Boris Starling: Writer In Residence programme at Max Gate


I’ve always wanted to be a writer-in-residence. DJs have residencies: why shouldn’t writers? Max Gate is smaller (and certainly quieter) than the average nightclub, but you don’t have to be there very long to realise it’s a special place. I’m thrilled and honoured to have been chosen, and very excited about the events we have lined up.

I’ll be running two creative writing workshops at Max Gate in the coming weeks. They’re both evening events, running from 6.30pm to 8.30 pm. They’re free, with places limited to 12, and strictly first come first served. To book onto them please ring the house directly on 01305 262538.

The first workshop, on Thursday 1st October, is called ‘A Sense of Place’, and will be about the importance of location in what you write. It’s not about Thomas Hardy himself, but of course we’ll touch on him: the landscape and seasons are such an integral part of his writing, and even the briefest drive round the area shows you why. When my wife and I moved out of London with two small children a few years ago, we knew only that we wanted to go west. We scoured Devon and Somerset for houses, but nothing really grabbed us. Then one day we went to look at a few places in West Dorset, proper Hardy country, and we knew instantly that we’d found where we wanted to live.

The second workshop, ‘Plotting’, is appropriately enough on Guy Fawkes Night, Thursday 5th November. Gunpowder strictly optional (and it’s also a good excuse not to spend your evening handing out several tonnes of Haribo to trick-or-treaters.) I’ll be discussing how to plot books, as it’s one of the hardest things to do properly: how to make sure everything connects both logistically and emotionally, tie up all loose ends, how to put in little details which seem insignificant at the time but become crucial later, and so on.

We’ve also got several other events going on:

  • An Open Day at Max Gate on Tuesday 13th October between 11am and 4pm, with events being arranged as we speak.
  • An ongoing competition called ’88 Words’, where you can write a story in no more than 88 words on the subject of ‘Life’s Little Ironies.’ Both the word count and the subject are a nod to Hardy: he was in his 88th year when he died, and he wrote a short story collection called Life’s Little Ironies. The competition runs till 5pm on Friday 20 November, and the top three will all receive prizes. You can send your 88 words to me at:

There are more events in the pipeline which will be announced the moment they’re finalised. I’ll be spending some days with my laptop at Max Gate, literally being a writer in residence. I was keen to be all ‘method’ by necking a bottle of Scotch and throwing endless pieces of crumpled paper into the nearest bin, but wiser heads have prevailed …

I very much hope to see you at one (or more!) of these events and/or to receive your 88 words of peerless prose.

Boris Starling September 2015

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