Workshop #


Monsters, Tales And Going To The Dark Side


Robin McLean

We live in strange times. On one hand, we in the 21st Century claim to prize logic and rationality above all else; in our college classrooms, in our Fortune 50 boardrooms and in our civic debates over immigration, climate change and other vexing moral and ethical issues, our society seeks empirical data and proof. Yet in the popular and artistic media the irrational is booming! We are obsessed, it seems, with zombies and vampires, magic and tall tales. Why? Is there something in us that craves the balance of light and darkness? Whatever the reason, short fiction writers should rejoice over the surging interest in the modern fairy tale. Fairy tales—the oldest form of the short story—have always provided an artistic and intellectual space to explore what logic and reason cannot, the unspoken possibilities inherent in human beings.

In this workshop, through a series of exercises, we will leave reality in the dust. We will explore the fairy tale as a highly relevant, accessible, fun and liberating modern form of the short story. In doing so, we will see how this form can enlighten us about the light and dark sides of ourselves.



Robin McLean was a lawyer then a potter for 15 years in the woods of Alaska before receiving her MFA at UMass Amherst. Her debut story collection Reptile House won the BOA Short Fiction Prize and was named a best book of 2015 in The Paris Review. Her stories have appeared widely. She has taught college writing of a wide variety for the last decade, and is currently teaching and directing at Ike’s Canyon Ranch Writer’s Retreat, a remote high plains desert outpost in central Nevada, which she co-founded. www.ikescanyon.com