The Kauai Writers Conference is unlike any other literary conference I’ve attended, for obvious and not-so-obvious reasons. First of all, of course, Kauai is spectacular; faculty and attendees walk around in a perpetual state of delight and astonishment at their good fortune in being in a place of such preternatural beauty. (The sunsets alone are a religious experience.)
I think the fact that it’s an island contributes to the intimacy and informality of the program; faculty members often attend each other’s sessions, as well as optional gatherings and dinners, with a shared sense that we’re all marooned together. Because most of us stay at the same hotel with a central courtyard, there’s an unusual level of interaction between authors, agents, editors, and attendees. In addition to the lectures, workshops, and one-on-one sessions in which attendees interact and meet with faculty, there are plenty of opportunities to connect informally. A number of the people I met and bonded with in Kauai – both faculty and attendees — have not only become professional allies but good friends.
As a bonus, my week in Kauai, surrounded by ocean, contemplating how freeing and also insular island living can be, undoubtedly inspired some passages in the novel I’m writing now, which takes place on an island off the coast of Australia.