We writers often hear about the dire state of publishing in this country (as if we haven't got enough reasons to put us off writing), so it is refreshing to discover a publisher willing to try something new. Faber and Faber launched the Faber Academy in 2008 and since then they have run writing workshops in London, Dublin and Paris, as well as day schools on writers, and six month courses in novel-writing, screenplay and poetry.
Having just come back from their second Paris weekend, I can't praise them enough. To be able to learn and talk about writing from two highly-regarded novelists, Sarah Hall and Andrew Miller, in the enchanting setting of Shakespeare and Company (which deserves, and will get, a whole post of it's own) was an experience that will stay with me for many, many years. It wasn't cheap, but it was more than worth the money to be in such an encouraging and supportive atmosphere. I know creative writing courses are ten-a-penny these days, but the Faber Academy comes from the point of view of a publisher interested both in nurturing talent and supporting independent bookshops, and that - for me - makes it unique.
So very many thanks to Patrick Keogh at Faber for his enthusiasm in initiating and organising the course; Sarah and Andrew for great classes; Sylvia and David at Shakespeare and Co for their warmth and generosity; and to my lovely course mates. Highly, highly recommended.