Students studying outside the library

Shared Worlds brings bestselling writers to Wofford

Science fiction/fantasy teen writing program renews Amazon.com relationship

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Students participating in Wofford's Shared Worlds summer teen writing program visit Hub City Bookshop in downtown Spartanburg to hear from successful authors.
2016-04-25

SPARTANBURG, S.C.Shared Worlds, a science fiction/fantasy teen writing summer camp hosted by Wofford College, has received a fifth supporting grant from Amazon.com and has named author Julia Elliott as its Amazon.com Writer-in-Residence for the ninth session of the camp this year.

A unique summer camp for rising eighth- through 12th-graders, Shared Worlds’ innovative approach places participants into small groups in which they imagine and design a world. They then write fiction set in the worlds they have created, receiving professional feedback from award-winning authors. The objectives are to write good fiction, develop the skills necessary to work well in a group and realize creative potential – all in a safe and structured environment.

This year’s program will be held from July 17 to July 30. Registration for the program is strong again this year, with applications from as far afield as Canada, the United Kingdom, Finland and Japan. Slots remain available.

For 2016, Amazon.com has renewed its support for Shared Worlds. “We are thrilled to be able to support the Shared Worlds creative writing program, which aligns nicely with the Amazon Literary Partnership’s goal of helping writers tell their stories and find their readers,” says Neal Thompson, director of author and publishing relations, who manages the Amazon Literary Partnership. “Shared Worlds provides a supportive, collaborative space where teen writers from around the world, nurtured by professional writers, can let their imaginations run free. And it’s wonderful that the outcome of that experience is a published anthology of fantasy fiction.”

Dr. Tim Schmitz, associate provost for administration at Wofford, says Amazon’s support is important in two ways: “First, Amazon supports our efforts to connect professional writers with our students on a small scale, which permits truly meaningful professional interactions. Second, we are able to offer more scholarships to our participants in the form of need-based tuition discounts.”

As the program’s Amazon.com Writer-in-Residence, Elliott’s work will be celebrated both on Shared World’s website (www.wofford.edu/sharedworlds) and during the camp. The author’s visit to campus, funded by the Amazon grant, will include workshops and discussions with students as well as a reading at the Hub City Bookshop in downtown Spartanburg.

“Each year, we like to turn the spotlight on one of our guest writers, someone whose work is unique and inspirational for our students,” Jeremy L.C. Jones, Shared Worlds founder and the director of the program, says.

Elliott, a critically acclaimed author and South Carolina native, says she’s honored to be named the writer-in-residence and is looking forward to teaching at Shared Worlds. “I’m particularly stoked about interacting with young writers at crucial stages of creative development. While I hope to help them shape and refine their world-building skills, I suspect that their enthusiasm and creativity will reinvigorate my own imagination.”

Elliott’s work has appeared in “Tin House,” “The Georgia Review,” “Conjunctions,” The New York Times, Granta online, Electric Literature and other publications. She has won a Rona Jaffe Writer’s Award, and her stories have been anthologized in “Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses,” “Best American Fantasy” and “Best American Short Stories.” Her debut story collection, “The Wilds,” was chosen by Kirkus, BuzzFeed, Book Riot and Electric Literature as one of the Best Books of 2014 and was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. Her first novel, “The New and Improved Romie Futch,” arrived in October 2015.

Shared Worlds, the brainchild of Jones, began in 2008 with 19 students. The program now enrolls approximately 60 students each year. Schmitz says the program does not plan to grow beyond its current size. “Sixty students has always been seen by those involved in the program as an enrollment ceiling. We want to be certain that we continue to offer the same level of one-on-one interactions between our student participants and our guest authors that is one of the core attributes of the program and is essential to its success.”

Registration is open for Shared Worlds 2016; information is available on the website at www.wofford.edu/sharedworlds. Tuition is $2,400 per person and includes accommodations, all meals, instruction, supervisory personnel, program material, activities, professional evaluation and certificates. Need-based financial aid is available from the program on a limited basis.

In addition to Elliott, guest instructors include multiple World Fantasy Award-winner and New York Times bestseller Jeff VanderMeer, whose novel “Annihilation” is currently being adapted to film by Oscar-nominated director Alex Garland. Additionally, World Fantasy and Hugo Award-winning editor Ann VanderMeer will attend this year as well as author and game designer Will Hindmarch, international publishing sensation Nnedi Okorafor, Terra Elan McVoy, Leah Thomas and Shared Worlds veterans Tobias Buckell and Nathan Ballingrud. As a bonus for 2016, New York Times bestsellers Daniel Abraham (“The Expanse”) and Lev Grossman (“The Magicians”) will join the program via Skype to discuss their writing and the television adaptations of their novels.

Past visiting writers have included bestselling writers Naomi Novik and Holly Black, with writers such as Ursula K. Le Guin, China Mieville, Michael Moorcock, Neil Gaiman Patrick Rothfuss, and many others contributing to various subsidiary efforts for the camp.

Extensive media coverage for Shared Worlds has appeared in The Guardian, the Washington Post book blog, the Huffington Post culture blog, the USA Today culture blog and many national and international media outlets.

For information about Shared Worlds, contact Tim Schmitz, associate provost for administration at Wofford, at 864-597-4551 or schmitztj@wofford.edu.

Also, visit these links:
http://www.wofford.edu/sharedworlds/
http://www.amazon.com/b/ref=_surl_authgive/?node=13786431
http://www.wofford.edu/sharedWorlds/amazonGrant/