Where did the inspiration for London Writers' Week come from?
When I first started working at Central Saint Martins a few of the staff members had been involved in the creation of London Fashion Week. We were working on two years of experimentation on how to improve writing training in the UK and we thought it would be great to have a writing version of London Fashion Week. The UK is so well known for its writers, from JK Rowling all the way back to Shakespeare and Chaucer, it felt absolutely like the right thing to do.
What were you keen to make sure the week provided?
It has always been about providing access to the best new ideas happening in new writing in the UK. To make sure that anyone could come and also to make sure we offered platforms for people to showcase new work as well.
What is the format of it exactly?
There should be events for everyone across the week, including sessions for writers specialising in film, theatre, television, radio and digital media. There are 'in conversation' events, workshops and showcases. You can buy tickets to each session or you can get a festival pass which effectively gets you in to see each event for £2.50. This year's theme is digital media.
Why do we need a London Writers' Week?
One of the things that has been important to me is looking at how we improve writing training. It is important that anyone feels they can be a writer and that diverse voices are part of our writing arena. I came from a single parent family and for long time I felt I couldn't be a writer. I just didn't understand how you would do it - you don't see jobs in the paper for it. We need to address things like the closure of the A-Level in creative writing and make sure writers get the information they need.
What are some of the event highlights?
Rob Drummer the artistic director of Boundless Theatre company is doing a couple of events for young writers. BBC Writersroom is doing an event on what's going on at the BBC, WhatsOnStage is hosting an event with the Royal Court on how to get involved with that theatre. The Creative Industries Federation will be staging an event on how the new government and Brexit will effect writers.
This year, you've moved London Writers' Week to west London and all profits are going to the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire, why is it important to do this?
So many terrible things have happened in London this year, from the Grenfell Tower fire, which is the worst fire in London since WWII, to three terrorist attacks. If we were holding London Writers' Week in July it just wasn't something we could ignore. We hope the outcome will be a chance for writers to explore how their skill set can be used to change things. The other side is that we want to raise money for the victims as well.
And there are now specific Grenfell Tower-focused events?
Yes there are two additional elements to the week. One will be a new session on how writers can respond to and help when terrible events like the Grenfell Tower fire occur. Sophie Khan the lawyer will be speaking on how important it is to have an inquest and not an inquiry and will be looking at why is the meaning of words so important. We've also created a donation ticket, which is basically for people unable to attend the event. In return for a donation, they'll get the top tips from the festival and unique advice from the likes of Kate Mosse straight to their inbox.
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