Odyssey Writing Workshop: A Life-Changing Educational Experience

Picture1About Odyssey

Over its 25-year history, the Odyssey Writing Workshop has become known as one of the most effective programs in the world for writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror. Graduates commonly describe Odyssey as inspiring and transformative and say they learned more in their 6 weeks at Odyssey than they did in “3 years of creative writing classes” or “an entire MFA program” or “30 years of reading the ‘How to Write’ books.” Fifty-nine percent of Odyssey’s graduates have gone on to professional publication, and they include award winners, Amazon bestsellers, and New York Times bestsellers. Continue reading “Odyssey Writing Workshop: A Life-Changing Educational Experience”

Interview: Guest Lecturer JG Faherty

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJG Faherty will be a guest lecturer at this summer’s Odyssey Workshop. A life-long resident of New York’s haunted Hudson Valley, JG is the author of seven novels, ten novellas, and more than seventy-five short stories, and he’s been a finalist for both the Bram Stoker Award (The Cure, Ghosts of Coronado Bay) and ITW Thriller Award (The Burning Time). He writes adult and YA horror, science fiction, dark fantasy, and paranormal romance, and his works range from quiet, dark suspense to over-the-top comic gruesomeness.

Since 2011, JG has been a Board Trustee for the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and a Mentor. He launched their Young Adult program, and also their Library & Literacy program, which he still runs. Recently, he co-founded the HWA’s Summer Scares reading initiative in conjunction with Becky Spratford and several library organization, and he teaches local teen writing programs at libraries. In 2019, he was recognized with the Mentor of the Year Award by the HWA.

As a child, his favorite playground was a seventeenth-century cemetery, which many people feel explains a lot. You can follow him at www.twitter.com/jgfaherty, www.facebook.com/jgfaherty, and www.jgfaherty.com.


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?

The focus of my lecture will be how horror is the most basic and integral genre, and how it affects and entwines with all the other genres, such as science fiction, thrillers, romance, etc. But in terms of what I can personally offer outside of that, I always try to impart on my students the idea that no story is finished until it’s officially in print. That means there’s ample opportunity during the writing and editing processes to pursue alternate plot lines and endings, add and delete scenes, and even cut characters who don’t drive the plot forward. My advice is, always be willing to try different things with a story and remember that it’s okay to ‘kill your babies.’ Continue reading “Interview: Guest Lecturer JG Faherty”

Interview: Graduate & Odyssey Online Instructor Donna Glee Williams

Donna Glee headshot2011 Odyssey graduate and Odyssey Online instructor Donna Glee Williams was born in Mexico, the daughter of a Kentucky farm-girl and a Texas Aggie large-animal veterinarian. She’s been a lot of places; now she makes her home in the mountains of western North Carolina, but the place she lived the longest and still calls home is New Orleans. These days, she earns her daily bread by writing and helping other writers bring their creative visions to light, but in the past she’s done the dance as turnabout crew (aka, “maid”) on a schooner, as a librarian, as an environmental activist, as a registered nurse, as a teacher and seminar leader, and for a long stint as a professional student. The craft societies in her novels The Braided Path (Edge, 2014) and Dreamers (Edge, 2016) owe a lot to the time she’s spent hanging out in villages in Mexico, Spain, Iceland, Norway, Croatia, Italy, Israel, Turkey, India, and Pakistan. As a finalist in the 2015 Roswell Short Science Fiction Awards, her short story “Saving Seeds” was performed onstage in Hollywood by Jasika Nicole. Her speculative fiction has been recognized by Honorable Mentions from both the Writers of the Future competition and Gardner Dozois’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction collection. She earned an MFA and PhD from Louisiana State University, knows how to brain-tan a deer hide, drives a stick-shift, and has eaten roadkill more than once.


You attended the Odyssey Writing Workshop in 2011. How do you feel your writing and writing process changed as a result of having attended Odyssey?

Odyssey is like the Big Bang: it’s hard to imagine a state before it. But imagination is what we are all about, so here goes. I’d been writing all my life—my first poem in second grade—in a sort of scattershot way: introspective contemporary realist fiction, poetry, journalism, scholarship, song lyrics, and random acts of drama. Odyssey focused my energies like a gigantic magnifying glass in the sun. It was an intensive professional induction to the specific genre that had first wooed me to words. I treasured the personal conversations, conferences, and small-group lunches with Odyssey Director Jeanne Cavelos. That summer I was in the middle of selling my first novel, The Braided Path, over the transom to Edge, and Jeanne coached me in how to use the offer on the table to get an agent. Richard Curtis not only represented me for the arrangements on The Braided Path, but also applied his fine editorial eye to getting Dreamers ready to sell. Continue reading “Interview: Graduate & Odyssey Online Instructor Donna Glee Williams”

Interview: Craig Shaw Gardner

Craig Shaw Gardner will be a guest lecturer at this summer’s Odyssey Writing Workshop. He sold his first short story in 1977, and began writing full time in 1987. He has published over thirty novels ranging from his first, A Malady of Magics, to the Changeling War fantasy trilogy, written by “Peter Garrison,” to the horror novel Dark Whispers, written by “Chris Blaine.” Along the way, he’s done a number of media tie-ins, one of which–the novelization of Batman–became a New York Times bestseller. He’s also the author of more than forty short horror and fantasy stories, which have mostly appeared in original anthologies. Gardner has also served as both President and Trustee for the Horror Writers Association.


You write a lot of horror, but you also write humorous and epic fantasy. How do your techniques and approaches change when you write in these different genres?

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Interview: Gary A. Braunbeck

Gary A. Braunbeck will be the writer-in-residence at this summer’s Odyssey Writing Workshop.He was born in Newark, Ohio (the city that serves as the model for the fictitious Cedar Hill in a majority of his novels and stories) and wrote his first story in the seventh grade at St. Francis de Sales Catholic School. It wasn’t very good. He wrote his next one while still in the seventh grade. It was much better, but it also bought him several sessions with both a psychologist and a priest. Skipping ahead several decades, he has published 25 books, over 200 short stories, and co-edited two anthologies. Though he is best known as a writer of horror and dark fantasy, he has also published in the fields of mystery, suspense, science fiction, fantasy, bizarro, western, and mainstream literature. His 25th book, To Each Their Darkness, a non-fiction memoir/ writer’s guide, will be published in December of 2010 by Apex Books. His work has won numerous awards, including five Bram Stoker Awards, an International Horror Guild Award, three Shocklines “Shocker” Awards, a Dark Scribe Magazine Black Quill Award, and a World Fantasy Award nomination. His short story “Rami Temporalis,” was turned into the Parsec Award-winning short film “One of Those Faces” by director Earl Newton. Gary currently lives in Worthington, Ohio, with his wife, Bram Stoker Award-winning poet and novelist Lucy A. Snyder, a guilty conscience, and five cats that do not hesitate to draw blood when he neglects to feed them on time.

Once you started writing seriously, how long did it take you to sell your first piece? What were you doing wrong in your writing in those early days?

Continue reading “Interview: Gary A. Braunbeck”

Interview: Christopher Golden

Christopher Golden will be a guest lecturer at this summer’s Odyssey Writing Workshop. He is the award-winning, bestselling author of such novels as Of Saints and Shadows, The Myth Hunters, The Boys Are Back in Town, and Strangewood. He has also written books for teens and young adults, including When Rose Wakes, Soulless, Poison Ink, and the upcoming The Secret Journeys of Jack London, co-authored with Tim Lebbon. Golden and Lebbon are presently adapting the first novel in the series as a screenplay for Fox. In 2010, Ace Books is reprinting his groundbreaking Peter Octavian novel series, beginning with Of Saints and Shadows, and leading up to the publication of a brand new Octavian novel, Waking Nightmares, in 2011.

Once you started writing seriously, how long did it take you to sell your first piece? What were you doing wrong in your writing in those early days?

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Interview: Michael Arnzen

Michael Arnzen will be a guest lecturer at this summer’s Odyssey workshop. He has been publishing outrageous horror fiction, SF, poetry, literary criticism, instructional essays on writing, and offbeat humor since 1989. Across his career, Arnzen has won four Bram Stoker Awards, an International Horror Guild Award, and several “Year’s Best Horror Story” accolades and reprints. His novels include Play Dead and Grave Markings. The best of his short stories and poems are collected in Proverbs for Monsters, which won the Bram Stoker Award in 2007. Always the experimentalist, his writing has appeared on Palm Pilots and postcards, short art films (“Exquisite Corpse”) and creepy online animation. His novel Play Dead even inspired a deck of custom-designed playing cards.

When he’s not writing, Arnzen teaches suspense and horror writing fulltime in the MFA degree program in Writing Popular Fiction at Seton Hill University, near Pittsburgh, PA. He holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Oregon, where he studied “the uncanny” in popular culture, as well as an M.A. in English from the University of Idaho, where he wrote his second novel. Arnzen sits on the editorial board for two literary journals associated with genre fiction (Paradoxa and Dissections) and has edited college literary magazines and more. He is presently working on a guidebook for authors, a book of literary criticism, and several horror titles.

Arnzen taught humor in fantasy at Odyssey in 2007 and students had a lot of laughs. Look for “Stripping Away the Mask”—his essay on crafting horrifying scenes in fiction—in the recently published book, The Writer’s Workshop of Horror (Woodland Press, 2009).

Once you started writing seriously, how long did it take you to sell your first piece? What were you doing wrong in your writing in those early days?

Continue reading “Interview: Michael Arnzen”