Aaron Rabinowitz is an American-born, Vancouver-based writer who focuses on young adult fiction for ages 14 and up. He also will water your plants when you are out of town.
Did the retreat meet your expectations?
The Moshin Vineyards location was beautiful. Julia and the rest of the crew there made me feel so welcome. Plus, the studio apartment I stayed in included a full size refrigerator—not one of those half-pint mini bar jobs. It was a pleasure watching a jar of jam chill out on the interior fridge door ledge like it was on a secluded ocean-view balcony. And how about those two butter pats basking on the empty middle shelf like a couple of honeymooners…. What was the question again? Yes, exceeded. Definitely exceeded all expectations.
What was the most enjoyable aspect of your retreat?
I’ve never had the opportunity to write for an unbroken stretch of time. Being fully immersed in my story enabled me to complete a substantial amount writing in such a condensed period. The momentum from the retreat propelled me to finish the rest of my novel within weeks of returning home, well ahead of my timetable. Also, the place had a full size refrigerator. Did I already mention that?
What did you work on during the retreat?
I worked on the first draft of a young adult novel in which seventeen-year-old Parker moves to Vancouver Island where she’s immediately disarmed by Ben’s humor and the rugged good looks of Ben’s mysterious best friend Shady. But as Shady’s enigmatic backstory unspools and her feelings for him test the boys’ friendship, Parker discovers the devastating reason her father had avoided returning with her to his Canadian hometown. And why her ailing grandfather is telling lies of his own. It’s told via the alternating narrations of Parker and Ben, and though it culminates with serious revelations, I made sure to include humorous portrayals of bassoonists, Saskatchewan-isms, and urinal ice.
No one can write 24 hours a day! What other activities did you do during the retreat?
I admired the ancient trees in nearby Armstrong Forest and the beautiful California coast. I created and consumed multiple PB&Js. As with any self-respecting sandwich, the crusts were cut off and the end product was divided into triangles. Late at night I would step outside and check out the stars. But mainly I spent my time in the apartment, uh, writing between the vines. Yeah, I just said that.
Did you participate in any activities or events arranged by the host winery? If so please elaborate.
Marcy Gordon organized a reading at Moshin Vineyard the first night. It was fun to meet the winery crowd and hear from the other writers. No one booed or threw overripe organic produce at me when I read my excerpt—an unexpected bonus.
Any tips or advice you think might be helpful for future residency applicants?
Apply. You never know. And if you go, don’t make peanut butter and jelly lunches every day. Maybe go for sushi once and a while. Or yogurt. Or jazz things up with a nice beet and goat cheese salad. Sprinkle with pistachios or walnuts, allergies permitting.
Any other comments, impressions, and surprises about the retreat you wish to convey?
After the retreat ended, I headed a few of hours south. I realized I’d forgotten my one-and-only suit (which I needed for a formal family event). If you want to see what a hero looks like, check out Colleen at Moshin. She and her husband went completely out of their way to deliver my suit to me that weekend. I almost forget it again when rushing for my flight home the following day. Where are the Colleens of the world when you need them?