CREATIVE WRITING COURSE IN THE PROVENÇAL COUNTRYSIDE – 5th – 11th MAY 2024
Bastide de Negrins, Seillans, 83440, Var, Provence, France
TIME TO WRITE YOUR NOVEL
The Provence Creative Writing Week
Have you always thought about writing a novel, and come up with stories and ideas, but never quite had the time, or known how to get started? Have you ever started a novel, or more than one, but never had the time, or known how to take it any further? Have you written a whole novel but never known how to assess it, or had the tools to improve it? Or made the time to work on it?
If you feel the time has come to do what you’ve always wanted to do and make that novel your priority, The Provence Creative Writing Week offers you the time, and the tools, to take your writing to the next stage. Over the course of five days, publishing professionals will guide you through each stage of the process in a supportive environment, with every meal freshly prepared for you, in an idyllic rural Provencal setting. So all you have to think about is your writing. And, we hope, making some like-minded new friends in the process.
Bastide de Négrins: Baz Butcher annd his wife Joanna Frank discovered early on in their relationship that they had a shared dream of eventually living in the South of France. At the beginning of 2023, circumstances led them to a 350 year old farmhouse, surrounded by olive groves and vineyards, that they fell instantly in love with. They were particularly charmed by the way the exterior of the property has been structured around outdoor living. They envisaged cooking for guests in the covered outdoor kitchen and long leisurely lunches and dinners around the large shaded dining table, continuing conversations as the sun went down in the covered outdoor seating area in front of the large open log fire. Everyone would want, in the heat of the day, to make use of the sizeable swimming pool in the middle of the courtyard, and all around the garden, liberally planted with roses, bouganvillea, jasmine, lavender and oleander, they would seek out the various shaded seating areas for reading and writing. All who arrive at the Bastide comment immediately that the atmosphere is tranquil and relaxed, with stunning bucolic surroundings and amazing views, and a sense of history to stimulate the imagination.
Inside, the house is characterised by its oak beamed ceilings, traditional terracotta floors and large bedrooms. It would be inaccurate to describe the accommodation as ‘high-end luxury’, rather the emphasis is on comfort, authenticity and discreet good taste. Guests will find quality bedlinen, towels, toiletries and other soft furnishings, a writing desk in every room and books everywhere to suit all tastes.
Baz has a career of over forty years in marketing, events management and hospitality, and Joanna has worked for nearly as long in many areas of book publishing. They see the Bastide as their opportunity to combine their skills, experience and passions by launching the first of what will be twice yearly, fully-catered Creative Writing Courses.
Joanna Frank has been a publisher and literary agent, and now works as a literary consultant, offering close editorial guidance to new writers, helping them refine and polish their work, and eventually submitting to literary agents on their behalf. She has published, edited, represented and launched the careers of a diverse range of authors including Joanne Harris, Louise Doughty, Alan Titchmarsh, Jojo Moyes, Simon Berthon, Marika Cobbold and Kirsty Wark. You can read more about her professional background here: www.joannafrank.org. She has also written two written two novels herself, so has experienced the fiction-writing process from every angle. Having fulfilled her lifelong dream of moving to Provence, she relishes the opportunity to share her professional experience with a group of writers in such an idyllic setting. For the inaugural course in May 2024, she is extremely honoured to welcome as guest tutor, a former client, the writer, journalist and Oxford University Creative Writing tutor, Rebecca Abrams.
Rebecca Abrams is an award-winning author, journalist and editor, with many years’ experience as a teacher of both fiction and non-fiction. She has taught on the Masters in Creative Writing at Oxford University since 2008, and before that was an honorary teaching fellow on the acclaimed Writing Programme at Warwick University. She tutors for the Oxford Life Writing Centre at Wolfson College and the Oxford University Write Now Summer School. She has also held posts as First Story Writer-in-Residence from 2010-2012, Gladstone’s Library Writer-in-Residence from 2015-16, and Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow at Brasenose College, Oxford from 2017-20.
Rebecca is the author of seven published works and three stage plays. Her debut novel, Touching Distance (Picador, 2009) was shortlisted for the McKitterick Prize for Literature and won the MJA Open Book Award for Fiction. Her most recent non-fiction publications include Licoricia of Winchester: Power and Prejudice in Medieval England (LOWA, 2022), The Jewish Journey: 4000 Years in 22 Objects (Ashmolean, 2017), and Jewish Treasures of Oxford Libraries (Bodleian Libraries, 2020), which was long-listed for the Wingate Literary Prize. She is also the author of the best-selling self-help books When Parents Die: Learning to Live with the Loss of a Parent (Taylor & Francis, 3rd edition, 2012) and Three Shoes, One Sock and No Hairbrush: Everything you need to know about having your second child (Cassell, 2009). Her debut stage play, All of Us, a revisioning of Sophocles’ Electra, premiered in New Zealand in 2023.
A long-standing journalist for the UK national press, her articles have appeared in the Guardian, Financial Times, Vogue, New Statesman, Sunday Times, Observer and the Independent. A former columnist on the Daily Telegraph, she is the recipient of an Amnesty International Press Award for Journalism and is a regular literary critic for the Financial Times.
Baz Butcher had a career of more than thirty years in PR, advertising and marketing and established his own agency in Soho, where he numbered BBC Radio among his most prominent clients. He had, however, always yearned for a second career in hospitality and was thrilled to make a mid-life professional change in 2015 when he tok over the iconic White Hart of Wytham in Oxford. He loves nothing more than welcoming guests and lavishing them with home-cooked food and local wine in stunning surroundings, and will be preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner for all attendees throughout the course. He will also be on hand to ensure that guests have everything they need to make the most of their stay and to address any queries or concerns that may arise.
The main focus of the course is on story – the art of storytelling – and you will learn about how to plot and structure your novel, how to develop rounded, convincing, three-dimensional characters, and how to write effective dialogue. On the final day, you will learn about the process of approaching literary agents, how to write an effective submission document and what happens to a book from acquisition to publication and beyond. You’ll leave the course with the inspiration and the strategies to keep you writing, and to give yourself permission to make your writing a priority. You will have the opportunity to share your work with the course leaders and other guests in a supportive environment and to exchange constructive critique. The course is also structured to allow plenty of time for writing, and Wednesday afternoon will be allocated as completely free time for sightseeing, walking, or just lying by the pool with a good book.
For an additional fee, anyone wishing to can submit material in advance and pre-book a one-to-one editorial session with Joanna for more detailed bespoke editorial feedback on your work-in-progress.
There are four double rooms available at the Bastide, two of which can be used either for a single guest or made up as a twin or double for guests who may wish to attend the course together, or bring a non-participating partner. Two of the rooms are each in their own separate apartment with independent entrance, and the other two share a bathroom. Guests will be allocated rooms on a first-come-first-served basis, up to a maximum of ten, and if necessary guests can be accommodated at a villa nearby, within a short walking distance of the Bastide.
Guests wishing to stay on after the end of the course should enquire about this at the time of application.
The course is open to all applicants, whether they just have an idea for a novel and need help to get started, whether they have written a complete book, or any stage in between. However, in order to ensure that the course is best suited to your needs and that you will benefit fully from it, we ask that you submit with you application a sample of your writing and tell us a little about yourself and what you hope to achieve from attending the course. In the first instance, please email us HERE to register your interest and we will forward you application documents.
All prices include: transfers between Nice Airport and the Bastide, full board including aperitifs and wine with meals, 6 nights accommodation and full participation in the course (other than non-participating guests). Not included are any specific excursions, so guests who might want to take trips independently should consider hiring a car from the airport, though there are also taxis available local to the Bastide.
Prices are shown in euros, per person.
Course attendee, sole occupancy 2900
Course attendee, joint occupancy 2500
Non-attendee, joint occupancy. POA, depending on circumstances. Please enquire at time of application.
Please note that the logistics and practicalities involved in planning the course mean that unfortunately we cannot accept cancellations and therefore require payment in full at time of booking. In the unlikely event that we have to cancel the course due to unforeseen extreme circumstances, applicants will be refunded in full but please ensure you have insurance to cover your travel costs in this eventuality, or in case you need to cancel for any reason.
In addition to our twice yearly Creative Writing weeks, we also offer a year-round* writer’s retreat facility, for individuals or groups, on a catered or self-catering basis. The peace and quiet of our location and the private seclusion of our rooms makes the Bastide an ideal environment for anybody wishing to focus exclusively on their writing, away from the demands of day-to-day life. Please email us to initiate a discussion of your requirements.
*Excluding July and August
The solid stone walls of the bastide and its numerous original features reflect a place steeped in its 350 year history, and an ambience to spark the imagination. Beyond that, one sighting of the olive groves, vineyards and oak woods that surround the house elicits immediately a sense of calm and serenity, and of being far away from the madding crowd. The absence of stressful distraction in turn allows for creative immersion, for both readers and writers.
For those who come on holiday to engross themselves in reading, there are multiple places around the property to relax with a book, in the shade of the pergola or bell tent, on a lounger in the sunshine, or in the cool of the house. There are bookshelves throughout with plenty of reading material for every taste in which to become absorbed during your stay.
Jo Frank, one of the bastide’s proprietors, has worked in book publishing for more than thirty years. As a publisher, agent, and now literary consultant ( read more here ), she has launched the careers of authors such as Joanne Harris, Louise Doughty, Jojo Moyes, Simon Berthon, Alan Titchmarsh and Kirsty Wark, among many others. Having also written two novels herself, she knows how it feels to want to start, or finish, writing a book, which is why she knew that the bastide would be the perfect venue for a Writer’s Retreat. Just bring your laptop, or pen and paper, and we will provide the tranquil setting and everything else you need, including full board and the camaraderie of other writers.
If you would like to register your interest, please email us here .
NORRIR et Mange Tout
French cuisine has special roots and Provence is no exception. We have markets, supermarkets and farms in abundance; produce on our doorstesp to both forage and feast upon throughout the year. Baz, a restaurateur, will either cook for you or be willing to act as your sous chef.
Home grown peppers, lemons, basil, bay, sage, rosemary and thyme are all at your finger tips. Local farm lamb, pork and goat are a walk away and at local markets there is no shortage of organic fruit, vegetables, cheeses and charcuterie.
In our outdoor kitchen you can saute, flambe, confit, fricassee, rotir and poeler to your heart’s content.