Talking Allegra Huston’s Deia Memoir Writing Workshop with organiser Rosalinda Much14th July 2017

Memoir Writing Workshop organiser, Rosalinda Much has been a graphic designer, art director, publisher, award-winning producer and radio presenter. After exploring the world, spending time in places as exotic and far-flung as Zanzibar, Brazil, India, Tibet and New Mexico, Rosalinda has come to live in Palma.

Now, in the next phase of her remarkable life, Rosalinda is embarking on a series of creative and arts projects from her base on the island. The first of these is the keenly anticipated Memoir Writing Workshop with Allegra Huston taking place at Belmond La Residencia between 22 and 27 October this year.

An acclaimed memoirist, journalist, editor, screen writer and film producer, Allegra has previously given workshops at venues that include the highly respected Arvon Foundation in the UK.

I will be interviewing Allegra for The Deia Oliver Press soon but, for now, here’s a taste of her story.

Until she was an adolescent, Allegra, sister of Angelica Huston, believed legendary film director John Huston was her father. It was then that she discovered she’d actually been legally adopted by him. Her acclaimed memoir 2009 Love Child tells of her shock at discovering she was really the daughter of British aristocrat and historian John Julius Norwich. The Guardian described Love Child as ‘a delicate memoir of displacement’.

Say My Name, Allegra’s first novel, will be published on 27 July in the UK.

The Memoir Writing Workshop looks highly appealing and is certainly provoking a great deal of interest. After I was introduced to Rosalinda by Jackie Waldren, I decided to find out more about her and the workshop.

How did you come to live in Mallorca, Rosalinda?

I first visited the island on a production for Michael Douglas and stayed at Belmond La Residencia. Like so many before me, I fell in love with the island and its amazingly diverse landscape, culture and gracious people.

And how did you first meet Allegra?

I first met Allegra over chai following a yoga class in Taos, New Mexico. It’s no surprise to me that she chooses to make her home there. Like Mallorca, it’s a place of unique beauty, magic and inspiration.

How did the idea for the memoir workshop come about?

It first came to me when a friend asked me how he could best use his beautiful mahal outside Jaipur, in India. My idea was that we could hold a memoir writing workshop. To me, memoir writing is the perfect vehicle for new and seasoned writers. Allegra’s memoir Love Child is exceptional so, naturally, that made her the obvious person to lead the workshop.

I decided against the Indian venue but once I moved to Mallorca it soon dawned on me that Belmond La Residencia was the perfect place for the workshop. After all, Deia does have the most extraordinary literary connections.

The Memoir Writing Workshop with Allegra will be the first of many writing-themed and other creative workshops I will offer in Mallorca and internationally.

Could you tell me a little about the workshop?

 It begins on Sunday 22 October with a welcome tea at Belmond La Residencia and an introduction to the course by Allegra. After this, Jackie Waldren will lead a walk and talk around Deia. As you know, she’s a wonderful raconteur.

Beginning on Monday, the course itself will consist of five morning workshops devoted to discussing writing techniques and the writing process. We’ll do timed readings, read aloud, and look for things that pop!

More reflective, intensive discussion of students’ work will be reserved for one-on-one sessions with Allegra conducted in the afternoons. Each student will enjoy two of these. Allegra will read up to 20 pages of work by each student, more by arrangement. Quite a treat when you think that as Editorial Director of Weidenfield and Nicolson, Allegra oversaw the work of many great writers including Alan Hollinghurst, Iris Murdoch, Edna O’Brien and Jane Goodall.

When students are not working with Allegra, they’ll be free to enjoy the delights of Deia. I’ll be available to answer any questions, help make sure they have everything they need and are having a great time.

On the Wednesday evening, there will be a soiree open to the public at which Allegra will read from her memoir Love Child and her new novel Say My Name.

We conclude the workshop on Friday night with a farewell dinner and readings from students’ work at Belmond La Residencia’s wonderful El Olivio restaurant.

Can students stay at Belmond La Residencia?

Of course. And if they do, they’ll receive a 20% discount on rooms. However, they’re free to stay wherever they choose and I’ll be happy to help them find the right accommodation, travel, restaurants and so on.

I would say that this will be a particularly intimate group so I’d advise people to book as soon as possible. I’m effectively their hostess for the week.

Lastly, Rosalinda, what do you love about Deia?

The village has an irresistible magnetism that immediately draws you into its grasp. I don’t think it’s just that you can look up to the Serra de Tramuntana then turn your gaze down towards the sea and then contemplate the village itself. There’s layer upon layer of magic to Deia that relates not only to its voluptuousness but also to its history and the amazing people who have lived and loved here, inspired by its enigmatic charm.

Funnily enough, it reminds me of Taos, New Mexico, which is where I first met Allegra. They call New Mexico the Land of Enchantment and Deia has a similar quality. Like many alluring places, Deia can challenge you as well as charm you, which is, I think, why it’s a place of transformation and fertile creativity for so many.

If we wish to be adventurers in life, we must encounter the unexpected. Even on the dullest winter’s day when nothing interesting seems possible, Deia will surprise you with an element of extraordinary beauty or a chance encounter with someone astonishing. You won’t get bored here, there’s far too much to try and take in, but you may begin to feel like Alice in Wonderland.

Thank you for that insight, Rosalinda, and the best of luck with the workshop.

Find out more about the Memoir Writing Workshop with Allegra Huston here or contact Rosalinda direct on rosalindamuch@gmail.com or +34 634360073.

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