Back for a fifth year with its day-long programme packed full of delicious titbits to nourish your inner scribe, the Northern Lights Writers’ Conference is perfect whether you’re early on in your career or established and out there with words already in print. Taking place at the newly refurbed Waterside and organised by Waterside’s sister organisation Creative Industries Trafford, with support from Trafford Council, it’s a quick hop from the city centre and, going on previous years, well worth the tram ride.
This year’s professional development event for writers of all kinds includes workshops, panel discussions, book signings and readings, and networking opportunities with award-winning writers and publishing professionals. Bringing together leading authors, poets, scriptwriters, editors and literary agents, the programme focuses on both the craft and the business of writing, combining creative sessions with industry talks and encompassing everything from tackling scripts for broadcast and performing prose and poetry to pitching and marketing yourself and your manuscript.
The roster of keynote speakers at the conference, which has been running since 2013, includes Sarah Dunant, Louise Doughty, AL Kennedy and Will Self, and this year the honour falls to celebrated Chocolat author Joanne Harris MBE, who has chalked up something like 18 novels, two short story collections, a Dr Who novella, guest episodes for the game Zombies, Run and three cookbooks. As well as providing inspiration, insight and advice in her pre-lunch speech, she’ll be going into more depth about her varied writing challenges in afternoon session An Audience with Joanne Harris.
Joanne is joined on the NLWC 2018 line-up by acclaimed Comma Press writer and writing tutor Sarah Schofield, talking short fiction, BBC Radio’s Emily Demol, looking at how radio productions are developed, literary agent Sinead Heneghan, on successfully seeking representation, and writer, performer and Bad Language host Fat Roland, leading a practical session on the skills needed to get up and stage and read your work. He’ll be joined later on by Ella Gainsborough of Evidently for more on the spoken word scene in and around Manchester and how to get involved.
All delegates will also be able to hear from the experts in two panel discussions; the morning session will be investigating the challenges and opportunities for writers provided by emerging platforms, from apps and immersive audio to augmented and virtual reality. The afternoon talk, featuring Alison Boyle, Literature Relationship Manager at Arts Council England, and Will Mackie, Senior Programme Manager at New Writing North, will look at how writers can actually earn a crust in an increasingly challenging publishing environment. Which is really why we’re all here, right?
Registration is from 10.30am, with the first speaker starting at 11am. Sessions end at 5pm, with the remaining hour for networking and book signings. Tickets cost £35 full price, and £30 concessions.
Northern Lights Writers' Conference 2018 at Waterside Arts, Manchester