Creative Writing Retreat at Rancho Las Cascadas

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A Specialist Week of tutoring in Writing for Young People (to include writing for children and young adults).

November 12 –19, 2016

@ Rancho Las Cascadas –

Fiction for young people often uses wild places and natural settings in innovative and evocative ways. What better place to explore this powerful combination than in the beautiful and luxurious Rancho Las Cascadas … complete with waterfalls, stunning natural vistas, authentic Mexican villages, and even wonderful local creole horses! How could you not want to write stories?

Join award-winning, bestselling and groundbreaking authors Melvin Burgess and Lucy Christopher in discovering what it takes to write new and original fiction for a younger audience.

Through exercises, workshops, lectures, one-on-one tutorials, fieldwork and “serious play” in this amazing setting, Melvin and Lucy will introduce some of the key components for beginning, or developing work, for a young audience. They will discuss how to find an original voice, how to push boundaries, as well as how basic elements such as character, setting and plot can enliven and deepen a creative piece. Come prepared to experiment, begin or develop new work, and open your mind to this exciting and innovative area of fiction.


This course is suitable for writers both new to the discipline of Writing for Young People, as well as writers who want to work and develop existing work in this field. Depending on the ability, and desires, of the group, Melvin and Lucy may also conduct some teaching and research activities in the field, perhaps even on horseback! This will be a specialist, intense and hugely enjoyable course taught with fun and care and absolutely tailored to the group’s needs.

As well as the writing course itself, guests will be able to enjoy as much horse riding as they wish (and can fit in). There is a lovely pool and hot tub (overlooking the waterfall), and there will be yoga classes on request (of three guests or more).  Delicious food, drink and alcohol (including lovingly-prepared cocktails) all come as standard too. Each day there will be several hours put aside for guests to do with as they please – write, ride, swim, walk to a local village, or just relax and be inspired.


COST will be $2175 all-inclusive for seven nights (all group and individual writing tuition, guest lectures, all food and drink and all alcohol, luxury accommodation in a private room, airport transfers, and all horse-riding and yoga)

Email Jenny at the Rancho to book your stay


A typical day could consist of:

  • 8:00 – 9:00 am: Breakfast on the Terrace
  • 9:30 am – 12:30/1:00 pm:  Morning Creative Writing Workshop – This could be on character, voice, setting, research, constraints of writing for young people, dialogue etc.
  • 1:00 – 2:00 pm: Lunch beside the waterfall
  • 2:00 – 7:00 pm: Individual Tutorial Slot with the Creative Writing Tutor/s and/or Free Time for writing stories, riding horses, doing yoga, relaxing by the pool, excursion to a local village, getting inspired etc. Tutor/s may also join in an afternoon ride with the students if time permits
  • 7:00 pm: Mexican Dinner
  • After Dinner: Evening Talk and/or Reading


July 27, 2016 in General, Stolen, Teaching, The Killing Woods, Writing, Writing Retreat by

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Writing the Wild – creative writing workshop on June 18th

I’m running a full-day workshop in the beautiful Newport Wetlands nature reserve on the 18th June. It will focus on writing setting, and we will use the spectacular reserve for inspiration. This is the nature reserve where I once worked as a field guide, and the reserve that inspired much of my book FLYAWAY.

Details are here, and poster attached.

It would be GRAND to see you there. And possibly the best thing of all – half of the fee goes directly to the RSPB reserve for conservation of its special creatures and habitats.

RSPB Writing the Wild

‘Writing the Wild’ Creative Writing Workshop

Saturday 18 June

10am – 4pm

Price: RSPB members £36 / non members £45

Booking essential

Join award-winning author Lucy Christopher to discover the ways in which writing the wild and using setting can be important and inspiring for fiction. In a fun and interactive day of writing exercises and exploration, Lucy will guide you through the methods she uses to research and develop her novels.  No need to come with fiction already written but be prepared to explore, develop and have some serious play in this special, inspiring location!


RSPB Newport Wetlands

Where is it?

  • Postcode: NP18 2BZ
  • County: Newport

Contact us

June 10, 2016 in Flyaway, General, Writing by

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Riding And Writing At The Rancho – The Perfect Combination!



I came to Rancho Las Cascadas by accident. I had been invited to speak at the Guadalajara International Bookfair and I was looking for somewhere idyllic to spend a few days afterwards. I wanted rejuvenation and a bit of ‘soul-time’. Perhaps a beachside yoga retreat would revive me out of my current writer’s block; perhaps I could, even, return to UK winter with a tan.

Still, I hesitated to book. Maybe that particular ocean in front of that particular yoga retreat wasn’t quite the right inspiration for my novel-in-progress. Perhaps the yoga guests on the hotel’s website didn’t look too friendly? Maybe I could find a yoga retreat where I could ride a horse, too?

I typed many combinations into trusty Google. Horse yoga in Mexico yielded some particularly …ah … interesting results, though none returned as a combined yoga and riding retreat. Certainly, none of the retreats I discovered combined yoga, riding AND creative writing. Nevertheless, one website was persistent. Over and over again, the website for Rancho Las Cascadas begged me to consider it. But this place was all wrong, wasn’t it? It had no rejuvenating ocean waves, no barefoot peaceful yogis, and how would I find time for inspiration if I were gallivanting on horseback all day?


But, hey…the opening photo on their website looked like it was on a beach, sort of. And the guests in their photos looked friendly at least. And there were HORSES. Horses that looked exceedingly gorgeous from their photos no less.

I sent a cautious email to Jenny, the Rancho’s manager. She replied within minutes, almost beaming with smiles through the printed words. It took me about a day to change my plans from the Mexican Riveria to a Mexican Rancho.

I am so glad I did.

Not only did I find perfect rejuvenation and ‘soul-time’ at Rancho Las Cascadas, I found what I’d been searching for – inspiration and, yes, even time to write. Despite riding each day during the six days I was there, and even fitting in two wonderful yoga classes (yes, they DID do yoga and riding at the same place it seemed!), I wrote every day. I returned to the UK with half a story written for children about a wild horse, as well as a novel idea about horses. Now, I wonder where I got that inspiration?



The Rancho really is the perfect place to write – there is sunshine, smiles, peace, the calm of horses, and time to explore. However, best of all, I also returned with a wonderful idea for teaching. It was in the lazy haze after a yoga class that I spoke to Jenny about the possibility of running a Creative Writing Retreat at the Rancho. As always, Jenny was positive and helpful. Why not, she said, that would be fabulous!

And why not, indeed!

So, I’m doing it. And I cannot wait. Because, what really could be better than sunshine, writing books, riding horses and, yes, even a little yoga!

Watch this space for details about the Creative Writing Retreat I plan to hold at the magical Rancho Las Cascadas from November 12 -19, 2016.

If you’re interested, let Jenny know ( 

For more info on the Rancho –

June 3, 2016 in General, Lucy Speaks, Teaching, Writing, Writing Retreat by

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Out of the darkness, light

Hello everyone.

I know, I know, I’m the world’s worst blogger. But, truth is, I feel bad blogging to you lot when it doesn’t feel like I’ve got all that much to say. Sure, I’ve won a few more awards, I’ve been to a few more amazing places to talk about and discuss books, I’ve taught some amazing people…but still…I know what you’re all waiting for. More writing, another book. And I’ll be honest here, the book that I’m currently writing is a tricky one. It’s changed shape several times along the writing process – it’s changed settings, themes, characters, even genres. But, most of all, it’s taken a long time. One day I will talk about the process of writing this book, because it’s been a challenging, wacky, enriching and downright surprising one. But not yet.

Right now, I want to share with you two things that have kept me going through this long dark tunnel of writing. The first was that I heard Michael Ondaatje talk about The English Patient on the radio. The presenter asked him how long it took to write the book. Ondaatje told him it took six years of continuous, full time work. The presenter expressed surprise at this and said something along the lines of “But you were doing other things, and other writing, during that time too, right?” To which, Ondaatje replied something like, “No, that’s just how long this book took, it couldn’t have been any other way. All books have a time frame, this was this one’s.” So this got me thinking: maybe my third book has a time frame too. It’s a time frame that’s unique only to this book, one that can’t be pushed and beaten into an easy submission, and one not easily understood by marketing departments. Perhaps creative works have different creative time frames. And perhaps we need to realise this as authors, readers, whatever. Creativity is hard to put a deadline on. Creativity is stubbon. And creativity is not easily tamed. If it were, it would lose the very spark of its essence.

The second thing that made me take heart was hearing Elizabeth Gilbert talk about the elusive creative genius in a TED talk. The idea that genius is something outside of us, rather than inside of us, is comforting. Like realising that each creative work has it’s own unique time frame, it takes the pressure off. It stops us from beating ourselves up when the writing isn’t flowing, or flowing quick enough.

When the writing inside of us needs to break free and race towards the empty page, to tangle words with emotion, and to knit into something complicated and subtle and beautiful… the last thing it needs is a punch to the face.
That’s just what’s in my mind this rainy Saturday afternoon.

Sending thoughts of unicorns,

Lucy x

You can see Gilbert’s fabulous TED talk here –

August 25, 2012 in General, Random Thoughts, Writing by


I know … I’m not very good at keeping in touch with you guys…

BUT …. I will write you a long post soon with loads of news.

In the meantime, look at the amazing cover art for the Mexican edition of STOLEN. I love it. Maybe it’s my favourite cover yet. Mexican edition of Stolen

Sorry this third book I’m writing is taking a while to get to you all. I think, if I ever finally get it together … it’ll be worth the wait. Keep hanging in there guys.

Thank you so much for your continued support. Really appreciate all your lovely emails and messages. Sorry I don’t always have the time to reply to all of them – I try my best, but sometimes, writing gets in the way.

Stay tuned for news about STOLEN – the film.

Also, if you want to win a signed copy of one of my books, head over to my facebook fanpage and become a fan! –

Lucy x

January 18, 2012 in General, Stolen, Writing by


A Ten Plot Point Summary of my life recently (In other words, MUCH NEWS. Plus…apologies for not keeping this blog up to date!)

Hi Gang,


I know, I know…I should have written in this thing MONTHS ago.  But I tell you…I have just been too busy!  This year has been so crazy busy, unlike anything I’ve ever experienced…EVER!  Imagine a Merry-go-round sped up about one billion times, complete with super sonic flashing lights and cheering faces whizzing past … and that’s how it’s felt.  I’ve already been to Germany twice, Australia twice, America once, and round the bend several times …

I think I should give you the ten-plot-point summary of the past few months :

1). In March I launched STOLEN in Germany. I went to the Leipzig book fair (cool manga characters wandering round!), Hamburg (sat in my hotel room and worked on my PhD) and Cologne (met some super nice Lit festival people!). This was all great fun, even though the crowds I seemed to attract to watch me seemed very SERIOUS.  I guess that might have something to do with the fact that my German cover is uber scary….it’s black and menacing and with a man’s face lurking behind.  The German title is quite scary too. It’s called ‘Ich Wuenschte Ich Koennte Dich Hassen (which in English means ‘I wished I could hate you’). Apparently it’s doing quite well in Germany. I hope so.  I learnt German all the way through school and even went on exchange to Germany for two months before my final year of school.  I adore this country and I adore its’ language too – I love the way its’ sounds seem to erupt from the back of one’s throat. It feels like such a privilege to have my words translated into it.


2).  End March, I did some great school visits in Sydney and Melbourne … including the most amazing school in Sydney called Newington who runs their own Literature Festival over three days.  Gorgeous place, very inspiring too. I even went back to my old school in Melbourne to do a visit – get this, some of the pictures on the walls are still the same from when I was there YEARS ago … (some of the teachers are still the same too!)


3). End May – back to Melbourne for the wonderful Reading Matters Conference. Imagine this – a whole conference dedicated to YA fiction.  Blissful stuff.  I sat next to one of my childhood heroes – Melina Marchetta. I also signed a copy of Stolen for Markus Zusak … yes, you did read that correctly, author of THE BOOK THIEF! I think this might rank as a career highlight.  However, I did have to ask him how to spell his name – how EMBARRASSING is that?!


4). I returned to Germany in May once again for the Saarbrueken Book Festival – gorgeous little town, and gorgeous little festival. My delightful German editor joined me for this one – sie ist sehr nett.


5). In June I was on a panel to decide the winner of this year’s Branford Boase Award, and the winner is …. HA! I’m not going to tell you this YET….you need to wait a couple more days at least.  But I will tell you that it’s a book that I absolutely think is one of the best books I’ve read for a very long time ….but I would do, wouldn’t I?! It’s the winner after all. But it’s a good winner, a very, very good winner indeed…. It’s so good I wish I’d written it!


6). End June I jetted off to the steamy armpit of New Orleans to pick up my PRINTZ HONOR AWARD for STOLEN (yes, you read that correctly too! Yay!). I spoke in front of 500 librarians (eek!) and then I carried my lovely award home in my hand luggage all the way. I also got to present FLYAWAY to hundreds of librarians too (which is very exciting as FLYAWAY isn’t out in USA until October – they all got advance, uncorrected proof copies to take away…I’d love to know what they thought….hmmm…). New Orleans was one of the most amazing cities also…I rode in a mule-drawn cart as well as on a paddle-steamer. I came over all-Huck-Finn. Plus, I got to spend time with my fantastic American publishing team.


7), Maggie Stiefvater gave me 5 stars on Good Reads for FLYAWAY (I like this fact so much it deserves a point of its own!)


8). I’m just about to set off for a whirlwind tour of Oz….to attend the Prime Minister Awards, for which Flyaway is shortlisted (cross fingers everyone! Cross toes too please!) and to discuss Stolen the FILM (exciting, hey!? Even more exciting is the fact that I may or may not be meeting my ‘Ty’!)


9). I’m a good way into finishing this third book (after several misguided attempts in the wrong direction!). Easy peasy. Ha! Let’s hope so anyway!


10). End of July – I present my Creative Writing PhD to four examiners, including the very brainy Peter Hunt (Lit academic), the very adorable Steve Voake (YA author), the very lyrical Linda Newberry (YA author) and the very important Paul Davies (head of graduate school). Wish me luck for this one too.  My PhD is pretty much all about the writing of Stolen, just in case you were interested.


So, that’s it for now chickens.  Take care out there. Hopefully it won’t be forever again until I write once more…. I’ll try my best anyway. ;-) In the meantime keep those toes crossed for Flyaway at the PM Awards, and watch out as I hand my baton over to the new Branford Boase champion… it’s a big baton, wouldn’t want to hit you with it!

I’m going to leave you with my favourite quote of the moment – “Be kind. For everyone is fighting a hard battle.” (Plato)

Wishing you sunshine and salutations,

Lucy :-)



July 4, 2011 in Awards and Nominations, Book Tours, Flyaway, General, Lucy Speaks, Reviews, Stolen, Writing by


Boot Camp with my Editor!

A couple of weeks ago I spent a lovely few days with my delightful editor, Imogen Cooper, sorting out my third book.

Here are some photos of us hard at work…. or rather, her keeping me captive until I finish the book (if you prefer!).

It seems the kidnap narrative isn’t just reserved for my novels, after all!

Anyone with funny caption suggestions, speak up! :-)

Lucy Christopher and Imogen Cooper

Lucy Christopher and Imogen Cooper

Lucy Christopher and Imogen Cooper

Lucy Christopher and Imogen Cooper

Lucy Christopher and Imogen Cooper

Lucy Christopher and Imogen Cooper




March 19, 2011 in Writing by


In the Bath with Maggie Stiefvater

Here is Maggie Stiefvater and I sharing some bubbles! Well, not that you can actually see the bubbles in this picture (a helpful publicist kindly removed the glasses of Moet out of shot before it was taken!). But nevertheless, this is me and MAGGIE STIEFVATER at the Bath Children’s Literature Festival. How cool is that?! And yes, the length of Maggie’s arm is also impressive. Perhaps this is why she is such a prolific writer. Perhaps the sheer length of her arm means that she can write for days and never tire. Either way, she’s a fab writer and here’s me … meeting her!

For those of you who don’t know it, Maggie Stiefvater has kindly agreed to provide the author endorsement on the US paperback edition of STOLEN. She has also blogged about how much she enjoyed reading STOLEN on her amazing website ( So, all in all, this was a starstruck moment.

I also had the priviledge of seeing Maggie Stiefvater and Jennifer Lynn Barnes in conversation, talking about ‘why werewolves’ and other random things like ‘monkey group behaviour’. It was fascinating, and also very funny.

I spent the rest of my delightful day out at the Bath Children’s Literature Festival meeting up with past students, having a coffee with the gorgeous Julia Green (author of such amazements as Drawing with Light and Blue Moon), watching the Great Cornelia Funke talk about her thrilling new book Reckless, and chatting with my publisher Barry about a new piece of Secret Stolen Film News!! He He He He. I know something you don’t know (you’ll have to imagine the singsong voice that was just in my head!). I also got SPOTTED! Yes, that’s right …. someone came up to me with exactly the words one doesn’t want to hear when one is trying to inconspicuously stalk Maggie Stiefvater : “ARE YOU LUCY CHRISTOPHER?”

I was, you could say, rather bowled over.

In other news, today is meant to be Day One of the New Writing Regime (NWR). So far, I’ve blogged (twice…don’t forget, I’m also Writer in Residence for, I have eaten crumpets, and I have sat in the sun with only a tshirt on(plus other clothes to cover legs etc…don’t worry, I’m no nudist.). On the plus side for the NWR, I have downloaded some songs to inspire me to write it. Also, hearing yesterday that Jennifer Lynn Barnes can write a book in 6 weeks has somewhat terrified me into action.

And on that note, I must depart. It’s time for me to place hands firmly on my hips and stare squarely at Book 3.

Wishing you fun and frolicks,


October 4, 2010 in General, Random Thoughts, Stolen, Writing by



OK, I’m kind of getting into the hang of this blog idea now.  I thought I might tell you a bit about the kinds of things that are going on in my writing life right now.  There are a few excitements!

Firstly, for the month of October, I am the official Writer in Residence for the fabulous Inside A Dog blogspot (part of the Centre for Youth Literature, Australia).  This is really exciting because anyone who really knows me knows I’ve never been the most technologically minded of gals.  But now?  Look at me go!  I have a wonderful new website which I’m blogging on right now, plus I am Writer in Residence for this other fabulous site.  Soon you won’t know me…I’ll just be known as Ms Geek!  So anyway, check out my other blogging site for the month of October HERE.  Also, while you’re there, check out some of the other really cool info on this site….there are some lovely reviews and whatnot!

While we are talking about the fantastic Inside A Dog website, let me tell you about a linked piece of information that is really rather exciting.  STOLEN has been longlisted for the Inky Awards.  These are such brilliant awards.  They are set up by the Centre for Youth Literature, are international awards for teenage literature, and are voted for by YOU (well, if you’re under 20!).  The shortlist for these awards is announced on the 12th October, so please, everyone reading this cross your fingers now and say a small word of encouragement under your breath that STOLEN makes it onto this!

So, in other news? Well there’s some really exciting news about the possibility of making STOLEN into a film, but I’m not sure how much of this I can reveal yet, sooooo…..let’s just keep you hanging on this one for the moment.  But let me just say I let out a small squeal of delight whenever I think about what’s going on here.

Tomorrow I’m off to the Bath Children’s Literature Festival to see Cornelia Funke and Maggie Stiefvater (maybe even meet this fabulous lady, who is providing the author endorsement on the US paperback edition of STOLEN!).

I’ll blog about my adventures here soon.

And then next week I am embarking upon the New Writing Regime.  This is a self-imposed regime of boot camp for me to get my third book written.  Book 3 is currently being a little pest of a creature, and it’s now time to beat him into ship shape.  I’ll no doubt be blogging about the New Writing Regime over the coming few weeks, so this won’t be the last you hear of this. Mwahahaha (that’s my impression of a scary man laugh!).

Anyway, I’ve waffled on here for far too long already, and yeah, I haven’t told you all the stuff that’s going on in my life, but I think I’ve told you enough for now…. so it’s time for me to make like a tree….

Adios Amigos!

Thoughtfulness and friendship,


October 2, 2010 in Awards and Nominations, General, Lucy Speaks, Random Thoughts, Stolen, Writing by


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