Retreat to the French countryside for:
Time space and inspiration to write
Guidance from an acclaimed author
The support of other writers
Feedback on your writing
5 nights full board (with wine)
Country isolation with convivial hosts
A local visit (a swim in a lake, a market)
Airport transfer in France
Una McCormack is a New York Times bestselling author of science fiction. She has written over a dozen SF novels, as well as numerous short stories and audio dramas. She has a decade’s experience of teaching creative writing, and in 2017 she was a judge for the prestigious Arthur C. Clarke Award for the Best SF Novel published in the UK.
This course is for writers of speculative fiction (science fiction and fantasy). We give you the time and space you need to write in conducive surroundings, with the support of your informed and encouraging tutor. We recommend you to come to Le Verger (the orchard) with a firm idea of what you will be working on (e.g. a short story, a chapter of a novel), so that you can get to work immediately and have a productive stay.
Each morning we meet for an hour to discuss some aspect of writing speculative fiction (e.g. world-building, exposition, what if...), to read out work and get feedback, and to set goals for the day. Everyone writes to a different schedule (or none), so we leave this entirely up to you.
When you are not writing
You are free to join the couple of trips we make to a local market, or (in summer) the local lake. Or you can just take yourself off on well signposted walks to Le Puy des Ages (2 km), the chateau-forge of Savignac-Lédrier or the village bar (1.5km)…
Feedback on your writing
On two evenings, you are invited to share your work-in-progress informally with the group and receive constructive feedback.
£395 own room
£345 shared room
You’ll be accommodated in your own simple but comfortable room with a desk and lamp. ‘The Piggery’, a separate gite in the grounds, is suitable for two (or more) writers: it has a large open mezzanine space upstairs (4m x 6m’) with further accommodation below (5m x 6m’) separated by curtains. There is wifi in all the accommodation. Two Writer’s Cabins (3 x 3.5m and 3 x 3 m) each provide ‘rustic’ but comfortable individual accommodation (occupant uses main house bathroom). Subject to availability, writers may share accommodation in the main house with another writer or an accompanying partner.
*While we do our best to satisfy your accommodation request, please note that in the event that this is not possible, you will be offered the alternative at the advertised price.
Breakfast is on a help yourself basis and can be from as early (or late) as you require it. A simple buffet lunch will be laid out in the kitchen from 12:30-1:30. Tea- and coffee-making facilities are available whenever you require. A sit-down dinner with wine is served from 730PM and we encourage all writers to join the group for this (let us know on the Booking Form of dietary needs or other intolerances). Retreaters takes turns to cook one evening meal in small groups and clear away.
It is important you are all on the same outward and return Ryanair flight to Limoges to facilitate transfers to and from Le Verger. NB. Wait for us to let you know when you can go ahead and book your flight, and from which airport. Travellers by train can be picked up / dropped off at Limoges-Benedictins rail station at a time which coincides within an hour or so with airport collection/drop offs. We charge £12 per person each way for group airport pick ups and £15 each way for rail station pick ups. If you require a separate pick up or drop off, a local taxi costs 140-160 euros and we charge £80.
What to bring
We recommend you travel light. A warm jumper is recommended in all seasons – at the highest point in the Dordogne (410 m), even hot days can have cool evenings. All bedding and bath towels are provided (but please bring your own towel for swimming). You will have the chance to buy toiletries and personal dietary needs on arrival ( we provide vegetarian, gluten-free and soya alternatives). The nearest pharmacie is 7 km away (and costly) so please bring supplies of any personal medication you know you’ll need. Bring your own European plug adapter, and a torch if in a writer’s cabin.