This six-week course will focus on shaping research, family stories, and other source materials into a form that will appeal to a contemporary reader. We will focus on the emotional development of your characters, as well as setting, scene, and dialogue, to bring fresh language to situations and characters. Sensory detail draws the reader into the story, but we must also empathize with the characters and fully inhabit their worlds. One of the most successful genres in both commercial and literary publishing today, readers of all ages find a well-imagined historical novel irresistible.
We will end by discussing how to approach an agent or editor, cover letters, the synopsis, and possible markets.
Instructor: Kathleen Alcalá’s trilogy on nineteenth century Mexico was published by Chronicle Books: Spirits of the Ordinary, The Flower in the Skull, and Treasures in Heaven. Her work has received the Western States Book Award, the Governor's Writers Award, a Pacific Northwest Bookseller's Award, and a Washington State Book Award. A co-founder and contributing editor to The Raven Chronicles, Kathleen has been a writer in residence at Richard Hugo House and was permanent faculty in the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts MFA Program on Whidbey Island. Kathleen is also the author of a short story collection, Mrs. Vargas and the Dead Naturalist, The Desert Remembers My Name, essays on family and writing, and most recently, The Deepest Roots: Finding Food and Community on a Pacific Northwest Island from the University of Washington Press.