment Group (for Robert Redford), and two teleplays for HBO. Typical of Hollywood, none of these movies he was hired to write ever made it to the screen.

He is a Francis Eppes Distinguished Professor holding the Michael Shaara Chair in Creative Writing at Florida State University. Under the auspices of the FSU website, in the fall of 2001, he did something no other writer has ever done, before or since: he revealed his writing process in full, in real time, in a webcast that observed him in seventeen two-hour sessions write a literary short story from its first inspiration to its final polished form. He also gave a running commentary on his artistic choices and spent a half-hour in each episode answering the emailed questions of his live viewers. The whole series is a very popular download on iTunes under the title “Inside Creative Writing.”

He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the State University of New York system. 



KAREN JOY FOWLER–PEN/FAULKNER finalist, World Fantasy Award winner

Karen Joy Fowler is the author of six novels and three short story collections. The Jane Austen Book Club spent thirteen weeks on the New York Times bestsellers list and was aNew York Times Notable Book. Fowler’s previous novel, Sister Noon, was a finalist for the 2001 PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction. Her debut novel, Sarah Canary, was a New York Times Notable Book, as was her second novel, The Sweetheart Season. In addition, Sarah Canary won the Commonwealth medal for best first novel by a Californian, and was listed for the Irish Times International Fiction Prize as well as the Bay Area Book Reviewers Prize. Fowler’s short story collection Black Glass won the World Fantasy Award in 1999, and her collection What I Didn’t See won the World Fantasy Award in 2011. Fowler and her husband, who have two grown children and five grandchildren, live in Santa Cruz, California.

She is the co-founder of the James Tiptree, Jr. Award and the current president of the Clarion Foundation (also known as Clarion San Diego).

“No contemporary writer creates characters more appealing, or examines them with greater acuity and forgiveness, than she does.”
—Michael Chabon, Pulitzer Prize-winning author

“What strikes one first is the voice: robust, sly, witty, elegant, unexpected and never boring. Here is a novelist who absolutely comprehends the pleasures of imagination and transformation.”
—Margot Livesey, The New York Times Book Review

“An astonishing narrative voice, at once lyric and ironic, satiric and nostalgic…Fowler can tell stories that engage and enchant.”
—San Francisco Chronicle

 Sarah Gristwood

SARAH GRISTWOOD –Best-Selling Tudor Biographer

Sarah Gristwood is a best-selling Tudor biographer, former film journalist, and commentator on royal affairs.


Sarah Gristwood began work as a journalist, writing at first about the theatre as well as general features on everything from gun control to Giorgio Armani. But increasingly she found herself specialising in film interviews – Johnny Depp and Robert De Niro; Martin Scorsese and Paul McCartney. She has appeared in most of the UK’s leading newspapers – The Times, The Guardian, The Telegraph (Daily and Sunday) – and magazines from Cosmopolitan to Country Living and Sight and Sound to The New Statesman.

Turning to history she wrote two bestselling Tudor biographies, Arbella: England’s Lost Queen and Elizabeth and Leicester; and the eighteenth century story Perdita: Royal Mistress, Writer, Romantic which was selected as Radio 4 Book of the Week. Presenting and contributing to several radio and tv documentaries, she also published a book on iconic dresses, Fabulous Frocks (with Jane Eastoe); and a 50th anniversary companion to the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s, as well as collaborating with Tracy Borman, Alison Weir and Kate Williams on The Ring and the Crown (Hutchinson), a book on the history of royal weddings. 2011 also saw the publication of her first historical novel, The Girl in the Mirror (HarperCollins). In September 2012 she brought out a new non-fiction book – Blood Sisters: the hidden lives of the women behind the Wars of the Roses (HarperPress).

A regular media commentator on royal and historical affairs, Sarah was one of the team providing Radio 4’s live coverage of the royal wedding; and also spoke on the Queen’s Jubilee for Sky News and for Woman’s Hour.


EDWARD HUMES — Pulitzer Prize Winner

A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author, Edward Humes’ latest book is Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair With Trash (Avery Books, April 2012). His other books include Force of Nature: The Unlikely Story of Wal-Mart’s Green Revolution, the PEN Award-winning No Matter How Loud I Shout: A Year In the Life of Juvenile Court, the bestseller Mississippi Mud, and Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion and the Battle for America’s Soul.


CLAIRE KEEGAN–Rooney Prize for Irish Fiction

Since her first book was published in 1999, Claire Keegan has accumulated nearly a dozen prizes, and accolades from writers such as Richard Ford and Hilary Mantel. But the form she works in – the short story – has always been something of a specialist taste. Keegan, who has published two collections of stories (Antarctica and, in 2007, Walk the Blue Fields) and now one long story, Foster which was published in the New Yorker.

Claire Keegan was born in 1968 and grew up on a farm in Wicklow. Her first collection of short stories, Antarctica, was completed in 1998. It announced her as an exceptionally gifted and versatile writer of contemporary fiction and was awarded the Rooney Prize for Literature. Her second short story collection,Walk the Blue Fields, was published to enormous critical acclaim in 2007 and won her the 2008 Edge Hill Prize for Short Stories. Claire Keegan lives in County Wexford, Ireland.

Keegan has won the William Trevor Prize, the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the Olive Cook Award and the Davy Byrnes Irish Writing Award 2009. Other awards include The Hugh Leonard Bursary, The Macaulay Fellowship,The Martin Healy Prize, The Kilkenny Prize and The Tom Gallon Award. Twice was Keegan the recipient of the Francis MacManus Award. She was also a Wingate Scholar. She was a visiting professor at Villanova University in 2008. She is a member of Aosdána.

JACQUELYN MITCHARD — Best Selling Author and Editor-in-Chief of Merit Press

Mitchard’s book, ‘The Deep End of the Ocean’ was the inaugural selection of the Oprah Winfrey Book Club and named one of the most influential books of the past 25 years by USA today.

Mitchard is the author of 24 novels and books of non-fiction for adults, young adults, and children, including ‘The Deep End of the Ocean,’ the inaugural selection of the Oprah Winfrey Book Club, named by USA Today as one of the most influential books of the past 25 years. A longtime journalist and teacher, Mitchard is a faculty fellow at Southern New Hampshire University, and a contributing writer for Parade Magazine and More magazine, among others.


Merit Press Books, an imprint solely for young adult titles. The imprint joins the company’s current fiction lines – including Tyrus BooksPrologue Books, and Crimson Romance. F+W plans the release of five original Young Adult titles through the remainder of the 2012, as well as twelve titles planned for 2013. Other imprints currently are under development and will be announced in coming months. F+W Media is a community-focused, content creator and marketer of products and services offering a diversified portfolio of books, ebooks, magazines, events, competitions, e-commerce, education, video, and more. The Company’s fiction strategy aligns with the overall F+W mission to meet the needs of its communities in all forms, creating an exceptional consumer experience.

“The mission of the line is to provide an abundance of intensely readable, highly suspenseful and unforgettable fiction for readers aged thirteen and up, with a particular emphasis on strong, savvy, female heroes rising to conquer sometimes stunning challenges thrown at them by a very real contemporary world,” said Karen Cooper, Publisher. “We knew we needed expert guidance for the creation and growth of the line. Jacquelyn is the ideal partner for this new initiative, and we are thrilled to work with her.”


MICHELE ROBERTS–Man Booker Finalist

Michèle Roberts is the author of twelve highly acclaimed novels, including The Looking Glass and Daughters of the House which won the WHSmith Literary Award and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Her memoir Paper Houseswas BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week in June 2007. She has also published poetry and short stories, most recently collected in Mud- stories of sex and love (2010). Half-English and half-French, Michèle Roberts lives in London and in the Mayenne, France. She is Emeritus Professor of Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia.
 Michèle Roberts is one of those writers descended perhaps as much from Monet and Debussy as Virginia Woolf or Keats… To read a book by her is to savour colour, sound, taste, texture and touch as never before. The Times


ETHEL ROHAN–Short Story Award winner

Ethel Rohan was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, and now lives in San Francisco. She is the award-winning author of two story collections,  Goodnight Nobody (2013) and Cut Through the Bone (2010), the latter longlisted for The Story Prize. She is also the author of a chapbook, Hard to Say, PANK, 2011.

Her work has or will appear in The New York TimesWorld Literature TodayTin House Online, The Irish TimesThe Stinging FlySouthword Journal, and The Rumpus, among many others. She received her MFA from Mills College, CA, and is a reviewer for New York Journal of Books and member of the San Francisco Writers’ Grottoand PEN America. Visit her at ethelrohan.com.





ALEX  SHOUMATOFF–Contributing Editor Vanity Fair

Alex Shoumatoff first broke into the pages of Vanity Fair in 1986, with a piece on the murder of Dian Fossey, an American zoologist who was fighting for the survival of the mountain gorillas in Rwanda. Since then he has written dozens of pieces for the magazine, many of them from the world’s most remote and inaccessible places, including the Amazon and Tibet. The author of 10 books, he founded Dispatches from the Vanishing World in 2001. The site, which is read each month by people from more than 90 countries, is dedicated to raising consciousness about the world’s fast-disappearing natural and cultural diversity, and to promoting the societal transformation that needs to happen if the planet’s life-support systems are to remain viable much longer. A guitar player and songwriter since the 1960s, Shoumatoff is finally releasing his first CD, Suitcase on the Loose, a bag of tunes written over the last 38 years.

JANE SMILEY — Pulitzer Prize Winner and F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Outstanding Achievement in American Literature

Born in Los Angeles, California, Smiley grew up in Webster Groves, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis, and graduated from John Burroughs School. She obtained an A.B. in literature atVassar College (1971), then earned an MA at the University of Iowa (1975), M.F.A. (1976) andPh.D. from the University of Iowa. [1]While working towards her doctorate, she also spent a year studying in Iceland as a Fulbright Scholar. From 1981 to 1996 she was a professor of English at Iowa State University,[1] teaching undergraduate and graduate creative writing workshops, and continuing to teach there even after relocating to California.

Smiley published her first novel, Barn Blind, in 1980, and won a 1985 O. Henry Award for her short story “Lily”, which was published in The Atlantic Monthly. Her best-selling A Thousand Acres, a story based on William Shakespeare‘s King Lear, received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1992. It was adapted into a film of the same title in 1997. In 1995 she wrote her sole television script, produced for an episode of Homicide: Life on the Street. Her novella The Age of Grief was made into the 2002 film The Secret Lives of Dentists. Her essay “Feminism Meets the Free Market” was included in the 2006 anthology Mommy Wars  by Washington Post writer Leslie Morgan Steiner.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel (2005), is a non-fiction meditation on the history and the nature of the novel, somewhat in the tradition of E. M. Forster‘s seminal Aspects of the Novel, that roams from eleventh century Japan’s Murasaki Shikibu‘s The Tale of Genji to 21st-century American women’s literature.

In 2001, Smiley was elected a member of The American Academy of Arts and Letters. She participates in the annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books in association with UCLA. Smiley chaired the judges’ panel for the prestigious Man Booker International Prize in 2009.


PATRICIA SMITH – National Book Award finalist in Poetry, Winner of 2 Pushcart Awards

Called “a testament to the power of words to change lives,” Patricia Smith is a renaissance artist of unmistakable signature, recognized as a force in the fields of poetry, playwriting, fiction, performance and creative collaboration.

She is the author of six critically-acknowledged volumes of poetry, includingShoulda Been Jimi SavannahBlood Dazzler, a National Book Award finalist, andTeahouse of the Almighty, a National Poetry Series winner (all from Coffee House Press), Close to Death and Big Towns, Big Talk (both from Zoland Books),Life According to Motown (Tia Chucha), just released in a special 20th anniversary edition. She is editor of the crime fiction anthology Staten Island Noir, coming in November 2012 from Akashic Books.

Her other books include Africans in America (Harcourt Brace), a companion volume to the groundbreaking four-part PBS history series, and the children’s book, Janna and the Kings, a Lee & Low Books New Voices Award winner.

Patricia’s work has appeared in Poetry (including the journal’s 100th anniversary edition), The Paris ReviewGrantaTin HouseTriQuarterlypoemmemoirstory,EcotoneAble Muse and many other journals, and in dozens of groundbreaking anthologies–including Best American PoetryBest American EssaysVillanelles,Killer Verse–Poems of Mayhem and MurderAmerican Tensions–Literary Identity and the Search for Justice, and 100 Best African American Poems. She is the recipient of two Pushcart Prizes, for her poems “The Way Pilots Walk” and “Laugh Your Troubles Away!” In the summer of 2012, she was awarded a fellowship to the prestigious McDowell Colony, where she worked in a studio once occupied by James Baldwin.

Recognized as one of the world’s most formidable performers, Patricia has read her work at venues round the world, including the Poets Stage in Stockholm, Urban Voices in South Africa, Rotterdam’s Poetry International Festival, the Aran Islands International Poetry and Prose Festival and on tour in Germany, Austria and Holland. In the U.S., she’s performed at the National Book Festival, Carnegie Hall, the Dodge Poetry Festival, Bumbershoot, the Folger Shakespeare Library and St. Mark’s Poetry Project, sharing the stage with noted writers such as Adrienne Rich, Sharon Olds, Rita Dove, Joyce Carol Oates, Allen Ginsberg, Walter Mosley, Gwendolyn Brooks, Billy Collins, Galway Kinnell and “Lord of the Rings” star Viggo Morgensen. She has collaborated with Boston stalwart Philip Pemberton (currently lead vocalist of Roomful of Blues) and the blues band Bop Thunderous, and as an occasional vocalist with the stellar improvisational jazz groups Paradigm Shift and Bill Cole’s Untempered Ensemble. Patricia is a four-time national individual champion of the notorious and wildly popular Poetry Slam, the most successful competitor in slam history. She was featured in the nationally-released film “Slamnation,” and appeared on the award-winning HBO series “Def Poetry Jam.”

Recordings of Patricia’s work can be found on the CD “Always in the Head” as well as in the compilations “Grand Slam,” “A Snake in the Heart” “By Someone’s Good Graces” and “Lip.” A short film of her performing the poem “Undertaker,” produced by Tied to the Tracks Films, won awards at the Sundance and San Francisco Film Festivals and earned a prestigious Cable Ace Award as part of the Lifetime Network’s first annual Women’s Film Festival. As a budding voiceover artist, she was the radio voice of the Oil of Olay Total Effects product line.

The book Blood Dazzler was the basis for a dance/theater production which sold out a week-long series of performances at New York’s Harlem Stage. The Play Company in New York City produced “Professional Suicide,” a one-woman show that got its start while Smith was writer-in-residence at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, and a selection of Patricia’s poetry was also produced as a one-woman play by Nobel Prize winner Derek Walcott and performed at both Boston University Playwrights Theater and the historic Trinidad Theater Workshop. Another play, based on Life According to Motown, was staged by Company One Theater in Hartford, Ct., and reviewed favorably in The New York Times.

An accomplished and sought-after instructor of poetry, performance and creative writing, Smith appears often at creative conferences and residencies, customizes workshops for all age groups and is available for intensive individual instruction. She is a Cave Canem faculty member, a professor of English at CUNY/College of Staten Island and a faculty member of the Sierra Nevada MFA program.



LILY TUCK — National Book Award Winner

Lily Tuck (born Oct. 10, 1938) is an American novelist and short story writer whose novelThe News from Paraguay won the 2004 National Book Award for Fiction. Her novel Siam was nominated for the 2000 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. She has published four other novels, a collection of short stories, and a biography of Italian novelist Elsa Morante .

An American citizen born in Paris, Tuck now divides her time between New York City andMaine; she has also lived in Thailand and (during her childhood) Uruguay and Peru. Tuck has stated that “living in other countries has given me a different perspective as a writer. It has heightened my sense of dislocation and rootlessness. … I think this feeling is reflected in my characters, most of them women whose lives are changed by either a physical displacement or a loss of some kind”.


Daily Schedule

December 9th:

12:00 – 3:00 workshop

5:00 – 8:00  Lectures

8:00          Dinner in castle

December 10th – 15th

7:30 – 10:30  Workshops

10:45 – 1:45  Workshops

2:00 – 5:00   Workshops

5:00 – 8:00   Lectures/Readings and festivities

8:00           Castle Dinner

December 16th

7:30 – 10:30  Workshops


Workshops dates and times are list by groups.

Group 1, 2, 3, 4….3 hour/5 days

Group 5…………… 8 hours/2 days with lunch break


Group 1

Dates/time: 12/09 @ 11:00-2:00, 12/10-12 @7:30-10:30, 12/14 @2:00-5:00

Robert Olen Butler–fiction

Patricia Smith–poetry

Group 2

Dates/time: 12/09 @2:00-5:00, 12/10-12 @10:30-1:30, 12/13 @2:00-5:00

Michele Roberts–fiction, historical fiction

Alex Shoumatoff–non fiction, memoir, biography

Group 3

Dates/time: 12/12 @2:00-5:00, 12/13-16 @7:30-10:30

Jane Smiley–fiction

Sarah Gristwood–Historical Fiction

Group 4

Dates/time: 12/10-11 @2:00-5:00, 12/13-15 @10:45-1:45

Lily Tuck–fiction

Edward Humes–non fiction, biography, memoir

Group 5

Dates/time: 12/14-15 @ 8:00 – 5:00 with a one hour lunch break

Jacquelyn Mitchard–fiction, memoir and YA


History of Lismore Castle


Lismore is possibly the most spectacular castle in Ireland. It’s situated high above the Blackwater River with views of rolling, wooded hills and the Knockmealdown Mountains and beyond. It’s no wonder this site has been occupied for centuries before the first castle was ever built. There was almost certainly a settlement here before Lismore Abbey was built in the 7th century, as the Irish name of the site, Lios Mhor, means big fort. They abbey was an important ecclesiastical center and
seat for learning up to the time of King Henry II who is reputed to have stayed here in 1171.

In 1185, Henry’s son, Prince John, made his first expedition to Ireland. During this visit he came to Lismore and ordered the construction of a “castellum”, a detached fort or fortlet used as a watch tower or signal station. And when John became King of England he handed the castle over to the church and it was used as a Bishop’s Palace until 1589, when it was leased to Sir Walter Raleigh, who later purchased it. When Raleigh was imprisoned for High Treason in 1602, he was forced to sell Lismore Castle, along with 42,000 acres, for £1500 to Richard Boyle, who became the first Earl of Cork, often referred to as the “first colonial millionaire.”

When Boyle came to Ireland in 1588 he had little more than twenty-seven pounds in his pocket, but proceeded to make his fortune from a number of endeavors, including iron-smelting and linen-weaving industries, as well as being appointed to various government positions. Oliver Cromwell is reported to have said of Richard Boyle, ‘If there had been an Earl of Cork in every province it would have been impossible for the Irish to have raised a rebellion.’

Upon purchasing Lismore, Boyle made it his primary residence and set about to transform the simple keep into a magnificent residence. Boyle is responsible for the layout of the estate as it’s seen today, which included the addition of a castellated outer wall, the Riding Gate, an impressive courtyard and additional apartments. Inside, the apartments were lavishly decorated with fretwork plaster ceilings and hanging tapestries of embroidered silk and velvet. Also within the walls of Lismore, Boyle also built a remarkable family, which included fifteen children, seven girls and eight boys.

Sixth son, another Richard, known as Richard “the Rich,” was born in 1612. In August 1624, at just eleven years and ten months of age, he was knighted. He then set forth on a Grand Tour with an annual allowance of £1500…roughly £743,000 in today’s money. That’s quite a sum for a twelve year old.

Under the command of Lord Castlehaven, the castle was sacked during the Cromwellian War when forces stormed through Lismore in 1645. When the castle descended to Richard Jr., he became the 2nd Earl of Cork and also held the titles of 1st Earl of Burlington, Lord High Treasurer of the Kingdom of Ireland, Viscount Boyle of Kinalmeaky, Baron of Bandon Bridge and the 1st Baron Clifford of Lanesborough in York England. Upon taking possession, Richard set about to make the castle habitable again, but neither he or his successors lived in the castle again, having moved to Youghal in County Cork.

The first Earl must have been very proud of his surviving progeny. His daughters entered into wealthy marriages, and of his surviving sons, two others made names for themselves in Irish and British history. Along with the sixth son’s accomplishments, the eleventh son, Roger (named for his first brother who died at 9 years of age) was a noted British soldier and statesman. He was created Baron of Broghill in 1627, fought in the Irish Confederate Wars, subsequently becoming known for his antagonism toward Irish Catholics and their political aspirations. In 1660 he became the first Earl of Orrery. Roger was also a noted playwright and writer on 17th century warfare.

As well, the first Earl’s fourteenth child, Robert, was born in 1627. He became an Irish theologian, natural philosopher, chemist, physicist, inventor and gentleman scientists who was noted for his works in physics and chemistry. Robert was best known for the formulation of Boyle’s Law, one of several gas laws and a special case of the ideal gas law. He is regarded today as the Father of Modern Chemistry. Among his works, the 1661 publication of The Sceptical Chymist is seen as a cornerstone book in the field of chemistry.

The Boyle’s owned many properties, including Chiswick House, Burlington House, Bolton abbey and Londesborough Hall, until 1753 when they were acquired by the Cavendish family. Daughter of the 4th Earl of Cork, Lady Charlotte Boyle, married William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire and future Prime Minister of Great Britain and Ireland. These properties were part of Charlotte’s dowry. Their son, the 5th Duke of Devonshire, carried out improvements and restorations at Lismore, which included the stunning arched bridge over the River Blackwater in 1775, the year preceding the American Revolution.

The Sixth Duke of Devonshire, William Cavendish, was known as the Bachelor Duke and is largely responsible for the castle’s present appearance, which has been described as a “fashionable quasi-feudal ultra-regal fortress,” including using Derbyshire stone from England. Of all of the Boyle estates, Lismore was always the Duke’s favorite. His love of the estate grew into a passion and dedicated much of his time to the preservation and updating of the estate. The Duke was a favorite patron of Charles Dickens, William Thackeray and Joseph Paxton, the latter who joined the Duke’s estate as an under gardener in 1823. They became great friends over the years, the Duke often consulting with Paxton before making any changes to the castle. Paxton was a botanist, inventor, engineer, architect, town planner and railway promoter, as well as an organizer in the Crimean War who went onto become a Liberal member of Parliament. Tsar Nicholas the first of Russia knighted Paxton in 1844 and later knighted once more in 1851 by Queen Victoria. In that same year, Paxton designed London’s Crystal Palace, which was subsequently in a fire in 1936. Paxton’s Tower at Lismore more is a stunning memorial to the influence he had on the appearance of the castle today.

During the last great restoration of the 1850s, the Duke hired J.G.Crace of London, a leading maker of Gothic Revival furniture, to transform the ruins of the chapel in the old Bishop’s Palace into a medieval-style banqueting hall that included a huge stained glass window, choir stalls and Gothic stenciling on the walls and roof timbers. The chimney piece was exhibited at the Medieval Court of the Great Exhibition in London in 1851 before being installed at Lismore.

Following the Bachelor Duke’s passing, Adele Astaire married Lord Charles Cavendish, son of the 9th Duke of Devonshire, and lived in the castle until the Duke’s death in 1944. She then returned to America, but she continued to return to Lismore for a month every summer, often traveling with her famous dancing brother Fred. She continued to use the castle until her own death in 1981.

Lismore is still owned by the Dukes of Devonshire, but it’s only lived in part of the year. The present duke is Peregrine Andrew Morny Cavendish, the 12th Duke of Devonshire who was born in 1944, and currently lives on the family’s Bolton Abbey estate in England. His son, William Burlington, maintains an apartment in the castle and converted the derelict west wing in 2006. It’s now open as an art gallery.

The incredible gardens at Lismore Castle are open to the public. They’re divided into two very different sections. The Upper Garden is a stunning example of a 17th century walled garden. It was first constructed in 1605 by Richard Boyle, first Earl of Cork. The outer wall and terraces remain intact, though plantings have changed to suit those living in the castle. Visitors will see espaliers of fruit trees, herb beds and vegetable plots along with stunning flowers, which are cut and brought into the house.

The Lower Garden was mostly designed in the 19th century for the sixth Duke of Devonshire. This is an informal garden with shrubs, trees and lawns. The Yew Avenue dates back to perhaps the 17th century, if not earlier when the Bishop’s Palace was still occupied.

Both gardens are set within seven acres within the castle walls. Visitors enter through the Riding Gate. The Lower Garden is to the right. The Upper Garden is accessed by crossing the gatehouse and exiting on the other side of the main driveway into the estate.

December 9 – 16, 2013, Abroad Writers’ Conference will be holding a conference at Lismore Castle. authors joining us are: Pulitzer Prize Winners, Robert Olen Butler, Edward Humes, Jane Smiley and Junot Diaz; National Book Award winner, Lily Tuck; Best Selling Authors, Jacquelyn Mitchard, Alex Shoumatoff and others to be announced.

Abroad Writers’ Conference, BORNEO




JUNE  28 – JULY 8,  2013

In July, we’ll be taking a group of participants and authors to the city of cats, Kuching in Borneo. This will be an adventure/travel writing workshop.  Authors joining us are: National Book Award finalist, Dan Chaon; Vanity Fair’s contributing editor, Alex Shoumatoff and anthropologist Dr. Gerrell Drawhorn.


Borneo, an island of luscious diversity, with the second oldest rainforest in the world and rivers overflowing with life. For writers who have dreamed of writing about wildlife and nature, we’ll be visiting two rehabilitation centers Semenggoh and Matang,  where you’ll see orangutans roaming free in the forest. Technically these orangutans aren’t wild because they’re use to humans, thus they can be observed and photographed more closely while they feed. Birute refers to most orangutans in rehabilitation centers as “bicultural” because they are actually released rehabilitates.


We’ll be visiting the Bako National Park where you’ll see proboscis monkeys, silvered leaf monkeys and mangroves, Rafflesia flowers, waterfalls and longhouses. This is a nature lovers paradise.

In Borneo, you’ll be writing daily.  Early morning workshops from 7:30 – 10:30 with Alex and Dan. Later, Alex and Gerrell will guide you through the day giving you assignments to write about.  You’ll learn about the culture, flora and various animal species that live in Borneo. Gerrell will also be giving you a reading list that will include authors who wrote about their experiences in Borneo: Rajah Brooks–the first white Rajah, Joseph Conrad, Somerset Maugham, Multituli, Linklater and others.


Our first three days in Borneo we will be staying in Kushing. In Kushing, we will begin our days with early morning writing workshops. In the afternoon, you’re free to visit the town or attend the RAINFOREST WORLD MUSIC FESTIVAL. The RWMF has been voted as one of the best International Festivals in world music.


On our fourth day, we’ll be leaving Kushing for the jungle. We’ll be staying at Batang Ai Longhouse.


Dan Chaon, Gerrell Drawhorn and Alex Shoumatoff will be teaching workshops.



DAN CHAON is the acclaimed author of Among the Missing, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and You Remind Me of Me, which was named one of the best books of the year by The Washington PostChicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, The Christian Science Monitor, and Entertainment Weekly, among other publications. Chaon’s fiction has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including The Best American Short Stories, Pushcart Prize, and The O. Henry Prize Stories. He has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award in Fiction, and he was the recipient of the 2006 Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Chaon lives in Cleveland, Ohio, and teaches at Oberlin College, where he is the Pauline M. Delaney Professor of Creative Writing.



ALEX SHOUMATOFF  is a contributing editor with Vanity Fair.

Alex was born in Mt. Kisco, New York. After graduating from Harvard College in l968, he worked on the Washington Post, as a singer-songwriter, and as the resident naturalist at a wildlife sanctuary in Westchester County. His first book, Florida Ramble, was published in l974 (Harper and Row, Vintage paperback). In the fall of l976 he spent nine months in the Amazon researching a Sierra Club book, The Rivers Amazon (Sierra Club l978, hard and soft), which has been compared to the classics of Roosevelt and Bates. His next book, Westchester : Portrait of a County (Coward, McCann, and Geoghegan, 1979, Vintage paperback), was excerpted in the New Yorker, for whom Shoumatoff became a staff writer in l979. There, under Robert Bingham, the editor of John McPhee and Peter Mathiessen, and later under John Bennet, he wrote long fact pieces that were then developed as books: The Capital of Hope (Coward McCann, and Geoghegan, 1980, Vintage paperback, about the building of Brasilia), Russian Blood (Coward, McCann, and Geoghegan, l982, Vintage paperback, a chronicle of his own family from the dawn of Russian history through the October Revolution and emigration to the United States ), The Mountain of Names (Simon and Schuster, l984, Touchstone, Vintage, and Kodansha paperbacks, a profile of the Mormons’ Genealogical Society of Utah that became a history of the human family), In Southern Light (Simon and Schuster, l986, Touchstone and Vintage paperbacks, about a two-month journey in Zaire and a trip up the remote Amazonian tributary where the Amazon women are supposed to have lived). He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in l985.

In l986 Shoumatoff wrote a profile of Dian Fossey for the newly resurrected Vanity Fair that was made into the movie, Gorillas in the Mist and was collected in African Madness (Knopf l988, Vintage paperback, also containing pieces on Emperor Bokassa, the natural history of Madagascar, and AIDS in Africa). He covered ousted dictators for Vanity Fair (Stroessner, Mengistu, Mobutu) and wrote a seminal piece on Tibet and the Dalai Lama. His l989 piece about Chico Mendes, the murdered leader of the Amazon’s rubber tappers, was optioned by Robert Redford and expanded into The World is Burning (Little Brown, l990, Avon paperback, published in ten languages). In l995 he became a contributing editor for Vanity Fair. Recent pieces include Uma Thurman, the Panchen Lama, the Weld-Kerry Senate race, the Great Camps of the Adirondacks, a profile of Bedford, New York, the race to find the winter grounds of the monarch butterfly. His latest book, Legends of the American Desert, (Knopf, l997, a 500-page portrait of the American Southwest), was glowingly front-paged by the New York Times Book Review and was both Time Magazine’s and the New York Post’s second-best non-fiction book of the year.


DR. GERRELL DRAWHORN is a biological anthropologist at Sacramento State University.

Jerry was born in Albany, New York but his family relocated to California when he was a child. His father was an electronics engineer and when NASA downsized in the Sixties he took a position training engineers at the VALCO Aluminum plant in Tema, Ghana. Jerry spent most of his teens in Africa and his family travelled through most of the newly independent nations in East, West and North Africa. His interest in Anthropology developed organically from his experiences in multicultural schooling, urban African life, and staying in rual villages when on safari.  While he was still a teenager, he was privileged to meet the famously Leakey family in Nairobi and Olduvai Gorge. There, Louis and Mary Leakey were involved in their famous discoveries. At Olduvai Gorge, Jerry helped UCLA Professor Merrick Posznasky do archaeological field surveys on the 18th century “slavery period” Ghanaian villages. In Africa, Jerry developed a love of traditional and modern African music.

In 1976, Jerry received his degree in Anthropology at UC Berkeley.

After graduation, he worked at the American Museum of Natural History where he researched fossil gelada baboons and co-authored a paper on the elusive origins of Primates and related Orders –Tree Shrews, Flying Lemurs and Bats.

Jerry received his Ph.D. in Anthropology at UC Davis. At Davis, he co-authored with Henry McHenry, a seminal paper on the origin and relationships of fossil humans using the controversial technique of cladistic analysis. This method is currently used for analysis of every type of system from DNA to complex anatomy, it’s broadly applied to all biological groups.

Jerry’s Ph.D. dissertation on the relationships of fossil orangutans has resulted in his exploration of fossil Pongo sites in Sumatra and visit to most of the field sites where living orangutans are still being studied.

Jerry has published an analysis of the forensic evidence suggesting the infamous Piltdown Man hoax was likely an “inside job” by a curator at the Natural History Museum in London, using a sub-fossil orangutan jaw from Sarawak and a paper on how the co-discoverers of the modern Theory of Evolution–Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace–cooperated to raise funds for the first ever “international” expedition to seek the “missing link”–in Sarawak.

Jerry’s continued his research of Alfred Russel Wallace, as well as the development of a cultural evolutionary system developed by James Richardson Logan, a Singaporean Victorian-era polymath.

Jerry has been activity involved in the Sacramento “World Music” community radio station and he’s the current World Music Buyer for Tower Records.

For a decade, Jerry has returned to Borneo to attend the Rainforest World Music Festival in Kuching.




Single room: $3,950 (*4 Batang Ai Longhouse, *4 Hotel in Kuching–room w/breakfast & dinner, workshops, entrance fees to sites and ground transportation).