Dr. Hill and students

Shared Worlds names Lowachee Amazon.com Writer in Residence, attracts international students

Science fiction/fantasy teen writing summer camp in its fifth year at Wofford

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Featured recently by Huffington Post’s Mallika Rao as “the best time-suck of the day” is a collection of sci-fi flash fiction from such notable writers as Neil Gaiman, Lev Grossman, Ann VanderMeer, Scott Westerfield and more. “The Critter Map” was created from a colorful mural by Las Vegas artist Jeremy Zerfoss and used as the cover of the 2011 Shared Worlds Student Writing Book, a collection of works by students in Wofford’s Shared Worlds science fiction/fantasy teen creative writing experience held each summer on campus. Read all of the authors’ creative descriptions of the Critters at the Shared Worlds website at www.wofford.edu/sharedworlds.

SPARTANBURG, S.C.Shared Worlds, a non-profit science fiction/fantasy teen writing summer camp hosted by Wofford College, has received a second consecutive supporting grant from Amazon.com and has named author Karin Lowachee as its Amazon.com Writer in Residence for 2012.

A unique summer camp for rising eighth- through 12th-graders, Shared Worlds uses an innovative approach to writing fiction and realizing full creative potential, all in a safe and structured environment. This year’s program will be held from July 22 to Aug. 4, and registration is under way. 

Before the start of camp, Shared Worlds will celebrate Lowachee’s work on its website (www.wofford.edu/sharedworlds) with an appreciation and reading list as well as highlighting one of her short stories. The author’s visit to campus, funded by the Amazon.com grant, will include workshops and discussions with students and a reading at a Spartanburg bookstore. 

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

Lowachee book 150 wideLowachee, born in South America and raised in Canada, has worked in the Arctic as a teacher. Her first novel, “Warchild,” won the 2001 Warner Aspect First Novel Contest, chosen by Tim Powers. Both “Warchild” and her third novel, “Cagebird” (2005), were finalists for the prestigious Philip K. Dick Award. “Cagebird” won both the 2006 Prix Aurora Award for Best Long-Form Work in English and the 2006 Gaylactic Spectrum Award. Her second novel, “Burndive,” debuted at #7 on the Locus Bestseller List. Her books have been translated into French, Hebrew and Japanese, and her current fantasy novel, “The Gaslight Dogs,” was published through Orbit Books USA.

In the rare instances when she's not writing, Lowachee is the science fiction editor at the Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror, and teaches college writing classes in Toronto, where she lives.

Shared Worlds, the brainchild of Jones, began in 2008 with 19 students. The program has grown in every subsequent year, and in 2011 enrolled 46 students. Tim Schmitz, director of summer programs at Wofford, says the program is not structured to grow much beyond its current size. “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 has been the hallmark of Shared Worlds thus far.”

For now, Schmitz says, Shared Worlds will cap enrollment at about 50 students. Enrollment for 2012 is even stronger than last year, he notes. “We currently have students enrolled from Japan, Canada, Germany, France and Indonesia, and we have more students enrolled at this point than we did at the same time last year.”

Registration is open for Shared Worlds 2012; information is available on the website at www.wofford.edu/sharedworlds. Tuition is $2,100 per person and includes accommodations, all meals, instruction, supervisory personnel, program material, activities, professional evaluation, and certificates.

In addition to Lowachee, guest instructors will include World Fantasy Award winner Jeff VanderMeer, Hugo Award-winning editor Ann VanderMeer, author and game designer Will Hindmarch, New York Times bestselling author Tobias Buckell, and Naomi Novik, author of the bestselling Temeraire dragon fantasy series. In addition to helping to fund the visits of guest authors, the Amazon.com grant supports scholarships for students and offsets general operating expenses.

During the first week of Shared Worlds, the students build science fiction or fantasy worlds in groups. In the second week, the students fine-tune their worlds and write stories set within those worlds, receiving professional feedback from award-winning authors. Past visiting writers have included bestselling writers Holly Black and Nnedi Okorafor, with writers Ursula K. Le Guin, China Mieville, Michael Moorcock, Neil Gaiman, Lev Grossman, 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 and many national and international media outlets.

For information about Shared Worlds, contact Tim Schmitz, director of summer programs at Wofford, at 864-597-4551 or schmitztj@wofford.edu.