Big writing conferences are always held in nondescript conference centers. You know the type I mean: beige walls, mild, unoffensive curtains and carpeting, everything designed to fade into the background. Unlike bookstores, which are wild with color, or libraries that ooze character and history, these conference centers feel at odds with what we know to be wonderful about literature: a memorable voice, striking imagery, attention-grabbing details. Conference centers are specifically designed to act like a blank canvas to keep the focus on the subject of the conference. We understand what makes these places functional. But at first, these environments feel like they can never match richness of our literary imaginations. “Am I in the right place?” we ask ourselves as we make our way from the parking lot to the registration desk. “Is this really the place where I’m going to learn how to make my book the best it can be?” Continue reading
Lucy Silag is the new Community and Engagement Manager at Book Country. She’s worked as a bookseller (at Bookshop Santa Cruz, an indie out in Northern California), in book publicity (at Doubleday and Spiegel & Grau, two imprints of Penguin Random House) and as a writing teacher and tutor (at the University of Iowa in Iowa City). Lucy is the author of the Beautiful Americans trilogy of novels for young adults, and has written essays, travel articles, and book reviews for newspapers and magazines.
Hi there! The importance of a writing community became clear to me when I was a fiction student at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, so I am thrilled to be a part of this thriving, diverse writing community.
I figured the best way for me to introduce myself to BC writers and readers was to tell everybody about a couple of the books that I am really, really into, and why.
At the University of Iowa, I taught a lot of different types of writing. One semester I chose to teach Emma in a creative writing course. This was selfish—I just wanted an excuse to spend a month talking about Jane Austen. Like all Austen fans, I adore her turns of phrase and the sweeping romance of her novels. But I especially like Emma because of the way it is plotted—if you do a timeline of the events in the novel (as we did one morning in my class), you see how amazing Austen was at engaging the reader in multiple storylines at once. Also, I find Mr. Woodhouse’s hypochondria totally tragic. Most of the screen adaptations tend to mock this element in his character, but in the most recent BBC Emma miniseries (the one with Romola Garai), Mr. Woodhouse is the heartbreaker that I think Austen intended him to be.