Declan Meade of THE STINGING FLY Press and Literary Magazine

ABROAD WRITERS’ CONFERENCE has some exciting news

DECLAN MEADE, publisher of THE STINGING FLY literary magazine and the Stinging Fly Press, will be joining us in Dublin for our readings and dinner.
The Stinging Fly’s notable contributors are:

Ivy Alvarez, Kevin Barry, Robert Olen Butler, Patrick Deeley, Eamon Grennan, Rita Ann Higgins, Desmond Hogan, M.J. Hyland, A.L. Kennedy, Nick Laird, Toby Litt, Eugene McCabe, Paula Meehan, Paul Murray, Sharon Olds, Keith Ridgway, John W. Sexton, Matthew Sweeney,
Every five years, The Stinging Fly organize the Davy Bynes Short Story Award.


ABROAD WRITERS’ CONFERENCE writing competitions 



AWC is excited to announce the DEBORAH HENRY SCHOLARSHIP. Submit one short story or one chapter. Short stories and chapters must be 2500 – 5000 words, double spaced.

1st Prize, a full scholarship to attend AWC in Dublin–airfare not included. Winner will stay in a single room.

2nd Prize, 50% discount

Winner will be announced: September 20, 2015


AWC is proud to offer a special Poetry Contest for Finishing Line Press Authors. Winning poet will join FLP authors at the Abroad Writers’ Conference in Dublin, Ireland, December 12 – 19th.
Contest will be judged by, Leah Maines.
Deadline: September 10th.


DELTA WILLIS, “The Art of Exploring Urban Streets as James Joyce”





In the footsteps of James Joyce, we’ll become flaneurs, discovering the streets, alleys and voices that inspired Joyce to employ Homer’s Odyssey. “I always write about Dublin,” Joyce explained; “because if I can get to the heart of Dublin I can get to the heart of all the cities of the world. In the particular is contained the universal.”

In a shrinking universe, we’ll focus on how your travel reports can tap readers’ hunger for discovery (including themselves) gain insights from other cultures, and travel frugally and sustainably. Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown challenges us to taste a region with our senses, and taps the power of video in storytelling, which demands at least one visit to a classic pub with music. We’ll seek new ways to cover a popular destination, revisit adventure travel in the age of Siri, and discuss how to profile, or become, a modern-day explorer or digital nomad. How To Pitch your stories to editors, and other industry tips will be one day’s workshop, but most classes will focus on feedback to your submissions, how to discover the particular that is universal, and finding mentors beyond Joyce to follow.

A member of The Explorers Club, Delta Willis profiled Richard Leakey for The Hominid Gang and has written for Adventure Travel, Audubon, Diversion, Outside, People and The New York Times. A former publicist for Earthwatch, she tracked lions in Kenya. She is currently writing My Boat in the City, about living onboard her houseboat at New York’s 79th St. Boat Basin, base camp for journeys to Africa, Australia, China, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. She served as Chief Contributor to Fodor’s Guides to Kenya & Tanzania, appeared on radio and TV as an expert on Adventure Travel, and coached/media trained scientists for appearances on Martha Stewart and NBC’s Today Show.

Dublin, Ireland



December 12 – 19, 2015

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

















Winter Wonderland in the Cotswolds, England January 12 – 19, 2015

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OWLPEN MANOR, Cotswolds, England

January 12 – 19, 2015

7 nights in the Cotswolds.

Owlpen Manor is recognized as on of the most romantic manor houses in England. It’s situated in the royal triangle in the Cotswolds. The manor house dates back to the c.1200 but it was rebuilt in the Tudor period between 1464 – 1616. 

The estate is set in a picturesques valley within the Costswolds. It’s located one mile east of the village Uley and three miles from the town Dursley.

In recent years, Owlpen Manor has been used as the location for a number of TV feature films, game shows and documentaries. They include Most Haunted (Series 4, 2004); The Fly and the Eagle (a BBC drama about the romance of Bristol poet laureate Robert Southey and Caroline Anne Bowles); The Trouble with Home (a documentary about the Manders at Owlpen made for HTV West); What the Tudors did for us; Countryfile; The Other Boleyn Girl; Watercolour Challenge; as well as antiques, cookery, gardening, travel, and art programmes. The holiday cottages and restaurant featured on BBC1’s Holiday programme, presented by John Cole and introduced by Jill Dando.

Owlpen Manor appears as Bramscote Court in the BBC’s period drama adaptation of Tess of the d’Urbervilles (autumn 2008), starring Bond girl Gemma Arterton.

Owlpen Manor has been the inspiration and title of a number of 20th-century poems, including well-known verses by U.A. Fanthorpe, John Burnside and Reginald Arkell. The house is reputed to have inspired scenes in novels by John Buchan and Wolfgang Hildesheimer.

NANCY GERBAULT, Archaeologist/Art Historian and Director of Abroad Writers’ Conference. Nancy will be teaching six one hour lectures and three days of historic sites visits. The first lecture is on the History of Food and Drink in the Middle Ages and the second, Medieval Architecture.

HOLLIS GILLESPIE, Bestselling author and NBC Today Show Travel Expert. Hollis will be teaching a Travel Writing & Blogging workshop, this is a four day class for three hours a day.

SARAH GRISTWOOD, TV regular commentator on Historical and Royal Affaires and Bestselling British Historian author. Sarah will be teaching a workshop called, Women in History, this is a three day class for three hours a day.

JACQUELYN MITCHARD, #1 New York Times Bestselling author and an Orange Prize finalist. Jackie will be teaching a Fiction workshop and a Full Manuscript Edit & Critique–no limit on pages. This is a five day class, three hours a day.


At Owlpen Manor we’ll be staying in 9 separate historic cottages in a historic backdrop of 500 hundred years. A timeless hamlet of Cotswold buildings and a Tudor Mansion.

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January 12 

2:00 – 5:00 Workshop Hollis Gillespie

7:00 Welcome dinner at The Cider House

January 13

7:30 Breakfast in Grist Mill cottage

8:00 – 11:00 Workshops Hollis Gillespie

11:00 – 12:00 Nancy Gerbault History of food 

8:00 – 12:00 Jacquelyn Mitchard’s Full MS

12:00 Excursion: Broughton Castle in Sarah and Nancy’s workshops 

7:00 Dinner

January 14th

7:30 Breakfast in Grist Mill Cottage

8:00 – 11:00 Workshops Hollis Gillespie

11:00 – 12:00 Nancy Gerbault Architecture

8:00 – 12:00 Jacquelyn Mitchard’s Full MS

12:00 Lunch at **Le Champignon Sauvage, Cheltenham for those signed-up for the extra excursion

6:00 Reading by Hollis Gillespie

7:00 Dinner

January 15

7:30 Breakfast in Grist Mill cottage

8:00 – 11:00 Workshops Hollis Gillespie

11:00 – 12:00 History of Food

8:00 – 12:00 Jacquelyn Mitchard’s Full MS

12:00 excursions: Stratford-upon-Avon–excursion with Nancy & Sarah’s workshops

7:00 Dinner

January 16

7:30 Breakfast in Grist Mill cottage

8:00 – 11:00 Workshops Sarah Gristwood

11:00 – 12:00 Nancy Gerbault Architecture

8:00 – 12:00 Jacquelyn Mitchard’s Full MS

12:00 Lunch: The Manor House in Castle Combe

6:00 Readings by Jacquelyn Mitchard

7:00 Dinner

January 17th

7:30 Breakfast in Grist Mill cottage

8:00 – 11:00 Workshops Sarah Gristwood

11:00 – 12:00 Nancy Gerbault Food

8:00 – 12:00 Full MS

12:00 excursion: Sudeley castle–Sarah & Nancy’s workshops

6:00 Readings by Sarah Gristwood

7:00 Dinner

January 18th

7:30 Breakfast in Grist Mill Cottage

8:00 – 11:00 Workshops Sarah Gristwood

11:00 – 12:00 Nancy Gerbault Architecture

12:00 Lunch at Thronbury Castle

7:00 Dinner Celebration in the Cider House

Price: $3,500 based on double occupancy and $500 surcharge for single occupancy



Add on Excursions


Special Lunch option in the Cotswolds

January 12 – 19th

**Le Champignon Sauvage, Cheltenham

Three course lunch at the Michelin two star restaurant


Thornbury Castle, Thornbury

Three course lunch at this magnificent Tudor Castle


*Bybrook Restaurant at The Manor House, Castle Combe

Three course lunch, Michelin one star restaurant

Price $225



A Taste of the Past and the Best of the Present

London, UK

January 8 – 12, 2015

Four Days in London with bestselling author and British historian Sarah Gristwood and Archaeologist Nancy Gerbault. Participants will visit Historic London sites and eat in some of our favorite restaurants.

Sarah Gristwoodheadshot


After leaving Oxford, 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 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 has since spoken on the Queen’s Jubilee, the royal baby, and other royal stories for Sky News, Woman’s Hour, Radio 5 Live, and CBC. Shortlisted for both the Marsh Biography Award and the Ben Pimlott Prize for Political Writing, she is a Fellow of the RSA, and an Honororary Patron of Historic Royal Palaces.

A Taste of the Past and the Best of the Present

London, UK

January 7 – 12, 2015

Six Days in London with bestselling author and British historian Sarah Gristwood and archaeologist and food historian Nancy Gerbault. Participants will visit Historic London sites and eat in some of our favorite restaurants.

January 7th

3:00 pm Check-in Think Apartments Tower Bridge

4:00 – 6:00 Sarah Gristwood Discussion group

7:00 Dinner

January 8th

8:00 Breakfast at The Wolseley. An institution among the capital’s breakfast-lovers. “Breakfast is everything. The beginning, the first thing. It is the mouthful that is the commitment to a new day, a continuing life,” writes chef A.A. Gill in his introduction to his book, “Breakfast at The Wolseley”.

Hampton Court The beloved seat of Henry VIII’s court, sprawled elegantly beside the languid waters of the Thames, Hampton Court is steeped in more history than virtually any other royal building in England. The magnificent Tudor red-brick mansion, begun in 1514 by Cardinal Wolsey to curry favor with the young Henry, actually conceals a larger 17th-century baroque building, which was partly designed by Christopher Wren (of St. Paul’s fame); though both have a wealth of stories to tell. The earliest dwellings on this site belonged to a religious order founded in the 11th century and were expanded over the years by its many subsequent residents, until George II moved the royal household closer to London in the early 18th century.

Dinner at HINDS HEAD, chef Kevin Love, Michelin star 15th-century-pub. Hinds Head was build in the 15th century, at the dawn of the Tudor age. Although the building’s original function is still the subject of speculation (some say it was a royal hunting lodge, others that it was a guest house for an Abbot), it’s known that it was converted into a hostelry around 400 years ago. Hinds Head has provided hospitality to the British Royal Family. Wine not included.

Hinds Head serves several historical dishes including “quaking pudding” from the Tudor period.

January 9th

8:00 – 11:00 Sarah Gristwood workshop and discussion group

1:00 pm A four course dinner at DINNER by Heston Blumenthal, ranked 7th The World’s Best 50 Restaurant. Hester Blumenthal created a unique menu of historically inspired British dishes, some are dated back to c.1390. Wine not included

January 10th

Brunch at the Village East, Bermondsey

Afterwards we’ll visit the Borough Market near Bermondsey. The Borough Market is London’s most renowned food market; a source of exceptional British and International produce.

It’s a haven for anybody who has interest in food. It’s the meeting place of locals, chefs and restaurateurs, passionate amateur cooks and people who love eating and drinking.

Dinner: 8 Course Tasting menu at THE LEDBURY, chef Brett Graham. Rank no. 10 on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants and it has 2 Michelin stars.

January 11th

9:00 Brunch at the Duck & Waffle.

Tour of the Tower of London Nowhere else does London’s history come to life so vividly as it does in this minicity of 20 towers filled with heraldry and treasure, the intimate details of lords and dukes and princes and sovereigns etched in the walls.

The oldest tower is the White Tower, William the Conqueror who began the central keep in 1078.

Dinner at RULES, the oldest restaurant in London. Rules was established in 1798 by Thomas Rules. Wine not included

The restaurant has been featured in novels by Graham Greene, Dick Francis and Evelyn Waugh.


Check-out 10:00

Price $2,750 per person

$300 supplemental fee for single room


5 dinners, 3 in Michelin Stared restaurants

3 Breakfast

Entrance fees to Hampton Court, Tower of London



Add on Excursion

Learning about the past by visiting a living museum, Weald Open Air Museum

January 19 – 22nd

January 19th

9:30 Depart from the Cotswolds to Bath

Tour the city of Bath

1 1/2 hour visit to the ancient Thermae Bath Spa. Here you’ll refresh your senses in the aroma steam rooms and bath in the indoor minerva bath.

1:00 Lunch at the Michelin star Bath Priory Restaurant

Bosham, West Sussex: We’ll be staying at Millstream Hotel for three nights and have a special three course dinner at their restaurant.

Bosham is a delightful ancient village situated on the arm of Chichester Harbour. Bosham has a long history; it is thought that it was one of the first sites in Sussex where the Saxon St Wilfried preached around the year 681 AD. There’s a superb 11th century Saxon tower and chancel arch.

January 20th

8:00 – 11:00 Workshop Hollis Gillespie

Vist Chichester

The historic city of Chichester is one of the real highlights of any visit to West Sussex. The city was founded by the the Romans. The prize of Chichester is its superb medieval cathedral, the only English cathedral visible from the sea. The cathedral was built on the site of a Roman building and later a Saxon church.

Pallant House Gallery, is one of the best art galleries outside of London. Here you’ll find the works of Picasso, Cezanne and Henry Moore.

The Roman city walls still survive. They have been rebuilt several times during the medieval period and today the wall stretches along the walk of the city. 

January 21st

9:30 – 4:30 Special workshop for our group at Weald Open Air Museum

Historic Rural Life
The Museum explores the lives of the ordinary men and women whose working, rural lives were tied to the rhythms of the seasons. We term what we do as ‘interpretation’ because we can never fully recreate or re-enact the past but we strive to base our demonstrations and information on all available sources.

All the houses are vernacular – the homes of peasants, labourers, farmers and tradesmen, and to tell the story of the people who built and lived in them we have furnished several of them as authentically as possible, using replica furniture and artefacts. Different methods are used to describe the lives of these people: sometimes they use display panels; occasionally audio-visual commentary and most buildings contain folders with explanatory information. But most important of all they have stewards in the houses who will talk with you about the history of the house and the lives of its former occupants. They will guide us closely to understand the seasonal and ritual year and they demonstrating their traditional skills, practices and domestic lives as closely as possible, bound by the seasons as they were.

In the Tudor kitchen participants will discover the tastes of the period.

 January 22nd 

Departure at 10:00 to London

Instructors: Hollis Gillespie & Nancy Gerbault

Limited to 10 participants

Price $1,500

Knowle Manor, England–May 29 – June 5, 2015



We’re going to KNOWLE MANOR in Dunster, England. Knowle Manor is a historic estate situated on 100 acres of spacious gardens and lakes. The house is located in the medieval town of Dunster, two miles from the coast.

Dunster is one of the most popular places on Exmoor for visitors. It is a medieval village with an ancient castle, priory, dovecote, yarn market, inns, packhorse bridge and a mill. Since the decline of the woollen industry in the eighteenth century the village has been locked in a time warp.

Dunster Castle, once the home of the Luttrell family, is now owned by the National Trust. The Luttrell family arrived in England in 1066, with William the Conqueror’s army at the battle of Hastings. There is a plethora of tea shops and gifts shops and several excellent restaurants and places to stay. The National Park Centre here provides information on the whole area and there is a large car park on the edge of the village.

With over 200 listed buildings Dunster is preserved so that generations to come can enjoy the historic qualities of this unique village. Situated in the sweeping hills of Exmoor National park Dunster provides the ideal base for your holiday in the South West of England.





The town of Dunster.



Lake Como, Italy June 21 – 28, 2014


Como, Italy

In June 2014, we’re holding our Abroad Writers’ Conference at a 18th century Villa on the shores of Lake Como.


We are holding our conference at Villa La Gallietta at Lake Como, Villa La Gallietta was one of seven eighteenth-century villas built along the western shores of Lake Como, near the church of Saint George and Villa Olmo.

Originally built by Pietro Antonio Fossani from Milan, who in 1772 bought the Villa Gallia and the surroundingn land. Gallietta means “little Gallia”, with relation to the larger building Villa Gallia.

In 1830, the Villa was renovated by Melchiorre Nosetti. Nosetti adapted the facade to a neoclassical style.
It should be mentioned that Count Giambattista, the writer from the Gallia family, created a selection of works in this very house which he loved for its seclusion, peace and silence.

The building’s current appearance dates back to the renovation of 1830, commissioned by the physician Dr. Giuseppe Frank, professor at the University of Pavia, who purchased it in 1825 and hired the architect Melchiorre Nosetti who not only adapted to the facade to a basic Neoclassical style, but also refurbished the interiors. Upon his death, Giuseppe Frank named the University of Pavia as his sole heir, which a short time later sold the villa to the Marquis Brivio Sforza, in 1866.
Since 1985 Villa Gallietta has been protected by the “Belle Arti” fine arts commission both for its architectural value and for the fresco and the elliptical vault of the atrium.

The villa was also the subject of a novel written in 1856 by the French author Nathalie Comtesse.

Authors teaching workshops and giving readings at Lake Como are:

RAE ARMANTROUT–Pulitzer Prize in Poetry

NIKKY FINNEY–National Book Award in Poetry

PAUL HARDING–Pulitzer Prize in Fiction

EDWARD HUMES–Pulitzer Prize in Journalism

JACQUELYN MITCHARD–Orange Prize finalist, Editor-in-chief Merrit Books

ALEX SHOUMATOFF–Contributing editor, Vanity Fair & staff writer, New Yorker

JANE SMILEY–Pulitzer Prize in Fiction

SUSAN WHEELER–National Book Award finalist in Poetry



BARRY GREEN–Principal Bassist for the Cincinnati Symphony

MARINA PACOWSKI–Pianist and vocal coach at the Music Conservatory Maurice Ravel in Bayonne, France






Pulitzer Prize winner in Poetry

Rae Armantrout was born in Vallejo, California, in 1947, and grew up in San Diego. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, where she studied with Denise Levertov, and a master’s degree in creative writing from San Francisco State University.

She has published numerous books of poetry, including Just Saying (Wesleyan University Press, 2013); Money Shot (2011); Versed (2009), which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2010; Next Life (2007), selected by the New York Times as one of the most notable books of 2007; Up to Speed (2004), a finalist for the PEN Center USA Award in Poetry; Veil: New and Selected Poems (2001), also a finalist for the PEN Center USA Award; The Pretext (2001); Made To Seem (1995); and The Invention of Hunger (1979).

Part of the first generation of Language poets on the West Coast, her work has been praised for syntax that borders on everyday speech while grappling with questions of deception and distortion in both language and consciousness. About her poems, Robert Creeley has described “a quiet and enabling signature,” adding, “I don’t think there’s another poet writing who is so consummate in authority and yet so generous to her readers and company alike.”

In the preface to her selected poems, Veil, Ron Silliman describes her work as: “the literature of the anti-lyric, those poems that at first glance appear contained and perhaps even simple, but which upon the slightest examination rapidly provoke a sort of vertigo effect as element after element begins to spin wildly toward more radical…possibilities.”

Armantrout’s poetry has been widely anthologized, appearing in Language Poetries, (New Directions), In The American Tree, (National Poetry Foundation), Postmodern American Poetry (Norton), Poems for the Millennium, Vol. 2 (University of California), American Women Poets of the 21st Century (Wesleyan), and several editions of Best American Poetry. She is also the author of a prose memoir, True, which was published by Atelos in 1998.

She has taught writing for almost twenty years at the University of California, San Diego.


nikky-finneyNIKKY FINNEY

National Book Award Winner in Poetry

Nikky Finney was born in South Carolina, within listening
distance of the sea. A child of activists, she came of age during the civil rights and Black Arts Movements. At Talladega College, nurtured by Hale Woodruff’s Amistad murals, Finney began to understand the powerful synergy between art and history. Finney has authored four books of poetry: Head Off & Split (2011); The World Is Round (2003); Rice (1995); and On Wings Made of Gauze (1985). The John H. Bennett, Jr. Chair in Southern Letters and Literature at the University of South Carolina, Finney also authored Heartwood (1997) edited The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South (2007), and co- founded the Affrilachian Poets. Finney’s fourth book of poetry, Head Off & Split was awarded the 2011 National Book Award for poetry.

Learn more about Nikky on her website.

“Finney’s wondrous acceptance speech is an acknowledgement to being alive while being inextricably bound to the past. It is now appropriately included in the new edition ofHead Off & Split. Like the speech, the book is a manifold act of acknowledgement. ‘If my name is ever called out, I promised my girl-poet self, so too would I call out theirs.’ The history we begin with is rooted in acknowledgement, in witness, and, as Finney shows us, in collaboration. Her poems are duets and choruses. We hear the italicized voices of Rosa Parks, Mayree Monroe, Robert F. Williams—even the titles are peopled acknowledgements: ‘Shaker: Wilma Rudolph Appears While Riding the Althea Gibson Highway Home,’ ‘Dancing with Strom,’ ‘Alice Butler,’ ‘The Condoleezza Suite.’ The poems braid the immediacy of the weather channel, the NBC Nightly News, Discover Magazine, politics, and catastrophes to the enduring struggle against forces “devoted to quelling freedom and insurgency, imagination, all hope.” In short, all that is breathtaking in this poet’s acceptance speech is breathtaking in her poems.”

– Terrance Hayes, author of Lighthead, winner of the 2010 National Book Award

Watch Nikky’s 2011 National Book Award acceptance speech.

“Beginning with the sweepingly inclusive and powerful ‘Red Velvet,’ a Middle Passage poem for our times, Nikky Finney takes the reader to a wonderfully alive world where the musical possibilities of language overflow with surprise and innovation. Finney has an ear to go along with the wildness of her imagination, which sweeps through history like a pair of wings. Her carefully modulated free verse is always purposeful in its desire to move the reader in a way that allows us to imitate access to necessary observations about ourselves. These poems, in other words, have the power to save us.”

– Bruce Weigl, author of What Saves Us


Find Nikky’s books, including new editions of Rice & The World is Round, here.



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.

Pulitzer Prize winner in Journalism


Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Edward Humes has written thirteen narrative nonfiction books, ranging from the true-crime bestseller Mississippi Mud to the critically acclaimed enviro-chronicle Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash, to the PEN Award-winning No Matter How Loud I Shout, a narrative account of life and death inside Los Angeles Juvenile Court.

His latest book will be published in October 2013, a biography entitle, A Man His Mountain: The Everyman Who Created Kendall-Jackson and Became America’s Greatest Wine Entrepreneur.

Humes has taught for the graduate program in literary nonfiction at the University of Oregon; in the University of California-Irvine’s literary journalism department; and at Chapman University, where he taught feature writing. He has written for a number of print and online publications, including the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Readers Digest, the Oxfor American, Glamour and Sierra. His narrative account of a troubled shelter for foster children for Los Angeles Magazine, “The Forgotten,” received the Casey Medal for Public Service.

Humes’s books rely on narrative story-telling and immersion journalism to bring the feel and style of a novel to nonfiction, and his work has covered a broad range of subjects that include justice, crime, historical nonfiction, the environment, science, medicine and biography. For Baby ER, he spent a year as a author in residence at a leading neonatal intensive care unit. For School of Dreams, he joined the Class of 2001 at a California high school that had moved from worst to first–in both grades and stress. Monkey Girl spins the tale of a later-day Scopes Trial that tore apart a Pennsylvania community on questions of science and faith. Eco Barons and Over Here were Humes’s first forays into biographical narrative: Eco Barons tells the intertwined stories of a band of dreamers, schemers and billionaires working to save the planet from environmental destruction; Over Here is a anecdotal history of the World War II GI Bill, using the lives of a some of the extraordinary men and women who helped transform post-war America with the opportunities that unique legislation once offered.

His writing career began in newspapers, leading in 1989 to his Pulitzer Prize for specialized reporting for coverage of the military, which that year included dispatches from Panama; a narrative account of the unjust execution of a World War II army private and his nephew’s quest for exoneration; and a yearlong investigation of fatal military helicopter crashes linked to flawed night-vision devices. The latter revealed a Pentagon cover-up of the cause of more than sixty crashes and 120 deaths, leading to a congressional investigation and life-saving reforms.

Selected Reviews

“Reminiscent of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood….Reads as smoothly as a finely crafted suspense novel.” Chicago Tribune on Mississippi Mud

“Gripping…An important episode in the country’s ongoing struggle to reconcile faith, science, and culture. Humes’s book is a compelling account of that struggle.” Washington Post on Monkey Girl

“A finely etched, powerfully upsetting portrait.” New York Times on No Matter How Loud I Shout

“This is the same seamless, honest and also lyrical writing that earned Humes a Pulitzer Prize.” Los Angeles Times on Mean Justice

“Unlike most dirty books, this one is novel and fresh on every page. You will be amazed.” Bill McKibben, on Garbology

“Told with the drama and beauty of a novel…Humes succeeds where many would have failed because he is working out of the best American tradition of nonfiction narrative, of literary journalism, by paying homage to practitioners of the craft such as John McPhee, Joan Didion, Richard Rhodes and Tom Wolfe.” Los Angeles Times, on No Matter How Loud I Shout

Radio Interview: Edward Humes on Garbology on Fresh Air with Terry Gross, National Public Radio, April 26, 2012.


TV Interview: “Turning Trash to Treasure,” CNN – The Road to Rio, April 19, 2012.

Article, Slideshow, Video: “Inside America’s Largest Landfill,” CNN, April 26, 2012.

Slate, The Afterword, with June Thomas: America’s Love Affair with Garbage, May 24, 2012.

AOL TV: Edward Humes in You’ve Got…. 90 seconds on Garbology, June 2012.

Review: “Edward Humes Enjoys Digging Through Rubbish,” Los Angeles Times, April 17, 2012.

“Blood and Oil,” by Edward Humes, Sierra Magazine article on why the US military is making renewable power and sustainability part of their 21st century defense strategy, July/August 2011.

“The Ranch at the End of the World,” NPR column by Edward Humes, March 2009.

“The Many Lives of Jerry Brown,” California Lawyer profile by Edward Humes, Oct. 2008.

“Where the Wild Things Are… Still,” Sierra Magazine article on the controversial Tejon Ranch conservancy (part of the Eco Barons story), by Edward Humes. Jan/Feb 2010.

“Earth Day Analysis: How Waste Hurts the Economy,” by Edward Humes,Wall Street Journal, April 22, 2012.



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.



Contributing editor; Vanity Fair, Outside and Conde Nast Traveler:

Staff Writer, New Yorker

In l986 he started writing for newly resurrected Vanity Fair with a piece on the Murder of Dian Fosseythat was made into the movie, “Gorillas in the Mist,” and the magazine has been his main outlet ever since. He has written dozens of memorable pieces in the ten thousand word range for them, a few even policy-changing like his seminal “The Silent Killing of Tibet” and his exposee of the illegal logging of the ancient redwoods in the Bohemian Grove Club. His most three pieces, “Agony and Ivory,” “Positively 44th Street,” and “The Last of Eden,” will give an idea of his wide range of subject matter and writing style, and the genres of literary journalism he is going to be teaching and talking about. Environmental writing, nature writing, ethnography, travelogue, science writing, family history, memoir, advocacy journalism, writing to effect positive change. He will impart tips of the trade that may spell the difference between getting published or not, and on how to interview celebrities and hostile subjects.

Shoumatoff has published ten books : Florida Ramble (Postcards from Florida in its most recent edition), Westchester : Portrait of a County, The Rivers Amazon, Russian Blood, The Capital of Hope, In Southern Light, The Mountain of Names, African Madness, The World is Burning, and Legends of the American Desert : Sojourns in the Great Southwest. The last one was glowingly front-paged by the New York Times book review and both Time magazine and the New York Post’s number two non-fiction book of the year. He is at present 600 pages into his autobiography, Suitcase on the Loose, and writing a book about his recent trip into the rainforest of Borneo with a boyhood friend he’d been out of contact with for 55 years.

He is also coming out with a docuseries, Suitcase on the Loose, the first episode of which was just shot among the last Penan hunter-gatherers in Sarawak. The mission of the show is the same as what he writes about and of the Web site he started in 2001, Dispatchesfromthevanishingworld.com, now read by people from 90 countries a month, to make people realize the endless fascination of what is out there and the rapidity with which the planet’s biocultural diversity is being destroyed. All the big carnivores and the last hunter-gatherers on every continent are in their endgame, not to mention the songsbirds, bees, frogs, freshwater clams, and many other forms of life. This is what Shoumatoff’s career has mainly been devoted to, and will be from here on out : getting the word out, doing what he can to stem the damage, getting people to value and care about our vulnerable and precious fellow beings. He has put his literary chops at the service of the planet, and is now transitioning to the audiovisual. How we can make the Big Shift to a more empathetic civilization will be a big topic in his workshops and lectures.

“one of our greatest storytellers”– Graydon Carter, editor Vanity Fair magazine

“one of the great prose stylists of this or any other century”– Michael Hogan, Huffington Post

“Shoumatoff is a genuine citizen of the world, at home with people everywhere, and his example serves as an inspiration to all who cherish the ties that unite humankind… In my opinion, he ranks among the very best nature writers of our or any other time”– Timothy Ferris, science writer

“I never realized anybody could write about Westchester with so much love.”– William Shawn, editor The New Yorker


5932_1222863048532_4702384_nJANE SMILEY

Pulitzer Prize Winner

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 BA in literature at Vassar College (1971), then earned an MA at the University of Iowa (1975), Moughs .F.A. (1976) andPh.D. from the University of Iowa. 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, 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.


Susan_Wheeler___Ruby_Andrew_Wilkinson-330SUSAN WHEELER

National Book Award finalist in Poetry

Susan Wheeler grew up in Minnesota and New England. She is the author of several books of poetry and the novel Record Palace (Graywolf, 2005).

Her first collection, Bag ‘o’ Diamonds (University of Georgia Press, 1993), was chosen by James Tate to receive the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America.

Her other collections are Smokes (Four Way Books, 1998), Source Codes (Salt, 2001), Ledger (Iowa, 2005), and Assorted Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009), which includes poems from her first four books.

Her poems have appeared in eight editions of the The Best American Poetry series, as well as The Paris Review, New American Writing, Talisman, The New Yorker and many other journals.

About her work, John Ashbery writes: “Susan Wheeler’s narrative glamour finds occasions in unlikely places: hardware stores, Herodotus, Hollywood Squares, Flemish paintings, green stamps, and echoes of archaic and cyber speech. What at first seems cacophonous comes in the end to seem invested with a mournful dignity.”

Wheeler’s awards include the Witter Bynner Prize for Poetry from the American Academy of Arts & Letters, and fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the New York Foundation for the Arts.

Wheeler has taught at the University of Iowa, NYU, Rutgers, and Columbia University, and is currently on the creative writing faculty at Princeton University. She has lived in the New York area for twenty years.

A Selected Bibliography


Bag ‘o’ Diamonds (University of Georgia Press, 1993)
Smokes (Four Way Books, 1998)
Source Codes (Salt, 2001)
Ledger (Iowa, 2005)
Assorted Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009)


Record Palace (Graywolf, 2005)




Marina Pacowski is a professor at the Music Conservatory Maurice Ravel Bayonne Cote Basque (France) where she teaches piano accompaniment and vocal coaching. She studied piano successively with Ada Labeque, Alain Motard and Bruno Rigutto. Then she specialize in accompaniment under the tutelage of Angeline Pondepayre with whom she studied at the conservatory of Rueil-Malmaison.

She obtained an unaniimous First Prize in accompaniment a Gold Medal in Composition and Music Analysis as well as the SACEM Prize in Composition. Marina came in first place in Belvedere International competition in Vienna, in the vocal coast category. She also came in first at the competiton organized by the Opera National du Rhin where she worked for a year as a pianist and vocal coach within the Jeune Voix du Rhin program.

As a vocal coach she collaborated with the following conductors. Friedrich Pleyer, with the Royal Opera of Wallonia in Belgium, Marc Tardue in the Colliseu of Oporto in Portugal, Dejan Savio with the Opera National du Rhin, Alexander Martin at the Filature de Mulhouse.

As a concert pianist she performed as the principal soloist in the Concerto for piano by Peo Cabalette, “La Chambre d’amour”, in the Kursal in San Sebastian, Spain; and in the Grand Theatre de Saint-Quentin, France. She was also invited by L’Ensemble Fa, for a concert at the Salle Gaveau; and she played first piano in the Camina Burana, conducted by Didier Benetti, with the Grand Choeur Orpheo Pamplones at the Atrium of Dax.

Marina is an eclectic artist, she performs solo recitals and performs n a jazz group as a singer.


Como, Italy

Como is situated at the head of the lake and is an ancient town over 400 years old with magnificent churches and historic monuments.

The largest and southernmost town on the lake isn’t likely to charm you quite as much as some of the other towns and villages, but the historic center is lovely if you take the time to stroll it and pop into its little churches and cafes.

A center of silk making for a very long time, this city traces its roots to the Gauls, and, after them, the Romans, and bustles with commerce and industry. You’ll probably want to stay in one of the more peaceful settings farther up the lake, but Como amply rewards a day’s visit, with some fine Renaissance churches and palaces and a nice lake front promenade. For visitor information the regional tourist office has extensive details on hotels, restaurants, and camping grounds around the lake, from its offices at Piazza Cavour 17 (tel. 031-269-712 or 031-264-215; or on www.lakecomo.org). The tourist office opens daily 9am to 1pm and 2 to 5pm (sometimes closed Sun in winter). There is also a city tourist office in a little trailer that has moved around a bit since it opened in 2000, but stays near Piazza del Duomo, and seems to have settled on a spot along Via Maestri Comacini around the right side of the cathedral (tel. 031-337-1063). It’s open Monday to Friday 10am to 12:30pm and 2:30 to 6pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am to 6pm. Trains run between 1 to 3 times per hour connecting Milan and Como’s Station San Giovanni on Piazzale San Gottardo. Also from Milan’s Piazza Garibaldi station, 55-60 min and high speed from Milan’s Stazione Centrale station, 40 min.). At the heart of Como’s walled Old Town, Piazza San Fedele has many 400-year-old buildings, and the basilica, one of the masterpieces of the maestri comacini (masters of Como). At the top of Via Cantù you’ll see the old wall’s most spectacular standing tower, the Porta Vittoria. Nearby is the very austere church of San Abbondio. Rest awhile in its cloisters, then climb the hill behind it and go to the top of the Baradello Tower, for a lovely view of the entire lake. Next, walk back down the hill and visit Como’s third great basilica, the early romanesque San Corpoforo.

Chef Alison Negrin will be joining us at Lake Como


Alison Negrin’s career as a chef spans 30 years. She lived in Scandinavia and travelled throughout Southeast Asia, Japan, Europe, Mexico, Peru and North America. Exploration of her Jewish Mediterranean roots brought a labyrinth of flavors and cultural understanding to her cuisine repertoire.

Her professional training from the SF Culinary Academy and Bauman College in holistic nutrition helped her advancement to Executive Chef at some of the San Francisco Bay Area top restaurants, such as: Chez Panisse, Mesa, Ginger Island, Poulet and Bridges. Her years of experience as both chef and culinary instructor makes her an excellent teacher. Alison loves sharing her knowledge and passion for seasonal cuisine and all things natural.

Alison and Abroad Writer’s Conference founder, Nancy Gerbault, first met at UC Berkeley in the 70’s when they were both art students. Nancy was the painter and Alison a sculptor. As young women they spent many hours over steaming cups of cappuccino at Cafe Mediterranean on Telegraph Avenue, sharing their ideas and dreams for the future.

It was Nancy, whom Alison credits as her first forays into the seductive pleasures of cooking Indian and French food, fresh herbs, eggplant and ratatouille. Nancy was a fabulously creative cook. Sometimes dinner would start at 9 pm and last until midnight. Alison couldn’t get enough and she came back for more and more. Nancy was also an International Flight Attendant for TWA and she shared her worldly travels with Alison, who was an open appreciative student. She was hungry for adventure, sensual flavors and wisdom.

Fast forward 40 years. Now, these two best friends have a chance to fulfill their dreams of traveling together and preparing fabulous dinners for Abroad Writers’ Conference authors and participants.

Experience Alison’s food, stemming from her original interest in sculpture, love of process and truth to the materials transformed in the kitchen. Alison, Alex Forsythe and Nancy will bring their culinary wizardry and zest for adventure to the table every night.




ALEX will be doing a workshop at Lake Como on memoir and travel memoir, voyages of self-discovery, what he calls “accidental journalism” : how the most transformative experiences that happen when you put yourself out there are usually things you hadn’t planned for, the chance encounters and whiffs of the uncanny. One of our consummate travel memoirists, he will explain how the art of travel is orchestrating the unpredictable, and the art of travel memoir is bringing the journey back to life so vividly the reader feels he is the one on the trip. For fifty years, Shoumatoff has been like Everyman going to the ends of the earth to experience the Other, and discovering that they are one and the same, visiting the bushmen of the Kalahari and finding out that he is 75,000 years old.

From Alex, ”  I’m returning in my head to where I was in November-December in the highlands of sarawak with the penan. going through my notebooks which have notes I took as things were happening and acting on me. So what I’m doing now is travel memoir, but the notes were letting whatever was happening act on me, letting the words to describe the life forms and activities I am witnessing come, to recreate and become them. in a sort of impressionistic telegraphese, as one of my editors call it. the way mavis gallant wrote her travel impressions in the fifties for the new yorker

that’s what we’ll be doing on these outings. like artists going out with our easels to paint in the grand tradition. except our pigments will be words and phrases. my books and magazine pieces are replete with this kind of writing. a black stripper named Miss Mustang Salley in miami beach l973 working down to her g-string and running her fingers over the only body she had, while the retirees puffing cigars in the audience, her entire audience,  send up appreciative billows of smoke. Florida Ramble, my first books (Postcards From Florida in its latest edition, which uses the original title) is full of this kind of writing. The technique of getting the sound and flow and rhythm of the words to reproduce what they are talking about is basically poetic. I learned it when I was studying with Robert Lowell and taking ancient Greek and thinking I was going to be the next great poet in the English literary tradition and when i switched to prose I kept using it. “

Read Alex’s latest Vanity Fair Story, The Awa Indians of Amazonian Brazil: The Most Endangered Tribe on Earth http://www.vanityfair.com/contributors/alex-shoumatoff

You’ll be scouting four of the most beautiful towns around Lake Como.
Day 1
1:00 – 4:30
In a cafe, the workshop will begin with Alex discussing his memoir piece “Positively 44th Street” and the concept of Accidental Journalism.
Afterwards you’ll be scouting the town of Como.
Day 2
12:00 – 4:30
Ferry to Bellagio from Como
Workshop on the hydrofoil, discussing writings from the previous day.
Scouting the town of Bellagio

Bellagio is often called one of the most beautiful towns in Italy. Nestled amid cypress groves and verdant gardens, its earth-toned old buildings climb from the lakefront promenade along stepped cobbled lanes. While Bellagio is a popular retreat for everyone from Milanese out for a day of relaxation to British and Americans who come to relax for a week or two, the town has, for the most part, managed to keep its dignity despite the crush of tourists that arrive in the summer months.

One of Bellagio’s famed gardens surrounds the Villa Melzi built by Francesco Melzi, a friend of Napoleon and an official of his Republic. The villa was the retreat of Franz Liszt and is now the home of a distinguished Lombardian family; they allow the public to stroll through their acres of manicured lawns and fountains and to visit a pavilion where a collection of Egyptian sculpture is on display.

Day 3
12:00 – 4:30
Ferry to Menaggio from Como
Workshop on the hydrofoil, discussing writings from the previous day.
Scouting the town of Menaggio
This lively resort town hugs the western shore of the lake, across from Bellagio on its peninsula and Varenna on the distant shore.
A short walk along Menaggio’s lakeside promenade is like a fairytale from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. Spotted with ornate villas and houses, you can also get amazing views of Bellagio and Varenna from a distance. However, the upper part of the town is entirely different still, preserving the remains of medieval ruins with the original castle walls still viewable to the public.

Day 4

12:00 – 4:30

Ferry to Varenna from Como.

Workshop on the hydrofoil, discussing writings from the previous day.

Scouting the town of Varenna

You can happily spend some time clambering up and down the steep steps that substitute for streets in this charming village (on the eastern shore of the lake, about 10 min. by ferry from Bellagio) that, until not too long ago, made its living by fishing. The main attractions, though, are outside town.

The hilltop ruins of the Castello di Vezio  are about a 20-minute walk above the town on a gradually ascending path. The main reason for a visit is to enjoy the stunning views of the lake, its shoreline villages, and the backdrop of mountains at the northern end.

The gardens of the Villa Monastero  are more easily accessible, at the southern edge of town along Via 4 Novembre, and you can reach them by following the series of lakeside promenades through the Old Town from the ferry landing. This villa and the terraced gardens that rise up from the lakeshore were once a not-so-spartan monastery — until it was dissolved in the late 17th century when the nuns in residence began bearing living proof that they were on too-friendly terms with the priests across the way. If you find it hard to tear yourself from the bowers of citrus trees and rhododendrons clinging to terraces, you’ll find equally enchanting surroundings in the adjoining gardens of the Villa Cipressi

Day 5

1:00 – 4:00


Workshopping 20 page stories that were previously submitted.