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Northern Lights Writers’ Conference 2018

  • WATERSIDE 1 Waterside Plaza Manchester, England, M33 7ZF United-Kingdomn (map)

Tickets: £35 / £30 - book here or call the Waterside box office on 0161 912 5616.

The Northern Lights Writers’ Conference is CIT’s annual event for writers, from early career (and earlier!) to already established and out there.

Bringing together leading authors, poets, editors, agents and publishers, the day-long programme focuses on both the craft and the business of writing, combining creative sessions with industry talks and encompassing everything from tackling writers’ block and performing to pitching and marketing yourself and your manuscript. The roster of keynote speakers at the conference, which has been running since 2013, has included leading writers such as Sarah Dunant, Louise Doughty, AL Kennedy and Will Self.

For our fifth incarnation, this inspiring day includes masterclasses, panel discussions, industry talks and creative workshops.

This year’s event features acclaimed author Joanne Harris MBE (Chocolat) as our keynote speaker, along with sessions on adapting scripts for radio, spoken word, writing short fiction as well as advice from leading publishing industry figures.

Individual talks and workshop session do not need to be booked in advance.


10.30am - registration

11:00 - introductions

11:10 - Keynote with Joanne Harris MBE 

Inspiration, insight and advice from one of the UK's most celebrated writers in this year's keynote speech.

12:00-16:00 - Writers drop-in sessions in Sup Bar.

Come and discuss your work in informal advice sessions with

- Tania Hershman - literary mags & competitions, developing art & science stories
- Amy McCauley - poetry
- Adam Farrer - creative non-fiction

These are 15 minute slots available in Sup Bar

Choice of Talks

12:00 - New Platforms for Writers
A panel discussion with Ric Michael (producer of 4 Laughs, Channel 4 - BAFTA and RTS Award nominated), Alison Boyle (Arts Council England) and Richard Evans (writer/director Aeon: Miracle app) looking at emerging platforms for writers - apps, immersive audio, augmented reality and virtual reality. What are the challenges and opportunities for writers in these new digital spaces?


Short Story Writing
Featuring acclaimed writer and writing tutor Sarah Schofield (Comma Press) alongside renowned short fiction author Tania Hershman, this session looks at the short story genre, its recent rise in popularity and the techniques authors need for successful short fiction writing.

12:45 - lunch

13:30 - 

An Audience with Joanne Harris
Join this look at Joanne's career, ranging from the novel Chocolat (1999), which was made into an Oscar-nominated film starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp, to 15 more novels, two collections of short stories, a Dr Who novella, guest episodes for the game Zombies, Run and three cookbooks.
14:20 - Choice of Workshops

Developing Scripts for Radio
A practical session with BBC Radio's Emily Demol, looking at how radio productions are developed, with insights into the creative processes that writers need to be aware of when writing scripts.


Spoken Word Performance Skills
Celebrated writer and performer Fat Roland leads this creative session on the skills writers need to deliver book readings and take part in spoken word events.

15:05 - break

15:20 - Career Development for Authors Panel Talk
Kate Feld facilitates this panel talk featuring Alison Boyle, Literature Relationship Manager at Arts Council England, literary agent Sinead Heneghan and author, editor and publisher, Richard V. Hirst. This session looks at how writers can make sustainable careers in a challenging publishing environment, in the context of the recent ALCS report on author's earnings.

16:10 - Choice of talks

Approaching Literary Agents
Manchester-based literary agent Sinead Heneghan, of the Sinead Heneghan Literary Agency, joins us for this session on the vital advice writers need in the all-important search for representation.


Spoken Word Events
Join Fat Roland, Ella Gainsborough (of the Evidently Spoken Word night) and writer and spoken word night host Kate Feld, for this look at the spoken word scene in and around Manchester. What events are happening and how do writers and poets get involved?

17:00 - Book signings and networking

Join us in the bar for book signings and the chance to meet our speakers.

18:00 - Close


For tickets, call our box office on 0161 912 5616 or book online here use link:





About the Speakers

Emily Demol

Emily has been working in BBC Radio for over 6 years, starting off in Factual programming and working across a variety of roles such as Production Coordinator, Researcher and Producer where she made two Arts documentaries for BBC Radio 4, ‘The Still Life Poet’ and ‘Music On Hold’.  She eventually moved into Radio Drama, having had a stint on The Archers, and has worked on a huge variety of both studio based and location projects including the Radio 4 digital drama and VR experience, Quake and a live performance of A Clockwork Orange with the Philharmonic orchestra for Radio 3.

Adam Farrer

Adam is a writer, spoken word performer and humourist, specialising in creative nonfiction. He is the Managing Editor of The Real Story, an Arts Council England-funded publisher and reading series, working to nurture emerging creative nonfiction talent in the UK. He has appeared at events across the North West, including Sheffield Doc/Fest, Rochdale Literature and Ideas Festival, The University of Salford’s Festival of Research and the Manchester Literature Festival.

Ella Gainsborough

Ella is co-coordinator of Evidently, the award winning spoken word and poetry night in Salford.

Joanne Harris

Joanne Harris (MBE) was born in Barnsley in 1964, of a French mother and an English father. She studied Modern and Mediaeval Languages at Cambridge and was a teacher for fifteen years, during which time she published three novels, including Chocolat (1999), which was made into an Oscar-nominated film starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp.

Since then, she has written 15 more novels, two collections of short stories, a Dr Who novella, guest episodes for the game Zombies, Run and three cookbooks. Her books are now published in over 50 countries and have won a number of British and international awards. She is an honorary Fellow of St Catharine's College, Cambridge, has honorary doctorates in literature from the universities of Sheffield and Huddersfield, and has been a judge for the Whitbread Prize, the Orange Prize, the Desmond Elliott Prize and the Royal Society Winton Prize for Science.

Sinead Heneghan

Sinead is a Manchester-based literary agent. She has spent the last five years working at the heart of the London publishing industry and moved to Manchester to discover exciting authors and help launch the careers of writers in the North.

Tania Hershman

Tania's third short story collection, Some Of Us Glow More Than Others, was published by Unthank Books in May 2017, and her debut poetry collection, Terms & Conditions, by Nine Arches Press in July. Tania is also the author of a poetry chapbook, Nothing Here Is Wild, Everything Is Open, and two short story collections, My Mother Was An Upright Piano, and The White Road and Other Stories, and co-author of Writing Short Stories: A Writers' & Artists' Companion (Bloomsbury, 2014). 

Tania is curator of short story hub ShortStops (, celebrating short story activity across the UK & Ireland, and has a PhD in creative writing inspired by particle physics. 

Hear Tania read her work on and find out more here:

Richard V. Hirst

Richard is a writer from Manchester. His work has appeared in The Guardian, The Big Issue and Time Out. He is the co-author of The Night Visitors, an award-winning ghost story co-written with Jenn Ashworth and told entirely via emails. His latest book is We Were Strangers, an anthology of short stories by Sophie Mackintosh, Eley Williams and others, each of which takes its title and inspiration from a track on Joy Division’s U Unknown Pleasures.

Amy McCauley

Amy McCauley is a poet, editor and performer based in Manchester. She is a Contributing Editor for MAI: Journal of Feminism and Visual Culture and her first book of poetry OEDIPA is published by Guillemot Press. You can find out more about Amy’s work here:

Fat Roland

A standup spoken word artist who has been likened to “Johnny Vegas devouring Sam Simmons… on a rollercoaster…. driven by a depressed buffalo”. His third solo show Seven Inch made its debut at The Lowry in 2018 following two previous shows at the Edinburgh Fringe. He is champion of Literary Death Match Manchester and co-runs Bad Language, voted the UK’s best spoken word night two years in a row.

Sarah Schofield

Sarah’s stories have been published in LemistryBio-PunkThought XBeta LifeSpindles and Conradology (all Comma Press)Spilling Ink Flash Fiction AnthologyBack and Beyond Arts Publication, Litfest’s The Language of Footprints, Synaesthesia Magazine, Lakeview International Journal, Woman’s Weekly and others. She has been shortlisted on the Bridport and the Guardian Travel Writing Competition and won the Orange New Voices Prize, Writer’s Inc and The Calderdale Fiction Prize. An excerpt from her story ‘The Bactogarden’ featured on BBC Radio 4’s Open Book. Sarah is an Associate Tutor of Creative Writing at Edge Hill University and runs writing courses and workshops in a variety of community settings.

Richard Evans

Writer/ director of the Aeon project, which encompasses a free smartphone app - Aeon: Miracle - alongside popular immersive theatre experiences that expand the story.

Event Facilitators

Northern Lights is hosted and facilitated by Kate Feld (writer, journalist and journalism lecturer) and Ric Michael (media producer and lecturer).

Earlier Event: July 17
Contemporary Arts Portfolio Surgeries
Later Event: September 24
Short Story Course