Meet the Teaching Artist: When Memoir Becomes Autofiction with Victoria Costello
by Writing Workshops Staff
5 months ago
Victoria Costello is an accomplished Emmy Award-winning writer, teacher, and author of six published non-fiction books, including the notable memoir, A Lethal Inheritance. With a literary journey spanning various genres, Victoria is poised to lead an innovative 8-Week Zoom Workshop titled When Memoir Becomes Autofiction.
This workshop, back by popular demand after a successful debut in Spring 2023, delves into the captivating realm of autobiographical fiction, a genre that seamlessly intertwines memory and imagination to unveil deeper truths.
In a literary landscape where the autobiographical novel often remains overshadowed, Victoria's workshop bridges the gap, offering a unique opportunity for writers to explore the art of melding personal experiences with imaginative narratives. Tailored for both memoirists and fiction enthusiasts, this workshop empowers participants to infuse their stories with fictional elements while retaining the authenticity of real-life events. Whether you're a seasoned memoirist seeking to enhance your craft or a fiction writer intrigued by the allure of autobiography, Victoria Costello's guidance promises to enrich your creative arsenal.
Aspiring writers with a spark of an idea and at least ten pages of initial content are invited to embark on a transformative journey of self-discovery and literary innovation under Victoria's expert tutelage.
Hi, Victoria. Please introduce yourself to our audience.
I'm a former journalist and memoirist turned fiction writer with a debut novel just out.
What made you want to teach this specific class? Is it something you are focusing on in your own writing practice? Have you noticed a need to focus on this element of craft?
After completing Orchid Child, a work of autofiction based on the real lives of several broken people, myself included, and a series of tragic events I previously covered in a memoir, I felt inspired to create a class for writers on a similar writing journey. In the eight-week course that became When Memoir Becomes Autofiction, I take a small group of memoirists through the unique creative process of fictionalizing their own lives. Said another way, I help authors mine both memory and imagination in order to find, and write, a deeper truth.
Give us a breakdown of how the course is going to go. What can the students expect? What is your favorite part about this class you've dreamed up?
Students bring to class a piece, up to ten pages, of their work in progress, which can be memoir or life-inspired fiction, which they will share and revise throughout the eight weeks, inspired by lectures on theory and craft, close readings of published works, generative exercises, individual critiques, and group workshopping. The goal is to guide writers in telling their stories in whatever genre they choose. Sometimes, a writer discovers which of these vehicles is right for their work-in-progress by taking one of my classes.
What was your first literary crush?
Not first but longstanding is Marilynne Robinson whose Home, Gilead, and Lila novels are perfection to me.
What are you currently reading?
The Graces is an Irish novel about a woman with second sight who gets involved with turn of the century politics, spiritualism, and mayhem in Dublin.
How do you choose what you're working on? When do you know it is the next thing you want to write all the way to THE END?
I start with a character's emotional muddle, usually something I've experienced some form of. Like a thirty-something accomplished scientist with serious Daddy issues, or a celebrity astrologer having a spiritual crisis, my current work in progress.
Where do you find inspiration?
My life, so far exclusively.
What is the best piece of writing wisdom you've received that you can pass along to our readers? How did it impact your work? Why has this advice stuck with you?
No matter how good a piece of new writing feels and sounds, try going deeper into your character's emotions. The bits he or she is barely aware of. Let them talk to you outside of your formal writing process, invite them on walks, into your dreams. New dimensions will open up, I promise.
What is your favorite book to recommend on the craft of writing? Why this book?
Wired For Story by Lisa Cron is a good one. She drops writers into the visceral reading experience and explains what works and why.
Bonus question: What’s your teaching vibe?
A safe place to dig deep and share our life lessons, with a healthy dose of humor.
Learn More About Working with Victoria:
You can learn more about Victoria's upcoming class, When Memoir Becomes Autofiction 8-Week Zoom Workshop, and sign up now!
Join Victoria Costello in this journey to explore new dimensions in writing and enhance your craft!
Instructor Victoria Costello is an Emmy Award-winning writer, teacher, and the author of six published non-fiction books, including her memoir, A Lethal Inheritance, and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Memoir. Her debut novel of autobiographical fiction, Orchid Child, is forthcoming in June of 2023. She teaches writing at Southern Oregon University and for the online platform, Memoir University.