Creative Industries Trafford presents

Northern Lights Writers' Conference

£35 FULL / £25 CONC


This event is supported by Arts Council England as part of our year-round Northern Lights Writers’ Programme.

CIT’s popular writers’ conference returns for its sixth incarnation featuring a mix of talks, masterclasses, panel discussions, practical sessions and drop-in advice for writers. This year’s keynote is delivered by award-winning author Jane Rogers (Mr Wroe’s Virgins) with special guests including Route Publishing, The Society of Authors, New Writing North, David Gaffney, Lisa Holdsworth, literary agent Louise Lamont and many more.


If travelling to this event by Metrolink, please note there are improvements taking place on the Altrincham line on 21st September. Please plan your journey accordingly. For more information, see here.



Sup Bar

10.30 - registration

Robert Bolt Theatre

11:00 - 11:40 - Panel Discussion: Diversity in Publishing

Join authors Sheena Kalayil (The Wild Wind), Peter Kalu (Silent Star) and Anita Sethi (Common People) in this discussion on representation of writers of colour within the publishing industry. Recent reports show that progress is needed in the industry to create more opportunities for writers and industry staff from diverse backgrounds. The panel explore the issue and its wider impact on culture.

11:45 - 12:45 - Keynote speech with Jane Rogers: The Writer As Time-Traveller

Jane explores the reasons for setting fiction in other time periods, and considers what the writer might gain from doing this. She’ll also points out the pitfalls awaiting the time-travelling writer! And along the way she’ll consider the thorny question of genre. Historical fiction, science fiction, literary fiction - if you’re writing any of these, this talk is for you.

12:45 - 13:30 - lunch

13:30 - 14:20 - Jane Rogers In Conversation

Jane discusses her career and inspirations and reads from her forthcoming novel, Body Tourists (published by Spectre in November 2019).

14:20 - break

14:30 - 15:15 - Panel Talk: Support for Writers

Will Mackie (New Writing North) and James Clarke (The Litten Path, Salt Publishing) explore development and support opportunities for writers. Where are the best resources, which opportunities should writers look out for and where can writers find essential training at each stage of their careers?

15:15 - break

15:25 - 16:20 - Panel Discussion: Pathways to Publication

Editor Ian Daley (Route Publishing), Louise Lamont (LBA Books) and Tilda Johnson (The Golden Egg) reveal what a publisher looks for when your manuscript is complete, the standard a writer needs to have their work at before submission and how a publisher works with a writer during the publishing process.

The Chambers

13:30 - 14:20 - Writing & Illustrating Graphic Novels with David Gaffney & Dan Berry

What’s it like as a comic book artist to draw stories using someone else's words? or as a writer to see your words turned into comic books? How do these collaborations work in practice and how can two artistic visions be blended together to form a cohesive whole?

David Gaffney and Dan Berry have produced one successful book together already - The three rooms in Valerie’s head (Top shelf 2018)  and are currently working on their next, Rivers.

What makes these partnerships work? What are the advantages and the barriers to making good work together. Join David and Dan as they discuss the perils and the joys of cross-artform collaboration and gives tips on effective working methods for those new to the process.

14:30 - 15:15 - Approaching Agents with Louise Lamont (LBA Books)

Louise Lamont is a literary agent at LBA Books, where she represents a broad range of authors, illustrators and brands. In this talk, she presents a guide to identifying the right literary agent for your work, and the key factors in drafting a great cover letter, story synopsis and sample chapters.

15:25 - 16:20 - Writing for TV with Lisa Holdsworth

A guide to getting into writing and pitching your script for television, with Lisa Holdsworth (Emmerdale, New Tricks, Midsomer Murders, Waterloo Road). She won the 2011 Writer of the Year award in The RTS Yorkshire Awards 2011 following a 2009 nomination. This session looks at taking your idea from development through to the process of how writers work with TV companies in getting a project ready for broadcast.

The Studio

13:00 - 13:30 - Loom Magazine Commission Opportunity

Loom is CIT’s new print publication, showcasing independent prose and imagery. Join curator Luca Shaw and editor Richard Evans for this informal introduction explaining our new commission opportunity for writers and visual artists. This is a relaxed session and attendees are welcome to bring their lunch.

14:30 - 15:15 - Multiplatform Storytelling Workshop

Building on last year’s New Platforms for Storytelling panel discussion, join Richard Evans (writer / director of Aeon) and Ric Michael (producer, Aeon) for this practical session explaining their approach to narratives that cross from print to digital to live. The session looks at how can writers adapt their work to expand their stories in new platforms and how narratives, characters and story arcs can be adapted for different settings.

15:25 - 16:20 - Creative NonFiction with Adam Farrer

A guide to writing creative nonfiction with Adam Farrer of The Real Story. In a realm between journalism and creative writing, how can writers use literary skills, prose and language to tell true stories? This practical session introduces explores the skills and approaches needed to bring creative techniques to revealing factually accurate stories.

Sup Bar

13:00 - 15:15 - Drop-in advice sessions.

Discuss your work and writing questions in these informal 20 minute slots with writers and publishing industry specialists, including Tilda Johnson, Peter Kalu and Adam Farrer. There is no advance booking for these slots so please register for these sessions on arrival. We regret that, due to demand, we cannot guarantee a place for everyone but our writers will do their best to speak to as many people as possible.

Industry Stands

We will have information stands from:

Mslexia Magazine

The Society of Authors

The Writers’ Guild


@WatersideArts @CITrafford


About Our Speakers

Dan Berry

Dan Berry is a cartoonist, illustrator and educator. He is the co-creator of the book The Three Rooms In Valerie’s Head with author David Gaffney and was nominated for an Eisner Award for the anthology 24 By 7. He has been independently publishing his own comics for a decade. He is the host of the podcast Make It Then Tell Everybody.

Between 2008 and 2019 Dan ran a university degree course in comics and graphic novels. He lives in Shropshire with his wife and two very rude children.

Twitter: @thingsbydan

James Clarke

James grew up in the Rossendale Valley, Lancashire, and after living in London and spending time overseas, returned to Manchester, where he now lives. His work has appeared in AmbitLitro and Northwords Now magazines, and his debut novel, The Litten Path, is forthcoming from Salt.

Twitter @jamesrgclarke

Ian Daley

Ian is a book editor and publisher with over 25 years experience of finding audiences for new writing and adding new voices into the literary landscape. As well as publishing books, he has published newspapers, magazines, comics and CDs, in addition to organising tours and live literature events. He is currently the editor of the independent publishing house Route, which he founded in 2000.

Twitter: @Route_News

Richard Evans

Richard is writer and director of Aeon, a multi-platform science fiction story spanning a smartphone app, web series and immersive theatre. He is also coordinator for CIT.

Twitter: @This_Is_Aeon

Adam Farrer

Adam is a humorist, creative nonfiction writer and spoken word performer based in Manchester. He has been the Editor of The Real Story since 2015 and this year became the inaugural Writer in Residence for Peel Park, Salford.

Twitter: @RealStoryUK

David Gaffney

David comes from Cleator Moor in West Cumbria and lives in Manchester. He is the author of four collections of short fiction, Sawn-off Tales (2006), Aromabingo (2007), The Half-life of Songs (2010) and More Sawn-Off Tales (2013), two novels, Never Never (2008) and All The Places I’ve Ever Lived (2017), and graphic novel The Three Rooms in Valerie’s Head. A third novel and second graphic novel are on their way.

David has written articles for The Guardian, The Sunday Times, Financial Times and Prospect magazine. “One hundred and fifty words by Gaffney are more worthwhile than novels by a good many others” – The Guardian.

Twitter: @ggaffa

Lisa Holdsworth

Lisa won her first UK TV commission in 2001 on Fat Friends. She then joined the writing team of the long-running soap, Emmerdale, for three years before heading off to write New Tricks, winning the Royal Television Society’s Yorkshire Best Writer award for one of her episodes. Since then she has written for Waterloo Road, Robin Hood, Midsomer Murders, Ackley Bridge, Call The Midwife, All Creatures Great & Small and Discovery of Witches. For theatre, she wrote Rugby Songs for Slung Low Theatre Company and Black Teeth & A Brilliant Smile for Freedom Studios.

Twitter: @WorksWithWords

Tilda Johnson

After four years at David Fickling Books, Tilda moved to Penguin Random House Children’s, before joining the Hot Key Books and Piccadilly Press team as Senior Commissioning Editor.

There, she worked closely with both emerging and established children’s and YA authors, including Mark Lowery, Robin Etherington, Jo Cotterill, T S Easton, Julie Mayhew and Sebastien de Castell. Having relocated to the north of England, Tilda now works as a freelance editor, and her clients include Oxford University Press, Bloomsbury, Speckled Pen and Orion Children’s Books.

Twitter: @TildaJaneJ

Sheena Kalayil

Sheena was born in Zambia in 1970 where her parents were teachers seconded from Kerala, India. She arrived in the UK aged eighteen and, after graduating, worked all over the world. She has a doctorate in Linguistics, teaches at the University of Manchester and lives near Manchester with her husband and two daughters. She is the author of

The Bureau of Second Chances (Polygon, 2017), which won the Writers' Guild Best First Novel Award and The Inheritance (Polygon, 2018).

Peter Kalu

Peter’s Young Adult novels, Silent Striker,  Being Me and Zombie XI, have been published recently by HopeRoad.  His short story, Getting Home (The Proofreader’s Sigh) can be found in the  2015 Peepal Tree short story collection, Closure. Among his other publications are the romantic comedy Diary of a Househusband and the science fiction novel Black Star Rising (both X Press). Until recently, he ran a carnival band, The Moko Jumbies.

Twitter: @peterkalu 

Louise Lamont

Louise Lamont is a literary agent at LBA Books, where she represents a broad range of authors, illustrators and brands.

Twitter: @LLMonts

Will Mackie

Will project manages the Northern Writers’ Awards, the talent-development programme for writers in Northern England, and is the main contact for libraries, publishers and authors involved in Read Regional. He also manages some of New Writing North’s prizes, and works with Northumbria University to deliver module content on Creative Writing programmes. He previously worked in publishing as a fiction and poetry editor, as well as at the reading and writing charity Scottish Book Trust.

Twitter: @WilliamJMackie

Jane Rogers

Jane Rogers is an award-winning novelist, short story writer, and radio dramatist. She is author of nine novels, including The Testament of Jessie Lamb, Man-Booker longlisted and winner of the Arthur C Clarke Award 2012. The title story of her collection Hitting Trees with Sticks was a BBC National Short story award finalist. 

Other works include Mr Wroe’s Virgins (which she dramatised for the BAFTA-nominated BBC drama series) and Her Living Image (Somerset Maugham Award). She has written original drama for Radio 4, and adapted numerous novels for the Classic Serial slot.

Jane is Emerita Professor of Writing at Sheffield Hallam, where she taught for many years. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, mentors for Gold Dust, and teaches Short Story for Faber Academy.

Her latest novel, Body Tourists, a dystopia, will be published by Sceptre in November.

Anita Sethi

Anita Sethi is an award-winning journalist, writer and critic and has written for publications including The Guardian, Observer, Granta, TLS, and appeared on BBC radio.  She has been published in several anthologies including Common People, the Seasons nature writing anthology, Seaside SpecialWe Mark Your Memory and is forthcoming in Women on Nature. She is a Judge of the British Book Awards 2019, the Society of Authors Awards 2019, and has been a Judge of the Costa Book Awards. She has interviewed many writers, artists and musicians and appeared at festivals around the world. She was born in Manchester, UK.

Twitter: @anitasethi

Luca Shaw

Luca is a freelance artist and designer. With a particular interest in printmaking and bound print, she shares her work through print fairs and an online shop. Her work extends into moving image, primarily in a theatre and performance setting. She has worked on multiple freelance projects working with musicians and as part of residencies and is curator of CIT’s Loom Magazine.

Instagram @luca.visual

About Our Hosts

Kate Feld

Kate is a writer, journalist and blogger, as well as lecturer in digital journalism at the University of Salford. She is founding director of digital writing organisation Openstories, whose Arts Council-funded projects include Rainy City Stories: an interactive writers’ map of Manchester; the long-running Blog North Awards; and, currently, The Real Story, a writing development project devoted to promoting the form of creative nonfiction in the UK.

Twitter: @katefeld

Ric Michael

Ric has produced ground breaking work in Music, Live Literature, Poetry and Comedy as well as Multi-platform, Radio and TV. He launched Manchester Poetry Festival in 1994 with Henry Normal and produced events and has written for Channel 4 before becoming Head of Development for the award-winning Baby Cow Manchester. He is programme leader for the BA in Television and Radio at the University of Salford.

Twitter: @ricmichael

  1. Sept. 21, 2019, 11 a.m. → Book Now