Northern Lights Writers’ Conference 2019 at Waterside

Part of our Literature guide

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Author Jane Rogers at Northern Lights Writers' Conference 2019.
Author Jane Rogers. Photo by Sarah Eyre.

Northern Lights Writers' Conference 2019 at Waterside Arts, Manchester, 21 September 2019, from £25 - Book now

Go-to writerly launch pad Creative Industries Trafford (CIT) based at Sale’s Waterside Arts has been adding to its creative writing offer this last year, with a number of workshops and events, including a regular short story course led by David Gaffney and featuring guest appearances by the likes of Valerie O’Riordan and Nicholas Royle, the CIT Writers’ Group headed up by poet Amy McCauley, Script School with TV developer Ric Michael and the special FaxFiction live literature showcase commissioned for the Refract:19 festival and featuring six writers including Rosie Garland and Fat Roland. And now the jewel in CIT’s crown is back for a sixth year, with its popular day-long Northern Lights Writers’ Conference.

The programme is packed full of delicious titbits to nourish your inner scribe, whether you’re unpublished or already established with words in print. This year’s professional development event includes workshops, panel discussions, book signings, readings and networking opportunities with award-winning writers and professionals from the publishing and broadcasting industries. Bringing together leading authors, poets, scriptwriters, artists, editors, agents and publishers, the programme focuses on both the craft and the business of writing, combining hands-on creative sessions with industry talks, and encompassing everything from diversity and career development to TV treatments and collaborating on graphic novels.

The all-dayer brings back last year’s tried-and-tested one-to-one advice sessions on writing and submitting short stories, poetry and creative non-fiction, with Tania Hershman, Amy McCauley and Adam Farrer. Plenty of positive noises were heard following these sit-downs in 2018 – you can’t book a slot in advance, so be sure to get your name down early on the day (note that registration starts at 10.30am).

The jewel in CIT’s crown is back for a sixth year, with its popular day-long Northern Lights Writers’ Conference

This year’s keynote speech is given by the prolific author (and editor, scriptwriter, lecturer, teacher and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature since 1994), Jane Rogers, perhaps best known for her novelsThe Voyage Home and Mr Wroe’s Virgins which was adapted for TV and directed by Danny Boyle. She’s calling her talk The Writer As Time-Traveller and she’ll be looking at the whys and hows of setting fiction in other eras, along with the thorny question of genre, from historical fiction to science fiction.

The roster of keynote speakers at the conference, which has been running since 2013, includes Sarah Dunant, Louise Doughty, AL Kennedy, Will Self, Joanne Harris MBE and now Jane Rogers. As well as providing inspiration, insight and advice in her pre-lunch speech, she’ll be going into more depth about her her career and inspirations, and reads from her forthcoming novel, Body Tourists (out with Spectre this November and the first chapter broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in June), in the afternoon session Jane Rogers In Conversation.

Jane is joined on the NLWC 2019 line-up by acclaimed writer and artist duo David Gaffney and Dan Berry, whose well-received The Three Rooms in Valerie’s Head came out last year on mega-US publisher Top Shelf and who are now working on their next, Rivers. The Writing & Illustrating Graphic Novels session is followed by Writing for TV with Lisa Holdsworth (Emmerdale, New Tricks, Midsomer Murders, Waterloo Road), who will be giving a guide to getting into writing and pitching your script to television companies. If you don’t manage to pin him down to a one-to-one, be sure to join the Creative NonFiction practical workshop with Adam Farrer of The Real Story, who will be introducing you to the skills and approaches necessary to reveal factually accurate stories using creative techniques in a realm somewhere between journalism and creative writing.

All delegates will also be able to hear from the experts in two panel discussions: the morning session will be investigating Diversity in Publishing – writer and broadcaster Anita Sethi (Common People) and author Peter Kalu (Silent Star) will discuss under-representation of writers of colour within publishing; the afternoon will hear from Route Publishing Editor Ian Daley, who reveals what a publisher looks for when your manuscript is complete, the standard a writer needs to have their work at before submission and how a publisher works with a writer during the publishing process.

The afternoon talk, Support for Writers, features Will Mackie, Senior Programme Manager at New Writing North, and Debbie Taylor of Mslexia magazine, who will explore development opportunities for writers. Where are the best resources, which opportunities should writers look out for and where can writers find essential training at each stage of their careers? Well, starting with a ticket to the Northern Lights Writers’ Conference, we reckon.

Tickets are £35 full price, £25 concessions.

Northern Lights Writers' Conference 2019 at Waterside Arts, Manchester

21 September 2019
From £25

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