From (l.) authors Sarah Rees Brennan, Cassandra Clare, Holly Black, Sarah Cross, Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Ally Carter, Maureen Johnson, Diana Peterfreund and Carrie Ryan. (Not pictured: Robin Wasserman.)
The week before St. Patrick’s Day, 10 YA writers descended on a castle in Ireland, never to be heard from again. Well, that might have been the result had the trip taken place in one of their novels, but in reality, the authors worked on their novels, took day trips in the surrounding area and made “huge tureens of soup,” according to Irish author Sarah Rees Brennan (The Demon’s Lexicon), who helped organize the writing retreat—which did indeed take place in a castle.
Brennan says that although the idea for a castle trip first surfaced last summer at a convention in Oklahoma, where she met writers Ally Carter (the Gallagher Girls series) and Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Fate), the flights, attendees and the destination itself—Springfield Castle in County Limerick—weren’t finalized until around Christmas. The final group of 10 consisted of Brennan, Carter and Barnes, as well as Cassandra Clare (the Mortal Instruments trilogy), Holly Black (The Spiderwick Chronicles), Sarah Cross (Dull Boy), Maureen Johnson (Suite Scarlett), Diana Peterfreund (the Secret Society Girl series), Carrie Ryan (The Forest of Hands and Teeth) and Robin Wasserman (Skinned).
Springfield Castle in County Limerick, where the authors stayed, is more than 700 years old.
“Everybody was a friend of a friend, but there were a couple of people who hadn’t met each other,” says Brennan, admitting that, initially at least, “some of us were shy.” Events of the week included a trip to see the Cliffs of Moher (the “Cliffs of Insanity” from the movie The Princess Bride) as well as celebrating the release of Ryan’s The Forest of Hands and Teeth, which pubbed while the writers were in residence at the castle.
But it wasn’t all fun and games. “Maureen Johnson was on deadline, Cassie and I were working on a project we’re co-writing,” Brennan says. “There was a lot of telling stories of the books we were writing and discussing them, discussing YA trends, what kinds of romances we like best, staying up until five a.m.” Suffice it to say that by the end of the week, the authors all knew each other a whole lot better, and the suggestion of renting a castle in Spain next year has been raised. “We all had enough fun that we want to do it again,” Brennan says.