This New West workshop will help writers tackle trauma, taboos and other tough topics

How can you write about tough and taboo topics?

The Royal City Literary Arts Society is exploring that issue in a workshop on Saturday, Oct. 19.

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Heather Conn will lead the session in Writing About Trauma, Taboos, Secrets & Other Scary Stuff, running from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. in Room 413A at the Anvil Centre.

A press release notes that, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, writing about personally revealing topics – whether that’s incest, sexual assault, bullying or bulimia – can be terrifying for any writer, regardless of their experience.

“If you’re revealing a family secret for the first time, how do you overcome fear of retribution or getting ostracized? How do you write past PTSD? What happens if one of your subjects threatens to sue?” the press release says.

In her four-decade career, Conn has written non-fiction accounts of incest, sexual assaults, trauma, PTSD, flashbacks and caregiving for her dying husband. She has coached writers dealing with issues ranging from mental illness, rape, racism and institutionalization to transgender stigmas.

Her workshop will provide both practical and inspirational tips, encouraging active discussion. She’ll look to provide tailor-made tips for each participant’s writing project as well as a general “toolkit” of tips to help participants complete an existing project or start a new one.

The release notes Conn works to give writers confidence to overcome their own fears or doubts about tackling a particular topic and to offer a safe, supportive group atmosphere that breaks down a writer’s sense of isolation.

On the practical side, she’ll also introduce participants to how the marketplace, agents, publishers and the like can respond to this type of story, and she’ll make participants aware of the basic legal issues involved in “tell-all” books.

The Anvil Centre is at 777 Columbia St. The workshop costs $15 for members, $25 for non-members. See, or pre-register by emailing

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