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Wednesday, 04 May 2016 22:23

Day Three of Retreat - Visiting Author Sandy Vaile

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This time around on our writing retreat two of our authors, Rowena Holloway and Sandy Vaile, drove all the way from Adelaide to join us.

In addition to giving author talks in Port Augusta and Port Pirie on their way over, these two published suspense authors ran a lively workshop for members of Port Lincoln’s Eyre Writers on the Saturday prior to the start of the retreat.

On Sunday they gave a combined presentation at the Port Lincoln library, entertaining listeners with accounts of their journeys to publication, with trailers and readings from their books.

I met these two fabulous authors at the Salisbury Writers Festival years ago and since then we’ve attended several conferences together, including the 2010 Willamette Writers Festival in Portland Oregon.

It’s great having them both here on retreat – a rare chance for us all to catch up. I’ve asked them each to give an account of their experience here and first up we’ll hear from Sandy, author of Inheriting Fear.

Hi, I’m Sandy Vaile and it’s been four years since I last joined Diane and her critiquing group for a writing retreat. It’s a precious gift to spend a week in relative isolation. Quiet time from dawn until dusk, to nurture those creative juices and let them shape my latest work in progress.

I don’t sleep well at the best of times, so am awake long before sunrise, and busy at my keyboard by 5 am. I leave the lights in the writing hall off and work by candle-light. A dark cocoon where only the characters on the page matter.

When the sun finally makes an appearance, the view from my writing table is spectacular. I am positioned in front of a huge window in the hall, overlooking the rugged beach and Tumby Bay. A sly rabbit sneaks onto the beach when it thinks no-one is watching, sniffs around the seaweed drifts, and then bounds back to the safety of the sand hills.

The weather isn’t quite what I was hoping for, with howling wind and squalling rain, but it’s a good excuse to stay inside and write. Every now and then the clouds are blown away and the sun brightens this special place for a while. That’s when I take advantage of the rugged coast for a walk with my friends: exercise, mind clearing and a valuable brainstorming session in one.

The ocean surge struggles to scale the slight incline of the beach. It foams with the effort, and just when it’s near to the peak, is torn back to the grey depths. A good simile for novel creation, I think.

The atmosphere is relaxed, with people coming and going from the writing hall at their leisure. The arrangement has to be flexible, because writing is a culmination of activities, not purely the act of sitting at the keyboard. It involves reading, researching, brainstorming, problem solving, communing with the muse, and dialogue with mates.

Today I made a vat of Orange Delight soup for a communal lunch, and it went down a treat.

Orange Delight Soup

1 onion
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 litre stock (vegetable or chicken)
½ pumpkin
½ cauliflower
2 carrots
½ sweet potato
1 can coconut milk

Dice the onion finely, and sauté them in a large pot until semi-translucent. Add the spices and stir for a minute. Pour in the stock. Peel and dice the vegetables, and add to the pot. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 20 minutes (or until the vegetables are tender). Add the coconut milk and white pepper to taste. Puree the soup and serve with a crusty roll.

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