Northern Lights Writers Conference 2018

£35 FULL / £30 CONC

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, includes Sarah Dunant, Louise Doughty, Joanne Harris, 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.


10.30am - registration

11:00am - introductions

11:10am - Keynote with Joanne Harris MBE 

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

12:00pm - New Platforms for Writers
A panel discussion 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?

12:45pm - lunch

1:30pm - Choice of Talks

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

2:20pm - 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.

3:05pm - break

3:20pm - Career Development for Authors Panel Talk
A panel talk featuring Alison Boyle, Literature Relationship Manager at Arts Council England, Will Mackie, Senior Programme Manager at New Writing North. 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.

4:10pm - 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
Following on from Fat Roland's practical session, he is joined by Ella Gainsborough (of the Evidently Spoken Word night) for this look at the spoken word scene in and around Manchester. What events are happenin and how do writers and poets get involved?

5pm - Book signings and networking

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

6pm - Close




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.

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.

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.





  1. Sept. 8, 2018, 10:30 a.m. → Book Now