Friday, November 18, 2011

Meet Allison Slavick, Shake Rag's First Writing Partnership Resident

We bid a fond farewell to Allison Slavick last weekend after her stay at the historic Mousehole at Shake Rag Alley. As recipient of  Wisconsin People & Ideas’ 2011 Short Story Contest for her short story Coming About, Allison received a week's residency stay at Shake Rag Alley. 

We thoroughly enjoyed meeting Allison, were delighted by her reading of Coming About at a reception on her first night, and thank her for a great workshop on Saturday. We look forward seeing Allison back at Shake Rag again soon!

Allison's home is in the town of Cable in far northern Wisconsin, where she and her husband live beside a lake in a national forest, a very appropriate setting for the outdoor enthusiast that she is - Allison is a bicycle racer and a cross country ski racer. A botanist by training, she began her working career at the Smithsonian Institute. For fifteen years she was executive director of a museum in Cable, a position she left five years ago to become a creative consultant to artists and not-for-profits, a "midwife for new ideas" as she describes it, helping her clients with vision, planning, and fundraising.

Allison Slavick and students in the
"Becoming a Writer" workshop at Shake Rag Alley

When asked how she started writing, Allison explained that she has always written. In fact, as a child she thought it was just something that everybody does. But it wasn't until she was about 30 that she felt she wanted to write a novel so began writing fiction. She started the novel she is currently working on in 2003 after taking a workshop with Robert Olen Butler, whose novel A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain won the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.  

Allison used her residency time at Shake Rag to refine that first novel. We had to ask "Did you make progress?" Her answer was an enthusiastic "Yes!". The simple living and lack of distractions provided just the space and focus she needed to get her characters firmly established. She regards writing a "privilege" and every day could "hardly wait to get started".

So what's next for Allison? Write every day (her advice to aspiring writers). Finish this novel within a year and get an agent. And keep on writing short stories.

Good luck to Allison. We can't wait to read your first published novel!

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