Dera Williams


Dera R. Williams is an Oakland writer who writes in the fiction, nonfiction and memoir genres.  A family historian, Dera researches and writes about her family. She has co-authored a work of fiction, Mothers Wit: Stories of Mother and Daughters. Her most current anthology contributions can be found in All the Women in My Family Sing, Where's My Tiara (fiction) and the upcoming Two Languages/One Community project. Dera is currently seeking publication of her collection of childhood memories, In My Backyard: Stories of Growing Up in Oakland. She is working on a historical generational novel that spans 50 years.

Did the retreat meet your expectations?

Yes. It gave me the time and space and seclusion to concentrate on my goals.

What was the most unexpected part of your stay?

I didn’t realize how isolated the area of the residency would be.

What was the most enjoyable aspect of your retreat?

Having the time to myself and discovering a new area to me was enjoyable.

Did the vineyard setting inspire you and/or your writing? In what ways?

Yes, it was very inspiring. I got encouragement the first night from the visitors to the community reading and met other writers. Being in an isolated area gave me incentive to sit down with myself and look at the story line from different angles.

What did you work on during the retreat?

I worked on my generational novel-in-progress I call a cross between The Joy Luck Club and Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. My characters are African American women who were born and raised in the south and migrated to California in the late 1950s and have themes of racism, classism, marriage & relationships, coming-of-age, political and cultural aspects.

What other activities did you do during the retreat?

I visited the towns of Healdsburg and Windsor a few times. I ate breakfast at Costeaux and found some nice shops. Loved the charming bookstore Copperfield’s

Did you participate in any activities or events arranged by the host winery? If so please elaborate.

I attended the community reading on the first night where I read from a published piece. It was a nice affair with wine and cheese.

Can you sum up your experience in ten words or less?

Moshin Winery was an ideal setting for creativity.