Iceland: Additional Info/Frequently Asked Questions

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What if I’m new to flash fiction?

While our retreats focus on flash fiction, the skills we teach can be applied to any genre, and writers at any level will find it inspiring—whether you are a beginner on your journey or a veteran looking for renewal and inspiration. We’ve worked with a wide range of writers from poets to novelists, all motivated to add to and refine their creative skills. Everyone welcome!

How cold is Iceland in January?

Well, it is Iceland! That said, the average temperatures in the capital city of Reykjavik averages 30 F/0 C, though there are other factors including potential wind and lack of sunlight to make it feel colder. Dress as if you were going skiing, more or less, with a few specialty items (like possibly snowshoes if you plan to do any exploring).

*LOGISTICAL NOTE: This retreat is best for the adventurous and those in relative good health.

What should I pack/how should I dress?

We will give our participants a comprehensive packing list as the time get closer, but to get an idea:

This from the Extreme Iceland website: 

  1. Long-sleeved undergarment.
  2. Wool or fleece sweater.
  3. Down jacket or parka in winter.
  4. Water repellent/ski pants in winter
  5. Sturdy, waterproof boots.
  6. Warm wool socks in winter.
  7. Insulated softshell pants in winter.

This from: another blogger at Full Suitcase

And another great list at Finding the Universe

How likely is it that we will see the Northern Lights?

While the darkness and lack of light pollution will create ideal Northern Lights viewing opportunities, we (of course) cannot guarantee any natural phenomenon. That said, we can guarantee an amazing journey into the land of fairy tales, darkness, ice, and the depth of your own writing.

What is the history of the Héraðsskólinn Schoolhouse-turned-Guesthouse?

From the website: “Héraðsskólinn was designed by Guðjón Samúelsson, considered by most the greatest architect in Iceland´s history. The building was constructed in 1928.

Ingunn and Bodvar owned the land on which Héraðsskólinn would eventually be built. They fought a long battle to get the school built in Laugarvatn, which at this point in its history was nothing more than a piece of land adjoining a lake. In fact, the entire town would be built up around the school after its construction. Ingunn and Bodvar ultimately gave their land to the Icelandic state, so that the school could be built in what they believed was the perfect location. If not for them, neither the school nor the town would exist.”

Can I come early or stay late in Iceland?

Many people choose to come early or stay in country after the retreat is over. In recent years, New Years Eve in Reykjavik has become a very popular destination (and if you are considering that it might be worthwhile to book lodging well ahead of time). Héraðsskólinn Guesthouse will be closed for the holidays until we arrive, so if you want to come early or stay late we suggest Reykjavik or renting a car to explore on your own. Note: Iceland is VERY expensive, so be prepared to pay up to double for things like food and gas.

How to get there / airport transport:

Flying: Note that out of country flights come into Keflavik Airport, which is about 1 hour from the capital city of Reykjavik. Those of you wanting to come into Iceland early should prepare to get an airport transfer from the airport to Reykjavik (reserve online or purchase at the airport).

We will have ONE shuttle picking up/dropping off in Keflavik and one shuttle picking up/dropping off from Reykjavik, so there will need to be some coordination involved. If you are planning to explore outside of that itinerary you will need your own transportation.

If you prefer to rent a car, here are directions from the Guesthouse website:

From Reykjavík (60 minutes)


From Reykjavik city center take route 1 (Vesturlandsvegur) towards Akureyri (13 km/8 miles). Once you drive past Mosfellsbær, turn right onto road 36 (Þingvallavegur) towards Thingvellir National Park.

Drive 45 km/28 miles through Thingvellir until you reach road 365, (Gjábakkavegur) and take a left. Drive 15km/9 miles to Laugarvatn.

You’ll find Héraðsskólinn, with its landmark green roof, on the right side shortly after you exit the roundabout.


From the airport drive directly to Reykjavik on route Reykjanesbraut.

From Reykjavik city center take route 1 (Vesturlandsvegur) towards Akureyri (13 km/8 miles). Once you drive past Mosfellsbær, turn right onto road 36 (Þingvallavegur) towards Thingvellir National Park.

Drive 45 km/28 miles through Thingvellir until you reach road 365, (Gjábakkavegur) and take a left. Drive 15km/9 miles to Laugarvatn.

You’ll find Héraðsskólinn, with its landmark green roof, on the right side shortly after you exit the roundabout.

What is the payment schedule? When will I need to pay my balance?

  • A $500 deposit is due at the time of registration to reserve your place.
  • 50% of remaining balance due on or before September 1st, 2020.
  • Remaining balance is due on or before November 1st, 2020 (you may opt to pay the entire balance at any time before Nov 1st).

What is your cancellation policy?

  • 100% refund of deposit (minus PayPal fees) before Sept. 1st, 2020
  • 50% refund of deposit (minus PayPal fees) before Oct. 1st, 2020
  • Please note: After Oct. 1st, 2020 no refunds can be made. In some extenuating circumstances, a credit may be applied to a future retreat.

May I bring along a non-writer guest or partner?

We understand that you may want to bring along a non-writer guest! We can consider this on case by case basis if there is room available.

Should I purchase traveler’s insurance?

Yes. We highly recommend you get traveler’s insurance for our international retreats, ideally at the time of making your deposit. Good travel insurance can cover you when medical insurance won’t, particularly for international travelers. It protects against trip delays, offers rental car coverage, and covers lost luggage and accidental death. More info here:

Note: We will require proof of health insurance (scanned or physical copy of insurance card) prior to the retreat. This is for your own protection in case of emergency.

Does the venue accommodate those of us with dietary restrictions?

Yes, most dietary needs can be accommodated if we have advanced notice. There may be a fee for this, depending on the nature of the requirement. Also the cafe/restaurant in the Guesthouse is open every day for snacks and other desired purchases.

Are there elevators or accessible rooms?

No, unfortunately there are no elevators and all rooms will be on the first or second floors and will require using stairs.

Tell me more about Fontana Hot Springs:

Fontana Hot Springs is just a 5 minute walk from the Guesthouse and one of the reasons we chose this perfect remote location!

More about Fontana Geothermal Springs

We will have dinner at the Fontana Restaurant one night (included), and the hot springs restaurant/cafe is open every day. Entry to the hot spring baths is not included, but our retreat guests receive a 10% discount on admission.


What is “blue time”?

This is from the Aurora Zone website: “In late December and early January, you’ll get to witness the phenomenon of ‘Blue Time’. This is how the locals refer to the amazing light that occurs when the sun never rises above the horizon. Rather than the misconception of 24 hours of darkness, the blue tones of the not-quite daylight, not-quite night-time light reflect off the brilliantly-white snow surrounding you. As the sun returns in early January, the colours change again and the pinkish glow of the appearing sun spreads across the crisp white landscape.”

Any reviews of your past retreats?

Glad you asked! Read testimonials from past participants HERE. 

About the facilitators:

fullsizeoutput_555Kathy Fish’s short stories and flash fiction have been published and anthologized widely. She is a core faculty member for the Mile High MFA program at Regis University in Denver. She has published five collections of short fiction: a chapbook in the Rose Metal Press collective, A Peculiar Feeling of Restlessness: Four Chapbooks of Short Short Fiction by Four Women (2008); Wild Life (Matter Press, 2011); Together We Can Bury It (The Lit Pub, 2012); Rift, co-authored with Robert Vaughan (Unknown Press, 2015); and most recently, Wild Life: Collected Works from 2003-2018 (Matter Press.) She also teaches online workshops of her own design and has led two large (120+ participant) weekend flash fiction gatherings. Several of her stories have been chosen for the Wigleaf Top 50. Her story, “Strong Tongue,” was chosen by Amy Hempel for Best Small Fictions 2017 and her piece, “Collective Nouns for Humans in the Wild,” which addresses the scourge of gun violence in America, was selected by Aimee Bender for Best Small Fictions 2018 and also by Sheila Heti for Best American Nonrequired Reading 2018. The piece will also be featured in an upcoming volume of The Norton Reader.

nancy headshot

Nancy Stohlman’s new flash fiction craft book, Going Short: An Invitation to Flash Fiction, will be released from Ad Hoc Fiction in the summer of 2020. She is also the author of Madam Velvet’s Cabaret of Oddities (Big Table Publishing, 2018), which was a finalist for a 2019 Colorado Book Award); The Vixen Scream and Other Bible Stories (Pure Slush Press, 2014); the flash novels The Monster Opera (Bartleby Snopes, 2013) and Searching for Suzi (Monkeypuzzle Press, 2009); and three anthologies of flash fiction including Fast Forward: The Mix Tape (Fast Forward Press, 2010). She is the creator of The Fbomb Flash Fiction Reading Series, FlashNano in November, and her work has been featured in the W.W. Norton anthology New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction, The Best Small Fictions 2019, and nominated for several Pushcart Prizes. She lives in Denver and teaches at the University of Colorado Boulder.


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