Spain Remembers

Spain Remembers

Friday, January 27, 2012

Hello Joan,
Here is a great opportunity for NOWW (Northwestern Ontario Writers' Workshop) members.

Please see below for an interesting opportunity to participate in an online course with NOWW's 2012 fiction judge, Matthew J. Trafford. And stay tuned to the NOWW website ( for the official contest rules and entry forms, judge's bios, and more! 
The Grounded Fantastic with Matthew J. Trafford

Course Dates: Mondays and Tuesdays, from February 6 to March 20
Note: this is an online course suitable for students in any time zone.
Price: $500 (for 7 weeks)
Limited to 8 students

Pasha Malla, author of The Withdrawal Method, on “magic realism”:
What does that mean? Shouldn’t all fiction have some magic in it, and shouldn’t every fictional world feel real? – Toronto Star, January 1st, 2012

As short story writers we strive to invent fictional worlds that will become real for our readers, by creating believable characters in real situations and including details from the world around us. Even though real life brings strange coincidences, bizarre new technologies, and experiences that can’t be conventionally or scientifically explained, all too often we shy away from letting anything “unrealistic” happen in our stories, for fear of being labelled weird or relegated to the category of genre fiction.
Yet imagination and innovation are two of the most powerful tools a writer possesses, and most readers enjoyed fairy tales and legends before works of literature. Even Shakespeare wrote about witches and sorcerers; even Dickens and Brontë wrote about ghosts. In fact, elements of magic, miracle, and the fantastic have been part of human story telling forever.

THE GROUNDED FANTASTIC seeks to bridge these seemingly disparate elements of fact and fancy, to create stories that stretch the imagination but ring true to the mind and the human heart. If you have ever stopped yourself from writing something because it felt too outlandish or outrageous, if you have ever longed to write outside the confines of mundane daily reality, this is the course for you.

In this seven-week course, writers will read some of the most excellent contemporary short stories that contain elements of the fantastic yet use the tools and craft of realism. We will analyze and discuss these stories, and explore the various techniques writers use to bring the so-called unreal – miracles, myths, mysteries, and magic – to function in otherwise realistic stories. We will discover questions we can ask ourselves during the editing process to ensure our fictional worlds are complete and awe-inspiring, and feel familiar no matter how strange. In addition to weekly readings and discussions, each student will submit a story to be edited by the instructor and a peer from the class.

Matthew J. Trafford’s story, “The Divinity Gene,” about a devout scientist who clones Christ with disastrous results, first appeared in Darwin’s Bastards, Astounding Tales from Tomorrow. A year later he published a collection of short fiction by the same name, which Lee Henderson declared “the debut of a new folktale-juggler king,” and compared to writers such as Italo Calvino, Steven Millhauser, Sheila Heti, and Tao Lin. In 2013 he will publish a novel called The Tworphins, about identical twins and the afterlife.

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