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Newcastle Writing Conference

This event has been cancelled

Event information

Where: The Common Room, Neville Hall, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 1SE

Date: 13 May 2023

Time: 10.00am–5.30pm

Cost: £69 Full Price / £59 Early Bird / £30 Virtual Pass (free bursary places available)

Type: Writing and Publishing Skills Hub

Due to the recently announced rail strikes on Friday 12 May and Saturday 13 May, we have had to take the difficult decision to cancel Newcastle Writing Conference, which was scheduled to take place at The Common Room on Saturday 13 May.

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The Newcastle Writing Conference is back!

The writing conference is an event for writers at all stages of their careers. It aims to demystify the world of publishing and supports you to connect with peers and industry experts. Across one day, the conference offers a programme of panels, breakout sessions and practical workshops. Writers choose their own bespoke journey throughout the day, whether you’re interested in polishing your synopsis or learning about the power of BookTok.

Making connections is just as important as a fantastic programme of events. We encourage attendees to mingle over complimentary tea and coffee, visit our pop-up book stall from Forum Books, and meet other writers during the networking time at the end of the day. And don’t forget to pick up your free NWN tote bag!

If you can’t join us in person, you can still be part of Newcastle Writing Conference. We’ll be live-streaming our three main events and offering two exclusive breakout sessions for remote delegates.

See In-Person Timetable  See Virtual Timetable

Keynote Speaker

Natalie Haynes is an acclaimed author, classicist and broadcaster. She is the author of The Amber FuryThe Children of Jocasta, Women’s Prize shortlisted A Thousand Ships, and Stone Blind, which was recently longlisted for the Women’s Prize 2023. Her non-fiction book about women in Greek Myth, Pandora’s Jar, was a bestseller in both the UK and the US. She has written and performed eight series of her BBC Radio 4 show, Natalie Haynes Stands Up for the Classics and in 2015 was awarded the Classical Association Prize for her work in bringing Classics to a wider audience.

Natalie will be talking about her own journey to becoming a writer, as well as offering advice to writers of all genres who are beginning their careers.

This talk will be live-captioned by StageText

Buy a livestream ticket for this event

11.15am Breakout Sessions

  • The First Ten Pages: Writing Workshop with Kit Fan

  • Editing your Work with Kasim Ali

  • Meet the Agent with Rachel Conway

  • Finding Precious Time with Caro Giles

Breakout 1a: The First Ten Pages: Writing Workshop with Kit Fan

Agents and editors often say that the first ten pages determine the fate of a novel. But what makes the first few pages of a novel so important? The tone of voice? The setting? The dialogue? This workshop explores the myth and mechanics of a novel’s beginnings. Kit Fan will share his experience of starting his debut novel Diamond Hill, along with some examples to help you enter different fictional worlds. You’ll discuss how to start, restart, and re-restart, and most importantly, how the art of keeping starting will lead us to the ending.

Breakout 1b: Editing your Work with Kasim Ali

So you’ve finally finished writing your book, and now you need to edit it. But how do you get started? Kasim Ali, using his own experiences of being published and working as an editor in the publishing industry, will talk you through some editing tips. How to understand the shape of your book, how to begin editing, how to think of your characters now that they’re alive on the page. Finishing the book was only the beginning.

Breakout 1c: Meet the Agent with Rachel Conway

Rachel Conway, who works as an agent for literary, television, and radio, is a Director of Georgina Capel Associates. Rachel is interested in a variety of fiction, from children’s and YA, feminist fiction to thrillers and speculative fiction, and loves non-fiction that addresses social issues. Rachel will be offering advice and answering your questions.

Breakout 1d: Finding Precious Time with Caro Giles

Author, full time carer and single parent of four, Caro Giles, talks about how she finds time to write. She will discuss her approach to life writing and how creativity supports her wellbeing. From immersion in nature to looking for magic in the everyday, Caro shares her creative process and explains why writing it all down is just the tip of the iceberg.

12.30pm Breakout Sessions

  • Flash Fiction: Workshop with Désirée Reynolds

  • How to Write a Synopsis with The Literary Consultancy

  • Meet the Agent with Louise Lamont

  • The Power of BookTok with Laura Steven

Breakout 2a: Flash Fiction: Workshop with Désirée Reynolds

In this flash fiction workshop led by Désirée Reynolds, we will be thinking about the essence of flash fiction. We’ll think about what story and narrative means in such a small amount of words – and make some flash fiction of our own.

Breakout 2b: How to Write a Synopsis with The Literary Consultancy

The Literary Consultancy (TLC) is the UK’s longest-established editorial consultancy, pioneering manuscript assessment and editing for all writers. In this workshop, you’ll learn some top tips on how you can do one of the hardest things in writing: condensing your full manuscript down into just one page of A4.

Breakout 2c: Meet the Agent with Louise Lamont

Louise Lamont is a literary agent with LBA. Louise is particularly looking for writers for children and teen readers: strong, sharp storytelling with a hint of humour and a sense of adventure. She’s had multiple clients feature on the shortlists for major children’s fiction prizes, including Julie Mayhew and Rebecca Cobb. Louise will be offering advice and answering questions about finding an agent as a children’s writer.

Breakout 2d: The Power of BookTok with Laura Steven

Laura Steven is an award-winning author of several books for children and young adults. In 2022, she started a TikTok account to promote her latest novel, The Society for Soulless Girls and has since amassed over 18,000 followers. Laura will be talking about how TikTok changed the trajectory of her career and sharing her wisdom with you.

Lunch

Please bring your own packed lunch or head out into Newcastle City Centre. The Common Room is well located for many of Newcastle’s shops and cafes. Take a moment to visit our book stall by Forum Books.

One-to-ones with Agents

In addition to the full day programme, delegates at Newcastle Writing Conference can apply for a free one-to-one meeting with an industry expert. A variety of agents and other literary specialists will be available for ten-minute appointments to discuss your work.

The deadline for applying for a one-to-one session is Monday 1 May at 9am.

Applications made after this deadline will not be considered. The link to apply for a one-to-one will be available to you after purchase, in the confirmation email. Please note that spaces are limited, and we cannot guarantee all delegates a one-to-one session.

Industry Insight Panel

For aspiring authors, the book industry often seems shrouded in mystery. In this panel, you’ll have the opportunity to hear directly from publishers and agents and ask the questions you’ve been itching to know. Join Senior Publicity Manager for Faber & Faber Josh Smith, literary agent at The Good Literary Agency Gyamfia Osei, and Editorial Director for John Murray Yassine Belkacemi as they lift the veil on the world of publishing. They will be talking about current trends in publishing, the future of the industry, and offering advice on how to stand out.

This panel will be live-captioned by StageText

Buy a livestream ticket for this event

3.15pm Breakout Sessions

  • Writing Memories: Workshop with Sairish Hussain

  • Crowdfunding with Unbound

  • Meet the agent with Jenny Hewson

  • Life After Life: How to Realise a Second Career in Writing

Breakout 3a: Writing Memories: Workshop with Sairish Hussain

Join Sairish Hussain for a life-writing workshop of creative writing exercises where you will record stories using parents, grandparents or other family members as an inspiration. You will draw on old family stories/anecdotes to create a work of fiction or use objects, places and people with ties to family/heritage/the past to inspire a story.

Breakout 3b: Crowdfunding with Unbound

Unbound’s crowdfunding ethos enables a more creative, collaborative and reader-centred approach to publishing. In this session, led by Aliya Gulamani, commissioning editor at Unbound, you’ll discover the benefits of crowdfunding, which books thrive under this model, and how to pitch your ideas to Unbound.

Breakout 3c: Meet the Agent with Jenny Hewson

Jenny Hewson is an agent at Lutyens & Rubinstein. She represents literary, historical & book club fiction and in terms of non fiction she is interested in memoir, nature writing, books by academics and experts and narrative nonfiction. She is actively acquiring and open to submissions and is particularly keen to hear from underrepresented writers. Jenny will be offering advice and answering your questions.

Breakout 3d: Life After Life: How to Realise a Second Career in Writing

Annie Garthwaite was 55 when she gave up a thirty-year international business career to write the novel she’d dreamed of for thirty years. Drawing on personal experience, she’ll offer tips on how to realise a second career in writing, describe the demands it will make upon you, and encourage you to draw inspiration from your current work.

The Publication Story with Kasim Ali and Charlotte Vassell

In our final panel, we’ll be joined by two exciting debut authors. The Other Half by Charlotte Vassell is a bitingly funny debut thriller that takes you on a twisty journey through the world of Classics degrees, aristocrats and Instagram influencers. Deftly exploring family obligation, Good Intentions by Kasim Ali is a captivating and powerful modern love story that asks, is love really a choice for everyone?

Charlotte and Kasim will be talking about their journeys to publication and how their books came into being.

This panel will be live-captioned by StageText

Buy a livestream ticket for this event

Virtual Timetable

This year’s Newcastle Writing Conference is open to everyone. The Newcastle Writing Conference virtual ticket gives you access to live-streams of our three main panel events, as well as exclusive virtual breakout sessions reserved for those joining remotely.

As well as hearing from our keynote speaker Natalie Haynes and watching our panels with industry experts and debut authors, virtual conference attendees can attend a writing workshop and a ‘meet the agent’ session.

Buy a £30 Virtual Pass

  • Natalie Haynes Keynote

  • Off the Page with Carmen Marcus

  • Industry Insight Panel

  • Meet the Agent with Amy St Johnston

  • The Publication Story Panel

10.30am–11.10am: Natalie Haynes Keynote (live-streamed)

Watch our keynote speech from Natalie Haynes live-streamed from The Common Room.

11.30am–12.30pm: Off the Page with Carmen Marcus (virtual breakout session)

Everything you need to know about writing (that isn’t writing). Writing is amazing when you are hitting your daily wordcount and the ideas are flowing, but what happens when that energy stalls? The secret is that so much of writing is getting away from the screen and playing with your characters and their shadow selves: mapping ideas, testing scenes, building the world and its rules. In this session, Carmen Marcus will take you off the page to get the creative juices flowing. Equipped with new inspiration, use your break before the Industry Panel to get some words on the page!

2.30pm–3.10pm: Industry Insight panel (live-streamed)

Watch live as Senior Publicity Manager for Faber & Faber Josh Smith, literary agent at The Good Literary Agency Gyamfia Osei and Editorial Director for John Murray Yassine Belkacemi as they lift the veil on the world of publishing. They will be talking about current trends in publishing, the future of the industry, and offering advice on how to stand out.

3.15pm–4.15pm: Meet the Agent with Amy St Johnston (virtual breakout session)

Amy St Johnston is a literary agent at Aitken Alexander. Alongside building her own list as an Associate Agent, she works with Clare Alexander and her stellar list of clients. Her clients include Charlotte Bigland, Good Morning America Book Club pick Onyi Nwabineli, Phoebe McIntosh and Lucy Hannah. She has a passion for novels about dysfunctional families and is on the lookout for something with a great story, that has multiple POVs or crosses generations. Amy will be offering advice and answering your questions in this virtual session.

 

4.20pm–5pm: The Publication Story panel (live-streamed)

In this final live-streamed panel, we’ll be joined by two exciting debut authors. Charlotte and Kasim will be talking about their journeys to publication and how their books came into being.

In-Person Timetable

10am–10.30am – Registration

Join us at 10am to pick up your complimentary New Writing North tote bag and grab yourself a free tea or coffee. Be sure to give yourself time to grab your NWN tote bag and browse our book stall before registration closes at 10.30 am for Natalie Haynes’ keynote speech.

10.30am–11.10am – Keynote Speaker

Introduction from New Writing North and the keynote delivered by Natalie Haynes.

11.15am–12.15pm Breakout Session 1

Choose between four breakout sessions:

  • Breakout 1a: The First Ten Pages: Writing Workshop with Kit Fan
  • Breakout 1b: Editing your Work with Kasim Ali
  • Breakout 1c: Meet the Agent with Rachel Conway
  • Breakout 1d: Finding Precious Time with Caro Giles

12.15pm–12.30pm – Tea and Coffee Break

Join us for complimentary tea and coffee and browse our book stall by Forum Books

12.30pm–1.30pm – Breakout Session 2

Choose between four breakout sessions:

  • Breakout 2a: Flash Fiction: Writing Workshop with Désirée Reynolds
  • Breakout 2b: How to Write a Synopsis with Joe Sedgwick
  • Breakout 2c: Meet the Agent with Louise Lamont
  • Breakout 2d: The Power of BookTok with Laura Steven

1.30pm–2.30pm – Lunch (and one-to-ones with Agents)

Please bring your own packed lunch or head out into Newcastle City Centre. The Common Room is well located for many of Newcastle’s shops and cafes. See our FAQs for some of our favourite spots.

In addition to the full day programme, delegates at Newcastle Writing Conference can apply for a free one-to-one meeting with an industry expert. The link to apply for a one-to-one will be available to you after purchase, in the confirmation email.

2.30pm–3.10pm – Industry Insight Panel

Join Senior Publicity Manager for Faber & Faber Josh Smith, literary agent at The Good Literary Agency Gyamfia Osei and Editorial Director for John Murray Yassine Belkacemi as they lift the veil on the world of publishing. They will be talking about current trends in publishing, the future of the industry, and offering advice on how to stand out.

 

3.15pm–4.15pm – Breakout Session 3

Choose between four breakout sessions:

Breakout 3a: Writing Memories: Workshop with Sairish Hussain
Breakout 3b: Crowdfunding with Aliya Gulamani
Breakout 3c: Meet the Agent with Jenny Hewson
Breakout 3d: Life After Life: How to Realise a Second Career in Writing with Annie Garthwaite

4.20pm–5pm – Closing Panel

In our final panel, we’ll be joined by two exciting debut authors. Charlotte Vassell and Kasim Ali will be talking about their journeys to publication and how their books came into being.

5pm–5.30pm – Networking

Why not stay a while? Enjoy the beautiful surroundings in the Common Room, take a moment to exchange contact details with your new friends, or drift over to the 5|Quarter, the adjoining café bar to continue the conversations sparked by the day’s events.

Speakers

  • Aliya Gulamani

    Aliya Gulamani is an award-winning commissioning editor at Unbound and the Editorial Lead for Unbound Firsts, Unbound’s new imprint for debut writers of colour. In 2022, Aliya was selected as one of the Bookseller’s Rising Stars and awarded The Ola Gotkowsa Young Independent Publisher of the Year Award. As a deaf sign-language user, Aliya is passionate about accessibility and inclusivity in publishing.

  • Amy St Johnston

    Amy St Johnston joined Aitken Alexander in 2018. Alongside building her own list as an Associate Agent, she works with Clare Alexander and her stellar list of clients. She previously worked in editorial at Farshore Books. Her clients include Charlotte Bigland, Good Morning America Book Club pick Onyi Nwabineli, Phoebe McIntosh and Lucy Hannah.

  • Annie Garthwaite

    Annie Garthwaite grew up in a working-class community in Hartlepool. Her debut novel Cecily was published by Penguin in 2021. Cecily was named a ‘top pick’ by The Times and Sunday Times and a ‘Best Book of 2021 by independent bookshops and Waterstones. Annie has just finished writing her second novel.

  • Carmen Marcus

    Carmen Marcus is a published author, poet, creative facilitator, and mentor. As the daughter of a Yorkshire fisherman and Irish chef her writing brings together the practical and the magical.  Her debut novel, How Saints Die, won New Writing North’s Northern Promise Award and was long listed for the Desmond Elliott Prize. She regularly runs writing workshops on subjects that range from creating dangerously to mythic underworlds.

  • Caro Giles

    Caro Giles is a writer living in Northumberland. She worked for eight years as an actor-musician, and with an arts collective in London. In 2021, Caro won the inaugural BBC Countryfile New Nature Writer of the Year competition. Her first book, Twelve Moons, a memoir about mothering in the middle of nowhere, was published by HarperNorth in January 2023.

  • Charlotte Vassell

    Charlotte Vassell is the author of The Other Half, published by Faber and Faber in 2023. Charlotte completed a masters in art history at the School of Oriental and African Studies, before training as an actor at Drama Studio London. Other than treading the boards, Charlotte has also worked in advertising, as a headhunter and as a purveyor of silk top hats.

  • Désirée Reynolds

    Désirée Reynolds is a writer, editor and creative writing workshop facilitator and curator, living in Sheffield. She has written film scripts, short stories, poetry and flash fiction. Her stories are in various anthologies, both online and in print. BBC short story award long lister, BFI funded short film script writer. Currently Writer in residence at the Sheffield Archives.

  • Gyamfia Osei

    Gyamfia Osei began her career at Waterstones, before joining Caskie Mushens as Literary Assistant to Juliet Mushens and Robert Caskie. She lived in Amsterdam for two years, where she managed international sales for The Pepin Press and held the role of Editor for Plural Magazine. Gyamfia is now an agent at The Good Literary Agency and is building a list focused on commercial and upmarket women’s fiction, diverse romance, cultural history and contemporary Children’s books.

  • Jenny Hewson

    Jenny Hewson is an agent at Lutyens & Rubinstein. She represents a wide range of internationally bestselling and award-winning authors including Sarah Perry and Melissa Harrison. She handles literary, historical & book club fiction and is interested in memoir, nature writing, books by academics and experts of all kinds and narrative nonfiction, particularly popular historical & social history. She is actively acquiring and open to submissions and is particularly keen to hear from underrepresented writers.

  • Joe Sedgwick

    Joe Sedgwick is the Head of Writing Services at The Literary Consultancy. Joe has worked at TLC since 2015, where he now manages TLC’s core editorial and operational services, looking after its team of readers and mentors and overseeing all in-house processes. He has an MA in Publishing from Kingston University and has also undertaken internships at Palgrave MacMillan and Bloomsbury. He has been a reader for Spread the Word’s London Short Story Prize & Life Writing Prize.

  • Josh Smith

    Josh Smith is a Senior Publicity Manager at Faber, recently working across titles by Sally Rooney, Kazuo Ishiguro, Akwaeke Emezi, Orhan Pamuk and Jo Browning Wroe.

  • Kasim Ali

    Kasim Ali works as an editor in publishing. He was longlisted for the B4ME Short Story Prize (hosted by his now UK publisher Fourth Estate), and Good Intentions  was shortlisted for the Mo Siewcherran Prize. He’s also had a short story published in The Good Journal.

  • Kit Fan

    Kit Fan’s debut novel is Diamond Hill. His third poetry collection The Ink Cloud Reader  ispublished by Carcanet in April 2023. He was shortlisted twice for the Guardian 4th Estate BAME Short Story Prize, and a winner of Northern Writers Awards for Poetry and Fiction, and POETRY’s Editors Prize for Reviewing. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2022.

  • Laura Steven

    Laura Steven is an award-winning author from the northernmost town in England. She has published several books for children and young adults, most recently The Society For Soulless Girls – a feminist retelling of Jekyll & Hyde. Her debut novel The Exact Opposite Of Okay won the inaugural Comedy Women In Print Prize, while The Love Hypothesis was optioned for TV by an Emmy-winning team.

  • Louise Lamont

    Louise Lamont moved into publishing after a brief spell in the world of film development. In 2013, she joined LBA where she now has a list of award-winning authors and illustrators. Recent titles include Laura Wood’s YA historical romance The Agency for Scandal; spooky adventure The Wildstorm Curse by Eve Wersocki Morris; and the latest outrageous caper in Emma Yarlett’s international best-selling series Nibbles the Book Monster.

  • Natalie Haynes

    Natalie Haynes is a writer and broadcaster. She is the author of four novels including the Women’s Prize Longlisted Stone Blind. Her non-fiction book Pandora’s Jar, was a bestseller in both the UK and the US. She has written and performed eight series of her BBC Radio 4 show, Natalie Haynes Stands Up for the Classics. In 2015 she was awarded the Classical Association Prize for her work in bringing Classics to a wider audience.

  • Rachel Conway

    Rachel Conway is a literary agent and Director at Georgina Capel Associates. Her list includes Dylan Thomas Prize, Orwell Prize and Waterstones Children’s Book Prize shortlisted authors, as well as winners of the Manchester Fiction Prize, Irish Book of the Year, and the YA Book Prize. Her interests range from literary and well-written commercial fiction, to thrillers, sci-fi, and books for older children and teens. She also represents a wide range of non-fiction writers.

  • Sairish Hussain

    Sairish Hussain is a Bradford based author and Lecturer in Creative Writing. Her debut novel, The Family Tree, was published by HarperCollins and shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award, the Portico Prize and The Diverse Book Awards. It was also longlisted for the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award and winner of Calibre Audio’s ‘Hidden Gem’ Prize.

  • Yassine Belkacemi

    Yassine Belkacemi is Editorial Director at John Murray Press. He works across their Baskerville crime and thriller imprint where he publishes authors such as Mick Herron, Frankie Boyle, and Kaoru Takamura. He also commissions literary fiction and narrative non-fiction for the John Murray imprint where his authors include Andy Jiaming Tang, Mateo Askaripour, and Gabriel Szatan.

Bursaries

New Writing North recognises that talent is everywhere but opportunity is not. If you are unable to book a ticket for the conference without financial help, we encourage you to apply for one of our ten free bursary places. Bursary places are based on financial need and will be selected at random from valid applicants.

You are eligible for a bursary ticket if you are in receipt of Jobseekers’ Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Income Support, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, Employment and Support Allowance, Asylum Support, or Universal Credit. If none of the above applies but you feel that you are still eligible, please get in touch.

UPDATE: In-person bursaries are now fully booked. To apply for a bursary for a Virtual Pass, please email [email protected] with the subject line Newcastle Writing Conference Bursary, and briefly outline the way in which you are eligible for a free ticket.

FAQs

Will lunch be provided?

Please bring your own packed lunch or head out into Newcastle City Centre. The Common Room is well located for many of Newcastle’s shops and cafes.

Where should I eat lunch?

The Common Room Newcastle is in easy walking distance for a range of delicious local options. Some places we love within a five-minute walk:

Grainger Market: 17 different food stalls, offering everything from mouth-watering treats from around the world, to comforting British grub.

Pink Lane Bakery: The finest sourdough bread, beautiful pastries and cakes, and renowned sausage rolls, pies, pasties, and sandwiches.

Zapatista: Fresh, delicious and healthy authentic tacos, burritos and nachos

Really short on time? Grab something quick from the Marks & Spencer or Sainsbury’s located in Newcastle Central Station 3 minutes away.

Will tea and coffee be provided?

Yes, there will be complimentary tea and coffee on arrival and between the first and second breakout sessions.

How do I book a one-to-one with an agent?

The link to apply for a one-to-one will be available to you after purchase, in the confirmation email. Please note that spaces are limited, and we cannot guarantee all delegates a one-to-one session.

Will any of the events be livestreamed?

Yes, we have a programme of livestreamed events which includes the keynote, the industry insight panel, two exclusive virtual-only breakout sessions with Carmen Marcus and Amy St Johnston, and our closing panel, The Publication Story with Kasim Ali and Charlotte Vassell. You can purchase your ticket for the virtual event here.

How do I get there?

The Common Room Newcastle is a 3 minute walk from Newcastle Central Station, where you can access regional and national trains and also the Tyne and Wear Metro. If you are driving, there are various car parks in the city centre, including Times Square or Dean Street nearby.

Address: The Common Room, Neville Hall, Westgate Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1SE

Is the venue accessible?

The Common Room is fully accessible, with lifts to each floor.

The Common Room and cafe bar 5|Quarter are accessed from street level through the main double door entrance from Orchard Street. On coming into the main building, the ground floor is then up four steps (with a double handrail).  For wheelchair, pushchair and limited mobility access there is a small platform lift to the ground floor level freely available to use if you wish. Accessible toilets are available on the ground floor and Wood Hall levels.  In the cafe bar and Reading Room, tables are available at a range of heights to suit all customers. All assistance dogs are very welcome throughout the building.

When you purchase your ticket, you will have an opportunity to let us know about any specific access requirements. Please email [email protected] for any enquiries.

Are the bursary places for in-person or virtual tickets?

There are bursary tickets available for both in-person and livestreamed events. Please specify which ticket you would like in your email to [email protected]