Chez Castillon – A writer’s paradise
I’d been before; I knew what to expect; still, it didn’t fail to wow me, Chez Castillon - a writer's paradise.
After a long day travelling, being greeted by Janie and Mickey at the door of Chez Castillon was pure bliss. This beautiful, characterful French townhouse, pretty unimpressive from the street, is a mirage of French charm once you’re through the sturdy front door. A wide hallway that runs the length of the house ends with wrought iron gates that give you a glimpse of the shimmering blue pool beyond.
A celebratory glass or two of bubbly awaited the seven other writers and me here for the week, on the patio where the evening sun’s warm rays still lingered.
‘Here’s to a brilliant and productive writing week, with what promised to be a group of warm-hearted writing companions.’
This writing retreat was author-led, our leader for the week being Rowan Coleman. She has written over thirty novels, of which I’m a little embarrassed to say I’ve read only one! I will read more, I promise. That one, The Girl at the Window, was utterly compelling. Rowan herself is a master of her craft, how could I not read more? Her constructive criticism was truthful and gently, her praise exuberant, throughout our tutored sessions.
There is something immensely satisfying about talking through a novel plot, not only my own but those of the other writers too and taking on board their suggestions, while offering ideas to others, helping them to see a way forward if they were struggling.
Once we students had set out our targets for the week, mine to write the first 10,000 words of my new novel, Green Beans (more about this strange title in a minute), we met each morning to discuss how we were getting on, receive feedback from Rowan, and learn about plot, characterisation and our author’s voice, all informative and interesting stuff.
I know you are already trying to get your head around the title Green Beans. Let me tell you; it is a working title which will have no rhyme or reason to anyone. You can be sure that by the finished novel it will have changed to something more engaging and more palatable unless you’re a big fan of green beans of course! Why Green Beans, you ask? The simple answer is – the story is set on a French Allotment, and from experience, I’ve seen an awful lot of green beans growing in France!
The week was filled with an abundance of words, the profound, the good and some just rubbish. There was a lot of wine drunk, and we ate delicious meals cooked by our wonderful hostess, Janie; Mickey helped too, I’m sure! The writer chats around the dinner table were both fascinating and informative; this is not an easy business to be in; that’s for sure. Of course, I couldn’t possibly be in France and not partake of buttery croissants, fresh baguettes, and cheese, lots of cheese, in fact, lots of everything!
One of our exercises during the week was to write a Mission Statement for ourselves as authors. It’s not perfected yet, but this is me... Sue Curran
My Mission Statement
To write real stories with honesty and compassion that will inspire women to have courage, step out of their comfort zone and live their best life.