The inaugural Bournemouth Writing Festival (April 21-23) offers more than 60 activities designed to improve and progress people’s writing – and how to get published! A mix of free and paid-for events, involving over 70 experienced writers and professionals, have been carefully curated to foster inspiration, networking and stimulate creativity, whatever your experience level is.

Held in venues within Bournemouth town centre, including St Peter’s Church and Art University Bournemouth’s Palace Court Theatre in Upper Hinton Road, television and film screenwriters, best-selling authors, poets, journalists, publicists, writing coaches, editors and publishers will be sharing their advice through talks and practical writing workshops.

Great British Life: Sue Cheung. (Photo: Sue Pickford aka Sue Cheung)Sue Cheung. (Photo: Sue Pickford aka Sue Cheung)

I co-founded the Bournemouth Writing Festival with Ildiko SpinFisher. We are both Bournemouth-based authors, and we wanted to create a festival that would go ‘under the bonnet’ and explore the mechanics of writing. For example, best-selling Dorset author Alex Stone (The Perfect Daughter) reveals why location is as important as characterisation in her talk Setting - a Hidden Character. The art of the memoir is discussed by Sue Cheung (Chinglish), in How to Write an Award-Winning Memoir Without Meaning To. And judging a book by its cover is explored by illustrator Briony Hartley, who shares her top ten design hacks to make your book stand out on the shelves.

Writing can be a lonely business, so this festival also aims to connect local writers with each other and create a supportive community of like-minded people. That’s why there are lots of extra-curricular ‘fringe’ events – like Yoga on the Beach, Genre Breakfasts Meetups and Literary Walks.

Younger writers are also catered for with creative writing events specifically designed for children, with author readings and activities.

Booking details, venues and times at Follow on Twitter @bmthWritingFest

Great British Life: Heidi Perks. (Photo: Perks. (Photo:

Writing Crime Thrillers 

Sunday Times best-selling author Heidi Perks (Now You See Her and Beneath the Surface) will be talking about how she got into writing crime thrillers and her journey to publication. Heidi will be dispensing valuable advice for any aspiring writers, from creating believable characters and the setting, to how to plot and structure a book. Heidi’s talk, Writing Crime Thrillers on the South Coast, takes place at 2pm, on April 21 at St Peter’s Church, which is also where Frankenstein author Mary Shelley is buried.

As well as showcasing established authors, the Bournemouth Writing Festival is proud to support local and emerging writers. Bournemouth’s Poet Laureate, Myriam San Marco, is curating a local Poetry Hunt (where people search for hidden poems written by local poets). We also introduce you to creative writing charities such as ArtfulScribe (supporting emerging writers in Hampshire and Dorset), and Boscombe-based The Outsiders Project which works with people side-lined from society to write, perform and create work at the highest level. Don’t miss the panel discussion with Si Mack (from The Outsiders Project) and poet Dr Aanka Batta on how to make your voice heard at 11.30am, on April 22 at the Palace Court Theatre.

Great British Life: Helen Corner-Bryant. ( Corner-Bryant. (

Landing an Agent 

Helen Corner-Bryant spent many years in editorial at Penguin before setting up Cornerstones Literary Consultancy in 1998. Helen will be holding a Q&A discussion entitled Landing an Agent. Hosted by journalist-turned-author Katherine Baldwin, Helen will be fielding questions from the audience on anything and everything to do with finding a literary agent. From resolving editorial issues such as flat plot or characters, getting your book onto an agent's desk or how to write a synopsis. Landing an Agent Q & A is at 1pm on April 23 at the Palace Court Theatre.

Drawing from the results of a survey we conducted with writers via our newsletter, we quickly identified a need to hear from professionals that support writers to get published. As a result, several of the talks at the Bournemouth Writing Festival are from the ‘other’ side of the writing process. The Dark Arts of Publishing Contracts, media lawyer Luke English, talks about what to look out for legally when signing a publishing contract. Publicist, Isabelle Knight discusses how to develop an author’s brand. Matt Shaw explores forging a career out of self-publishing, and editor Gary Dalkin reveals what to expect in the editing process of a book

Great British Life: Timo Peach. (Photo: Phillip Allen/ Peach. (Photo: Phillip Allen/

Future of Words

Join locally renowned music artist and climate communicator Timo Peach for this stunning keynote performance on the future of words - and what we as writers can do about it. 7pm, April 23, Palace Court Theatre

Great British Life: Bournemouth Writing FestivalBournemouth Writing Festival

Genre Breakfasts

From playwriting to ghostwriting, historical fiction to flash fiction, network with like-minded authors at these 9am informal meetups happening in local Bournemouth cafes (April 22-23). Find themes and locations on the website