Altrincham Word Fest online

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Writer Neil Campbell. Photo by Gwen Riley Jones
Writer Neil Campbell. Photo by Gwen Riley Jones

Altrincham Word Fest, online, 1–8 October 2020, free entry - Visit now

Now in its third year, Altrincham Word Fest was due in the world back in May but, of course, All This put a stop to that, so after some careful rescheduling of already booked participants, the festival returns in the autumn, running for a week 1 to 8 October. Details of the full programme can be found on the AWF website, but – to whet your appetite – here’s a selection of activities that will be taking place via Zoom.

Since its inaugural event in 2018, Altrincham Word Fest’s USP has always been a focus on participation – the two-woman organising team Anne Earley, an events manager and marketeer, and Yoko Isami, a printmaker and artist, have always selected their guest authors on the strength of their ability to encourage attendees to not only read, but also to write. So as well as listening to some of the North West’s leading writing talent, you can learn from them – and helping you put pen to paper and voices to microphones this year are experts spanning a variety of writing forms from poetry and flash fiction to short stories and novels.

On the workshop front, Neil Campbell will be dispensing top tips on writing autobiographical fiction. Hailing from and living in Manchester, the third novel in his “Manchester Trilogy”, Lanyards (a review of which can be found on the AWF website) recently joined Zero Hours and Sky Hooks. All three include much in the way of first-hand experiences, from putting up with dire bosses in McJobs to being a Man City supporter. Neil also has a number of collections of short stories and poetry pamphlets to his name, so expect advice a-plenty.

As well as listening to some of the North West’s leading writing talent, you can learn from them – and helping you put pen to paper and voices to microphones this year are experts spanning a variety of writing forms…

Other workshops include poetry with Reshma Ruia, whose most recent collection, A Dinner Party In The Home Counties, is critically acclaimed by the likes of Lemn Sissay. The festival also includes a number of talks, including one on writing historical fiction by Altrincham-based writer (and consultant lawyer) Carolyn O’Brien. Her debut novel The Song Of Peterloo was published last August with Legend Press, to coincide with the bicentenary of the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester, and was described as ‘vivid, gripping and so evocative’.

David Nolan, who – following his discussion last year about his thriller Black Moss with David Prior, editor of Altrincham Today – will this time round host an event entitled ‘David Nolan’s difficult second novel’. An award-winning author, TV producer and crime reporter, as well as his debut ‘Manc Noir’ novel, which came out with Fahrenheit Press in 2018, he has written numerous books on music and popular culture, including You’re Entitled To An Opinion, a biography of Tony Wilson, and I Swear I Was There, about the legendary 1976 Sex Pistols gig at The Lesser Free Trade Hall.

This latter works its way into the programme via a showcase of the Buzzcocks-inspired anthology Love Bites, which came out with local indie publishing house Dostoyevsky Wannabe at the back end of last year. There will be readings from the book by contributors including Tom Jenks, who’s been seen at previous incarnations of Altrincham Word Fest, and a discussion of the relationship between music and writing with author and editor CD Rose (also running an exciting workshop, Writing Through Music). The author of Who’s Who When Everyone Is Someone Else (Melville House, 2018), CD Rose has work in the Salt anthology Best British Stories 2018 and Comma’s Parenthesis, and in Gorse, Lighthouse and The Lonely Crowd magazines.

Also featuring in the Love Bites event is Creative Tourist Literature Editor Sarah-Clare Conlon, popping up again to host a flash fiction special, which will include readings of her own work plus an open mic. The inaugural Writer-in-Residence at Victoria Baths, she is a Salt Prize winner for flash fiction and Best British & Irish Flash Fiction listed, and her work has appeared in various journals, including Confingo, Flash, Lighthouse, PN Review and Stand. Join her for this unforgettable evening of the best new writing and spoken word – after all, what are those worried-over, hard-worked-out words without an audience?

Love Bites cover
Love Bites cover

Dates and times vary. Check the Altrincham Word Fest website for details.

Altrincham Word Fest, online

1–8 October 2020
Free entry