Djerassi Resident Artists Program




Workshop Information

Writing the Debut Novel the Non-MFA Way

with Heidi Durrow

The workshop is geared to debut novelists and is well-suited for those writing about difference, race, and social justice. The workshop will include workshop manuscript critiques, time for new writing as well as workshop writing prompts, a private consultation of 50 pages of your manuscript, and talks on actionable steps you can take to start your career as a published writer. Includes up to 50 pages manuscript consultation in private 1/2 hour session with Heidi Durrow. Full novel review available for an additional fee. Applicants accepted pending review of writing samples by Heidi Durrow.

Dates: Saturday, February 21 – Thursday, February 26, 2015
Deadline: December 3, 2014  
Notifications: by December 19, 2014

Application fee: $10

Workshop fee: $1200/$1700 private room, shared bath/private room and bath
Special couples rate: $1000 each (shared room/bed)
Includes 5 nights lodging, all food, and local transportation from and to the San Francisco Airport.
Deposit of $500 due by December 29 ($250 non-refundable)
Final payment due by January 12

Application Process:
Applications for the workshop can be accessed through this link:
or by clicking on the APPLY button on the top left of this page.

Application materials requested:

  • 2015 Heidi Durrow Workshop Application Form
  • A statement of max 300 words about where you are with your work-in-progress and what you hope to gain from the workshop.
  • A writing sample of up to 25 pages. This does NOT have to be the manuscript that you will workshop at Djerassi. (Note: You will need to submit the manuscript that will be workshopped no later than Jan. 15.)

Heidi W. Durrow is the New York Times best-selling author of The Girl Who Fell From the Sky (Algonquin Books), which received writer Barbara Kingsolver’s PEN/Bellwether Prize for Literature of Social Change, and is a book club favorite. The Girl Who Fell From the Sky has been hailed as one of the Best Novels of 2010 by the Washington Post, a Top 10 Book of 2010 by The Oregonian, and named a Top 10 Debut of 2010 by Booklist. Ebony Magazine named Heidi as one of its Power 100 Leaders of 2010 along with writers Edwidge Danticat and Malcolm Gladwell. Heidi was nominated for an 2011 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Debut. Heidi is a graduate of Stanford, Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism and Yale Law School. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Heidi has worked as a corporate attorney at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, and as a Life Skills trainer to professional athletes of the National Football League and National Basketball Association.

She was a founder and producer of the now defunct Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival, but is excited to be spearheading this new festival project, the Mixed Remixed Festival, an annual free public event, that celebrates stories of the Mixed experience through films, books and performance. She was the co-host of the award-winning weekly podcast Mixed Chicks Chat; and is now the host of a new audio and video podcast called The Mixed Experience.

Heidi is also a highly acclaimed and sought-after public speaker who has spoken at Brown, Exeter, Yale Law School and many other universities nationwide. She has also been a featured speaker at Sundance and other popular festivals, conferences and high schools on creativity, women’s empowerment, and multicultural and multiracial issues. She has been featured as a leading expert on multiracial and multicultural issues and identity by the NBC Nightly News, the New York Times, CNN, National Public Radio, the BBC, Ebony Magazine and the San Francisco Chronicle. She is an occasional contributor to National Public Radio and blogs for the Huffington Post.

"At age 29 I quit my job and set out to write the Great American Novel by age 30. After 6 years of feeling stuck, I realized I was only playing at writing a book while I waited for my muse to come and for someone to discover my talent. I had to treat my ambition to become a published novelist the same way that I had planned out my professional career. That’s when I started to see results the non-MFA way. I learned to grow my craft and my career and ended up with a New York Times best-selling novel that continues to grow a wide readership now internationally. This workshop is tailored for the person who has always wanted to write for a living, but doesn’t have an idea about how to start. I'm looking forward to sharing my process and helping other writers who are looking for a way to take tangible steps toward achieving their dreams."--Heidi

What to Expect:
We will meet each morning to discuss the participants' manuscripts with an eye toward providing feedback that builds on the manuscript's strengths. These sessions will focus on craft and developing skills as a debut novelist. Afternoons will be reserved for time to do new writing and private consultations with Heidi as well as free time to explore the wonderful trails of Djerassi. In the evenings, (either before or after dinner), there will be brief talks about how to develop a career as a writer and provide information about resources helpful to debut novelists. At least one night will feature a reading by participants.

For an additional fee, writers are offered the opportunity for a full manuscript critique with Heidi. Once accepted to the workshop, more details about the additional full manuscript consultations will be sent to you.


"Heidi was just amazing. The audience, heck the whole city, just loved her."
— Andrew Proctor, Executive Director, Literary Arts, Portland (on the occasion of the Multnomah County Library Everybody Reads)

"As our commencement speaker, Heidi Durrow was able to connect with our students through her life experiences that were humbling and very down to earth. She left the graduates with a powerful message that they can carry with them for the rest of their lives...I would invite her back to be our commencement speaker in the future if the opportunity presented itself."
— Bob Knight, president, Clark College

"Heidi's visit to Lewis & Clark was the highlight of our student and community programming. It is a rare gift to have such a talented and transcendent women-of-color writer serve as a living role model for other aspiring young writers and artists."
— Tricia Brand, associate dean of students, director of multicultural affairs, Lewis & Clark College

"Heidi's energy and enthusiasm were exactly what we needed . . . She talked about the process of writing . . . and she spoke passionately about the issues of race, especially in children. Just as she made us part of the literary process, she made herself part of our celebration. She became one of us and, in so doing, she gave literacy and Laguna Reads the intimacy and excitement we wanted." — Jan Fisher, coordinator, Laguna Reads, St. Mary's Episcopal Church, Laguna Beach, CA.



Djerassi Resident Artists Program
2325 Bear Gulch Road  
Woodside, CA 94062

650 747-1250