AUTHOR TO BUY: If Monte Schulz’s offer to buy the Santa Barbara Writers Conference is accepted Tuesday, March 30, he’d like to return it to its birthplace at Cate School in Carpinteria.
But he told The Independent in a phone interview today that it’s too late to organize a conference this year. Last year’s was canceled when prior owner Marcia Meier went bankrupt, engulfed by red ink. Schulz, 58, author and son of the late Peanuts’ cartoonist Charles Schulz, says he knows of no other offer than his $27,000 bid to buy the conference out of bankruptcy.
Bankruptcy trustees were scheduled to hold an auction on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court at 1415 State Street, but it was taken off calendar because not all of the interested parties were able to appear. Schulz, a prolific novelist, lives in Nevada City, CA, but spends his summers here. He doesn’t plan on attending the auction, when and if it does happen, so he’ll be waiting to hear if his bid is accepted just like everyone else.
Schulz said he’d like to bring the conference back to the private Cate School, where founders Mary and Barnaby Conrad started it, although he hasn’t started any serious negotiations with school officials. The Mar Monte Hotel on East Beach is another possibility, he said, but believes that Fess Parker’s Doubletree Resort — where Meier held the event for several years — is too large.
As a full-time writer, Schulz said he would be unable to run the conference, but that “I have a new girlfriend” who might take charge. “I don’t need to make a profit but I don’t want to lose a ton of money, either,” he said. Charles Schulz spoke annually at the conference and Monte was a workshop leader under prior owner Meier. “I thought she did a good job,” he said.
Schulz said trustees would apply his $27,000 to those with claims against the conference, such as the Doubletree. He said he also planned to pay the Conrads $20,000, money he says that they are still owed by Meier from the $75,000 purchase price. The bankruptcy process took so long there wasn’t time to plan a 2010 conference, he said. But 2011? “Sure,” he replied.
He plans the same format that’s been successful in the past, bringing back local writers and teachers to help continue it as a community event. The Conrads have offered their help as well.
Schulz said he is “extremely proud” of his serious fiction, including last fall’s This Side of Jordan, which he marketed on a 4,000-mile tour, and the upcoming The Last Rose of Summer.