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Podcast – Writers Toolkit

Welcome to the New Writing North podcast, where we’ll be showcasing some of the highlights of our programme, as well as commissioning and broadcasting new work from writers based in the North of England.

Common People: Breaking the Class Ceiling in UK Publishing


Leading writers Stuart Maconie, Kit de Waal, Tony Walsh and Lisa McInerney consider what it means to be a working-class writer working in the publishing industry today

“It’s the last great unspoken prejudice in British life, and that runs through everywhere – particularly some of the areas of the media I work in, like publishing and broadcasting” Stuart Maconie

The Common People anthology brought together 16 leading working-class writers with 17 new unpublished working-class writers to create a picture of working-class life in Britain today.

As part of the opportunity, the 17 new writers were also offered a 12-month professional development programme to support their entry into the publishing industry, working alongside mentors and England’s seven regional literature development agencies, with Unbound and Arts Council England.

Now, to coincide with a new report by Professor Katy Shaw of Northumbria University, Common People: Breaking the Class Ceiling in UK Publishing, we are delighted to present this special episode of the New Writing North podcast.

This episode brings together several of the established authors who featured in the Common People anthology, including Stuart Maconie, Kit de Waal, Tony Walsh, Lisa McInerney, with writer and academic Dave O’Brien and new writers Jodie Russian-Red and Shaun Wilson. The episode also features Jonathan Paterson, a Finance Director at the Hachette UK Group, and Clara Farmer, Publishing Director of Chatto & Windus.

Together they consider the experience of working-class writers and publishers working in the UK, identify some of the pervasive barriers which mean that the publishing industry fails to represent a huge proportion of the British public, and consider what change could look like.

Produced by Philippa Geering for New Writing North

The Common People Writing Development Programme was produced by literature development agencies New Writing North, Writing West Midlands, New Writing South, National Centre for Writing, Writing East Midlands and Literature Works and Spread the Word with support from Arts Council England.

Crime Story 2018: Denise Mina in conversation with Professor Katy Shaw

For Crime Story 2018 award-winning writer Denise Mina was commissioned to write a thrilling crime story about murder, trafficking and the drug trade. The story was the focus of a series of panel events in which real police, lawyers and criminologists explored how they would have approached solving the crime in real life. Here she talks with Professor Katy Shaw of Northumbria University about her work and writing life, how to write a truly interesting victim and just how to solve her intriguing mystery.

Crime Story is a unique event for crime writers and readers, produced by New Writing North and Northumbria University. Find out more about Crime Story here:

How to Get Published with Northern Writers' Awards winners Yvonne Battle-Felton and Laura Steven

In this episode we join two former recipients of the Northern Writers’ Awards, Yvonne Battle-Felton and Laura Steven, in conversation with our Senior Programme Manager for Writing, Awards and Libraries, Will Mackie.

In this episode, we find out just how the Northern Writers’ Awards work, from tips on how best to apply to the impact of winning an award. Yvonne and Laura both explain how crucial the Northern Writers’ Awards were to their writing development and how winning helped to further their writing careers. We also cover the value of a good pen name, the importance of diversity in writing, dealing with rejection and how to get the best out of agent-author relationships when you’re about to publish your work.

There’s still time to submit to the 2019 Northern Writers’ Awards, which are open for submissions until midnight on Thursday 7 February. Apply and find out more at

Yvonne Battle-Felton was born in Pennsylvania and raised in New Jersey. She holds an MA in Writing from Johns Hopkins University and a PhD in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. Yvonne is a Lecturer in Creative Writing and Creative Industries at Sheffield Hallam University. A writer of fiction and creative non-fiction, her writing has been published in riverSedge, Assisi, Not Somewhere Else But Here: A Contemporary Anthology of Women and Place, Welter, Slices, and The Chesapeake Reader Literary Journal. Yvonne was a recipient of a Northern Writers’ Award in 2017 for Remembered.
Remembered is published on 7 February 2019 by Little, Brown.

Laura Steven is an author, screenwriter and journalist from the northernmost town in England. The Exact Opposite of Okay, her ‘hilarious and poignant’ YA debut exploring slut shaming and sexuality, was published by Egmont in 2018. Laura’s journalism has been featured in The i Paper, Buzzfeed, The Guardian and Living North. She has a BA in Journalism and an MA in Creative Writing from Northumbria University. Laura Steven was the recipient of a Northern Writers’ Award in 2018.

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