Meet the Professionals
Join the conversation
Every month we are offering you the fantastic opportunity of taking part in a fully interactive online event with a professional from the writing industry.
The events are hosted by Sunday Writers’ Club co-founder Keith Gray and take the form of part conversation, part interview – with you asking the questions.
Tickets cost €10.
How does Meet the Professionals work?
We are inviting publishers, agents, editors, translators, illustrators, publicists and of course authors to chat with us. In fact, we will feature some of the most interesting voices in the writing industry from Vienna, the UK and the rest of the world.
Each event lasts approximately 1 hour, giving you plenty of opportunity to join in the conversation and ask the questions you need answering. At the close of the main event all attendees are welcome to continue the discussion in a follow-up session where you can meet, chat and discuss all of the new and interesting information you’ve been given by the publishing professional. This 30 minute follow-up session can be an integral part of your MtP experience and a great way to firm up in your own mind the new gems of knowledge you’ve just discovered, as well as help fellow writers focus on what might be useful to them, in a informal and friendly environment..
Be aware that we purposely keep audience figures small so we can be certain everyone will have the opportunity to be part of the conversation.
Sign-up for the event will close 24 hours before it’s due to begin (or when it’s full). Keith will contact you personally a few days before the event with the Zoom link. Please be sure you’ve downloaded the required app and checked that it works.
New events are added on a rolling basis to our Meet the Professionals Programme. Check back soon for more events.
Sally Nicholls – Sunday 2nd April 2023 – 20:00 (C.E.T. – ‘Vienna-time’)
This event is now fully booked. Please check back next month for new upcoming Meet the Professionals events.
Sally Nicholls is an immensely talented and versatile writer of award-winning novels set in modern times, our recent history and the medieval past. Her best-selling debut ‘Ways To Live Forever’ was published when she was only 25. It tells the story of Sam, an 11 year-old who is dying of leukaemia, and is written in the form of his scrapbook as he comes to terms with his illness. Heartbreaking yet ultimately uplifting, it won several prizes including the Waterstones Book Prize in the UK and the German ‘Luchs des Jahres’. It was made into a film in 2012.
Since then, Sally’s writing has continued to be empathetic, exciting and exploratory. Her novel ‘All Fall Down’ is set in 1349 during the time of Europe’s Great Plague, while ‘Things A Bright Girl Can Do’ follows three young women who join the suffragette movement in England in the early 20th century.
We do our best to bring a different aspect of the publishing industry, or of the writing process itself, to Meet the Professionals events and for our hour with Sally we’ll be chatting to her about researching her writing. How did she go about researching the Black Death? How does she balance research and imagination? Has she ever written about real people, and does that raise its own tricky issues? What would she do if true-life historical fact got in the way of a good story?
This event is going to an amazing opportunity to ask your own questions to a wonderfully diverse, brilliantly engaging and highly acclaimed author. Do not miss out!
Find out more about Sally and her work on her website.
(Image © Rottkay)
Lynsey May – Sunday 23rd October 2022 – 20:00 (C.E.T. – ‘Vienna-time’)
This event is now fully booked. Please check back in the in spring 2023 to find out more about our Meet the Professionals events in the new year.
Lynsey May is possibly not a name you recognise – at least not yet. This is because Lynsey has not had her novel published – at least not yet. But ‘Weak Teeth’, her debut novel, will be published in the summer of ’23 by Polygon (Birlinn).
Lynsey has been writing for years and years. She has quite a resume of published short fiction in various journals from New Writing Scotland to Gutter and Banshee. Yet she is quite open about how she has tried and failed, racked up the rejections, and has been unsuccessful to publish a novel. Until now…
What does Lynsey believe tipped this particular novel over-the-edge? Why has this novel, this draft, this rewrite succeeded when others failed? And what happens now for a brand new, first time novelist? What do the publishers expect? What does the author herself expect? Is it cool breezes and plain sailing from here on out?
You can browse Lynsey’s website for more information about her and her work.
This is guaranteed to be a fascinating conversation. You can join in by booking a ticket via the link below.
Photo © John Need Media
Anthony McGowan – Sunday 26th June 2022 – 20:00 (C.E.T. – ‘Vienna-time’)
This event is now fully booked. Please check back in the end of August to find out more about our Meet the Professionals events in the autumn.
Anthony has written for children, adults and dogs; fiction, non-fiction and memoir. His books have been described as hilarious, heart-warming and profound. He’s lectured in creative writing at London Metropolitan University, Royal Holloway University of London and the famous Faber Academy. In 2020 he won the highest honour in UK Children’s publishing, the CILIP Carnegie Medal, for his wonderful novel Lark.
His memoir The Art of Failing: Notes from the Underdog is a series of askance essays from the course of one year in his life. It is legitimately laugh-out-loud funny, cringingly honest and yet deeply moving too. In How To Teach Philosophy to Your Dog: A Quirky Introduction to the Big Questions in Philosophy, Anthony utilised his PhD in philosophy to examine the teachings of history’s most renowned philosophers, which he presented in a series of ‘conversations’ between himself and his dog, Monty. Guardian critic, John Crace said of it: “Essential reading on both the meaning of dogs and the meaning of life. The final chapter is a touching meditation on death and the existence – or not – of God, that takes in everything from Aristotle to Schopenhauer and leaves you suspecting dogs might already have had many of the answers all along.”
It’s obvious that Anthony is an utterly unique writer who’s highly regarded by both readers and fellow writers. An hour in his company is going to be eye-opening, inspirational and really, really good fun! A perfect way to round off our SWC year before we take our summer break.
For more information about Anthony, please visit his website.
Photo © ACHUKA photo
Jenn Ashworth – Sunday 24th April 2022 – 20:00 (C.E.T. – ‘Vienna-time’)
This event is now fully booked. Please check back soon to find out more about our Meet the Professionals event in June.
Following our incredibly successful MtP events with an editor and a translator we thought we’d get back to basics and invite an author to join us in conversation this month. We are incredibly excited to be welcoming Jenn Ashworth to SWC.
Jenn is a short story writer and a novelist from Lancashire, England, who started her career as a librarian. She has worked in the public library sector but also at Oxford University’s Bodleian Library and for two years was a prison librarian based in a male category B (tough!) prison – where she wrote a novel sitting in her car on her lunch breaks.
Two of Jenn’s early novels have never been published – one she wrote when she was 17, the second was lost due to computer theft! But since then she’s published 5 novels, a memoir and over a dozen essays and short stories. In 2012 she was named by the BBC as one of 12 Best New Novelists and this month sees the release of the paperback of her most recent book, ‘Ghosted: A Loved Story’.
Jenn has been active in reader and writer development throughout her career setting up the Lancashire Writing Hub and a literacy consultancy which she ran alongside the poet Sarah Hymas. Jenn was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2018 and is currently a Professor of Writing at Lancaster University.
We think that with Jenn’s background in writer development, as well as her love of both short stories and novels, she will be a fabulous MtP guest.
For more information about Jenn Ashworth, please visit her website.
Photo © Jenn Ashworth
Daniel Hahn OBE – Sunday 20th March 2022 – 20:00 (C.E.T. – ‘Vienna-time’)
This event is now fully booked. Please check back soon to find out more about our Meet the Professionals event in April.
Daniel Hahn lives a life immersed in worldwide literature. He is a writer, editor, translator, former chair of both the Society of Authors and Translators Association, has served on the board of a number of organisations working with literature and free expression including English PEN, Modern Poetry in Translation and The Children’s Bookshow.
His translation work (from Spanish, Portuguese and French) includes fiction from Europe, Africa and America. It ranges from children’s picture books, to autobiographies of footballing superstars Arsène Wenger and Pelé, as well as his translations of the Portuguese Nobel Laureate José Saramago.
Daniel has an encyclopaedic knowledge of children’s literature and has written both ‘The Ultimate Book Guides’ series and ‘The Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature’. He has written brief biographies of the Romantic poets Percy Bysshe Shelley and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. In April 2022 Daniel publishes ‘Catching Fire: A Translation Diary’ which explores his own process as a translator – reading almost in real-time as he translates Diamela Eltit’s ‘Never Did The Fire’.
A single hour is nowhere near long enough to talk to Daniel about all aspects of his incredible career and love of literature, but we guarantee this will be a fascinating event. Many of our Sunday Writers’ Clubbers have to tackle the translation process every week when they write with us – writing in English as their second or even third language. Daniel is someone who understands the problems and pleasures of conveying literature into another language – how difficult is it to find the right rhyme, what happens when you need to make a pun funny, how can you give a double entendre just the right amount of riské?
Join the conversation and ask your own questions about translations, great writing and how to find those perfect words.
Find out more about Daniel and his work here. Or listen to Daniel speak about Daniel Dafoe’s Robinson Crusoe (BBC Radio 3, Hay Festival Essay, 2019)
Photo © Alamy/Economist
Charlie Sheppard – Sunday 20th February 2022 – 20:00 (C.E.T. – ‘Vienna-time’)
This event is now fully booked. Please check back soon to find out more about our Meet the Professionals event in March.
Charlie Sheppard is one of the most highly regarded UK editors and publishers working the industry today. She is currently the Publishing Director at Andersen Press, the Independent UK children’s publishing house created by legendary publisher Klaus Flugge in 1976. Charlie herself has been a part of the publishing industry for over a quarter of a century – starting out as an editorial assistant, but working her up through the ranks at Reed Books, Egmont and Random House.
Along the way Charlie has worked with many incredible authors including Matt Haig (The Midnight Library), Mark Haddon (A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time), Susin Nielsen (We Are All Molecules), previous Meet the Professionals guest Phil Earle (When the Sky Falls) and SWC’s very own Keith Gray (Ostrich Boys). She has also nurtured many first-time authors, helping them develop their talent, who have later gone on to write bestsellers and even win awards. Charlie herself has been the recipient of the Branford Boase Award which is jointly awarded to a debut novelist and their editor, acknowledging the incredibly important creative relationship between author and editor.
If you are interested in the nitty-gritty of how the editorial process works, and why it still matters so much even in a world with self-publishing, then this is a conversation and a Meet the Professionals event you seriously should not miss.
Join the conversation and meet one of the publishing industry’s most admired editors and a wonderful advocate for writers and their books.
Find out more about Andersen Press here.
Photo © Bookwitch/Helen Giles
Claire Askew – Sunday 24th October 2021 – 20:00 (C.E.T.)
This event is now fully booked. Please check back soon to find out more about our Meet the Professionals events next year.
Dr Claire Askew is an award-winning poet, novelist, performer and creative writing teacher living in Scotland. She holds a PhD in Creative Writing & Contemporary Women’s Poetry from the University of Edinburgh, where she has also spent two years as their Writer in Residence. Claire is passionate about the teaching of creative writing and has written one of the most inspiring and insightful ‘How-To’ guides of recent years: Novelista: Anyone Can Write A Novel. Yes, Even You (John Murray Press).
By the time of the event, Claire will have published three collections of poetry: The Mermaid and The Sailors (Red Squirrel Press), This changes things (Bloodaxe) and How to burn a woman (Bloodaxe). Perhaps uniquely for an award-winning poet, Claire is also a critically acclaimed crime novelist, with her first novel in the DI Helen Birch series All The Hidden Truths (Hodder) being shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger and winning the Bloody Scotland Debut of the Year.
Claire is one of the most encouraging and generous writers you could hope to meet. She has worked with literally hundreds of new and aspiring (and even reluctant) writers of all ages, from all backgrounds. This is your chance to talk to her too. As an educator, poet and novelist Claire has a wealth of knowledge, expertise and experience. This is one conversation any writer will enjoy and feel encouraged by.
Find out more about Claire’s poetry, or follow her on Twitter @onenightstanzas or Instagram @one.night.stanzas.
Patrice Lawrence – Sunday 19th September 2021 – 20:00 (C.E.T.)
This event is now fully booked. Please check back soon to find out more about our Meet the Professionals event in October.
Patrice Lawrence MBE writes powerful books with a conscience. Her novels are renowned for being thought-provoking, even challenging, yet still highly entertaining. How do you write books with a message that avoid patronising or preaching to your reader but still have a heart and a message?
Born in Brighton, England, Patrice grew up in an Italian-Trinidadian household. For over 20 years Patrice worked in the voluntary sector with charities supporting equality and social justice. These are recurring themes throughout her novels, for all age-groups.
Her novels often follow young characters who need to make difficult choices, often dispelling the myth of simply choosing between ‘right and wrong’. Her first book for young adults, Orangeboy (Hodder), won both a Waterstones Prize and the Bookseller YA Prize. Earlier this year she won the Jhalak Prize for Book of the Year by a Writer of Colour in its inaugural children’s and young adult category for Eight Pieces of Silva (Hodder), which has also won the Crime Fest YA Prize. Splinters of Sunshine (Hodder) is her brand new novel published this month, and it’s already garnering fantastic reviews. Patrice herself has also been the judge for several major book awards.
How do you make your writing rise above the crowd? How do you make the reader care? How do you write books that matter? Join the conversation to discover the answer to these questions and more.
Find out more about Patrice – her writing and her other projects.
Barry Hutchison – Sunday 30th May 2021 – 20:00 (C.E.T.)
This event is now fully booked. Please check back soon to find out more about our Meet the Professionals event in September.
It’s not an exaggeration to claim that Barry Hutchison is unique within the publishing industry. He started out writing children’s book and children’s TV, and currently has over 70 books and 30 TV episodes to his name. In 2013 he became the first ever Patron of Reading in Scotland, focussing on encouraging a love of books with school children. Then in 2016 he decided to take his writing fate into his own hands and began an incredible journey along the path of self-publishing.
Originally Barry self-published his comedy sci-fi series for adults, ‘Space Team’, under the name Barry J Hutchison. On the back of their success he changed his name again and since 2019 has also been writing and publishing the Amazon bestselling ‘DCI Logan’ crime series, using the pseudonym JD Kirk.
Zertex Media is the publishing company created and run by Barry and his wife, Fiona, based in the Highlands of Scotland. Although they are a digital-first publisher ‘based halfway up the mountains in the middle of nowhere’ their success has now allowed them to start publishing traditional paperbacks as well as having many of their books available as Audible titles. They have now also opened their doors to submissions from authors not called Barry (or JD).
Barry-Barry J-JD calls himself a ‘hybrid author’. Here at SWC we think he’s a phenomenon! He’s a writer of never-ending creativity, energy and goodwill. If you’re interested in self-publishing, if you want to explore the pros and cons of traditional versus digital publishing, or if you want to know how someone can successfully make the transition from author to self-publisher to publishing others then May’s Meet the Professionals event will be genuinely fascinating.
Find out more about Barry here, JD Kirk here and Zertex Media here, and of course, join the conversation on May 30th by booking below.
David Bishop – Sunday 18 April 2021 – 20:00 (C.E.T.)
This event is now fully booked. Please check back soon to find out more about our Meet the Professionals event in May.
David Bishop’s career is as varied as it is impressive. He was the editor of both 2000AD comic and the Judge Dredd Megazine in the late 90’s, and in subsequent years has contributed many stories to both publications. He’s written tie-in novelisations for Dr Who, Inspector Morse and A Nightmare On Elm Street, among others. In 2007 he won the PAGE International Screenwriting Award and has written several BBC TV dramas, radio plays and audio dramas. To cut a long story short, his storytelling know-how and skill-set are second to none.
David is a writer who’s happy to craft stories across any genre or medium. Earlier this year he released his debut crime novel, City of Vengeance, under the name DV Bishop. The story is set in Florence in 1536 and has been described by David Baldacci as “a first-class historical thriller with echoes of The Name of the Rose.”
David also leads the unique creative writing Masters course at Edinburgh Napier University. Eschewing the usual clichés of authors with tortured souls, the Napier MA has pioneered its own bespoke module in genre fiction covering crime, horror, fantasy and science fiction. The MA focusses on money more than metaphors, teaching how to actually make a living as a writer – whether that’s through writing for graphic fiction, young adult audiences, screenwriting or even interactive media.
3 questions we’d like to ask David:
– What are the biggest similarities you’ve found between comic book writing, audio drama writing and writing novels?
– What’s the trick to finding a different voice when writing TV tie-ins as diverse as Dr Who and Inspector Morse?
– As a lecturer, how do you help your students progress from wannabe to getting paid-for-it writer?
What questions will you ask him?
Find out more about David by visiting his blog, website (including a book trailer) or the Creative Writing Masters website.
(Photo credit @Chris Scott)
Joanna Nadin – Sunday 21 March 2021 – 20:00 (C.E.T.)
This event is now fully booked. Please check back soon to find out more about our Meet the Professionals event in April.
We are extremely excited to announce Joanna Nadin as our Meet the Professionals guest for March. She is a writer of amazing scope and ability with over 80 books for both children and adults to her name.
Joanna currently lives in Bath, England. She holds a doctorate in young adult fiction and lectures on the MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. In previous years Joanna has been a lifeguard, a radio newsreader, a policy writer for the UK Labour Party and special advisor to the then Prime Minister. She still freelances as a speech-writer.
Her books for children include the fun, irreverent and Roald Dahl Funny Prize-shortlisted ‘Penny Dreadful’ series. As well as the ‘Flying Fergus’ series, which she co-wrote with 6-times Olympic gold medal winning cyclist Sir Chris Hoy. Her tough but life-affirming young adult novel, ‘Joe All Alone’, has been made into a BAFTA-winning, Emmy- nominated BBC TV drama. Joanna has also written non-fiction, including a biography of Alan Turing and a history of the Suffragettes. Her novel for adult readers ‘The Queen of Bloody Everything’ was longlisted for the Guardian newspaper’s Not The Booker award and was chosen by Cosmopolitan, the Independent and Red magazine as one of their books of the year. Joanna’s brand new novel for adults, ‘The Talk of Pram Town’, is published this month.
So we think you’ll agree, there’s not much Joanna doesn’t know about stories, books, readers and how to survive with a pen or make a living with a keyboard. She is without doubt one of the most consistently brilliant and hardest-working authors we know. If you need to ask some burning questions about how to make it as an author, then join the conversation, because chatting with Joanna is going to an incredible opportunity you’ll not want to miss.
Find out more about Joanna and her work by visiting her website.
Adrian Mead – Sunday 21 February 2021 – 20:00 (C.E.T.)
This event is now fully booked. Please check back soon to find out more about our Meet the Professionals event in March.
From hairdresser to nightclub bouncer to award-winning radio dramatist, screenwriter and director. Adrian Mead certainly has a wealth of experience and knowledge when it comes to telling stories people want to read, hear and watch.
Adrian has written and directed film, radio and TV projects for all of the UK’s major broadcasters – including BBC primetime drama Waking the Dead and River City, as well as children’s TV favourites such as MI High and Molly and Mack. His first feature film, Night People, won him a Scottish BAFTA and Cineworld Audience Award.
Thanks to his varied experience and extensive knowledge, Adrian has mentored many new and emerging writers, and is a much sort-after speaker and lecturer. Perhaps you’d like to explore the possibilities of writing for TV and film; maybe you’ve considered adapting your own work for the screen. How do you go about writing a screenplay compared to a novel or short story? Who should you approach once it’s written? Join the conversation with Adrian and have the chance to ask everything you’d love to know about screenwriting.
You can watch Adrian’s award-winning short film Killer here.
Fraser Ross Associates, Literary Agency and Consultancy – Sunday 17 January 2021 – 20:00 (C.E.T.)
This event is now fully booked. Please check back soon to find out more about our Meet the Professionals event in February.
We are extremely excited and fortunate to have literary agents Lindsey Fraser and Kathryn Ross of Fraser Ross Associates joining us for January’s ‘Meet the Professionals’ online event.
Some of you may remember Kathryn Ross’ name being mentioned several times during our October event with author and biographer Catherine Simpson. Kathryn Ross was her mentor in the early years, helping guide her towards publication of her first ever novel.
Together with Lindsey Fraser, Kathryn ran Scottish Book Trust (Scotland’s national charity for promoting literature, reading and writing) for over 10 years before the pair moved on to create their own literary agency in 2002. For over 30 years Lindsey and Kathryn have dedicated themselves to building bridges between writers and their readers. They’ve been regular book reviewers for many of the UK national newspapers and have administered several major writing awards for both professional and amateur writers. They’ve been at the forefront of nurturing young people’s writing ambitions across the length and breadth of Scotland through their management of two unique creative writing initiatives for school pupils: The Pushkin Prizes and Young Walter Scot Award. Their literary agency represents authors, illustrators, television writers and non-fiction writers from all over the world. Their knowledge and wealth of experience with writing, writers, their books and their readers is second-to-none.
How does an agent work with an author? Do you need to be represented by an agent to get published? What kind of help and guidance can a mentor offer a writer? How the hell do you even get an agent or a mentor?
Join the conversation on Sunday January 17 for the essential opportunity to ask your own questions about agents, mentors and the inner-workings of the publishing process directly to two of the most highly respected writer-developers and author-creators working in the industry today.
For more information, see their website here: www.fraserross.co.uk.
Phil Earle – Sunday 22 November 2020, 20:00hrs (CET – ‘Vienna time’)
This event is now fully booked. Please check back soon to find out more about our Meet the Professionals event in January 2021.
Phil Earle is an award winner writer for children and teenagers from the UK. But he is also the Sales and Marketing Director for publishing house David Fickling Books.
On the one hand, Phil has written over a dozen books for young readers including ‘Being Billy’ which was shortlisted for both the Waterstones and Branford Boase book awards and ‘Get Me Out Of Here’ which he co-wrote with SAS soldier-turned-author, Andy McNab.
While on the other hand, Phil has an intimate knowledge of how the publishing industry and bookselling really works. Not only can he write brilliant books, he knows how to get them into the hands of readers too. And for any author and SWCer out there, knowledge is power, right?
Phil is always in great demand as a speaker in schools, at book festivals and writers’ conferences and we feel extremely lucky he’s agreed to talk to us as part of Meet The Professionals. We guarantee this will be a conversation as entertaining as it is enlightening. Not to be missed!
To fully enjoy and get the most benefit form being in coversation with Phil, we highly recommend making yourself familiar with one or two of his books. You can order them in your local bookshop, find them at all the usual online stories or on his publishers website.
Explore Phil’s own website. You can also follow him on Twitter @philearle.
Catherine Simpson – Sunday 18 October 2020, 20:00hrs (CET – ‘Vienna time’)
Catherine is a journalist, poet and author living in Scotland’s beautiful capital city, Edinburgh.
Her wonderfully perceptive, blackly comic and genuinely moving debut novel ‘Truestory’ was published in 2015. The book follows Alice who lives on an isolated farm with her feckless husband and her 11 year-old son and ‘jailor’, Sam. Sam has Asperger’s and hasn’t set foot outside of the farm in six years. Day-in, day-out, little changes for Alice. Until a stranger with the ability to connect with Sam takes up residence with the family.
Catherine says the novel was inspired by her own daughter, Nina, who is autistic. Catherine and Nina have campaigned at the Scottish Parliament (among other places) for increased acceptance of autism.
Catherine’s second book, ‘When I Had A Little Sister’ is a memoir which is described by the Sunday Times as ‘superb’, by The Observer as ‘riveting, heart-rending, compassionate’, and by Vogue as ‘beautifully under-stated, a starling, elegiac portrait.’ In the book Catherine explores her younger sister’s suicide, piecing together family history using her own memories and the diaries her sister left behind.
Discussing Catherine’s writing and her blend of fiction and memoir is sure to make for an amazing hour of conversation and insight. She is a fabulous writer but great company too.
You can find out more about Catherine on her website. And don’t forget to follow her on Twitter @cath_simpson13.