In my last blog I mentioned that I would be attending a couple of writers’ conferences this year in a bid to better my skills and network with other mad people who choose to write. Writing can be a lonely occupation, so any opportunity to get out there and socialise is grabbed with both hands.

York Festival of Writing was recommended by a friend and fellow author so I have decided to give it a go, be brave and get my work and face out there (scary, the face that is!).

In this blog I wanted to give other aspiring authors details about the conference and the wonderful authors/agents/publishers holding workshops and one-to-one sessions. After attending the conference, I will give honest feedback, so watch this space.

The Festival at a Glance

25-27 March, University of York, UK

A brief selection of the many agents in attendance:

Carole Blake; Agent to bestselling authors including Sheila Flanagan, Joseph O’Connor, Barbara Erskine – and author of Pitch to Publication.

Antony Topping & Judith Murray; Antony and Judith are senior agents at Greene and Heaton, and represent such big names as Sarah Waters,Marcus du Sautoy, CJ Sansom, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall & many more.

Simon Trewin (pictured): Co-head of Books at United Agents. Represents Richard Curtis, Nicci French, etc.



The Specialists / publishers

In their words;

“We’ve also invited specialist agents & publishers who know the market you are writing for. Among many others …”

John Jarrold: The best known specialist in science-fiction / fantasy / horror in the UK. If you write in this area, you HAVE to meet him

Julia Churchill (pictured): Julia is an agent devoted 100% to the children’s & Young Adult market. No one knows this market better.

(I met Julia at Winchester Writers’ Conference and found her to be warm and encouraging.)


Jane Holland & Lyn Vernham: Specialist publishers of women’s fiction & romance. And you don’t need an agent to get published by them either!

Philippa Pride: Philippa is Stephen King’s UK editor at Hodder, and is the person responsible for his entire range. She’s also a consultant who loves working with new writers.



Alan Mahar: Alan runs Tindal Street Press, one of Britain’s smallest but most prestigious publishers. About 25% of its entire output having won or been shortlisted for national literary awards.

Patrick Janson-Smith: As joint MD at Doubleday / Transworld, Patrick discovered authors such as Bill Bryson, Sophie Kinsella, Andy McNab, Joanna Trollope, and many more. Patrick now runs his own imprint at HarperCollins.

Nicola Morgan: Vastly successful author of YA & children’s fiction. No one knows this territory better. Nicola also hosts the successful, amazing and informative blog; Help! I need a publisher!

(I have my one-to-one appointment with Nicola, so i’m excited to receive her advice.)


Amazing authors that are leading some of the mini courses / sessions available;

Finding Your Voice, with Debi Alper & Dr Emma Darwin – Two experienced and extraordinary authors

Getting Published, with Harry Bingham & Helen Corner – Harry Bingham in organiser of the festival (along with his small army of helpers!). Helen Corner is co-author of, Teach Yourself: How to Write a Blockbuster.


Kate Williams (pictured): The vastly popular historian and author of publishing sensation The Pleasures of Men.

Learn from the professionals

Learn how to plot
With Jeremy Sheldon. Novelist, screenwriter & tutor at Birkbeck College, London.

Showing not telling
With novelist Jean Fullerton. If you’re confused about what this rule means, you don’t have to be.

Breaking the Rules
With Debi Alper. You know the rules – but what if you want to break them? Debi tells you how (and how not to) proceed.


There are many more exciting authors / professionals listed on the website so please go and take a look.

I look forward to seeing you there……….

  1. Tors says:

    I attended last years festival, although I have nothing to compare it to I can say the knowledge I have learnt has been so valuable. I can see how much my writing has improved.

    I was spoken to with respect, everyone had all the time in world, I’ve made friends for life, and I can’t wait to see what I learn this year.

    I’m submitting for critique this year with Julia Churchill and Toby Frost, and the mixture of fear and excitment makes me want to explode.

  2. Hi Tors,

    Thanks for taking the time to comment. I look forward to seeing you there & good luck with your current WIP 🙂

    Kirie xx

  3. Barb says:

    I know it probably sounds weird, but I don’t actually have a big goal for the festival. I’m just looking forward to meeting people and talking to those who have the same favourite topic!

    The dead line of being ready for the one to ones is making me work my arse off, which is great.

    Can’t wait to meet you Kirie, and you Tors.

  4. Debi says:

    I’m really looking forward to this year’s Festival. It’s shaping up to be even better than the last one, though those of us who were there will confirm that’s hard to believe possible.

  5. MarkR says:

    Professionally, York 2010 was like speed dating with a politburo of writing experts. I learned such a lot from the workshops and I’m still drawing heavily on the expert advice and tips I picked up. A must in this respect.

    Personally, I felt like I’d been parachuted into a very large extended family for the weekend. It was as warm, open and supportive a group of people as I’ve ever met. An absolute pleasure.

    Spiritually, I was completely inspired by all the agents, editors, tutors, publishers I heard – but especially by all the writers I talked to (well published and novices alike). It wasn’t Red Bull that gave me wings.

    Can’t wait for March 11.

  6. Thanks for taking the time to comment guys. I look forward to seeing you all there! This promises to be quite a weekend.

  7. Gerry says:

    Last year I was wiped out with a vicious (but no longer infectious) bug – and I still thought it was ace. So how good will it be if I’m conscious and in full possession of my tummy? Really looking forward – especially to seeing Cloudy friends!

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