Festival programme and speaker bios

10 AM Registration

10:15 – 11:00 AM Welcome and Keynote by Roopa Farooki

Roopa Farooki was born in Lahore, Pakistan and raised in London. She read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at New College, University of Oxford, and worked in advertising before turning to writing. She has published six novels with Headline and Macmillan, which have been listed for the Orange/Baileys Prize three times and translated into 13 languages. Her other award nominations include the Impac Dublin Literary Award, the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature and the Muslim Writers’ Award. She is the recipient of an Arts Council Award, and the John C Laurence prize from the Authors’ Foundation, for work that improves understanding between cultures. Her latest novel, The Good Children, was named “outstanding novel of the year” by the Daily Mail. She is a lecturer for the Masters in Creative Writing at Oxford University, and is currently studying medicine at St George’s University of London. She lives with her husband and four young children.

Website: wwww.roopafarooki.com

Twitter: @RoopaFarooki

11:15 – 12:15 PM First time writers: From draft to publication
Twitter: @RoopaFarooki

What is it really like being a first time writer? How can new writers develop their skills and what advice, if any, should they take on board. In this session, new writers share their experiences of writing their first novel, writing rules and having their work published. Featuring readings from debut novelists Mahsuda Snaith and Radhika Swarup as well as Emma Smith-Barton. Chaired by Aki Schilz from The Literary Consultancy.

Aki Schilz is the Director of The Literary Consultancy, the UK’s longest-running editorial consultancy for writers, providing editing services, mentoring and literary events since 1996. She is a member of the Advisory Board for the award-winning publisher Penned in the Margins, and a judge for the Bridport First Novel Award and the Creative Future Literary Awards for marginalised writers. Aki is a member of the #BAMEinPublishing network, and an advocate for improved diversity, representation, and accessibility in the literature sector. She is also a prize-winning writer and editor, and co-founder of the Saboteur Award-shortlisted #LossLit digital literature project.

Website: https://literaryconsultancy.co.uk/

Twitter: @TLCUK @AkiSchilz

Mahsuda Snaith writes short stories, novels and plays.  She is the winner of the SI Leeds Literary Prize 2014, Bristol Short Story Prize 2014 as well as a finalist for the Mslexia Novel Competition 2013.  Mahsuda has led creative writing workshops at De Montfort University, performed her work at literary festivals and been anthologised by The Asian Writer, Words with Jam and Closure: Contemporary Black British Stories.  Her debut novel ‘The Things We Thought We Knew’ is published by Transworld.

Website: www.mahsudasnaith.com

Twitter: @mahsudasnaith

Radhika Swarup was born in India, and spent a nomadic childhood in Italy, Qatar, Pakistan, Romania and England, which gave her a keen sense for the dispossessed.  She read Economics at Cambridge University, following which she worked in investment banking.  She has written opinion pieces for Indian broadsheets and the Huffington Post as well as short stories for publications including the Edinburgh Review.  Where the River Parts, her debut novel following a Hindu-Muslim couple caught up in the Partition of India and Pakistan, was published in 2016.  It was longlisted for the Author’s Club Best First Novel Prize, selected for the Sainsbury’s Summer Book Club, and was selected by Amazon India as one of its memorable books for 2016.  Radhika has been chosen as one of the leading 200 BAME writers in the UK.

Twitter: @rdswarup

Emma-Jane Smith-Barton studied English and Creative Writing (BA) at The University of Warwick and has an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University. Her short stories have appeared in various publications such as Mslexia, The Asian Writer and The Bristol Short Story Prize 2016 anthology (under her pseudonym for adult fiction, Amna Khokher). In 2017 she was one of twelve writers chosen from over 2,000 applications for WriteNow, a scheme run by Penguin Random House to increase diversity in literature. She is represented by literary agent Jo Unwin.

Twitter: @AmnaKhokher


12:30 – 1:30 PM Meet the gatekeepers: how publishing really works

An opportunity to meet the editors and agents you need to get past to get your work published.

Discover how publishers work and what they are looking from writers. Learn how to make your submissions stand out from the crowd. An informal event which will offer useful advice and guidance for terrified.

Featuring literary agents Lorella Belli from LBLA and Juliet Pickering from Blake Friedmann. Chaired by Rukhsana Yasmin from Wasafiri.

Rukhsana Yasmin entered publishing in 2005 with a Diversity in Publishing Traineeship at Saqi Books. Prior to this she worked in the world of digital media, developing online marketing campaigns and project managing websites. Rukhsana has worked at Profile Books as editor where she acquired the award winning In The Place of Justice by Wilbert Rideau and From Dictatorship to Democracy by, Gene Sharp. Rukhsana is now Deputy Editor at Wasafiri. She won the prestigious Kim Scott Walwyn Prize for women in publishing 2012.

Twitter: @rukhsanayasmin

Passionate about people and books, Lorella studied languages and literature at the University of Venice and has worked in publishing since 1996. She set up LBLA in London’s Notting Hill in 2002 and represents bestselling, award-winning, self-published and debut authors and clients worldwide (fiction, non-fiction; both commercial and literary). The agency also handles UK rights on behalf of US and foreign literary agencies, and thanks to its broad international reach, are very successful at selling translation rights on behalf of publishers and other literary agencies, as well as our own authors. We work with co-agents in the USA and worldwide, as well as with film/TV agents, to ensure our writers are represented in all media and territories. We are particularly proud to represent authors from many different counties and are interested in books with a multi-cultural perspective and a genuine potential to sell internationally.

Website: http://www.lorellabelliagency.com/

Twitter: @lblaUK

Juliet Pickering worked for Waterstones as a bookseller and fiction buyer before starting at A P Watt in 2003, where she became an Associate Agent in 2007. Juliet joined Blake Friedmann in 2013, becoming Vice Head of the Book Department in 2017, and her authors have been shortlisted for Booker, Costa, and Guardian First Book Awards, won the Whitbread and Green Carnation Prizes and, in 2015, the prestigious French literary award Prix Femina Etranger. Her fiction interests range from literary through to book club, and she enjoys commercial novels with fresh, contemporary and feminist central characters. She also represents many non-fiction writers across the board, including memoir, pop culture, social history, current affairs and political commentary, cookery and food writing, humour, and all sorts in-between.

Website: http://blakefriedmann.co.uk

Twitter: @julietpickering

2:15 – 3:15 PM Book Launch: Dividing Lines

Join us to celebrate the launch of our latest anthology, Dividing Lines: borders, boundaries and belonging selected from The Asian Writer Short Story Prize 2016.

With readings by new and emerging voices, followed by a Q&A. Featuring writers Farrah Yusuf, Lynne E. Blackwood, Meera Betab and Farhana Khalique. Chaired by Namita Elizabeth Chakrabarty.

Namita Elizabeth Chakrabarty’s novel If Hamlet Was A Girl was longlisted for the 2016 Peggy Chapman-Andrews Award for a First Novel. She is an interdisciplinary artist, working across performance, visual arts and creative writing. Her creative work has been published in English, Swedish and French. She teaches writing and performance in higher education.

Twitter: @DrNChakrabarty.

Farrah Yusuf was born in Pakistan and brought up in London. She writes plays, short stories and is currently working on her first novel. She took part in Kali Theatre TalkBack (2014/2015) and the Royal Court Theatre (2015) playwriting groups. Her short stories have been published in Five Degrees: The Asian Writer Short Story Prize (2012), Against the Grain (2013), Beyond the Border (2014), Love Across a Broken Map (2016), Dividing Lines: The Asian Writer Short Story Prize (2016) and The Leicester Writes Short Story Prize (2017) anthologies. She was a finalist in the Writeidea Short Story Prize (2014 and 2015). She is a member of The Whole Kahani collective.

Twitter: @Farrah_Yusuf

Lynne E. Blackwood is an Anglo-Indian activist, writer and performer of poetry, stories, novels. She’s an INSCRIBE poet with chapbook publication in 2018. Stories feature in Closure, Asian Writer, Leicester Writes anthologies. Her shorts collection is under consideration and a second crime novel about Yezidi girls’ sex-trafficking is selected for #WriteNow/PenguinRandomHouse shortlist.

Twitter: @leblackwood

Meera Betab is a housing rights lawyer and writer. Her short stories and novel in progress are influenced by her Panjabi Indian heritage and span diverse historical and geographical settings. She was a winner of the City University’s inaugural Novel Studio Competition 2014 in conjunction with the Christine Green Author’s Agency. A beneficiary of author mentoring under the WoMentoring Project, her novel in progress is a mystery set in Mughal India which explores inter-faith themes

Twitter: @MeeraBetab

Farhana Khalique is a teacher, voiceover and writer from south west London. She has been teaching English for over ten years, is often heard on TV as a continuity announcer for Channel 4, and her stories have appeared in Carillon and The Asian Writer magazines.

Twitter: @HanaKhalique

3:30 – 4:30 PM Up-lit to grip-lit: Meet the new faces of crime fiction

What are the key ingredients for writing good crime fiction? How do you know you’re on to a good idea and what holds readers’ interest over a series? Crime authors Vaseem Khan, AA Dhand and Sanjida Kay discuss their work. Followed by a Q&A with the audience.

Chair: Vaseem Khan

Vaseem Khan first saw an elephant lumbering down the middle of the road in 1997 when he arrived in India to work as a management consultant. It was the most unusual thing he had ever encountered and served as the inspiration behind his series of crime novels. He returned to the UK in 2006 and now works at University College London for the Department of Security and Crime Science where he is astonished on a daily basis by the way modern science is being employed to tackle crime. Elephants are third on his list of passions, first and second being great literature and cricket, not always in that order.

Website: https://vaseemkhan.com

Twitter: @VaseemKhanUK ?

AA Dhand was raised in Bradford and spent his youth observing the city from behind the counter of a small convenience store. After qualifying as a pharmacist, he worked in London and travelled extensively before returning to Bradford to start his own business and begin writing. The history, diversity and darkness of the city have inspired his Harry Virdee novels. In 2016, AA Dhand’s debut novel was released to critical acclaim. Since its release it has been selected for World Book night 2017, chosen for Read Regional 2017 and in February 2017 Streets of Darkness smashed into the UK best seller lists. AA Dhand is currently working with a UK broadcaster to develop a TV adaptation of the book. He still works full time as a pharmacist and writes late at night into the early hours. ?

Website: https://www.aadhand.com

Twitter: @aadhand

Sanjida Kay’s first thriller, Bone by Bone, was long listed for the Steel Dagger Award and named as one of the best books of 2016 by the Guardian newspaper and the Sunday Express. The Stolen Child is her second thriller. Sanjida lives in Bristol with her husband and daughter.

Website: http://www.sanjida.co.uk/

Twitter: @SanjidaKay


4:45 – 5:45 PM Love and marriage in fiction: a road to happiness?

The pursuit of love and marriage might offer writers ample inspiration but what do writers gain and lose in writing about love? In this panel discussion, writers who have been inspired by this universal theme will explore what it means to them and consider whether writing about love is a road to happiness.Featuring readings and discussion with writers Roopa Farooki, Farahad Zama and Radhika Kapur.

Chair: Roopa Farooki

Farahad Zama was born in Vizag on the Eastern coast of India in 1966. After obtaining a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Engineering at Kharagpur, near Kolkata, he moved to Mumbai to work for an investment bank. An arranged marriage to a Vizag girl soon followed. His career took him to New York, Zurich and Luxembourg and finally brought him to London for six months. Sixteen years later, Farahad is still in South London with his Vizag girl and two Croydon-born boys.

Farahad works in the City and writes on his commute and at weekends. The Marriage Bureau for Rich People is his first novel. He is delighted with its success – it was a Richard & Judy and Daily Mail book of the month, short listed for Best New Writer of the Year at the British Book Awards, Best Published Fiction at the Muslim Writers Awards and Melissa Nathan Awards for Comedy and Romance. The book is being translated into eight languages. Farahad has written three further novels as part of the series, The Many Conditions of Love, Wedding Wallah and Mrs Ali’s Road to Happiness.

Website: http://www.farahadzama.com

Radhika Kapur’s work as a writer/Creative Director in advertising has won at Cannes, One Show, Asia Pacific Adfest, Clio and the Bombay Ad Club.  Her short fiction has appeared in the Feminist Review and Love Across a Broken Map, an anthology of short stories. She won third place in the Euroscript Screenwriting Competition 2015 and is currently pursuing an MA in Screenwriting from Birkbeck, University of London.




2:15 – 3:15 PM Creative writing workshop: write your novel and get published

Suitable for writers of all abilities, this session will offer tips and advice to find your voice, nurture your writing muscle and the pitfalls to avoid when sending out your work to publishers. Lead by Farhana Shaikh

Farhana Shaikh is a writer and publisher born in Leicester. She edits The Asian Writer, an online magazine championing Asian literature and runs the small press Dahlia Publishing which publishes regional and diverse writing. Farhana hosts the popular Writers Meet Up Leicester as well as Leicester Writes Festival of New Writing and is currently part of Curve’s Cultural Leadership programme.

Twitter: @farhanashaikh

3:30 – 4:30 PM Poetry Workshop: How to steal like a poet

If you’ve just started writing poetry – or even if you’ve been doing it a while – it might feel that it’s taking time to feel that you know what you’re doing. Don’t worry – finding your voice as a poet is a long-term project. In this workshop we’ll look at how you can arm yourself for the journey: using your own experiences; borrowing from other writers; and stealing from others artists too. Lead by Rishi Dastidar.

Rishi Dastidar is a fellow of The Complete Works, a consulting editor at The Rialto magazine, a member of the Malika’s Poetry Kitchen collective, and also serves as a chair of the writer development organization Spread The Word. His debut collection Ticker-tape is published by Nine Arches Press.

Twitter: @BetaRish

4:45 – 5:45 PM Short story Masterclass: The art of writing short stories

In this masterclass, prolific short story writer, Susmita Bhattacharya will teach you how to develop your short story voice. Learn what makes a good short story and the writing techniques you can employ to develop your work. Each participant will receive a free anthology published by Dahlia Publishing.

Susmita Bhattacharya was born in Mumbai and sailed the world on oil tankers before settling down in the UK. She is an associate lecturer at Winchester University and leads the SO:Write Young Writers workshops in Southampton. Her debut novel, The Normal State of Mind (Parthian), was published in 2015.  Her short stories, essays and poems have been widely published and broadcast on BBC Radio 4. She lives in Winchester with her family and cat named after a Bollywood star. @Susmitatweets

Website: http://susmita-bhattacharya.blogspot.co.uk

Twitter: @Susmitatweets