Vanessa Couchman

Vanessa Couchman is a historical novelist and short story writer. She has lived in southwest France since 1997 and draws inspiration from French and Corsican history and culture. Her first novel, The House at Zaronza, set in early 20th-century Corsica and at the Western Front during World War I, was a runner-up in the Flash 500 Novel Opening Competition. Vanessa’s second
novel, set in Corsica and Marseille in the 18th century, will be published in early autumn 2017. Her short stories have won and been placed in creative writing competitions and published in numerous anthologies.


The House at Zaronza

Loosely inspired by a true story, The House at Zaronza is set in early20th-century Corsica and at the Western Front during World War I. Rachel Swift travels to Corsica to discover more about her forebears. She comes across a series of passionate love letters and delves into their history.The story unfolds of a secret romance at the start of the 20th century between a village schoolteacher and Maria Orsini, the daughter of a bourgeois family. Maria’s parents have other plans for her future, though, and she sees her dreams crumble. Her life is played out against the backdrop of Corsica, the “island of beauty”, and the turmoil of World War I, when Maria becomes a nurse at the Front.

This is a story about love, loss and reconciliation in a strict patriarchal society, whose values are challenged as the world changes.

The Workshop

Creating three-dimensional characters. Stories are about people, their personalities, motivations and aspirations, and so it’s crucial that readers can connect with them on an intellectual and an emotional level. Workshop participants will learn tips and techniques for giving their characters more depth and credibility and for making characters evolve over the course of a story/novel. The workshop will include practical exercises and discussion of published examples of effective character development.