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Newcastle Writing Conference

Saturday 20 May 2017

Newcastle Writing Conference is a must-attend event for aspiring and early career writers looking to promote their work, network with fellow writers and understand more about the publishing industry.

At a glance

Develop your career

Draw on the experience and expertise of publishing industry professionals, whose insight and very practical advice can help you take the next steps in your writing career.

Creative writing sessions

Newcastle Writing Conference is also the perfect place to find inspiration. We run a range of innovative creative writing sessions, suited to writers at all stages of their careers, led by award-winning writers and creative writing teachers.

Make connections

Unlike other conferences, we keep the capacity low (at 135 writers), so you can meet and network with your writing peers, and everyone gets the most out of each session.


Arrival, registration, tea and coffee

Welcome from Claire Malcolm, chief executive of New Writing North

Keynote address:
Louise Doughty

Break-out Session One – choose one from below

Coffee break, networking and book signing with Louise Doughty

Break-out Session Two – choose one from below

What’s Hot and What’s Not with Ella Kahn, Susannah Otter and Kate Barker, chaired by David Roche

In our final panel, agents and editors will look at current trends and issues affecting the publishing industry, while we invite them to look to the future of the publishing landscape. This panel discussion has always been a popular feature of our previous writing conferences and is not to be missed!

Questions from the audience

After hours
Networking drinks

From 6.30pm we’ll be heading over the road to Nancy’s Bordello for networking drinks with the Society of Authors. We hope you can join us!

Break-out Session One

A. Editing your work with Susannah Otter (FULLY BOOKED)

Susannah is the commissioning editor for non fiction at Quadrille. Previously she was an editor at Vintage, working on fiction and non-fiction including authors like Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison, Booker-Prize winner Richard Flanagan, Nigella Lawson and Edmund de Waal. She’s passionate about bringing books to new audiences and discovering stories that people can’t resist sharing, whether that’s online or in a book.

Bring a 500-word sample of your work to this practical workshop. This is also a great opportunity to ask questions about how to get the most out of working with your editor.

B. Writing about place with Jenn Ashworth

Jenn Ashworth is the award-winning author of A Kind of Intimacy (2009), Cold Light (2011) and The Friday Gospels (2013). Her powerful new novel Fell is her most innovative and ambitious to date. It is infused with the haunted moodiness of its Morecambe Bay setting and narrated from an unusual perspective.

This creative writing workshop is a wonderful opportunity to learn from one of the most exciting young novelists of her generation. This session will focus on writing about place.

C. Should I self-publish? with Rachel Abbott in conversation with David Roche

Rachel Abbott has self-published six novels, including The Sixth Window. Her books are psychological thrillers, unsettling, intense and with tightly wrought plots. In 2015 having sold over 1.5million books, she was named as the No.1 self-published author on Amazon Kindle UK and the fourteenth best-selling author overall.

In this session she will share her self-publishing journey and offer advice and tips for success in the self-publishing world.


D. Meet the agent: Kate Barker

Kate Barker has worked in book publishing for nearly 20 years. Recently she set up her own literary agency and is actively looking for new writers. Previously she worked at Penguin, Orion and Curtis Brown and she has worked with authors including Naomi Alderman, Karen Joy Fowler, Catherine O’Flynn and Elif Shafak. She was an editor for a long time and if an author shows promise she is happy to help shape their book.

In this session Kate will share her personal wish list, as well as offering advice on how to best prepare your work to find an agent and answering any questions you have on the process.

E. Off the Page: Gemma Seltzer

Explore all the ways you can share your ideas, stories and poems beyond the printed page. Join writer Gemma Seltzer to learn about digital literature, participatory arts projects, poetry films, social media fiction and writing for radio. There’ll be time to start planning your own new paperless writing project, too!

Break-out Session Two

A. Be Your Own Best Publicist: promoting your work with Maura Brickell

Maura Brickell is an award-winning books publicist who has worked on campaigns for authors as diverse as Jo Brand, Will Young, Melvin Burgess and Sarah Winman. Her session will be packed with excellent ideas for making your work stand out from the crowd.

B. Meet the agent: Ella Kahn

Ella Kahn co-founded DKW literary agency in 2012. Ella represents upmarket contemporary and historical fiction, science fiction, and some non-fiction. She also represents a wide range of children’s fiction for the 9-12 and YA age groups.

Ella will be joined in this session by one of her authors, Dan Smith, author of thrillers for adults and children, including Boy X (2016) and Dry Season (2011). Together they will share their experience and advice on how best to hook and work with your agent. This session is open to all, and will particularly suit those writing for children.

C. Finding your story with Andrew Crumey (FULLY BOOKED)

Andrew Crumey is the award-winning author of seven novels, including Sputnik Caledonia (2008) and The Secret Knowledge (2013). He also lectures in creative writing at Northumbria University. In this inspiring creative writing workshop, Andrew employs exercises which take you back to the roots of your story to find the voice you want to develop. This session is suitable both for those with a completed draft, as well as writers looking for fresh inspiration.

D. The business of being a writer with Theo Jones (Society of Authors) and Niel Bushnell

Get to grips with your writing career with Theo Jones of the Society of Authors, who will cover the nuts and bolts of contracts, terms of agreements, rights, and how to navigate the publishing world.

Niel Bushnell is a children’s author and chair of the SoA’s Authors North committee. He will join Theo to talk about the practicalities of being a writer, being self-employed and the benefits of being a member of the Society of Authors.

E. Perfect your pitch with Ian Fenton

Get tongue-tied when trying to describe your work? With writer and director Ian Fenton’s tips and techniques, you’ll perfect your elevator pitch in no time – ready to wow your peers in the coffee break after this interactive workshop. Ian works closely with our Northern Writers’ Awards winners each year to prepare their pitches, many of whom have gone on to sign with major publishers and agents.


Book now

Early Bird tickets
£39 + booking fee until 28 April 2017 SOLD OUT

Full price tickets:
£49 + booking fee SOLD OUT

Student tickets:
£25 + booking fee SOLD OUT


“I would like to congratulate Newcastle Writing Conference on putting together a superb line-up of speakers who revealed more in one day than any amount of reading in “How to…” books can ever do.”

Conference attendee 2013

“All the speakers – and hosts – were enthusiastic, informative and inspiring. They presented information I found relevant and very positive, and managed to cover a wide scope of related issues but in great depth.”

Newcastle Writing Conference 2015 attendee

See you soon!

Newcastle Writing Conference 2017 takes place at Northumbria Law School, City Campus East, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 1UY

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