There’s something about Bowen Island that feeds the writer’s soul, and this magical place, a stone’s throw across the water from Horseshoe Bay, is central to the very existence of Pulp Literature.I first went there to write over a decade ago as part of Dale Adams Segal’s writing retreat through Langara. Her Hour Stories cards were a breakthrough for me, allowing me to muffle my harsh inner critic and revel in the joy of storytelling. And my early morning walks through the quiet, misty woods near Snug Cove allowed me to empty my mind and let stories pour in. Without that retreat, I’m not sure I would ever have written a novel — or even another short story.
A year later I returned to The Lodge at the Old Dorm with some of the attendees, and we hosted our own informal retreat. There, curled up on the luxurious bed in the Lady Cecilia room, I wrote the first lines of Allaigna’s Song: “If you walk down the grand staircase of Castle Osthegn, you will see a family portrait …”
If I hadn’t mentioned that writing holiday to Mel — who has lived on Bowen much of her life — I would never have known she was a writer too, she would not have introduced me to Sue, and the three of us would never have begun writing together using the Hour Stories. Our writing sessions together have produced the drafts of all three Allaigna novels, the delightful Stella Ryman and the Fairmount Manor Mysteries series, Mel’s new mystery series The Seven Swans (see Issue 9!), Sue’s captivating historical novel about Esther, and many of the exquisite short stories you see from her in the pages of Pulp Literature.
But perhaps the largest creation to emerge from one of our writing sessions was the magazine itself. After a productive morning writing at Mel’s place on Bowen, the idea for Pulp Literature sprang almost fully formed: like Venus rising from the sea below the sunny deck where we drank our beer and supped on the inspiration of trees and wind and ocean.
Maybe Pulp Lit could have been born in Sue’s welcoming home, or my chaotic one, or even on the ethernet waves of Skype where we meet so often. But I tend to think the vital spark came from the magic of the island itself. Which is why we held our first Year of the Muse Retreat there this year, and why I’m so delighted to be returning in January 2016.
Fellow writers, I hope you’ll join us at the place where it all began, to steep your writing in the magic of Bowen.
The Muse Revisited
An all-inclusive writers retreat surrounded by natural beauty, with gourmet meals, luxurious rooms, and good company.
The Lodge at the Old Dorm
Bowen Island BC
8 – 10 January 2016
The writing table. Photo by Rosie Perera