Individual residencies / Olot


From Monday, 25 September 2023 to Friday, 6 October 2023

Writer and Screenwriter
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada


Michael Mirolla is the author of 17 novels, plays, film scripts, short story collections, and poetry collections. His novella The Last News Vendor won the 2021 Hamilton Literary Award and his poetry collection At the End of the World was shortlisted in 2022. Three previous books —The House on 14th Avenue, Lessons In Relationship Dyads, and Berlin— were winners of the Bressani Prize. His work has been awarded the National Best Book Awards, the Reader View Awards, and the Indie Book awards. Two of his short stories were Pushcart Prize nominees. Michael has worked as an editor for more than 40 years, and has served as the editor-in-chief of Guernica Editions since 2010. In the fall of 2019, Michael served a three-month writer’s residency at the Historic Joy Kogawa House, during which time he finished the first draft of a novel, The Second Law of Thermodynamics. A major symposium on his writing is scheduled to take place in Toronto in May of 2023. Born in Jelsi, Italy, Michael grew up in Montreal and currently lives in Hamilton, Ontario.


I would work on completing my near-future dystopian novella, "How About This...?" It’s a little after the middle of the 21st century. Loving couple Elspeth and Marybeth are both shocked and excited when a stroller with identical twins is left on their back deck with a recorded message that warns them not to try to return the babies or they could face arrest for kidnapping. Using false starts, footnotes, direct approaches to the reader, lists, questions about who the author(s) might be, and even a dose of self-criticism, the story unwinds from that point as El and Mar work hard to create a family under the circumstances. This becomes even more difficult when they discover the babies come with unusual features that perhaps might explain why they were left in the first place. And it all takes place in a disintegrating world that may leave humans incapable of telling their own stories.

An Experience Well Worth Repeating.

I did not know what to expect when I first arrived at the bus station in Olot after about 24 hours of travel – by car, by plane, and by bus (twice). I arrived at the Riu Fluvia Hotel later in the evening, after Pepa had finished her day. Again, I didn’t know what to expect when I went down to dinner that evening. I was greeted by the other residents and made to feel at home right from the start. (The glass of red wine helped!) The next day I met Pepa and was grateful for her enthusiasm and efficiency (a combination one doesn’t find too often in one person). She explained how the residency worked and I was on my way.

The hotel room was set up for a writer – with a desk, a comfortable chair, easy-to-reach electrical sockets and a table light. I was able to put down my laptop and get to work right away. This was the start of a routine from which I tried not to deviate, knowing that I had to complete the project of writing the next draft of my novella. The routine consisted of: half an hour for breakfast at about eight; a two-hour walk through many of the trails and paths around the hotel (each day trying out a different route that often took me through ancient lava fields and dormant volcanoes); then back at my desk for several hours of concentration); a bit of lunch; then more working through the novella to “clean it up” and prepare it hopefully for a publisher (being a publisher myself, I know how difficult that can be).

At eight in the evening (a symmetrical 12 hours from breakfast), I joined the other residents for supper. The food was exceptional, served by someone who was not only gracious but also loved to play romantic guitar music from his cell phone.

This routine lasted for my entire time there – 10 days that proved extremely productive and educational. I finished the next draft of my novella and even managed to write a series of poems about various aspects of Olot and the surrounding areas.

In my humble opinion, this is exactly what a writer’s residency should do: provide the resident with the opportunity to focus on a project and to see that project through to completion. This is something that isn’t always possible when at home. There, there’s a tendency to procrastinate and to find excuses for not doing your work. At a residency, you feel guilty if you don’t achieve what you set out to achieve.

I would recommend Faberllull Olot to any writer (or artist) who is serious about their work.

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