First, I’d like to welcome all the newcomers to the blog!
At least, it seems that there are a lot of newcomers today, what with word of the YA author Irish invasion sweeping the internet.
There is a lot of (merited and good-natured) jealousy and talk of coups going around, so in the spirit of love and kindness I thought I would share a few more details on how it is that Operation Writing Castle is actually happening.
First, I highly recommend that everyone should go read Sarah Rees Brennan’s take on the story. Which is hilarious. And largely factual.
And yet, even after reading that, I still believe that it’s a miracle that this thing is actually going down.
You see, I’m an idea person. I have lots of (in my mind, at least) good ideas. All the time. Very, very few of them actually transpire.
So last summer when Sarah and Jen and I started emailing and obsessing about the castle it was just that–a fun obsession. I wasn’t in any way convinced that it would actually come to pass.
So how did it come to pass? Well, I think there were a few key factors in that, and now I’m going to share them.
1. We had three people who were very excited about this vision. So when one of us was busy or distracted there were two others who could send out a “hey, are we gonna do this thing or aren’t we” email. That was key.
2. We had a very specific set of dates in mind from the get-go. As some of you may already know, in addition to being a fab YA writer, Jen Barnes is also a full-time graduate student, so we knew that our travel dates should coincide with Jen’s spring break.
This was key, I think, because usually when people throw out a “hey, we should do this some time” idea it remains just that–something you’re going to do sometime. But when we said, “hey, we should do this from x-y” then it was far more specific. It was literally something we had on the calendar from the very beginning.
3. The original three of us (Jen, Sarah, and yours truly) each had different strengths. I like to research things and make spreadsheets, so early on I had a list of possible castles and costs per person (that actually adjusted automatically based on occupancy) and all that jazz.
Jen was an amazing cheerleader (much like the characters in her fun SQUAD books) and she never let the project fall off of our respective radars.
Sarah Rees Brennan had an in with some other people who would potentially be interested (as you can read in her post). Also, she lives in Ireland, so she was our local connection (which isn’t probably mandatory, but it very handy.)
4. After a little research, we learned that the castles ranged A LOT in size, quality, services, etc. This meant, of course, that we had several different castle options, but we figured out that it was going to take probably a minimum of five or, preferably, six of us to make this work. We already had three, which helped, but there was still work to do. (Cue Sarah Rees Brennan and her awesome recruiting machine.)
If it had been up to me to get 5-10 people on board then it never would have happened. Never. Not even close. (Because I don’t think I know 5-10 people.)
5. Getting people to sign on was a lot easier than I thought, probably because 1. the concept is cool. And 2. it really is quite affordable.
We’re traveling in Ireland’s off-season, which helps. Also, the exchange rate seems to be in our favor right now. And a big advantage that I wasn’t expecting is that the Irish LOVE writers–seriously love them. In fact, one castle offered to cut its prices in half when they learned that we were going to be a big group of female authors.
All of these factors combined to make the trip reasonably economical (or far more so than most people imagine), and all told the castle portion of the trip is going to cost less than it would cost to stay in a typical hotel in the states. (A lot less than a nice hotel.)
6. We knew we had to go during a specific week and we knew that the property’s “week” began and ended on certain days, so it was pretty obvious which days we needed to travel. It also probably helped get this thing off the ground that there weren’t too many travel options. There are only a couple of flights from the states to the airport we’re flying into, so from there it was really a matter of saying “This is the flight. This is how much it costs. Let’s book it!” And we did.
I’m incredibly excited about this trip on many levels and for many reasons. I feel incredibly blessed to have this opportunity (it feels a little as if I might sort of be sitting at the cool kids table when, trust me, I have never in my LIFE been at the cool kids table) and I don’t want to take this awesome opportunity for granted.
It’s happening because of Jen and Sarah and the other awesome ladies who said “a week in a possibly cold-drafty-rundown castle with a host of strangers? Sure, sign me up!” And for them I am incredibly grateful.
But I’m here to let you know that you too can rent a castle (or whatever else floats your boat). Trust me, if this trip is happening, then ANY trip can happen!