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Society of Women Writers and Journalists Writers' Conference

Organised in Partnership with Brunel University's Arts and Humanities Department, this exciting conference is packed with help, advice and thought provoking sessions.

We have an awe inspiring line up, including the poet Benjamin Zephaniah, who recently appeared in the international TV hit series 'Peaky Blinders'; Christina Lamb OBE, top foreign correspondent and winner of Europe’s top war reporting prize - the Prix Bayeux; Liza DeBlock, Agent at Mushens having worked with multiple Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling authors; Darren Hardy, Amazon's Head of UK Author and Editorial programmes; Mike Denham, Ex treasury and Deutsche Bank, who will be running a session on non fiction books and using a blog to promote your writing and encourage publication, Rebecca Harding, Chair of the SWWJ, business author, journalist and international marketing consultant.

With a mixture of workshops and keynote sessions there will be masses to enjoy and to learn from. The full agenda and timings are currently being finalised.

The agenda will be released very soon. The conference is open to members and non-members and is aimed at anyone with an amateur or professional interest in writing or publishing, including both authors and journalists.

The conference will run from 9.30am to 7.30pm. Ticket prices include lunch and refreshments during the day.

Register for the event here 

Finally, the day will be rounded off with an evening drinks reception, the perfect chance to enjoy a glass of something sparkling and network with your fellow writing professionals.

Special Guest Speakers include:

Benjamin Zephaniah
Benjamin is Poet, Novelist, Playwright, Musician, Actor, Television and Radio presenter. He cannot remember a time when he was not creating poetry but this had nothing to do with school where poetry meant very little to him, in fact he had finished full time education at the age of 13.

His poetry is strongly influenced by the music and poetry of Jamaica and what he calls ‘street politics’. In the early Eighties when Punks and Rastas were on the streets protesting about SUS Laws, high unemployment, homelessness and the National Front, Zephaniah’s poetry could be heard on the demonstrations, at youth gatherings, outside police stations, and on the dance floor. It was once said of him that he was Britain’s most filmed, photographed, and identifiable poet, this was because of his ability to perform on stage, but most of all on television, bringing Dub Poetry straight into British living rooms.

The mission was to take poetry everywhere, he hated the dead image that academia and the establishment had given poetry and proclaimed that he was out to popularise poetry by reaching people who did not read books, those that were keen on books could now witness a book coming to life on the stage.

This poetry was political, musical, radical, relevant and on TV. Young writers have said that the accessibility of his work has inspired them to take up writing, many record sleeves bear witness to the fact that he has inspired many of the new generation of rappers, and of all the performance poets that emerged in the late seventies and early eighties he is one of the few that is still going strong. He has sixteen honorary doctorates and the Ealing Hospital in west London has named a wing after him in recognition of his work.

Zephaniah believes that working with human rights groups, animal rights groups and other political organisations means that he will never lack subject matter. He now spends much of his time in China, but he continues working throughout Asia, South America and Africa, and is as passionate about politics and poetry now as he has ever been. With a career spanning four decades, he has been listed in The Times’ list of 50 greatest postwar writers and been voted the nations third favorite poet of all times in a BBC poll. Source:

Christina Lamb OBE
Christina Lamb is one of Britain’s leading foreign correspondents and a bestselling author. She has reported from most of the world’s hotspots starting with Afghanistan after an unexpected wedding invitation led her to Karachi in 1987 when she was just 22. She moved to Peshawar to cover the mujaheddin fighting the Soviet Union and within two years she had been named Young Journalist of the Year.

Since then she has won 15 major awards including five times being named Foreign Correspondent of the Year and Europe’s top war reporting prize, the Prix Bayeux. She was made an OBE by the Queen in 2013 and is an honorary fellow of University College, Oxford.

Mike Denham
Mike is an economist who has worked in both the public and private sectors. He was at the HM Treasury during the Callaghan and Thatcher governments, and subsequently spent twenty years in the City.

In recent years he has written extensively on government waste, public sector reform, and the need for lower taxes in Britain. He authors the government waste blog Burning Our Money, and was a member of the 2020 Tax Commission which made radical proposals for lower flatter taxes. He's currently a Research Fellow at the Taxpayers' Alliance.

Mike graduated from Oxford University and has a Masters Degree from the London School of Economics.

Caroline James
Caroline has owned and run businesses encompassing all aspects of the hospitality industry, a subject that features in her novels. A public speaker, consultant and food writer, Caroline is a member of the Romantic Novelist's Association, the Society for Women's Writers & Journalists and the Society of Authors.

Her debut novel Coffee, Tea The Gypsy & Me set in Cumbria in North West England, at the time of a famous gypsy horse fair. The book went straight to number three on Amazon and was E-book of the Week in The Sun. Coffee, Tea The Chef & Me was runner up the Winchester Writers festival for best TV Drama.

Coffee Tea The Caribbean & Me was runner up at The Write Stuff, LBF, and is an Amazon best-seller and top recommended read by Thomson Holidays. Jungle Rock, a romcom novella set in Australia, revolves around a TV game show.

The Best Boomerville Hotel is an Amazon best-seller. Boomerville at Ballymegille is out now followed by Hattie Goes To Hollywood. The Spa Break is published by One More Chapter (HarperCollins).

In her spare time, Caroline can be found cycling the lanes of Lancashire, trekking a Lake District fell with Fred, her Westie, or sipping raspberry gin and supporting Blackburn Rovers.

Alice Lutyens
Alice represents a wonderfully eclectic and talented list of authors, varying from on-topic commercial women's fiction to beautifully lyrical literary fiction. She looks after some fantastic non-fiction authors, from an Old Bailey judge to a journalist writing about social services to medical frontline workers.

Alice doesn’t believe in 'commercial or literary', simply in very good writing and great characters, and clear storylines. Great examples are Tall Bones by Anna Bailey, The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo, Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins and An American Marriage by Tayari Jones.

In non-fiction list, Alice’s taste is on the personal side; Think With the End in Mind: Dying, Death and Wisdom in an Age of Denial by Kathryn Mannix and I Am I Am I Am by Maggie Farrell. Alice has also read Notes on Grief by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and said it is one she will never forget reading for the first time.

Rebecca Harding
Rebecca is a communications, marketing and business development expert. She is the Chairman of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists as well as retired Vice Chair of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

She is a professional member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, an NUJ journalist and a business author. She is a podcaster and has done a radio chat show for the BBC as well as appearing on everything from the BBC World Service to The Sunday Times. She runs regular courses for writers on different areas of marketing. She founded Saltwhistle Communications in 2000 and has developed an impressive portfolio of clients particularly within the professional services industry.

Clients have ranged from small businesses to multi-national firms, such as accountants Deloittes, PWC and EY, to law firms like Stephenson Harwood, Norton Rose Fulbright and Weightmans, as well as international businesses such as MediaCom (part of WPP).

Much of her current work is international, her furthest client being in New Zealand.

Richard Charkin
Richard Charkin is a former president of the IPA and the UK PA and for 11 years was executive director of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. He has held many senior posts at major publishing houses, including Macmillan, Oxford University Press, Current Science Group, and Reed Elsevier.

He is president of The Book Society, vice-chair of Bloomsbury China’s Beijing joint venture with China Youth Press, and a member of the International Advisory Board of the Frankfurt Book Fair. He is a non-executive director of Bonnier Books UK, Liverpool University Press, Institute of Physics Publishing, and Cricket Properties as well as founding his own business, Mensch Publishing.

He lectures on the publishing courses at London College of Communications, City University, and University College London. Richard has an MA in Natural Sciences from Trinity College, Cambridge; was a Supernumerary Fellow of Green College, Oxford; attended the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School; and is a visiting professor at the University of the Arts London.

Paul Powell
Paul has been writing/producing comedy since 1991. Television credits include Miranda, Spitting Image, It’ll Be Alright On The Night and three series of Life of Riley.

Radio credits include The Now Show, The Griff Rhys Jones Show, and It’s Your Round (starring Angus Deayton). Paul has written for a number of large-scale live events including Miranda Hart’s ‘My, What I Call, Live Show’, the Nelson Mandela 90th Birthday Tribute and the Diamond Jubilee Concert at Buckingham Palace.

He’s picked up a Comedy Award for Al Murray’s Happy Hour, an RTS award for Miranda, and the title of 39th greatest comedy sketch for ‘Saying Goodbye’ from Smack The Pony. He’s a non-executive director of the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society and co-wrote the best-selling ‘Top Gear: Alternative Highway Code’.

Rachel Neely
Rachel began her publishing career in 2016 at Avon books, a division of HarperCollins, shortly after completing a Master of Studies in English and American Literature at the University of Oxford. Rachel then moved to Hachette’s Quercus books, where she stayed for over three years, as an Editorial Assistant and, latterly, Assistant Editor. Rachel worked on both reading group titles and the crime and thriller list, assisting on multiple Sunday Times bestsellers such as The Flatshare and The Girl Before.

Her first acquisition, Still Lives, a literary thriller, was chosen for the Reese Witherspoon Hello Sunshine book club. In May 2020, Rachel was appointed Commissioning Editor at Trapeze, an imprint of Orion, with a remit of acquiring conversation-starting novels, focusing on upmarket fiction and literary-commercial crossover.

Her authors included: Chloë Ashby, an art and culture journalist; Sascha Rothchild, executive producer of The Bold Type; and Annie Lord, Vogue’s dating columnist. In her final months at Orion, Rachel also looked after Trapeze’s biggest commercial crime brands, including Sunday Times bestseller Simon Beckett and Sharon Bolton.


Evening Reception

There is also the option to purchase tickets just for the evening reception for those who cannot make the entire day.

Access to the evening reception is included in the cost of the all day ticket options.

Further details about speakers and the agenda will be announced leading up to the conference date.

Register for the event here