Sarah Brand is the author of "Perchance to Dream," one of the stories included in the Athena's Daughters Vol 2 SF anthology. In this, Sarah's first published story, Maya has the gruesome task of disposing of the bodies in a terrible plague, but begins to suspect that for some of the victims--including her childhood friend Elise--death may not have been the end.
Every writer's journey is different, and Sarah's has included being part of a workshop for young genre writers. While many of us in the SF/F community are aware of Clarion, VP, Milford and Odyssey, we may not have heard of this amazing resource for up-and-coming younger writers, so I asked Sarah to share her experience.
You went to the Alpha Workshop for Young Writers. Describe the workshop for those who aren't familiar with workshops or that one in particular. What effect did attending have on you and your writing?
Alpha is a ten-day residential workshop for teenagers who write science fiction, fantasy, or horror, which has been held every summer since 2002 in Pittsburgh, PA. Each year, four guests—authors or sometimes editors—instruct students in the craft and business of writing. Tamora Pierce teaches every year. This year’s additional guests will be Ellen Kushner, Delia Sherman, and Alaya Dawn Johnson. Past guests have included Scott Westerfeld, Justine Larbalestier, Holly Black, Timothy Zahn, and many other amazing professionals.
I went to Alpha for the first time in 2006 and met many other writers my age. I knew one or two back home, but here were nineteen others, all in one place, all excited to meet the author guests and learn more about telling stories. (And, of course, how to get those stories published.) I remember the stories they wrote, even now: one about a banyan tree, with beautiful visuals; one space opera caper with banter galore; and one from our self-proclaimed “token horror writer” that still makes me shudder a bit. During readings at Barnes & Noble, both the author guests and some of the students read from their work. We didn’t sleep much, which in my case resulted in collapsing in hysterical giggles during one of the last lectures. (Nobody minded much.) We learned how to give and to receive critiques.
That was almost nine years ago. Since then, I’ve been to Alpha once more as a student and four more times as a staff member. I’ve directed the annual fundraiser for Alpha’s scholarship fund several times because I don’t want anyone to miss out on Alpha just because of a lack of funds. I’ve written two novels, with my friends from Alpha cheering me on—and equally importantly, critiquing my drafts—at every step. I’ve sold my first short story, which will appear in Athena’s Daughters II.
Most importantly, I’ve met dozens of amazing writers whom I never would have known otherwise. Not just the author guests, although they’re always incredibly cool, but also the students who come through the workshop and blow me away with their talent year after year. They’re intelligent, engaged, and incredibly creative, and they are the future of speculative fiction.
One of the many reasons I’m so happy to be included in Athena’s Daughters II is that Silence in the Library is all about supporting the future of speculative fiction… including, I suppose, me. You can check out the Kickstarter for Athena’s Daughters II here, and you can learn more about Alpha at the workshop’s website.
Thanks, Sarah, for sharing with us!
You can learn more abut Sarah Brand and her writing at her web site.