Villa Diodati Workshop Report

I meant to write this report some time ago, but life around were was crazy after I got back from the workshop and a short trip to Alsace.

Maison Pfister in Colmar

A bit of background first: the Villa Diodati Workshop is our “local” speculative fiction workshop — local here meaning Europe. What draws us together is that we all write science fiction and fantasy in English, whether that is our native language or not. The original idea was that those of us writing in English in the midst of a culture speaking another language don’t have real access to face-to-face workshops. But we are so awesome that we’ve also attracted a couple of people who live in Britain and don’t have that excuse to hang out with us twice a year for a long weekend of writing and critiquing.

At the end of November, we met for the second time at Hanebecks Hof in the Black Forest, a big two story vacation rental with room for up to 11 people — and lots of space to hide out and write. The first evening, we had a discussion of ebooks and writing (which reminds me, I still haven’t shared the links to my John Locke posts with the other participants, which I hereby do: 1 2).

Hanebecks Hof

At the Villa Diodati workshop, we try to balance critiquing with exercises, writing discussions and brainstorming. Each participant brings only one story or novel chapter / synopsis, which leaves us time for other activities. We have critique sessions in the morning and writing-related stuff in the afternoon. This year, besides the discussion of ebooks and self-publishing, here are some of the things we did:
– we had a brainstorming session where we took turns picking the group mind regarding a story problem or something new we want to work on. I ran my unfinished convicts on Callisto story past the brilliant bunch and got a lot of great ideas as to how I might be able to create the necessary complications.
– we traded story prompts and did a word sprint, starting a new story based on the things we pulled from the bowl. I started a silly piece about the Prince of Redondo Beach who has the hots for the Wizard of California and doesn’t even notice that there’s a revolution going on …

Jeff and John working hard at VD9

And of course, as usual, we ate very well, much too well, with an overabundance of French deli meats and cheeses, bought by John on the way to the workshop. We trade off cooking each night, and this year we had boudin noir, Texas style bbq chicken by yours truly, pork tenderloin with mushroom sauce and spätzle — and so many spätzle left over, that I made Käsespätzle (the German version of macaroni and cheese) the next day from the leftovers and some of the tons of cheese that had been dragged across the border from France.

Once again, a very fun and productive workshop. Thanks to all the Villa Diodatians!

Participants of VD9

Since things have calmed down here after Villa Diodati and Stuttgart Turkey Day, I’ve been concentrating on getting Yseult ready to bring out as an ebook, so no new fiction for now. I’m hoping to have Yseult up before Christmas, and that is my single most pressing writing goal at the moment.

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