The first Guardian Masterclass residential weekend at Voewood is to be an induction into the jourmey of becoming an author from scratch. In the sublime setting of one of Britain's finest Arts & Crafts mansions, rare book dealer and host Simon Finch and Booker Prize-winning author DBC Pierre aim to inspire participants with the art they have inside them, and send them away with all the tools needed to bring it out.
DBC Pierre became the first person to win both a Booker and Whitbread Prize for the same novel, his first, written without a literary background, and with no long-held aspiration to write. He started with nothing more than a feeling, and forged his own keys the hard way. This ground-breaking residential weekend aims to induct new writers into the mysteries and practicalities of writing publishable fiction from scratch. From Friday evening to Sunday afternoon DBC Pierre will not only shed light into the depths where art lives inside us – even showing how our worst qualities can be rocket fuel for writing – but to provide a toolbox of practical secrets and formulas with which to breathe fire into any novel or story. While it's said that writers fall into two categories – magical channelers or technicians – this course proposes that both natures should exist in good fiction, and sets out to deal with the hard decisions both will demand on an empty page.
"History's best novels were probably not only never finished but never started," says Pierre, adding that the course will involve no writing or critique for participants, aiming instead to arm them for their own journeys ahead. The weekend will be broken into seven informal modules set in Voewood's sublime salons and grounds:
1. An induction into the crucible of writing, its energies and their management.
2. Art and architecture: the notion of the novel as a house for the spirit; how to separate the two natures and use our moods and seasons to the best advantage of each.
3. Character: who will live in our work, will they drive the plot or be driven? How to make compelling characters.
4. Voice: who can best tell our story – the advantages and shortcomings of different voices.
5. Plotting and tension: how to capture readers and propel them through our work. The secrets of successful plotting.
6. Dialogue: the keys to natural dialogue and its use in driving a story.
7. A final poisoning: how to add life and venom, drawing technique and spirit together into a page-turning whole.
DBC Pierre was born in Reynella, South Australia. He was raised in Mexico between the ages of seven and twenty-three, although he has also travelled extensively. DBC Pierre has worked as a designer and cartoonist, and currently lives in County Leitrim, Ireland. Vernon God Little, his first novel, won the 2003 Bollinger Everyman Woodhouse Award, the Whitbread Prize for Best First Novel, and the 2003 Man Booker Prize. He is the author of Ludmila's Broken English (2006) and Lights Out in Wonderland (Sept 2010).
Voewood, built by E S Prior for Rev Percy Lloyd between 1903 and 1905, is one of only three butterfly houses in Norfolk, so-called because of the central body and wings. Built by local craftsmen, the house combines conrete, flint and stone in rich profusion to decorate one of the finest houses of the Arts & Crafts movement.
The house can provide accommodation for up to 32 people in 14 bedrooms. There are 7 bathrooms. The Main Hall is large enough for an event of over 100 people. The large lead-light doors open onto the handsome terrace from where steps and paths lead down to the sunken gardens. The grounds are varied and extensive, and include a rose garden and a walled garden planted with persimmons, greengages, plums, pears, apples and grape vines. Laid out when the house was built, these gardens are Grade I listed and provide a stunning backdrop for all occasions.
When & Where
Welcome to Guardian masterclasses – a unique programme of learning embedded within one of the world's most forward-thinking media organisations.
Masterclasses offer a broad range of short and long courses across a variety of disciplines from creative writing, journalism, photography and design, film and digital media, music and cultural appreciation.
Harnessing the expertise and specialisms within the organisation, our courses are led by first class and award winning guardian professionals whilst also drawing on the skills and expertise of other leading figures at the forefront of the creative and digital industries.
The programme is aimed at anyone interested in personal or professional development whether that be refining your skills, focusing your ambition or simply broadening your mind and gaining inspiration.