This past September, I signed up for my first writer’s conference. It was the easiest decision to make once I discovered the destination – the beautiful city of Matera, in Italy’s southern region of Basilicata.
I had been to Matera over a decade ago, with my Italian husband who looked at me oddly when I suggested the trip and said “Matera? Why on earth do you want to go to Matera?” It took him all of one minute in that amazing town to look at me and say those wonderful three words a woman always loves to hear from the man in her life: “You were right”. : )
So I was pleased that my first writer’s conference gave me the possibility to go back to a place I had loved so much and was eager to see again. If possible, Matera was even more beautiful than I remembered it. Matera’s historic center is made up entirely of cave homes, carved into the soft tufa stone. I stayed in a cave hotel, I wrote on my lovely balcony, with its stunning view over the breathtaking Sasso Caveoso, and I walked up goodness knows how many stairs wandering aimlessly around the streets – the only way to explore this marvellous town – and visiting the splendid ruspian churches.
And the conference? It was truly inspiring. I loved being in an environment of such interesting women – who all loved reading and writing as much as I do. It was easy to start up conversations and there were lots of social events set up to facilitate mingling: brunch, cocktails, dinner, a walking tour of the town. The seminars – in English and Italian and translated by a talented team of interpreters – covered a wide range of topics: pitching, the role of literary agents, e-books, brainstorming, social media and topics specific to genres, such as romance and thrillers. It was all a wonderful learning experience for me.
There were interesting author talks, including an Italian author whose works I enjoy, Margaret Mazzantini. Agents and editors were on hand and, and, although my manuscript was not completed when I attended and, therefore, I did not take place in the pitching session, I did have some nice, informal chats with agents over a glass of wine and learned so much.
Now I’m getting around to signing up for my second year. This year’s fiction festival will be held 27 – 30 September 2012 and I will be sure to be back, for my annual dose of literature, enjoyable company, knowledge about the publishing industry and memorable walks around stunning Matera. Oh, and how could I forget the wonderful food and wine? Hope to see you there! You can learn about the Matera festival or register at the web site: