Workshop and Agent Q & A

Saturday October 15,  10am – 6pm

Private House, Kintbury, West Berkshire

Cost: £180 early bird rate, £240 late entry

Full Day Workshop on Developing your Characters with Emma Darwin

Q&A and Afternoon Tea with Joanna Swainson, Literary Agent at Hardman & Swainson

The Away Day will have limited numbers of like-minded writers at a similar stage in their writing journey. The event is in a beautiful country house in a garden setting. Costs include lunch and afternoon tea.

Characterisation Workshop with Emma Darwin

Everyone says that character is the foundation of storytelling, but what does that mean? How do you develop convincing characters while still using them to power your plot? And what if your story-idea hasn’t arrived with characters at all?

In this practical, day-long workshop we’ll think about what makes characters convincing and keeps the reader caring about them. With a mixture of exercises, discussion and studying how other writers do it, we’ll explore how to find and develop your characters, how characterisation and theme interact, and what to do when your characters won’t do what they’re told. You should leave with a new understanding of what makes storytelling tick, and perhaps even some ideas for new characters and stories.


Agent Q&A with Joanna Swainson

Over afternoon tea, Joanna will give you the inside track on the submission process as well as industry insights and advice.

In an increasingly competitive market, it’s more important than ever to be well informed and prepared when seeking representation.

Emma Darwin

Emma’s memoir, This is Not a Book About Charles Darwin, was published in 2019. Her widely-read blog This Itch of Writing gave rise to Get Started in Writing Historical Fiction which publisher Scott Pack describes as ‘essential reading’. She has taught for the Open University and is a regular guest lecturer and workshop leader.

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Joanna Swainson 

Joanna is co-founder of literary agency Hardman & Swainson. She represents a range of authors, particularly across the genres of crime and thriller, speculative, historical, accessible literary and book group fiction. She also represents narrative non-fiction writers, and is particularly keen on science, history, nature, folklore and memoir.

She doesn’t like to be too prescriptive in what she’s looking for when reading submissions, but a strong hook, intriguing characters and great writing with surprising insights and observations will always grab her attention. Atmosphere also plays an important part in any book she enjoys.

Whatever the genre, she’s looking for originality and distinctive voices. She especially likes fiction threaded with humour – not necessarily of the laugh out loud kind.


You can find Joanna on Twitter @JoannaSwainson

Emma Haynes

Emma is responsible for BPA’s bespoke programme of literary events and retreats as well as managing the First Novel Award and Pitch Prize competitions. With a background in communications and special events she has an eye for detail and a desire to give writers the best possible experience in an imaginative programme involving creative writing tutors, best selling authors and leading literary agents as guest tutors.


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Frequently Asked Questions

Give me the details

The BPA Away Day for Novelists will be taking place at a private home in Kintbury, West Berkshire.

A full day workshop with writing tutor Emma Darwin will be followed by an informal Q&A with literary agent Joanna Swainson.

Book soon to avoid disappointment. Limited number of early bird prices available.

Can I stay overnight?

Overnight accommodation – supper, bed and breakfast available for 5 -7 writers, COVID-19 protocols permitting.

Additional cost: £120 for single occupancy and £100 for double occupancy.

There are limited spaces on site but there are some lovely pubs and guest houses in Kintbury and Inkpen. Contact us for details

What do I need to have to hand?

We will let you know nearer the time what you need to prepare but in general it might be helpful to have some of your own work printed out. Then just a pen and paper if you want to make notes.

What’s included in the cost?

The full day workshop, literary agent Q&A, lunch and afternoon tea. Overnight accommodation – supper, bed and breakfast is an additional charge.

Will the sessions be recorded?

The sessions will not be recorded.

Cancellation due to COVID Protocols

If we can’t go ahead with the event in person we may postpone or reschedule online at a reduced cost. In the event of cancellation full refunds will be given.

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Need more information?

If you have any other questions about our retreats please fill out the form

Overnight accommodation – supper, bed and breakfast – COVID-19 protocols permitting.

Cost £100- £120 per person. Limited numbers so please get in touch to book a room

Kintbury village has a train station with hourly trains from London Paddington and Reading. It’s conveniently located off the M4 between junctions 13 & 14.

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