Odyssey Workshop

Interview: Guest lecturer Brendan DuBois

Brendan DuBoisGuest lecturer Brendan DuBois is an award-winning mystery, suspense and science-fiction author. Mr. DuBois is a former newspaper reporter and a lifelong resident of New Hampshire, where he lives with his wife Mona, their hell-raising cat Bailey, and one happy English Springer Spaniel named Spencer.

He is at work on his seventeenth novel, and his latest Lewis Cole novel, Fatal Harbor, was published in May 2014. Last year, he published his science fiction trilogy, The Empire of the North, made up of The Noble Warrior, The Noble Prisoner, and The Noble Prince. His recent thriller, Twilight, received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly. DuBois has been published in ten countries by such publishers as St. Martin’s Press; Little, Brown; Time Warner UK; Houghton Mifflin; Pegasus Books, and many more.

His most widely published suspense-thriller, Resurrection Day, has received world-wide acclaim. It takes place in October 1972, ten years after the Cuban Missile Crisis erupted into a full-scale atomic war, destroying the Soviet Union and decimating the United States. Called “one of the most inventive novels of alternative history since Robert Harris’ Fatherland,” Resurrection Day is a chilling tale of what might have been. At the 58th World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago, Resurrection Day received the Sidewise Award for Best Alternative History Novel.

His short fiction has been awarded the Shamus Award from the Private Eye Writers of America and the Berry Award for Best Mystery Short Story of the Year, has been nominated three times for an Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America, and has been nominated for the Anthony Award for Best Mystery Short Story of the Year.

He is also a one-time Jeopardy! game show champion.


You write mainly mysteries, including your popular Lewis Cole mysteries, and suspense. What drew you to write in those genres? You also write science fiction. Does writing SF appeal to you in the same way as writing mysteries and thrillers? Read more…

Interview: Guest lecturer Alex Hughes

Alex HughesAuthor and Odyssey graduate Alex Hughes will be a guest lecturer at this summer’s Odyssey Writing Workshop. Alex was born in Savannah, GA, and moved to the south Atlanta area when she was eight years old. Shortly thereafter, her grandfather handed her a copy of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonrider series, and a lifelong obsession with scifi was born.

Alex is a 2011 graduate of the prestigious Odyssey Writing Workshop, a Semi-Finalist in the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards, and a member of the Science Fiction Writers of America and the International Thriller Writers. Her short pieces are published in several markets including EveryDay Fiction and Monster Corral. Clean was a Finalist in the Silver Falchion Award 2013.

Alex’s work is layered, dark, adventurous, and a little funny, with an emphasis on great characters and interesting worlds. She gets her inspiration from history (she majored with a European history focus in college), family members, and headlines, as well as whatever book she has in her hand. Lately she’s been reading neuroscience books; the brain’s a cool, cool place and the mind even more so.

An avid cook and foodie, Alex loves great food of any stripe–even better if she can figure out how to put it together. Great food is like a great book; it has lots of layers that work together beautifully, and the result is delicious and harmonious. She’s working on figuring out Thai curries right now–suggestions welcome!

Alex loves swing dancing, Tetris, music of all kinds, and has been known to get into long conversations with total strangers at restaurants about the Food Network, much to the embarrassment of her sister. She can also balance a spoon on her nose while crossing her eyes, and talk for hours about absolutely nothing.


Congratulations on your recent release of Vacant Alex Hughes Vacant(Mindspace Investigations, #4, released December 2014 from Roc). We’re excited to have you as a guest lecturer this summer, wherein you’ll be lecturing, workshopping, and meeting individually with students. What do you think is the most important advice you can give to developing writers?

Thank you! I’m excited about Vacant, and about the opportunity to teach at Odyssey. The program was a huge push forward for me as a writer, and I hope that I can share some of the lessons I’ve learned in the last few years with the students. Read more…

Interview: Author Kij Johnson, Writer-in-residence

Kij JohnsonWriter-in-residence at this summer’s Odyssey Writing Workshop, Kij Johnson is widely considered one of the top fantasy/science fiction writing teachers in the country. She is the author of three novels—two fantasies set in classical Japan, The Fox Woman and Fudoki, and a Star Trek:The Next Generation novel—and a short story collection, At the Mouth of the River of Bees.

Since 2008, her short fiction has won the Nebula Award (three times), the Hugo, and the World Fantasy Award. In the past she has worked in book publishing, comic books and graphic novels, RPGs and trading card games; managed development and tech-writing groups for Seattle-area tech firms; edited cryptic crosswords; identified Napa cabernets by winery and year while blindfolded; and bouldered an occasional V-5.

She received her Master of Fine Arts from North Carolina State University, and teaches at the University of Kansas, where she is associate director for the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction. She splits her time between Seattle and Lawrence.


You are a permanent fixture at the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas, where you teach novel workshops in addition to classes, and we’re excited to have you as the writer-in-residence at this summer’s Odyssey Workshop.  Share with us the most important advice you can give to developing writers. Read more…

Interview: Guest Lecturer Alma Alexander

Alma AlexanderFantasy author Alma Alexander will be a guest lecturer at 2015’s summer Odyssey Writing Workshop.  Alma Alexander’s life so far has prepared her very well for her chosen career.  She was born in a country which no longer exists on the maps, has lived and worked in seven countries on four continents (and in cyberspace!), has climbed mountains, dived in coral reefs, flown small planes, swum with dolphins, and touched two-thousand-year-old tiles in a gate out of Babylon. She is a novelist, anthologist and short story writer who currently shares her life between the Pacific Northwest of the USA (where she lives with her husband and two cats) and the wonderful fantasy worlds of her own imagination. You can find out more about Alma on her website, her Facebook page, or her blog.

Welcome! As a guest lecturer at this summer’s Odyssey Workshop, you’ll be lecturing, workshopping, and meeting individually with students. What do you think is the most important advice you can give to developing writers? Read more…

Interview: Guest lecturer and graduate Elaine Isaak (E.C. Ambrose)

Elaine IsaacE. C. Ambrose will be a guest lecturer at the 2015 Odyssey Writing Workshop. She writes “The Dark Apostle” historical fantasy series about medieval surgery, which began with Elisha Barber (DAW, 2013) and continues with Elisha Magus (July 1, 2014). Other published works include “The Romance of Ruins” in Clarkesworld Magazine, and “Custom of the Sea,” winner of the Tenebris Press Flash Fiction Contest 2012. She is also the author of The Singer’s Crown and its sequels, The Eunuch’s Heir, and The Bastard Queen, published as Elaine Isaak.

An Odyssey 1997 graduate, Elaine quite enjoys her alternate identity, aside from a strong desire to start arguments with herself on social media. She blogs about the intersections between fantasy and history at ecambrose.wordpress.com and can also be found at facebook.com/e.c.ambroseauthor or twitter @ecambrose. Under any name, you still do NOT want to be her hero. Learn more at http://www.TheDarkApostle.com

In addition to writing, the author works as an adventure guide. Past occupations include founding a wholesale business, selecting stamps for a philatelic company, selling equestrian equipment, and portraying the Easter Bunny on weekends.


You graduated from the Odyssey Writing Workshop in the summer of 1997, and returned as a guest lecturer in 2011 and 2012. You’ve also taught for Odyssey Online, and you provide feedback on author manuscripts through the Odyssey Critique Service. What draws you back to Odyssey and working with developing writers? Read more…

Special News Alert–Odyssey Slam, November 2, Amherst, NH

Odyssey Vineyard SlamODYSSEY STORY SLAM IN THE VINEYARD IN AMHERST, NEW HAMPSHIRE!

Odyssey has teamed up with LaBelle Winery for the biggest fantasy/science fiction/horror event in New England this fall!

This Sunday, 11/2, from 4:00-6:30, Odyssey will be holding a story slam with 22 awesome writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror! The slam will take place in the vineyard at LaBelle Winery in Amherst, NH. You’ll relax beside a roaring bonfire with s’mores and LaBelle crafted beverages as you listen to some of the top writers in New England. Authors include best-sellers, award-winners, and up-and-coming talents.

Each story will be 5 minutes or less in length, and all family-friendly. In case of rain (or snow), the event will move indoors to LaBelle’s amazing wine cellar.

Jeanne Cavelos, Director of Odyssey, will serve as master of ceremonies and read from her own work.

Stories & Authors Include:

“Makers” by Jennifer Noelle Welch
“Passable Strangers” by Brian Staveley
“The Land Beyond” by E. L. Mellor
“Alone” by Brent C. Smith
“The Art of Losing” by Heather Albano
“DamnCat” by Jim Isaak
“The Muse’s Lament” by Patrick LeClerc
“Portal” by Victoria Witt
“Three Easy Payments” by Richard William Bradford
“Skin Colors” by Sarah Smith
“Consider the Services of the Departed” by F. Brett Cox
“Prelude to Neptune Crossing” by Jeffrey A. Carver
“The Most Beautiful Antlers” by Lauren O’Donnell
“Some Kind of Hero” by Jason Allard
“Mirabelle Dances the Tango” by Marlana Patton
Excerpt from “Temporary Hauntings” by Craig Shaw Gardner
“Late Train” by Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald
“Fifty States” by James L. Cambias
“The Limited Utility of Sand Weasels” by Alexander Jablokov
“Little Monsters” by Jenise Aminoff
“Quintessence” by Jeanne Cavelos

Get more details (including the authors’ websites) and register for the event here: http://www.labellewinerynh.com/event-registration/?ee=551

A portion of the proceeds will go to support Odyssey.

Come and hear some great authors! Don’t miss this unique event!

Special Announcement: Online Classes for Winter 2015

**ODYSSEY WRITING WORKSHOPS ANNOUNCES INTENSIVE, LIVE, ONLINE CLASSES FOR WINTER 2015**

This winter, the Odyssey Writing Workshops Charitable Trust is offering three live online courses with the same high quality and rigorous approach as its acclaimed, in-person Odyssey workshop: Showing versus Telling in Fantastic Fiction, One Brick at a Time: Crafting Compelling Scenes, and Effective Endings in Speculative Fiction.

Since learning is an active process, all Odyssey Online courses involve live online class meetings, allowing students to ask questions and participate in discussions. Jeanne Online Class captureEach course is designed to provide intensive focus on a particular aspect of fiction writing. Challenging homework assignments allow students to practice new techniques, while feedback from the instructor and from classmates helps students to make strong improvements. Each student also has an individual meeting with the instructor. Courses provide a supportive yet challenging, energizing atmosphere, with class size limited to fourteen students. While courses are designed for adult writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror, interested writers of all genres are welcome to apply. Read more…

Special Announcement: Odyssey Podcasts #76 (Alex Jablokov) and #75 (Holly Black)

Jablokov Black podcastEvery month or two, the Odyssey Writing Workshop releases new podcasts created from excerpts from lectures given by guest writers, editors, and agents at the Odyssey Writing Workshop. Each one is ten to fifteen minutes long.

Our two newest podcasts feature authors and guest lecturers Alexander Jablokov (Brain Thief), from the 2014 summer workshop, and Holly Black (The Spiderwick Chronicles), from the 2013 summer workshop.  Alexander discusses how a character functions within a plot, and the many conventions authors use to present believable characters, while Holly explains how to create a magic system.

Other available podcasts include:

  • Carrie Vaughn: Goal-setting for writers (#38)
  • Lori Perkins: Agents, what they do, and what to look for in an agent (#37)
  • Sheila Williams: Qualities of short story openings (#74)
  • Nancy Holder: Short fiction and novel contracts; advances and royalties (#72 & #73)
  • Lane Robins: Outlining techniques (#64)
  • Craig Shaw Gardner: Writing humor in science fiction and fantasy (#18)
  • Melissa Scott: Worldbuilding techniques (#5 & #21)

These podcasts and many more are available for free on the OdboatcleanedupOdyssey Podcast page at http://www.sff.net/odyssey/podcasts.html.  Here you may browse and download podcasts, or subscribe to podcasts so you automatically receive them upon release.

Odyssey Podcasts can also be found in the iTunes store (for free): https://itunes.apple.com/podcast/odyssey-sf-f-writing-workshop/id213992784?mt=2.

Graduate’s Corner: The Six-Week Odyssey, by Arley Sorg

Odblog - Arley Sorg

Arley Sorg is a graduate of the 2014 Odyssey Writing Workshop.  He grew up in England, Hawaii, and Colorado.  He hangs out at SF/ Bay Area cafes.  He often writes about identity and society, using the context of horror, science fiction, fantasy, and all the cool stuff that blurs and blends.  He leans towards darker stories, but retains the right to defy expectations in any way he pleases.

For more:  http://arleysorg.com/


Most likely, you think you know something about writing.

Perhaps you have moments where you glide on the hot winds of elation, followed by crashes into complex canyons of doubt.

Whether you scribble stories into a secret notebook, or have published work that readers and writers praise, or anything in-between or beyond, you probably have more to learn than you think. Read more…

Graduate’s Corner: What is “Interstitial,” and Is It Contagious? by Ellen Denham

EllenHeadshot2014Ellen Denham, a 2006 Odyssey Writing Workshop graduate, is a multidisciplinary performing artist and writer completing a doctorate in music at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  Her publications include stories in Daily Science Fiction, the Sky Warrior Books anthology Gears and Levers 3, and most recently the Lightspeed special Women Destroy Science Fiction issue.

A member of the board of the Interstitial Arts Foundation, Ellen is at her most interstitial when she is combining her music and writing and collaborating with other artists, for instance, creating a comic soundscape from internet memes or an improvised score for dancing sentient mineral blobs, both of which occurred in projects she has directed at the  Indy Convergence. Read more at http://denham.virtualave.net.


(In our January post, Delia Sherman talked about her work with the Interstitial Arts Foundation. Some readers had questions about the nature of interstitial arts, so we asked Ellen to elucidate on the subject and tell us how it might intersect with writing.)

You may have come across the term “interstitial” used to describe writing or art.  In its most basic dictionary definition, interstitial means “relating to or situated in the interstices”–the small spaces in between things.  In an artistic sense, interstitial art is anything that is hard to define because it straddles or crosses boundaries of genre or artistic discipline, or falls outside of mainstream traditions.

Many books don’t fit neatly into one genre–for example, Susanna Clarke’s multiple award-winning Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.  Is it historical fiction?  Alternate history?  Fantasy?  I heard Clarke talk about this book at Worldcon in Glasgow in 2005, and as I recall, somewhere in the publishing or marketing process, a question arose about whether the book was fantasy.  “Of course it’s fantasy!  It has magicians and fairies in it!”  she had replied.  But the consciously old-fashioned writing style and extensive footnotes borrowed from mainstream literary traditions gave this book broad appeal to readers both inside and outside the fantasy genre. Read more…

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