the sunderland festival of creative writing


the history...

The Sunderland Festival of Creative Writing ran for the first time in October 2016, and is scheduled to run again in March 2017.

I'm creative director, and put the festival together with wonderful support from the MAC Trust, and from the creative community and generous venue owners of Sunderland.

The first Festival brought in hundreds of visitors from across the North-East to a diverse programme of free events, with both internationally renowned writers and local talent.

Ann Cleeves and David Mark talked about their careers in crime writing, Julia Churchill (AM Heath) and Katherine Richards (Pan Macmillan) discussed with a full house what agents and publishers were looking for, and Michael Chaplin (Monarch of the Glen) led a workshop on screenwriting for TV. Acclaimed poet Sean O'Brien ran a workshop on writing river poems, and comedian and writer Jason Cook (Hebburn) joined comedians Hal Branson, Ian Smith and David Callaghan to talk about writing comedy - and then all of them performed a fantastic stand-up gig afterwards. A similar approach was taken to songwriting, led by Marty Longstaff (Lake Poets) and Natasha Hawes, in their songwriting workshop with young people. The team behind Writers Block, Laura Degnan and James Harris ran a session on developing ideas, and workshops on audio drama, flash fiction, self-publishing and smuggling stories out via social media were run by local writers Jay Sykes, Sarah Dobbs, Alan Parkinson and me.

You can still see the 2016 programme.

Watch this space for more on 2017 soon!