Book me as a speaker

Talks, classes and workshops

Welcome to my Speaker page

I love sharing my knowledge of the writing craft! Over the years I’ve given talks to many organizations and run workshops and classes too, as well as for my own business, Fictionfire. I offer a wide range of topics, covering

·        motivation/commitment/creating your writing practice

·        writing techniques

·        editing and the submission process

·        publishing options  

See the list of previous topics/titles here and organizations I’ve previously worked with here. I can design bespoke talks and classes for you – just ask!

Next workshop: Essential Editing, plus one-to-one appointments, at WriteCon in Zurich, 30 November: http://writecon.ch/

My key purpose is to inspire. In any talk or class I aim to entertain, inform and support attendees, giving them a vision of what they’re capable of as writers and the belief that they can go ahead and achieve it. I can help writers at all levels from absolute beginners to the more experienced and those seeking publishing advice. 

If you’re running a writing group or writing circle, or are organizing a conference or festival and you’d like to invite me to give a talk or run a bespoke workshop or course, then use this contact form or call 07827 455723 and we can take it further. 

I also welcome interview invitations, such as for radio or podcasts, or you can invite me to guest-post on your blog. Contact me via the contact form or call 07827 455723.

I just wanted to say that your talk last night was excellent. Informative but amusing and I could see the students were gripped. I certainly was.
— Melanie King, author

what can I offer you?

Ask me to create a new talk or workshop if what you’re looking for isn’t here! Some of these were created for the organizations listed below, but most for my own Fictionfire programme of workshops, day courses and retreats during the past decade.

Sample formats: 60-90 minute talks, workshops lasting 2 or 3 hours, half-day or full-day courses, linked series over a weekend, courses lasting several weeks. I can design and structure workshops and courses according to your specific needs. 

Here are some ideas for you! 

Finding inspiration, motivation, commitment, creating your writing practice


Why write; making the transition from short fiction to the novel; how stories evolve; how to create a writing life for yourself

Workshops/class/course topics: 

Get inspired and stay inspired; staying committed to your writing for the long haul; transforming your life into art

 Writing techniques and skills 


Writing openings; creating/using a sense of place in fiction; using sensory details, making your scenes memorable 

Workshops/classes/courses topics: 

Complete novel writing course (10 sessions typical, but customizable)

Writing openings

Creating character; creating heroes and villains; making use of character ‘ghosts’; creating minor characters; creating inner lives for your characters

Creating narrative perspective; the uses of different kinds of point of view

Story construction/plotting; how to control and shape plot; how to pace your story; how to create memorable scenes; pacing individual scenes; how to create back story; raising the stakes of your story; playing with time; how to write happy scenes; creating layers of meaning; writing short stories; how to write spooky stories

Dynamic dialogue

Using settings and creating a sense of place/atmosphere; using sensory details

Improving your writing style  

Workshops exploring how you can use certain subjects in your fiction – techniques and purposes:

Friendship; war; the aftermath of war; love; parents and children; siblings; spiritual journeys

Editing, submitting and publishing your work


Essential editing, historical fiction; how to get published/your publishing choices, cover design 

Workshops/classes/courses topics: 

Essential editing techniques; how to write a synopsis; how to create your pitch package; how to write your covering letter; how to edit your submission 

Writing retreats 

In the past few years I’ve run several writing retreats: Fictionfire by the Sea in St Ives, Cornwall, and Fictionfire by the Spires in Oxford. Each retreat had a taught component structured round a theme: past themes were Spirit of Place, Plot Structure, Get into Character, and Reboot and Troubleshoot. 

If you would like me to structure and guide a retreat for you, whether themed or not, please contact me.

– I had the most marvellous time. I’d begun to think I’d run out of stories, but came back brimming with ideas.
– I think you struck a perfect balance between writing time and workshop. I found the retreat a very supportive environment and feel its strength lies in that it is suitable for beginners and more experienced writers.
— comments by retreat attendees

current and upcoming Events

How to be a Happy Writer masterclass is available online, plus check which Focus Workshops in Oxford are currently running by visiting my Courses page.

2019 Events:

  • Essential Fiction Writing Skills: part of OUSSA summer school programme for Oxford University Department for Continuing Education, 13-20 July (course full)

  • Advanced fiction writing: Oxford University Creative Writing Summer School at Exeter College, July-August 2019 (course full)

  • Talk: So you want to be a writer: mindset and methods for success: Oxford University Department for Continuing Education Open Day, 30 August

  • Editing workshop and one-to-ones at WriteCon in Zurich, November 30th (book at http://writecon.ch/)

[Events which took place in 2018: three linked workshops for Didcot Writers; Filling the Blank Page evening class for Oxford University's Dept. for Continuing Education April-June; day workshop at University of Winchester Writers' Festival; Oxford University Summer School for Adults; Oxford University International Creative Writing Summer School at Exeter College; Lecture: ‘A Sense of Place in your Fiction Writing’, Oxford University’s Dept. for Continuing Education Open Day.]

Taking your class has been one of the most inspiring and helpful decisions I’ve ever made. Thank you for your time, effort and gloriously entertaining delivery of material.
— Angelina Spencer-Crisp, summer school attendee

Past talks and lectures include for:

·        Oxford University

·        The University of Winchester’s Writers’ Festival

·        Aarhus University English Society

·        The Historical Novel Society

·        The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators

·        The Oxford Literary Festival

·        Oxford Writers’ House

·        Writers in Oxford

·        The Calderdale Writers’ Roadshow

·        Oxford’s C.S. Lewis Society 

Past workshops, classes and courses include for:

·        Oxford University’s Department for Continuing Education: part-time course programme, Undergraduate Diploma in Creative Writing day schools, OUSSA summer school programme 2001-present, Oxford University Creative Writing Summer School 2013-present

·        The University of Winchester’s Writers’ Festival 2001-2018

·        Arcadia University

·        Didcot Writers at Cornerstone Arts Centre, Didcot

You so motivated me with your concrete, specific advice on the craft of fiction. You are a wonderful teacher. I so appreciate all your great advice and I believe that you are largely responsible for helping me better understand how to write more effectively.
— James Mulhern, summer school attendee