2017 Festival

A huge thank you to everyone who attended the 2017 Winchester Writers’ Festival on 16-18 June. The weekend proved to be one of our most successful yet, and not just because of the glorious weather! Seventy-five speakers delivered fifty separate talks, readings and workshops to around three hundred enthusiastic and dynamic emerging writers.

At the heart of Lemn Sissay’s exhilarating Keynote Address on Saturday morning was his electrifying performance of two poems: ‘Mourning Breaks’ and ‘Invisible Kisses’.

He inspired everyone with a powerful message about creativity permeating and driving each one of us, every day. This message was echoed throughout the weekend in the discussions, the two open mics and the new work produced or submitted in workshops, competitions and one-to-ones.

Special thanks go to our judges, our competition sponsors and our student hosts and volunteers for supporting what we do so tirelessly.

As well as many familiar agents, editors and tutors, a number of new speakers ran all-day workshops this year, including picture book author Tracey Corderoy, acclaimed novelists William Ryan and Cliff McNish, award-winning playwright Lisa Evans, best-selling landscape writer Kathryn Aalto and poet Rhian Edwards. We are grateful to all our speakers – too many to mention here.

Saturday dinner guests were riveted by an after dinner speech from criminal barrister-turned-crime novelist Helen Fields, who described how she draws on the humour and quirks of the courtroom, as well as its darkness, to create multi-layered characters.

Other highlights included Friday evening talks with Susie Menzies, co-acting Head of Drama for BBC Wales and Vanessa Amberleigh, executive producer for CBeebies, the ‘Meet the Editors’ panel chaired by Mslexia Editor Debbie Taylor, and the Festival’s two open mics.

Festival attendees also had the chance to meet with top literary agents, commissioning editors and genre specialists for up to four one-to-one appointments. The experience can be intense for an emerging writer, but all our industry experts are supportive and approachable. Attendees commented on feeling energised by these encounters, with constructive feedback and commercial insights to help them develop their work over the coming months and many requests to see completed manuscripts. We have already heard news of two signings.

Whether or not you were able to attend this year or enter one of our writing competitions, we have several opportunities to help you develop your writing over the next few months. Do keep an eye on our ‘news and events’ page or sign up for our newsletter for regular updates.

For more photos of the weekend, please visit our Facebook page:
Winchester Writers Festival