Come with a concept. Leave with a plan.

There are no available registration dates at this time.

From S.A. Cosby to Gillian Flynn, from Kate Atkinson to John Grisham and John le Carré, authors of thrillers keep us on the edge of our seats and take us into new worlds. Spy thrillers, legal thrillers, medical thrillers, domestic thrillers: any realm can have high suspense, a ticking clock, and urgent stakes. In this workshop, we’ll take a world you know well—your profession, your hobby, your background, your family, or something you’ve thoroughly researched—and develop a strong plot, vivid characters, and a clear plan of action for writing your book. We’ll write by hand. All you’ll need is a thick notebook and a pen.

Joy Castro Books, 2023
Joy Castro’s work has won the International Latino Book Award and Nebraska Book Award and has been selected as a Finalist for the PEN Center USA Literary Award. Her books have been adopted for courses at dozens of colleges and universities, including Brown, Grinnell, Purdue, UC-Davis, Rutgers, and Vanderbilt.


“I absolutely LOVED every aspect of this course, and having Joy as a teacher was phenomenal. She really encouraged us. This class was honestly life-changing for me, and that was in large part due to Joy’s engaging style of teaching.”

“Joy’s command of the workshop room is particularly impressive. She is masterful in setting expectations and redirecting discussions in a kind and gentle manner.”

“Very organized. I was especially impressed with Joy’s time management so she could get everything she planned.”

“Joy demonstrated immense care and thoughtfulness in structuring our classroom environment into one that respected and honored a range of perspectives, backgrounds, and voices.”

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Instructor: Dr. Joy Castro

Joy Castro is the award-winning author of the 2023 historical thriller One Brilliant Flame, a story of Key West in the 1800s; the Appalachian novel Flight Risk, a finalist for a 2022 International Thriller Award; the post-Katrina New Orleans literary thrillers Hell or High Water, which received the Nebraska Book Award, and Nearer Home, which have both been published in France by Gallimard’s historic Série Noire; the short fiction collection How Winter Began; the memoir The Truth Book; and the essay collection Island of Bones, which received the International Latino Book Award and was a Finalist for the PEN Center USA Literary Award. She is also editor of the craft anthology Family Trouble: Memoirists on the Hazards and Rewards of Revealing Family and the founding series editor of Machete, a series in innovative literary nonfiction at The Ohio State University Press. She served as the guest judge of CRAFT‘s first Creative Nonfiction Award, and her fiction, essays, and criticism have appeared in venues including Ploughshares, The Brooklyn Rail, Senses of Cinema, Salon, Gulf Coast, Brevity, Afro-Hispanic Review, Seneca Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, and The New York Times Magazine. A former Writer-in-Residence at Vanderbilt University, she is currently the Willa Cather Professor of English and Ethnic Studies (Latinx Studies) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she directs the Institute for Ethnic Studies.