When the University of Winchester decided not to hold the popular Writers’ Festival in 2020, director Sara Gangai took the opportunity to create a new event with a fresh new programme.
Writers’ Weekend, which takes place from 10 to 12 July, offers a wide range of workshops, talks and networking opportunities. Attendees can book up to five appointments with top literary agents and commissioning editors to pitch ideas and get feedback or a market appraisal. All events take place at the university.
“Writing is often a solitary activity and Writers’ Weekend provides an opportunity to meet like-minded individuals, to be inspired and energised and to get a sense of today’s market,” Sara says. “The writing community is extraordinarily supportive, and speakers and attendees alike really benefit from sharing their experience.”
The weekend kicks off with an industry panel and readings on Friday night. Saturday opens with a keynote speech by Eoin Colfer, whose internationally-acclaimed Artemis Fowl books come to the big screen in May. Lissa Evans, best-selling author of books including Old Baggage and Wed Wabbit, will give a second keynote on Sunday.
“Other highlights include workshops with picture book author Chitra Soundar, novelist and memoirist Nick Barlay, fantasy and horror writer Cliff McNish, and crime fiction publisher Joel Richardson,” Sara says. “There will also be talks on the craft of writing, from the likes of award-winning novelist Claire Fuller, publisher Scott Pack, novelist Judith Heneghan, HarperCollins editorial director Phoebe Morgan and author Catherine Menon.”
She adds, “The highlight of the weekend for many is the opportunity to book one-to-one meetings with literary agents. Those 15 minutes can be intense, but are a golden opportunity to meet face to face with an industry professional.”
There are a number of packages to choose from, with a new virtual package this year for those unable to attend the weekend in person. Virtual attendees can view both keynotes and two talks and choose to buy a videoconference one-to-one with a literary agent. Writers’ Weekend competitions include short fiction, children’s writing for fives to teens, picture books and the opening of a novel.
“Booking is now open.” Sara says. “July may seem a little way off but we advise attendees to get in early to ensure they can make the most of the great programme we have on offer.”
For details of what’s on, how to book and information about competitions, scholarships, bursaries and sponsorship opportunities, visit www.writersweekend.uk