Moniack Mhor was a fabulous place to spend Easter Monday! From April 9th to April 14th 2007 I attended a stimulating course on Crimewriting, hosted by eminent British crime fiction authors Andrew Taylor and Natasha Cooper. They were inspirational, and the rest of the group wonderful companions.
The course, run by the Arvon Foundation, was held in former croft buildings up in the hills about 3 miles to the north of Loch Ness (which location actually features in Andrew Taylor's recent book "A Stain on the Silence" - highly recommended)
Every day we had morning sessions delving into the creation and construction of crime fiction. The afternoons were free for writing exercises, walking or snoozing. All of us had a private tutorial with both Natasha and Andrew - I found mine extremely helpful, even though I did have to mostly start over with my book! We were divided into groups of three to do the cooking each evening for the whole party, plus any guests. Some had to cook twice, but I was lucky enough only to have to cook once (lucky for everyone else, that is...) The food was great throughout the week: the recipes are clearly written with all the ingredients provided and it's a super kitchen to cook and socialise in. We ate round a huge refectory table at one end of the main room. For lunch and breakfast we sorted ourselves out, though Richard made a pan of porridge every morning which was much appreciated.
I loved my whole timethere, and found it a very easy place to write. - the view from my bedroom was beautiful, and the isolation and splendour of the scenery meant it was easy to be creative. I even learned not to be so scared of the on-the-spot writing exercises we were given throughout each morning. At the start I was very resistant to these: by the end of the week I had learned that I could, in fact, get something respectable down on paper, and not to be so negative and nervous about them.
In the evenings after the meal we chatted, played Scrabble, gave readings from favourite books, and Andrew and Mark played guitar and sang. On Wednesday we had a guest speaker, Clio Grey, who read from her novel and short stories, and spoke to us about breaking into publishing.So to Anne, Jax, Sheena, Razaz, Joanna, Christina, Mark, Richard and of course Andrew and Natasha - thank you, and see as many of you as possible in Harrogate!