2021 Festival


10:30noonChildren’s Literature: Readings & Discussion
12:1513:15Taster Session: Poetic Compaction (Getting started with Short Poetry)
13:3014:45Lunchtime Readings:Magical Realism
15:0016:20Creative Collaborations Talk
16:3018:30Masterclass with Ruth Brandt: Where to Begin with Your Book
17:3018:30Instagram Poetry Talk with Nikita Gill
18:3019:30Dinner break
19:3021:00Headline Reading: Diana Evans 


10:3011:15Taster Session: Teaching Your Characters to Talk
11:3013:30Masterclass with Michael Donkor: ‘Presenting Friendships On The Page’ 
14:0015:15Afternoon Novelist Readings
15:3016:30Author Talk: Ghostwriting with Roz Morris
17:0019:00Open Mic Event 


Diana Evans

Diana Evans is the author of Ordinary People, which won the South Bank Sky Arts Award for Literature, and was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, the Rathbones Folio Prize and the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction. Her previous novels are The Wonder and her bestselling debut 26a, which won the inaugural Orange Award for New Writers. Her journalism, essays and criticism appear in Time Magazine, the Guardian, Vogue and Financial Times among others. She is an associate lecturer in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is diana-novel-1.jpg
Photo credit: © Charlie Hopkinson


Ruth Brandt

Where to Begin with Your Book.

Do you think you would enjoy creative writing but are not sure where to start? Or do you have an idea for a novel or want to write about your life but don’t know how to go about it? This course will touch on the importance of reading for a writer, of being prepared to make mistakes  and the necessity of redrafting, and it will introduce you to techniques used to bring characters, real and fictional, to life on paper.

The course will be set in a relaxed, workshop atmosphere where you will be encouraged to write your own creative piece. No previous experience is necessary.

Michael Donkor

Presenting Friendships on the Page.

In this lively workshop, drawing inspiration from literary and other texts, we’ll explore ways of bringing complexity and humanity to the friendships within our fiction. We’ll experiment with exercises that encourage us to write dialogue which convincingly captures the humour and intimacy of conversation between old pals. We’ll also think about how depictions of the shifting power dynamics of friendships can drive plot in thrilling and unexpected ways.

Taster Sessions

Gillian Best

Teaching Your Character to Talk.

In this 45 minute session we’ll explore how dialogue works, and how it can work for you. We’ll discuss how phatic talk often falls flat in fiction, examine subtext and how you can do it well in dialogue, and finally we’ll do a couple of brief writing exercises together to get you started.  If you have specific questions, please bring them along!

This session would be most appropriate for those writers who have tried writing dialogue before and find it’s falling flat.

Gillian will also be treating us to a reading of her work during our ‘Novelist Readings’ session.

Robert Kiely

Poetic Compaction: An Introduction to Short-Form Poetry

Poetry is frequently bound up with ideas around economy of words and compactness. In this workshop, we will discuss short-form poetry by looking at sample poems, how they demonstrate urgency, exactness and rigour. Equally, we will discuss the dangers of glibness and the too-well-rounded close, and how to let imperfection and error into our short poetry and our writing life more generally. Like the world of miniatures, short poems are a space where fine details and miniscule blunders scream. We will discuss how to experiment with the linebreak and the “swerve,” where an unexpected detail emerges, and hopefully these tools can bring some excitement and adventure to your writing.


Nikita Gill

Instagram Poetry Talk

Nikita is a poet and playwright. She has more than 600,000 followers on Instagram and has been described as one of the most successful “Instapoets”. She has also written and curated six poetry books and one novel in verse. Her latest collection, Where Hope Comes From: Healing poetry for the heart, mind and soul, will be published on 18 February.

Nikita will read some of her work before we open the floor to your burning questions.

Roz Morris


Ghostwriting is a shadowy corner of the publishing world. How much of it goes on? Who does it? How does it work? Is it respectable? If you’re a writer, how do you gain entry? Most of all, would it suit you? Roz Morris is a novelist, memoirist and writing coach. She’s taught masterclasses at international events and for The Guardian in London. She’s acclaimed for her own novels, My Memories of a Future Life and Lifeform Three, and she’s also the secret hand behind ghostwritten books that have sold more than 4 million copies. In this one-hour session, she gives a glimpse behind closed doors.

Novelist Readings

Alex Reeve

Novelist Reading

Alex will be reading from his debut novel, The House on Half Moon Street, published in May 2018 and part of the Leo Stanhope series.

Children’s Literature Panel

Ally Sherrick

A. M. Dassu

Ben Dixon

Magical Realism Panel

Julia Armfield

Inua Ellams

Lucy Hughes-Hallett

Creative Collaborations Talk

This talk will take place with two pairs who work in creative collaboration through different methods: husband & wife writing team Paul Vlitos and Collette Lyons, and a pair of writer / artist friends who will be announced later today.

Paul and Collette will be talking about the challenges and benefits of working as part of a creative partnership (and/or co-writing a novel with your partner and/or during lockdown). They’re also happy to offer some do’s and don’ts!

Paul Vlitos & Collette Lyons

Martha Cook & Liz Bahs