Weekend One: March 6-7, 2021


Saturday, March 6, 2021

3.00 pm - 7.00 pm (Irish time)


“IQ for Creative Writing - How Questions Shape Stories. The Secrets of Flash Fiction.”

Workshop hosted by Sean Hillen

Unrelated to Intelligent Quotient, IQ meaning ‘I Question.’


As a former correspondent for The Irish Times, Dublin, The Times, London and Time magazine, New York, Sean has made his living over the last 30 years asking questions. As an author, co-founder of ‘Ireland Writing Retreat’ and a judge in the ‘Wild Atlantic Writing Awards’ competition, he demonstrates in this workshop how transposing the art of asking questions to the world of fiction makes stories better, more market-ready. As a key element of this workshop, Sean will also focus on important elements involved in writing award-winning flash fiction.


Sean started his journalism career with the Belfast Telegraph, the national daily newspaper of northern Ireland, before emigrating to the United States to work in broadcasting, at the United Nations Media Center and as medical and science correspondent for a leading daily newspaper. He then returned to Europe as a volunteer to establish the first post-Communist journalism schools in eastern Europe with the Human Rights League, became a foreign correspondent covering both the Iraq and Yugoslavian wars and finally established his own national publishing and events company in Romania. Sean was also former chairperson of a national US Fulbright Commission. 


Sean’s writings have also appeared in such newspapers as The Wall Street Journal, Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, The Sunday Times, The Sunday Business Post and the Irish Echo. His contemporary fiction novel, ‘Pretty Ugly,’ links media, medicine and modelling with the ongoing controversy over toxic chemicals in everyday cosmetics, revealing corruption within the corporate and political worlds. His light-hearted memoir ‘Digging for Dracula’ takes readers on an intriguing journey with him from deepest, darkest Transylvania to the bright lights of Hollywood exploring the wonderful world of vampires. 


This is a practical workshop. An in-class assignment will be emailed by participants during the workshop to the tutor for critiquing. There will also be an assignment of not more than 500 words given during the workshop to be emailed the following day for personal feedback. 


All workshops will be delivered via Zoom. 

Sunday, March 7, 2021

3.00 pm - 7.00 pm (Irish time)


This day’s activities will include:


  • Cozy Conversational Corner with …Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin (writing under the name Sam Blake): Literary Talent Scout, Novelist & Writing Festival Organiser’ 

A dynamic pioneer in the modern Irish literary world on so many platforms, Vanessa is founder and managing director of award-winning national writing resources website writing.ie and publishing consultancy Inkwell Group. She is also a board member of the London-based Society of Authors, founder of Murder One, Ireland’s International Crime Writing Festival, and former chair of the Irish PEN. 

Writing under the pseudonym, Sam Blake, Vanessa is also author of four enticing contemporary thriller novels – ‘Little Bones,’ ‘Deep Water,’ ‘No Turning Back’ and her latest creation, ‘The Dark Room,’ set in West Cork in ‘a house full of mystery.’


  • Critique of participants' assignments from the previous day’s workshop and summary of the weekend’s activities.


  • Cozy Conversational Corner with … Matthew Schofield, author & international journalist and editor

An award-winning journalist for more than 35 years, Matt has travelled a long way from his native Eau Claire, Wisconsin. During his outstanding media career, Matt has been deputy national editor and editorial board member of a leading US daily newspaper, reported from 60 different countries and four wars, was European Bureau Chief for a major news operation and covered both the Pentagon and Congress (specializing on alleged influence by Russia on the 2016 US elections). He was also a former Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. Living now in Berlin, Matt focuses much of his writing efforts on fiction with two novels already under his belt, namely ‘Chances Are’ and ‘Abraham and Sam.’


Please Note: In addition, each participant in this workshop has the opportunity to send in advance a piece of writing (maximum 1,000 words) from a work-in-progress and receive critique and personal feedback in writing.