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The Book House is offering a series of writers' retreats on Pelee Island, Ontario, Canada. [Steve Stephens]

Ticket to Write: Pelee Island inn helps writers hone craft

The tranquility of Pelee Island in Ontario, Canada, has long been treasured by artists and writers, including “The Handmaid’s Tale” author Margaret Atwood, who has a cottage on the island.

Now new lakefront lodging, Pelee Island Book House, is offering other authors and writers a chance to experience the Canadian island’s charms while honing their craft through a series of week-long writers’ retreats, with seminars conducted by celebrated authors including Atwood.

The retreats, for accomplished and aspiring writers, feature limited single- and multiple-occupancy rooms and include three buffet-style meals a day (quite good, if my experience holds), ferry transportation to and from the island, and workshops and master classes.

I was lucky enough to attend several days of a session led by the brilliant Alissa York, Canadian author of the novel “The Naturalist.”

I was inspired by the insights that York and the other writers who attended brought to several feedback sessions. Everyone was friendly and helpful, and as a writer (or at least a newspaperman), I appreciated hanging out and spending time with others who face some of the same creative conundrums.

Hostess Dawn Kresan, a published poet, made sure that everyone had what they needed to work, think, share, focus -- or even relax.

Several of the writers shared their work at a public reading at Book House one evening, a delightful affair with wine, snacks and some really powerful prose. I wouldn’t be surprised if the readings become a regular fixture of the island scene.

Although the spring sessions are now over, Book House will offer several writers’ retreats in the fall.

-- On Sept. 11-17, author Paul Vasey will lead a session on memoir writing.

-- On Sept. 19-23, award-winning poet Cassidy McFadzean will direct a lyric-poetry session.

-- On Oct. 2-8, novelist, screenwriter and blogger Chuck Wendig will lead a session called “Genre Writing: How Story Transcends Genre.”

The cost ranges from $600 to $1,200 per session, depending on session length and room choice.

Book House offers lower-cost, “self-directed” writer residencies June 5-10 and Oct. 5-15. The lovely beach house is also available for rent when no writers’ sessions are scheduled.

For more information on Book House writers’ retreats and rentals, visit PeleeIslandWriting.com.

-- Steve Stephens can be reached at ssstephens@dispatch.com or on Twitter @SteveStephens.

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