The Programme

Katharine WebbKatherine Webb

Becoming a Full Time Writer

12 September, 2017 – St Alphege, Room 303

Opening our 2017-2108 programme: Violinist Adrian Adlam, a narration of Ferdinand the Bull

Katherine Webb was born in 1977 and grew up in rural Hampshire before reading History at Durham University. She has since spent time living in London and Venice, and now lives in Wiltshire. Having worked as a waitress, au pair, personal assistant, book binder, library assistant, seller of fairy costumes and housekeeper, she now writes
full time.

Special Guest: Alan Stephens, Chairman, Easy Read, Winchester, who will explain their programme of one-to-one tuition for adults.

Competition: Write about an elderly person performing one item from their bucket list. 300 words.

Adjudicator: Anne Gibson, literary therapist to residential homes for the elderly.

Mick JacksonMick Jackson

Finding Inspiration

10 October, 2017 – The Stripe Theatre

Mick Jackson is an award-winning novelist and screenwriter and is best known for his novel, The Underground Man, short listed for the Booker Prize and winner of the Royal Society of Authors First Novel Award.

His second book, Five Boys, was Encore Awards runnerup, The Widow’s Tale, won the East Anglia Book of the Year Award and Yuki Chan in Brontë Country was published in 2016.

Mick Jackson offers a writer’s account of ways of finding inspiration in creative work.

19.15 to 7.15p.m. HWS AGM report

Special Guest: Jon Woolcott, Dorset publisher, Little Toller Books, specialising in nature writing, talks about a planned new author list.

Competition: A story inspired by an unusual object. 300 words.

Adjudicator: Mick Jackson, author.

Mitchell SymonsMitchell Symons

Publishing: Past, Present, Future

14 November, 2017 – St Alphege, Room 303

Novelist and prolific author of the very unusual. Twice a winner of the Blue Peter Book Award. Mitchell Symons, writer, broadcaster, journalist, columnist and author of more than sixty books on the most unusual subjects imaginable, talks about the way in which publishing has evolved over recent years and offers some hard-earned advice.

Special Guest: Edward Fennell, journalist and writer, Founder and Committee Member, Hyde 900.

Competition: Write about the experience of living by a proverb. 300 words.

Adjudicator: Mitchell Symons, author.

Cecily O'NeillCecily O’Neill

Jane Austen as a Teenager

12 December, 2017 – The Stripe Theatre

Writer, dramaturg and teacher and the author of several influential books on drama education.

  • Drama Worlds
  • Young Jane
  • Meeting Miss Austen
  • Drinking With Dorothy

Cecily O’Neill introduces the exuberant imagination of the teenage Jane through the hilarious works Austen wrote between the ages of twelve and sixteen – the Juvenilia. She will discuss and illustrate the challenges of  bringing some of Austen’s most startling characters to life in the collections of plays inspired by the Juvenilia.

Starts 6.30, with the welcome return of the Hampshire Regency Dancers!

Networking, mince pies, wine bar; you are encouraged to come dressed as your favourite Austen character.

Special Guest: Professor Emma Clery, literary critic and cultural historian, author of Jane Austen, The Banker’s Sister.

Competition: Write a conversation between a man and a woman at a ball in the time of Jane Austen. 300 words.

Adjudicator: Cecily O’Neill, writer and teacher.

James AitchinsonJames Aitcheson

Creativity and the Historical Novel

9 January, 2018 – The Stripe Theatre

Historical novelist:

  • Sworn Sword
  • The Splintered
  • Kingdom
  • Knights of the Hawk
  • The Harrowing

James Aitcheson, author of four books set in the period of the Norman Conquest, talks about the historical novel and how to create an exciting and convincing story.

Special Guest: Janet Owen, Chief Executive Officer, Hampshire Cultural Trust.

Competition: Write a fictitious scene based on an historical event. 300 words.

Adjudicator: Robin Iles, Venue and Learning Manager, Hampshire Cultural Trust.

Honorary Patron: Professor Joy Carter, DL, Vice Chancellor, University of Winchester

Steve McHughSteve McHugh

Creating the Series…

13 February, 2018 – The Stripe Theatre

Fantasy author.


  • The Hellequin Chronicles
  • The Avalon Chronicles

Steve McHugh, author of a growing series of fantasy books, talks about the process of creation: the writing, planning, and setting up of a series of novels.

Special Guest: Caroline Routh, Executive Director of the Nuffield Southampton Theatres.

Competition: Write a dark scene in a fantasy world. 300 words.

Adjudicator: Dr. Gary Farnell, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Arts, University of Winchester.

Helen DennisHelen Dennis

Writing Adventures for Children

13 March, 2018 – The Stripe Theatre

Children’s author.


  • The Secret Breakers
  • The River of Ink

Helen Dennis, writer of the Carnegie-nominated Secret .

Breakers series and the Book Buzz choice 2017 River of Ink series, will talk about the process of creating exciting stories for children.

Special Guest: Anne Wan, children’s author, Secrets of the Snow Globe.

Competition: Write 300 words, for readers aged 9-12, about an incredible secret that if discovered could change the planet or the people on it.

Adjudicator: Becky Bagnell, Literary Agent specialising in children’s books.

Margaret GrahamMargaret Graham

An Exploration of Structure.

10 April, 2018 – The Stripe Theatre

A creative writing tutor, feature and short story writer, editor and bestselling author, now working on her 17th novel for Arrow.

Contributing editor for Frost Magazine, founded the Yeovil Literary Prize, and later, Words for the Wounded.

The story of Cinderella will be put under a microscope, to single out her normal world, point of change, et al.

To celebrate World Book Night, 23rd April, please bring a book to give to someone at the meeting. Then buy another donated by major publishers to benefit Words for the Wounded.

Special Guest: The Mayor of Winchester, Cllr David McLean.

Competition: Write a scene in which a lost shoe is returned 300 words.

Adjudicator: Nigel Spriggs, author and scriptwriter.

Erica James and Katie EspinerErica James and Katie Espiner

Challenges and Rewards of Writing Bestsellers

8 May, 2018 – The Stripe Theatre

Bestselling author Erica James has published over 20 books with Orion in the last 20 years. Join Erica in conversation with Managing Director of Orion, Katie Espiner, as they talk about the challenges and rewards of writing and publishing bestsellers.

Special Guests: Ant Ridgway, author, Wizzy, The Animal Whisperer, accompanied by Grethe Ridgway.

Competition: The first 300 hundred words of a novel for general women’s fiction.

Adjudicator: Katie Espiner, Managing Director, Orion Publishing Group.

Lisa JewellLisa Jewell

Publishing and Writing

12 June, 2018 – The Stripe Theatre


  • Before I Met You
  • The House We Grew Up In
  • The Third Wife
  • The Girls
  • I Found You
  • Then She Was Gone

Lisa Jewell, bestselling author, including her latest novel Then She was Gone, talks about publishing and writing.

Commences 6.00p.m. strawberries, nibbles, wine bar, networking, and the Bookfair displaying books published by HWS authors.

Special Guest: Professor Joy Carter, DL, Vice Chancellor, University of Winchester.

Competition: Write a flash fiction story set in a communal garden. 300 words.

Adjudicator: Alison Danielle.


4 thoughts on “The Programme

    • Each month we hold a writing competition to allow our members to participate in a writing exercise. The adjudicator for that month will review the entries and select a winner, two runners up and two highly commended – depending on the submissions. Entry into the competitions is £5 per month, or free if you have an annual membership. Paying the £5 fee to enter the competition also allows you to attend the event for free (which is normally charged at £5 on the door entry).


  1. The way the competitions are laid out make it very easy to misunderstand which entry is for when. Experience tells me that the competition mentioned under the monthly notice should be submitted on the 25th in the month prior to the meeting. This is not obvious, is confusing, and needs to be sorted out.


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