Swanwick 2015: And The Winner Is…


Well, here we are again! And for those of you who, like me, think we’ve only just had Christmas, you’ve missed seven months of the year and  we really are in August once again! And if it’s August, it must be Swanwick.

And the big news of today is that the Quaich was awarded this year to the wonderful Lois Maddox for all the incredible work she does in organising and running the Book Room each year. Well done, Lois!

Daily Interviews

I’ve been posting a daily blog from Swanwick for the past few years – and this time, I’ve decided to do a series of interviews: thoughts and comments from a variety of people spending their week here at the Hayes.

Now, my intention was to pre-plan everything, send out all the questions in advance, get most of my answers on file – and be fully prepared for today. Well, guess what? It didn’t happen! I’ve got my questions sorted out and my victims, I mean my interviewees, all lined up. But I didn’t quite get as far as putting the two together, So the real interviews will start from tomorrow. But in the meantime, how about starting off by chatting with the Swanwick Newsletter Editor? (Okay, so I know that’s me, but I’m hoping no-one will notice I’m talking to myself.) So here goes…

Kate McCormick, what do you write?

As well as editing the Swanwick Newsletter and Chudleigh Phoenix, our town’s community magazine, I write fiction (short stories and novels) plus non-fiction (travel writing, childhood memories, and business skills for writers). I publish under the pen name of Elizabeth Ducie.  

What brought you to Swanwick in the first place and when was that?

I first came to Swanwick in 2006, after meeting Katy Clarke and being bowled over by her enthusiasm and talk about ‘the magic of Swanwick’. I have to admit I didn’t enjoy it that much the first time around; I found it all a bit overwhelming – and didn’t return in 2007. But I came back in 2008, loved every minute of it, and have been back every year since.

What’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you at Swanwick?

During my first visit, I spent half the week apologising for the fact that I was a newbie writer who hadn’t published anything, meaning I’d not had any fiction published, But then I went to a session on non-fiction writing and had a real ‘a-ha’ moment when it was pointed out that having a series of technical text-books published and out there on Amazon meant I was a writer already and was just changing direction! It made my week and gave me lot more confidence to develop my creative writing.

What’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened to you at Swanwick?

You mean, apart from interviewing myself? Well, in 2014, I was running a workshop on using problem solving tools to iron out plot problems – and we couldn’t get my laptop to talk to the projector, so I was left without any slides. I grabbed a pen and reproduced the main slides, from memory, on the flip chart, which seemed to impress the roomful of delegates. It took me right back to the early days of my work in Russia where the equipment often failed and we had to be resourceful. Real problem solving in action!

So, that’s it for now, folks; day 1 over and time to get to sleep ready for the first full day of workshops tomorrow. 

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By Elizabeth Ducie

Elizabeth Ducie was a successful international manufacturing consultant, when she decided to give it all up and start telling lies for a living instead.

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