Kelly Dwyer will be teaching two workshops in June this summer: "Writing the Popular Novel (In Any Genre)" and "Five Elements of the Novel" as well as two workshops in July: "Plotting the Novel" and "Flash Fiction in a Flash: Writing (And Submitting) Publishable Flash Fiction." Keep reading for her Q&A! 😎🐄
Q) Where are you from?
A) I’m originally from San Pedro, California, in Los Angeles County, but I’ve lived most of my adult life in the Midwest. My family (husband, daughter, pug) and I have lived outside Madison, Wisconsin for many years in a small town called Baraboo, but this year are living in Madison proper.
Q) What do you write?
A) I’m editing my third novel now, which is a psychological ghost story titled GHOST MOTHER. I also write plays, flash fiction, and articles about women and middle-aged, which is my way of dealing with mortality. (Wait a minute. Isn’t all writing a way of dealing with mortality?)
Q) You’re stuck on a desert island with one book, which is it?
A) The smart-ass answer that first comes to my mind is, How to Get the Hell off a Desert Island. Or perhaps, How to Survive on a Desert Island for Dummies. Maybe there are ways to squeeze water from cacti? But I suppose you probably mean, what single book would nurture me in my endless solitude? The Complete Works of Shakespeare would provide an awful lot of nourishment—also stimulation, comfort, and wisdom. But maybe The Collected Novels of Jane Austen would be more fun? I’m a Pisces, which means I’m really wishy-washy and really dreamy. I’d probably choose the Shakespeare, wish I’d chosen the Austen, and die of thirst in two days anyway.
Q) What’s your favorite type of flower?
A) I really do not want to say a rose because the answer is so clichéd, and I do love peonies and bougainvillea, but you just can’t beat the scent or symbolism of a rose. What other flower looks so beautiful, smells so redolent, and has thorns that can literally kill you (did you know Rilke died of being pricked by a rose thorn? Granted he did have leukemia), and means LOVE? I mean, it’s hard for me to choose a different flower.
Q) What can prospective students expect from your class?
A) I design my classes with this thought in mind: If I were someone who had two weeks’ vacation a year, a certain amount of money, and/or a certain amount of time to spend away from my family, what would I want to get out of this workshop? Personally, I’d want to spend my time writing as much as possible, learning as much as possible, and enjoying Iowa City and my fellow writers. So my participants spend their free time writing rather than reading each other’s work, and they return with pages, outlines, and strategies on how to keep going once they’re home. I want my students to be successful—whatever that means to them (often it means someday-published, but sometimes it simply means conquering the blank screen or page, or seeing through an idea to the end), so I try to gear my workshops to those types of individual goals as well. Also, we have an awful lot of fun in my classes and laugh a lot. (Is that bragging? So be it: I’m bragging. My classes are fun!)
Q) What's your favorite part of Iowa City and the #ISWFestival?
A) My favorite part of Iowa City and the #ISWFestival is the magical feeling you have as soon as you enter Iowa City, as soon as you begin the festival, that anything could happen: you could write the best thing you’ve ever written. You could see old friends and make new ones—and all of these friends GET the world of writing, they GET you. You could have an amazing group of students/fellow writers. You could be truly inspired. All you have to do is be open, and put one word after another, and you will leave a better writer and a more contented and more stimulated person than when you came. For this reason, for many adult writers, Disneyland isn’t the happiest place on earth: It’s Iowa City.

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