Sarah Stonich

90-minute Workshop. Session #6: Sunday, February 19, 11 AM – 12:30PM

Give My Monster Life! Writing with all five senses.

A child sees his world before he understands it.   John Berger

We also feel, smell, touch and hear our environments before we understand them.  Evocative prose is achieved when we understand our senses are as vital to writing as they are to life.  This workshop is for all writers wishing to imbue their fiction, memoir, or creative essay with sensorial layers to add depth, detail and authenticity.

In this 90-minute workshop you will climb out of your “writer’s head” into environs permeated by sights, smells, sounds and textures.  Our challenge is to transform basic descriptions of people and places into fully realized characters in well-drawn atmospheres – in this case, San Miguel.  We’ll examine how behavior and action are determined as much by sensorial reactions as they are by intellect.  This is a fully engaged workshop with equal amounts of discussion, reading, handouts and a few exercises to take home.  Students are encouraged but not required to bring a manuscript either finished or in-progress of 5 pages or fewer.

Required text:  A Natural History of The Senses, by Diane Ackerman.

Handouts include pages of Ways Of Seeing by John Berger as well as images and objects to be used during in-class assignments.

San Miguel Writers Conference FictionSarah Stonich has been awarded a number of grants, including a Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship and a Loft McKnight Fellowship.

Her first novel, These Granite Islands was translated into eight languages and short-listed for France’s prestigious Grand Prix de lectrices d’Elle. The 10th anniversary edition of These Granite Islands has just been released.

Her second novel The Ice Chorus has been re-issued in paperback by ALMA BOOKS.

Her memoir, Shelter, is now out from Borealis Books.  Sarah recently completed a novel, Vacationland, and is at work on another, American River.

She has been artist in residence at the Tyrone Gurthie Centre in Ireland, The Hawthornden International Writers’ Programme, Scotland, Art Omi, NY, among others.


 San Miguel Writers Conference Fiction


“One of the joys of reading is coming across a book in which language is perfectly wedded to story.”

Colum McCann, author of Let The Great World Spin

“Like a well-paced feast…the kind of book that instills a hunger for more.  This is artful melodrama, and there is a constant sense of excavation of shadowy truths – about love, friendship, and memory delicately unearthed.” Los Angeles Times

“…atmospherically rendered, with carefully observed scenes. Stonich unfurls a complex, many-layered and suspenseful story, handling flashbacks and contemporary details with equal precision. Publisher’s Weekly


San Miguel Writers Conference Fiction


“Stonich effortlessly conjures multiple vivid settings and uncommonly interesting characters even as she moves seamlessly between the past and present. A subtle, lovely evocation of the transforming power of love. Booklist 

“An aesthetic triumph with real heart.” Bookpage

The Ice Chorus is one of those transporting novels that readers will inhabit as they’re reading, and perhaps even replay the scenes that pack a particularly cinematic punch. In her  conventional second effort, Stonich has fully mastered the ability to build mood, creating a dreamy air of possibility.” Minneapolis Star Tribune


San Miguel Writers Conference Fiction

“…a keen-witted narrative bound with choice metaphors and sturdy verbs…a poetic memoir, a genealogical trip, and a picturesque travelogue that is absorbing to the last page.”

Diana Nolan, Story Circle Book Reviews

“At times an adventure story, a sweet romance, and a laugh-out-loud monologue, Stonich’s memoir is an ode to family, homeland and Mother Nature.  Shelter is the kind of book that will cling determinedly to memories as a welcome stowaway on our own pilgrimages.”

Lindsay O’Brien, Duluth News Tribune