After Laura Belmont finishes writing her first novel, she decides to quit her job and end the ten-year affair she’s had with her married boss. She packs her bags and heads off to The Clymer Workshop, one of the oldest writers’ conferences in the country, where she hopes to make a connection with one of the famous staff authors or a well-known literary agent and change her life forever.
Set in beautiful rural Western New York, Laura finds the Workshop anything but tranquil. The male writers on the staff are more interested in having sex with her than in her manuscript. Intense friendships and affairs blossom between the aspiring writers, while staff members worry that their reputations may be at risk, as well as their marriages. Anxiety builds as hopes dwindle, leaving Laura to think she’s made the wrong choice. Then something extraordinary happens that makes her change her mind.
I was born and raised in Buffalo, New York. Reading was my escape from the legendary Buffalo winters and probably contributed to my becoming a writer. While I was in graduate school at the University of Buffalo I began writing poetry, some of which was published in small literary magazines. The first sentence in my first novel Realities–My children are gambling–was the first line of a poem that grew into a novel.
To my knowledge, The Writers’ Conference is the only work of fiction I am aware of that looks at what I think of as “the writing industry,” the hundreds upon hundreds of conferences and seminars that have proliferated that lure in aspiring writers who hope they will make a connection that will help them get published. It wasn’t easy to tell this story. I worked on The Writers Conference for over twenty years, writing and revising, trying to get the balance right. The Writers’ Conference is intended for anyone who has ever entertained the idea of writing a book and for everyone who has ever wondered about the people who write them.
When I start a novel, I know the beginning and the end, but I have only a vague idea of what might happen between the start and the finish. For me it is an adventure, as I hope it is for the reader.
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