Inaugural Writers' Conference Debuts in May at Seaside

April 21, 2014 by SoWal Staff

For two weeks in May, Seaside will become home base for two professional writers who will be participating in a series of events for the first Seaside Writers Conference. Conceived by Seacoast Collegiate High School principal, Jonathan D’Avignon, the goals for this conference is to reach out to local students at both the middle and high school level and the general public by offering instruction with a heavy emphasis on the process of writing during a concentrated time period.

“Writing has seen a decline in importance through the myriad of state testing,” D’Avignon said. “I wanted to bring a new sense of urgency back to writing.”

With that mission in mind, D’Avignon reached out to former Florida State University college friends and accomplished writers Dr. Matt Bondruant and Dr. Seth Brady Tucker to see if they would be interested in assisting him with this idea. They jumped at the opportunity.

“I have wanted to spearhead a retreat like this for many years,” said Dr. Tucker. “And I believe that the fact that this experience is going to be developed and deployed by writers is going to give the conference a distinct literary flavor.”

Sessions with the Seaside Neighborhood School and Seacoast Collegiate High School students will be held during the first week of the authors’ stay, which begins on May 12. Also during the first week, a three-day, college-level workshop is being offered to any student who wants some concentrated time with the authors.

During the second week, daily ticketed events on various topics will be offered to the general public (see schedule below). Courses will focus on teaching craft skills, strategies and tricks of the trade used by the instructors and other writers to develop accomplished pieces of work. The last two days will feature a two-day, four-session workshop targeting the more experienced writer. Feedback from both authors will be given on works in progress along with helpful techniques to deal with getting over problematic areas.

A sunset reception for the authors will be held on Monday, May 12, and a movie screening of “Lawless,” which was based on the international best selling book, “The Wettest County in the World,” written by Dr. Bondurant will take place on May 16 followed by a reception and Q & A session with the author. 

Dr. Tucker believes that the act of reading and writing teach us how to be better people and that this particular conference can truly benefit the local community in more ways than one.

“Poetry and fiction writing can make us more empathetic,” he said. “And if there is anything this world needs right now, it is empathy.”

The Seaside Writers Conference is sponsored by Seacoast Collegiate High School, Seaside Neighborhood School, The Seaside Institute and Sundog Books.

Please contact Jonathan D’Avignon with questions or for further information at  Tickets for the general public events can be purchased online at


Matt Bondurant’s newest novel The Night Swimmer (Scribner) was published in January, 2012, and was featured in the New York Times Book Review, Outside Magazine, and The Daily Beast, among others.  His second novel The Wettest County in the World (Scribner 2008) was a New York Times Editor’s Pick, a San Francisco Chronicle Best 50 Books of the Year, an international bestseller, and has been made into a feature film (Lawless) by Director John Hillcoat, starring Shia Labeouf, Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska, Gary Oldman, and Guy Pearce.  

His first novel, The Third Translation (Hyperion 2005) was an international bestseller, translated into 14 languages worldwide.  His non-fiction work has appeared in The Huffington Post, Outside, The Dallas Morning News, The Guardian, and numerous other outlets.  Matt recently sold two original drama TV pilots, including a development deal with HBO/Cinemax and Red Wagon Entertainment.  He is currently adapting the graphic novel Strange Attractors into a feature film for Russell Ackerman, John Fairchild, and Fox Pictures.  

A former John Gardner Fellow in Fiction at Bread Loaf, Kingsbury Fellow at Florida State, and Walter E. Dakin Fellow at Sewanee, Matt has appeared on various media outlets, including the Discovery Channel, Radio France, and NPR, and has been a featured speaker or reader at dozens of literary festivals, workshops, and conferences.  In the past Matt worked for the Associated Press National Broadcast Office in Washington DC, an NPR on-air announcer and producer, and as a Steward at the British Museum in London, England.  He currently lives in Texas.

Seth Brady Tucker is a poet and fiction writer, and has received degrees from San Francisco State University, Northern Arizona University, and Florida State University (PhD). He is best known for his poetry manuscript Mormon Boy. In 2011, Tucker won the Elixir Press Editor’s Prize. He has won the Bevel Summers Fiction Prize and the Literal Latte Flash Fiction Award, and was a finalist for the Jeff Sharlet Award and the Colorado Book Award in 2013.

Tucker’s work has been recognized in many journals including Shenandoah, Iowa Review, and North American Review. Seth Brady Tucker currently works as a professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder as well as at the Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver, and volunteers in high security prisons through the Words Beyond Bars literacy program. 


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