Meet the speakers who will be featuring in our panels and workshops.
Sara Hunt is the founder and director of independent publisher Saraband, inaugural winners (2013–14) of the Saltire Society Publisher of the Year award and 2016 IPG Publisher of the Year finalist. She worked in publishing in London, including at Penguin and Octopus, and New York before founding Saraband in 1994. Sarabandhas extensive international experience andis a member of Publishing Scotland, the Northern Fiction Alliance and the Independent Publishers’ Guild. The Saraband list focuses on narrative non-fiction – particularly in nature, history, arts and memoir – and literary fiction, whilst sister imprint Contraband is dedicated to literary noir, mystery and thrillers, and is the publisher of Graeme Macrae Burnet’s His Bloody Project, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2016 and an international bestseller with a range of awards in various countries.
Molly is an author and journalist who writes about how technology changes the way we think, work and live. She is Associate Editor of FutureBook, which explores the future of books and publishing, and her debut novel, THE CHARMED LIFE OF ALEX MOORE - a modern adventure with a magical twist, set between the startups of London and the wilds of Orkney - is out now.
Helen Taylor is a former doctor and research scientist who studied and worked for many years in Glasgow. She has a diploma in creative writing from the Open University and an MA in creative writing from Lancaster University. Her debut novel The Backstreets of Purgatory (in which Caravaggio shows up in present day Glasgow) has just been published by Unbound.
Sarah Butler explores the relationship between writing and place through prose, poetry and participatory projects. Recent writing residencies include writer-in-residence on the Central line; at Great Ormond Street Hospital; and Stories From The Road – a project exploring personal stories of Oxford Road, Manchester. She has two novels published by Picador in the UK and with fourteen international publishers: Ten Things I’ve Learnt About Love and Before The Fire. In November 2018, she will publish a novella, Not Home, written in conversation with people living in unsupported temporary accommodation in Manchester. Her new novel, Jack and Bet, will be published by Picador in Spring 2020.
Steve Ince is a writer, artist, game designer, consultant and speaker with 25 years of development experience, working in a freelance capacity since 2004 with a variety of clients across the globe.Steve gained a nomination for Excellence in Writing at the Game Developers Choice Awards for Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon and received a second nomination from the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain for his writing on So Blonde. Steve’s book, Writing for Video Games, was published by A&C Black and has sold throughout the world. It is used as a text in some game writing courses. Regularly invited to speak at conferences around the world, Steve enjoys sharing his knowledge and experience. His short film, Payment, has recently been released to critical acclaim.
Debbie Taylor - Mslexia
Debbie Taylor is the founder and Editorial Director of Mslexia magazine. She has written for Oxfam, UNICEF, Anti-Slavery, WHO and others about women and social issues. Her books include My Children, My Gold (Virago), a travelogue about single mothers, and The Fourth Queen (Penguin), a novel set in a harem in 18th Century Morocco. Her latest novel, Herring Girl (Oneworld), a paranormal historical murder mystery, is out now.
Mslexia Publications is an independent not-for-profit publishing company dedicated to the promotion and publication of women’s writing. It was founded in 1999 with National Lottery and Arts Council England funding, but now survives solely on the sales of its publications and income from its competitions.
Mel Harris is Creative Director of Sparklab www.sparklabproductions.com, making docs, features and dramas for BBC audio networks as well as a range of other platforms. Sparklab is running regular Podcast Camps in the north, developing audio stories for podcast platforms including charities and businesses.
Joe Stretch is the author of three novels. His latest, The Adult, won a Somerset Maugham Award. He has worked as a musician, teacher, journalist, ghost-writer and film-maker.
Courttia Newland is the author of seven works of fiction that include his debut, The Scholar. His latest novel, The Gospel According to Cane, was published in 2013 and has been
optioned by Cowboy Films. He was nominated for the Impac Dublin Literary Award, The Frank O’ Conner award, The CWA Dagger in the Library Award, The Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and The Theatre 503 Award for playwriting as well as numerous others. His short stories have appeared in anthologies including Best of British Short Stories 2017 and broadcast on BBC Radio 4. In 2016 he was awarded the Tayner Barbers Award for science
fiction writing and the Roland Rees Busary for playwriting. He is associate lecturer in creative writing at the University of Westminster and is completing a PhD in creative writing.
Born in Lancashire, Andrew Michael Hurley is the author of two short story collections, Cages and The Unusual Death of Julie Christie. His first novel, The Loney, was first published by Tartarus Press in 2014 and was shortlisted for the inaugural James Herbert Award. It was subsequently republished by John Murray in 2015 and won the Costa First Novel Award and the British Book Industry awards for Debut Novel and Book of the Year. He lectures in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University and is currently working on a second novel.
Cathy Rentzenbrink is the author of The Last Act of Love and A Manual for Heartache. Cathy regularly chairs literary events, interviews authors, reviews books and runs writing workshops. Cathy writes a column for Prospect about modern life and is a regular contributor to Radio 4. In previous lives she worked for The Bookseller, The Reading Agency, Waterstones and The Bell & Crown Inn. Cathy won the Snaith and District Ladies Darts Championship when she was 17 but is now sadly out of practice.
Clare Fisher is the author of All The Good Things, described as ‘a sparky and unsettling debut‘ by The Guardian. Her short story collection How the Light Gets In will be published in June 2018 by Influx Press. When she’s not writing, she’s teaching creative writing, mentoring and editing, running and tweeting about all of the above @claresitafisher.
Kit Caless writes for VICE, The Guardian, New Statesman among others. He is the author of Spoon's Carpets: An Appreciation (Square Peg/Penguin Random House 2016). He is co-founder and editor of London-based independent publishing house Influx Press, and co-founder of digital story telling project #LossLit.
Sian Norris is a writer and a journalist. She is the founder and director of the Bristol Women’s Literature Festival and was the co-editor of the Read Women project. She is a regular contributor to the New Statesman, Prospect UK, openDemocracy 50:50, Politics.co.uk, the Guardian, and in 2017 contributed an essay to Know Your Place. Her short fiction has been published at 3am Magazine. In 2017 she was the writer in residence at Spike Island, and the Wales Arts Review. She is currently the Ben Pimlott writer in residence at Birkbeck University. Her first book, Greta and Boris: A Daring Rescue came out in 2013. She is working on a novel based on the life of Gertrude Stein which in 2016 was longlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Prize.
Alison Boyle provides literature advice for Arts Council England. Her work spans the Northwest and Northeast regions and covers festivals, independent publishers, reading and writing development, literature+ (digital and other media) and collaborations in England and further afield. She was an editor and publisher of books, magazines and online content in London, Oxford and Bath, and she worked for five years on international awards for digital technology in education before moving back to the North.
Mahsuda Snaith is the winner of the SI Leeds Literary Prize 2014 and Bristol Short Story Prize 2014. Her debut novel The Things We Thought We Knew was published in 2017 and she was named an ‘Observer New Face of Fiction’ in the same year. She has led creative writing workshops in universities, hospitals, schools and in a homeless hostel. Recently, she has been commissioned as a writer for the Colonial Countryside project and selected as a mentor in the Middle Way Mentoring Project. Her second novel is due out in 2019. To find out more visit www.mahsudasnaith.com.
Naomi Booth is an award-winning writer and academic who lives and works in York. Her first work of fiction, The Lost Art of Sinking, was selected for New Writing North’s Read Regional campaign and won the Saboteur Award for Best Novella 2016. Her debut novel, Sealed (Dead Ink Books, 2017) is an eco-horror, described by The Guardian as “not for the faint-hearted… a marvellous first novel”; it was recently shortlisted for the Not the Booker prize. Her uncanny short fiction, “Cluster” was long-listed for the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award 2018. Naomi is Subject Director of Creative Writing at York St John University.
Livi Michael is the author of 8 novels for adults and 12 for children, several of which are set in different historical periods. She has won or been nominated for seventeen awards,.Her latest trilogy about the Wars of the Roses; succession, Rebellion and Accession has been published by Penguin Books.
She teaches creative writing at Manchester Metropolitan University, supervising students with a particular interest in historical writing at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. She also offers a CPD courses in collaboration with the history department: From Historical fact to Contemporary Fiction
Naomi Kruger's debut novel, May (partly narrated by a character with dementia) was published by Seren earlier this year. She is a lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Central Lancashire and a co-director of North West Literary Arts - an organisation facilitating literary events in the community as well as creating resources for readers and writers.
Usman Mullan is the Salford-based Assistant Producer. He looks after comedy and drama writer’s development across TV, Radio and Digital platforms, producing schemes opportunities and events for writers across the the North of England - working with partners in Drama, Comedy, CBBC, CBeebies, Radio, Online and others, on new and ongoing projects. Usman also produces writer development programmes including Northern Voices, a writers' group to introduce theatre writers to writing for broadcast. He also works across online production and social media and has produced a series of short drama/comedy films for BBC Radio 1Xtra, Asian Network and BBC Music’s social media platforms.