Today, I present something different. I welcome a good friend of mine who has been one of my biggest supporters - Elaine Ouston. Elaine and colleague, Ron, have recently opened a centre for writers in the hinterland of a beautiful part of Australia. Elaine is not only highly qualified, she is also an author herself, and one of the nicest people in the publishing industry - an absolute gem.
Welcome, Elaine ...
What is the Gondor Writers Centre?
It is a writers retreat located on a quiet country property set in the foothills of the Sunshine Coast hinterland. Here, writers can gather in an inspiring setting to learn how to hone their craft. An exciting group of popular authors will teach them how to be a successful author.
The workshop building is set on 16 acres and surrounded by trees and flowering shrubs. It is a wonderfully relaxing environment, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The loudest sound we hear most days is the call of the many birds that surround us. Some days we look out the window and find a wallaby grazing on the rise behind the house. They are always in our front paddock. Deer roam the area and often visit. The property has a resident koala population. We rarely see them, but sometimes they come to the trees close to the house. The peace and tranquillity of the property enhances the learning experience.
Why did you call the property Gondor?
I named our writing centre Gondor after the world in The Lord of the Rings. To me that book is the epitome of creativity and even the name inspires me. I hope it will work the same for others.
Tell us how the idea came about?
I was running workshops in suburban Rockhampton, and they were very successful. Many of my students went on to win competitions and become published authors, but mowers next door, noisy traffic, and people shouting out on the street were constant interruptions. I dreamed of having a quiet secluded place where writers could sit in peace and not have their thoughts interrupted by these distractions. When we decided to move closer to Brisbane, we looked for such a place and were lucky enough to find it.
Why do writers need to take courses in writing?
As a publisher and editor, I am always reading manuscripts from aspiring writers. Most of them have a great imagination and an interesting story to tell, but there is much lacking in the writing. To be successful as an author, you have to know how to hook the reader from the first page and keep them glued to the story for the whole book. The ways to do this are skills that can be learned. I saw the need for some reasonably priced workshops to help writers become the best that they could be.
Your new in-house workshops sound fantastic. Can you tell us more?
The workshops cover everything that a writer needs to know. They start at how to develop an idea into a story and continue on to how to get published. As well as this valuable knowledge, many guest authors will share information on their particular genre.
Can you name drop some presenters you have lined up for 2015?
While Ron’s and my workshops cover all technical aspects of writing, I wanted to offer my participants more. I am very lucky to have amongst my friends many amazing writers. When I approached them to come to our centre and share the information they have of their particular genre or knowledge of the industry, they agreed.
The list includes Paul Collins (fantasy creation and world building), Michael Gerard Bauer (writing humour), Marianne de Pierres (How to find and agent), Meredith Costain (writing for early readers/the education market), Aleesah Darlison (picture books), Charmaine Clancy (writing scary stories for children), Annie Seaton (writing romance).
What are you most proud of with this valuable service?
Being able to mentor writers, by helping them learn the craft.
Any other essential resources (besides Gondor Writers Centre) you would recommend for writers/illustrators?
I recommend taking workshops wherever they can to learn the important skills needed, joining a writer’s group in their area and belonging to their state writers’ centre. Also, attending as many writing festival and conventions that they can, to mix with like-minded people and meet the heavyweights in the business.
Do your presenters offer a quick assessment of a 'work in progress?
Some workshop participants have asked if the presenters would do a quick assessment of their 'work-in-progress'. Unfortunately, there is not time for all attendees to be given this privilege, but we have come up with a way around this.
Our future workshops will include an opportunity for 4 lucky winners to have their manuscript assessed by our exciting presenters and one to win a FREE workshop!
Go to the website to see more.
How can we learn more?
Please phone 07 54 981 332 if you have any queries.
Clancy's comment: Mm ... It must be of a very high calibre with presenters like Paul Collins, Michael Gerard Bauer and Aleesah Darlison. I would highly recommend this centre for any aspiring or emerging author, and would be there in a flash, given half the opportunity. Trust me, folks. Nothing better than spending time with colleagues who have already been through the mill. But, even better when it's done in a wonderful environment.