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Guest author: Diana Evans
Themes of identity are the DNA of fiction, questioning and illuminating who we are and the way we think about ourselves. Whether it’s an exploration of the self in a social context or a broader investigation of our cultural and political inheritance, how can a writer find creative ways to draw from this pool of ideas to enrich story, characterisation and place? In tonight’s salon our guest Diana Evans, the award-winning author of Ordinary People, will be joining Emma and Kellie to discuss what makes us the same, what makes us different, and how we can play with identity in our writing.
Guest author: Paul Burston
As the nights begin to draw in we’ll be heading to the dark and twisty side of fiction to explore the craft of writing psychological thrillers. Our guest tonight is the novelist Paul Burston, who’s recent book The Closer I Get looks at what happens when literary appreciation takes a malevolent turn. Kellie, joined by crime writer Caroline Green, will be talking to Paul about approaches to writing thriller narratives. Come along and learn how to ramp up the pace and suspense to create vivid characters, shadowy worlds and compelling plots.
Guest publisher: Richard Beswick
Discover how the editing and publishing process works and what happens to your book from submission through to the final manuscript ready for publication. Join Kellie and Emma tonight in conversation with Richard Beswick, the Managing Director of Little, Brown & Abacus. Abacus is the paperback imprint for Little, Brown books and has an impressive roster of award-winning, bestselling fiction authors, including Donna Tartt; Celeste Ng; Alexander McCall Smith; Beryl Bainbridge; Anita Shreve and Chigozie Obioma among many others. Little, Brown/Abacus also has a hugely successful non-fiction list, with authors including Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom; David Sedaris; Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs; and the Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff.
Guest writer: Adam Marek
The short story is a wondrous and elastic form where every word must contribute to the final effect. As short story supremo Raymond Carver once said, “Get in, get out. Don’t linger. Go on.” Join us at our final salon before the summer break for some end-of-term excitement discussing the joys and mysteries of the form with short story whizz and creative writing teacher Adam Marek. Adam is the award-winning author of two collections whose stories have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and appeared in many magazines and anthologies. You should leave tonight’s salon fizzing with ideas to transform your words into matchbox-sized miracles.
Guest Writer: Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott
A strong voice gives prose a recognisable quality that casts a lasting impression on the reader. Mood and emotion are created through the command of voice and tone, while hints of gossip or slander can add vibrancy and colour to the fiction writer’s palette. Our guest tonight Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott uses these techniques to great effect in her novel, Swan Song, the story of Truman Capote and the betrayal of his High Society ‘swans’, published to much acclaim in 2018 and recently long-listed for the 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction. A screenwriter as well as a novelist, Kelleigh will be joining us to discuss ways to use voice to develop character and story.
Guest writer: Candy Gourlay
How do we take our personal experience and broader histories and turn them into cracking stories, gripping characters and vibrant worlds that glue readers to the page from the very start? In tonight’s salon we’ll be talking about writing fiction that reflects who we are and where we come from. We’ll also touch on practical matters such as research, connecting with readers and maintaining a successful online presence. Candy Gourlay’s novels for children have been listed for many prizes including the Waterson’s, Blue Peter, the Carnegie and the Guardian Prizes. Her most recent novel Bone Talk draws on the colonial history of the Philippines and has been long-listed for the CLIP Carnegie Medal 2019 and short-listed for the Costa Book Award 2019. Come along, bring your questions and take part in the discussion over tea and cake or a glass of wine.
Guest writer: Antonia Hodgson
Delve into the writer’s toolbox this evening and discover how to create compelling plots and page-turners with our guest, best-selling author and former publisher Antonia Hodgson. Co-hosting tonight alongside Kellie is veteran editor and creative writing teacher Andrew Wille. Bring your questions and join in the conversation. You should come away from tonight’s salon with new ways to drive your story forward and keep your reader hooked until the very last page.
Guest writer: Emma Darwin
How do you pick yourself up when your writing has gone horribly wrong? In her new creative non-fiction, This is Not a Book About Charles Darwin, Words Away’s own Emma Darwin draws on her experience of failure, from her six unpublished early novels to the catastrophe of trying to write fiction about her embarrassingly famous family. Kellie, joined by guest chair Caroline Green, will be talking to Emma about how you not only survive disaster as a writer, but actually develop resilience for whatever might happen next.
Guest writer: Alice Jolly
Societies have so rarely recorded the voices of the marginalised and enslaved, the poor and oppressed or dispossessed. So how does a writer go about researching and reimagining these unheard or erased voices? You might have a germ of an idea but not sure how to begin or where to find the raw materials. Then there’s the question of form – fiction versus non-fiction? Join us this evening alongside novelist, playwright and creative writing teacher, Alice Jolly, as we discuss ways to develop character, point of view and some of the other tools you might need to recover voices lost to the past.
Guest agent: Jenny Savill
After the excitement of the first deal, what happens next? Join us in conversation with Jenny Savill talking about the creative challenges and rewards of working to maintain an author’s career in the long term. Jenny, a Director at Andrew Nurnberg Associates runs a successful list of authors, representing children’s and young adult fiction; also literary fiction,commercial and literary women’s fiction, psychological suspense, historical fiction, comic fiction, and narrative non-fiction.
Guest writer: Zoe Gilbert
December means short days and long dark nights. Gather by the Tea House fire as we join award-winning writer and creative writing teacher, Zoe Gilbert, to explore how to put the folk in your fiction. Visit this rich imaginative territory and discover innovative ways to create character, setting, plot and story. You don’t have to believe in fairies, or even Father Christmas, to come along to this salon, but it might help.
Guest writer: William Ryan
Writing violence in fiction can be a dangerous pursuit. If it’s done well, the rhythm, vocabulary and pace work in service to plot, suspense, setting and characterisation. If it’s done badly, things can get very messy indeed. Join us in conversation with crime and historical novelist, William Ryan, as we explore the blood spattered perils and pitfalls of writing violence and crime. You should leave tonight’s salon with some fresh ideas on how to execute dark deeds on the page.
Guest writer: Claire Fuller
The complexity of memory and the seductive draw of the past offer a writer limitless opportunities for story. How do you go about seeding your narrative with clues, questions, and twists to build intrigue, tension and atmosphere without weighing the story down? In this salon with award winning writer Claire Fuller, we’ll look at new ways to harness the shifting shape of memory and the past, fuelling pace and propelling your narrative forward.