Northern Lights Writers’ Conference 2020: Digital Edition

Part of our Literature guide

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Genevieve Pegg HarperNorth
Genevieve Pegg, Publishing Director at HarperNorth.

Northern Lights Writers' Conference 2020: Digital Edition, online, Until 26 November 2020, free entry - Visit now

In a break from our usual schedule, we’re going live to Sale for the annual Northern Lights Writers’ Conference – but not as you know it. This year, as with many of our favourite events (and also plenty of new ones), NLWC will be exercising a virtual presence, streaming online via Waterside’s brand-new digital hub, Diverge.

Aimed at writers at all stages of their career, from the unpublished to those already established and with words in print, the seventh Northern Lights Writers’ Conference from Creative Industries Trafford is perfect for picking up tips and for mingling – albeit in the ether this year – with fellow scribes as well as useful contacts in the publishing world.

With a choice of events to dip in and out of, this year NLWC runs over four days from Monday 23 to Thursday 26 November, and – for the very first time – the entire programme is free to attend.

Readers are also catered for, with an “in conversation” event rounding off proceedings on Thursday evening from 7pm, when the invited speaker is number-one bestselling author Heather Morris. She will be talking about her novels The Tattooist of Auschwitz, which has sold six million copies and topped the New York Times bestsellers chart, and its follow-up Cilka’s Journey. Heather is the latest in a roster of world-class guests to feature at the conference, which, since it began in 2013, has welcomed Louise Doughty, Sarah Dunant, Joanne Harris, AL Kennedy, Jane Rogers and Will Self.

With a choice of events to dip in and out of, this year NLWC runs over four days from Monday 23 to Thursday 26 November, and – for the very first time – the entire programme is free to attend. Continuing its tradition of delving into both the craft and the business of writing, sessions encompass writing workshops, a panel discussion (Tuesday, 7pm) with publishing professionals including Genevieve Pegg, Publishing Director at HarperNorth, and literary agent Louise Lamont of LBA Books, and bookable one-to-one advice sessions with industry experts, including writers and editors.

Creative masterclasses this year include writing for video platforms with writer, Edinburgh Festival regular and Bad Language host Fat Roland and writing For audio platforms with performer and playwright Aisling Caffrey. The first (Monday, 7pm) is aimed at writers looking to present their work over video platforms and focuses on simple tips for presentation skills and how writers can use visual aids alongside their spoken word performances – perfect right now in the middle of lockdown for those taking part in online open mics and so on. The second workshop session (Wednesday, 7pm) will provide helpful pointers on pacing, structure and dialogue to help your story and characters shine in audio formats. Places for both are limited, so be sure to book.

The line-up also includes author Okechukwu Nzelu, whose debut novel The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney won a Betty Trask Award and was shortlisted for this year’s Desmond Elliott and Polari First Book prizes, and freelance editors Tilda Johnson and Melissa Welliver. Tilda, a children’s fiction editor, runs the Manchester branch of the Golden Egg Academy and will be in the hotseat for the first of the individual advice sessions, on Monday. The new format sees these taking place over Zoom between 1pm and 4.30pm, and must be booked in advance via the Diverge hub – plenty of positive noises were heard following these sit-downs in 2018 and again in 2019, so get your name down early.

Freelance editor Melissa takes over on Tuesday – call on her with your short story and YA specific queries – then you can speak to The Real Story’s creative non-fiction expert and the inaugural writer-in-residence at Peel Park Adam Farrer on Wednesday and, finally on Thursday, poet Jazmine Linklater, whose latest pamphlet, Figure A Motion, is just out with Guillemot Press – Jazmine also facilitates CIT’s Writers’ Group, which is due to return in January 2021, so keep an eye out for that.

CIT Coordinator Richard Evans says: “We’re looking forward to welcoming – virtually! – a fantastic range of speakers and facilitators to Waterside for our seventh Northern Lights Writers’ Conference. Being able to stream live from Waterside’s innovative new digital hub, Diverge, means anyone can join in, enabling audiences to enjoy our programme and participate in the events and activities from the comfort of their homes, wherever they are. From workshops and panels to talks and drop-in advice sessions, we hope writers from across the region and beyond will be inspired and informed.”

See the Diverge digital hub for how to book sessions.

Northern Lights Writers' Conference 2020: Digital Edition, online

Until 26 November 2020
Free entry