Every summer for the past four years I’ve had the pleasure of heading to Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, to help run the Shared Worlds SF/F teen writing camp, along with founder Jeremy L.C. Jones and summer camps director Timothy Schmitz. It’s a unique experience that helps the next generation of creatives interested in imaginative fiction begin to hone their skills, meet like-minded students, and learn from a bevy of great writer guests. In the first week, the participants, who range in age from 13 to 17, split into groups and build their own science fictional or fantasy worlds. In the second week, they write stories set in their world.
In addition to Wofford faculty, classroom teachers, and teaching assistants, we bring in professional guests to lecture, lead writing exercises, and give readings. Our Amazon.com Visiting Writer was current World Fantasy Award finalist Nnedi Okorafor, and she was joined by gaming expert Will Hindmarch, World Fantasy Award winner Ekaterina Sedia, Hugo Award winner Ann VanderMeer, and PK Dick Award finalist Minister Faust. (This past year, Amazon.com provided a generous grant to Shared Worlds.)
As Sedia said after the camp, echoing a common sentiment, “I feel truly lucky to have met all of the students. Their talent and camaraderie were an inspiration, and I hope that regardless of where their lives take them, they will hang on to the friendships they’ve made and the worlds created."