Arts and Entertainment

Writer's Retreat features Pulitzer winner William Dietrich

By Heather Larson, Special to the Federal Way Mirror

Little did William Dietrich know when he was a child writing fiction, that one day he’d win a Pulitzer Prize.

His coverage of the infamous Exxon Valdez oil spill for the Seattle Times, along with a team of three other reporters, garnered him that prestigious award.

Dietrich, who will speak at the Federal Way Writer’s Retreat on Friday, April 24, has written eight novels, three non-fiction books and a textbook. His newest novel, “The Dakota Cipher,” hits bookstores in late March. Part of a series of books starring hero Ethan Gage, calls Dietrich’s latest work “a fast-paced adventure that brings together Norse mythology, the American wilderness and a swashbuckling explorer in an irresistible page-turner.”

In his presentation titled “Harnessing Research and Experience to Make Your Story Gallop,” he’ll tell conference attendees how to use research as a foundation for their story, how to insert a fictional character into actual history and how to use both real-life people and fictional characters to give a story depth. Dietrich will share tips on how to make a story more interesting. He is also scheduled to speak about “The Writing Life.”

“I’ve had a lot of ups and downs and I want to share the importance of persevering and believing in yourself,” said Dietrich, who lives in Anacortes, Wash. “Cut yourself some slack and give yourself time. You’re not going to be an overnight Hollywood success because that just doesn’t happen.”

Writers who want to improve their craft need to write. Dietrich said skill won’t develop if you don’t. He also suggest reading widely both for pleasure and seriously to broaden your knowledge base. Finally, he urges writers to be authentic and not try to copy another writer.

Other featured speakers at the two-day conference include:

• Michael Collins, “Writing Your Novel”

• Robert Ray, “Rewriting Your Novel

• Susan Zwinger, “Using Your 47 Senses to Give Your Story a Home”

• Barbara McArthur, “Adventures of a First-Time Writer”

• Kent Sturgis, “Working with Small Presses”

• Sam Green, “Architecture of the Poem: Scaffolding That Works”

The Federal Way Writer’s Retreat at Dumas Bay, now in its third consecutive year, is sponsored by the City of Federal Way Arts Commission. The commission is a 12-member, volunteer group that advises the city council on all areas of the arts, including fine arts, literary, performing, visual and cultural.

Check it out

What: Writer’s Retreat at Dumas Bay

When: Friday, April 24 and Saturday, April 25

Where: Dumas Bay Centre, 3200 SW Dash Point Road, Federal Way

Cost: $90 for both days, $50 for one day, including meals. $40 additional to stay overnight

How: Registration form is online at

Contact: (253) 835-6000

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