The 11th Geneva Writers' Conference takes place March 2 - 4, 2018 at Webster University, Bellevue, Switzerland.
Welcome to a weekend of workshops and panels led by authors, agents, editors, and publishers from around the world.
Our goal is to bring together English-language writers for high-level instruction, support and community through workshops, discussions and readings. Conference instructors are experienced in teaching creative writing and committed to sharing their knowledge, skills and perspectives on writing as an art and as a profession.
The conference venue is ten minutes from the center of Geneva. Conference price is 250 CHF. The fee includes:
All participants and staff have the opportunity to sell their books in the conference bookstore (advanced sign-up required).
New extras in 2018: A meet and greet cocktail with participants and staff. Additional workshops and panels. Hot lunch. A silent pitch board.
Conference Schedule Overview
FRIDAY, MARCH 2
18h Meet and Greet Networking Cocktail (advance registration required):
This is an opportunity for participants and staff to eat, drink, and meet.
SATURDAY, MARCH 3
9h Check-In, Bookshop, Coffee Open
9h30 Welcome: Instructions and Introductions
10h30 Workshop Choices
13h15 Workshop Choices
15h15 Panel/Writing Lab Choices
17h Question and Answer Sessions
18h Dinner and Staff Readings
SUNDAY, MARCH 4
9h Bookshop, Coffee Open
9h30 Workshop Choices
11h15 Question and Answer Sessions
13h15 Workshop Choices
15h15 Panel/ Writing Lab Choices
16h45 Goodbye Cocktail for All
Meet Your Instructors:
Bernardine Evaristo is the author of seven books of fiction and verse fiction. She also writes short stories, essays, literary criticism, drama and for BBC radio. Two of her novels have been adapted into BBC R4 plays. She was appointed an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2009. www.bevaristo.com
Emma Henderson is a lecturer in English and Creative Writing at Keele University and an award-winning novelist. She has worked, in the past, as a blurbs’ writer for Penguin Books, as the manager of a ski-lodge in the French Alps and as a water bailiff in the Outer Hebrides. https://emmahendersonauthor.wordpress.com/
Courttia Newland is the author of seven books. His latest, The Gospel According to Cane, was published in 2013. He was nominated for the Edge Hill Prize, The Frank O’ Conner award, and numerous others. His short stories have appeared in many anthologies and broadcast on Radio 4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Courttia_Newland.
Louise Welsh is the author of eight novels, most recently No Dominion (John Murray 2017). Louise has received numerous awards and international fellowships, including an Honorary Doctor of Arts from Edinburgh Napier University and an honorary fellowship from the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program. She is Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow. https://www.gla.ac.uk/schools/critical/staff/louisewelsh/
Rachel Vail is the award-winning author of more than 30 books for young people. Her most recent novels are Well, That was Awkward and Unfriended for young teens; and the Justin Case trilogy for kids. Her picture books include Piggy Bunny and Sometimes I’m Bombaloo. Rachel lives in New York City with her husband, their two sons, and a tortoise named Lightning. http://www.rachelvail.com
Colin Grant is a BBC producer, historian and author of four books including a history of epilepsy called A Smell of Burning. His memoir of Caribbean life in 1970s England, Bageye at the Wheel, was shortlisted for the Pen/Ackerley Prize 2013. http://www.colingrant.info/
Susan Tiberghien, author of four memoirs, One Year to a Writing Life, and soon published Writing Toward Wholeness, has taught workshops for twenty years at writers’ centers and conferences in America and Europe. She lives in Geneva, Switzerland, where she directs the Geneva Writers’ Group. www.susantiberghien.com
Wallis Wilde-Menozzi writes and teaches looking for words that must be said. She’s presently finding them for a new book for Farrar, Straus & Giroux, who published her two memoirs. The earlier, Mother Tongue, is being reissued. Forty years of Italian life have also led her into translation, poetry and fiction. www.walliswilde-menozzi.com
Diccon Bewes is a travel writer and public speaker. His first book, Swiss Watching, started life at the Geneva Writers‘ Conference and became a No 1 bestseller. Now a full-time writer, he has also worked in journalism, in publishing and as a bookseller. He lives in Bern. www.dicconbewes.com
David Rivard’s Standoff was awarded the 2017 PEN/New England Prize and was listed by the New Yorker as one of its “Books We Loved in 2016.” Rivard is the author of five other books of poetry: Otherwise Elsewhere, Sugartown, Bewitched Playground, Wise Poison, and Torque. He teaches at the University of New Hampshire. www.davidrivard.netGeorge Szirtes was born in Hungary and published his first book of poems,The Slant Door, in 1979. It won the Faber Prize. Has published many since then,Reel (2004) winning the T S Eliot Prize, for which he has been twice shortlisted since. His latest book is Mapping the Delta (BloodAxe 2016). http://georgeszirtes.blogspot.ch
Meet Your Panelists:
Aimee Ashcraft is based in New York City, where she is an associate agent at Brower Literary & Management. After earning her MA in French translation from NYU, she joined the wonderful world of publishing. She loves stories that feature strong women, diverse voices, and a little bit of magic. website: http://browerliterary.com/
Veronica Liu is an editor at the NYC-based Seven Stories Press, an independent publisher offering uncompromising political books, fiction, memoir, poetry, graphic work, and books for young readers. She is also founder and general coordinator of Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria, a collectively managed bookshop and arts space. https://sevenstories.com/
Alison Anderson has translated over 40 novels from French and somehow found the time to write a few novels in between. Her latest is The Summer Guest, set in the Russian Empire and based on a true episode in the life of Anton Chekhov. She lives in Switzerland. http://alison-anderson.com/
Jason Donald was born in Scotland and grew up in South Africa. His first novel, Choke Chain, was shortlisted for the Authors' Club Best First Novel Award and the Saltire First Book Award. His second novel, Dalila, was published by Jonathan Cape/Vintage in January 2017. He has also published short stories in various literary journals. He has just written and co-directed his first short film, Passion Gap. https://www.jasondonald.org/
Tasja Dorkofikis works for the Arts Council in London developing translated literature. She also programs the English language part of Le livre sur les quais in Morges. She worked as a publisher commissioning fiction and non-fiction for Portobello Books and before that was a publicist at Random House, Transworld and Thames & Hudson. She runs the PEN Atlas - the English PEN international literary site. https://www.englishpen.org/pen-atlas-home/
Denise Nickerson is an author, educational consultant, guidance counselor, coach, and super-connector. She leads international, and globally-minded people through the labyrinth of education, networking, and creativity resources to ignite happiness, success, and authentic self-expression. . http://www.salt.consulting/
Kate Johnson is an agent at MacKenzie Wolf Literary Services, representing award-winning authors in both the US and the UK. She was previously an agent and vice president at Georges Borchardt, Inc. She represents literary and upmarket fiction, as well as a range of narrative nonfiction. http://www.mwlit.com/
Hannah Knowles is senior commissioning editor at Canongate Books. She has worked in the publishing industry for 12 years, including at Hachette and Random House prior to joining Canongate. Whilst predominantly commissioning non-fiction popular culture titles, Hannah has a broad love of books, whether crime fiction, graphic novels or autobiographies. She is always on the lookout for fresh, exciting and significant voices. https://canongate.co.uk/
Susan Jane Gilman is the New York Times bestselling author of four books – the nonfiction Kiss My Tiara, Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress, and Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven, plus the novel The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street. She is currently at work on a new novel. http://www.susanjanegilman.com/
Anne Korkeakivi is the award-winning author of the novels An Unexpected Guest (2012) and Shining Sea (2016), both from Little, Brown. Her short fiction and nonfiction have appeared for The Atlantic, TIME, the Wall Street Journal, and many other periodicals in the US, the UK, and online. Born in NYC, she currently lives in Geneva. www.annekorkeakivi.com
Paula K. Read is a writer, translator and screenwriter. Her fiction and non-fiction has been published in numerous literary and online journals. She co-organized Women's March in Geneva. An MSc in Environmental Strategy and a stint as a renewable energy industry executive inspired her to start a blog and write about environmental and social issues. https://champagnewhisky.com/
Fiction & Description/ Bernardine Evaristo Descriptive detail is one of the primary ways in which we transport the reader into the world of our fiction. As writers we use the senses to describe people and place. This practical workshop will explore how we can enhance our stories by making them more striking, sensorial and vivid.
Creating Character/ Emma Henderson Without character, there is no story. This workshop will explore different ways of creating character, using objects, dialogue and action. There will be examples and discussion. Yet the emphasis will be on participants producing their own, short pieces of fiction in response to three, connected, practical writing activities.
Moments /Courttia Newland Novels often contain journeys of epiphanies, and short stories intense moments of change. This workshop will focus on helping writers to find these moments in their own lives and recreate them on the page. Exercises will be used to explore personal theme, develop character and map plot. Writers should attend with a sense of exploration and the urge to write!
The Freedom of Constraint: Experimental Fiction from Dada to Sophie Calle/ Louise Welsh This workshop encourages play, works with found texts and engages with the arbitrary. Through extracts and exercises, we will explore techniques and strategies for refining structure and rejuvenating style that can benefit writing in any genre or form.
WRITING FOR CHILDREN
Well, That was Awkward: How to Write for Young Teens/ Rachel Vail In this session for MG/YA writers, you'll use memory, imagination, a pen, and all your creativity to tap into your most honest, best writing for young teens. Tricks, tips, and techniques to try in class and beyond.
Rules, Tools, and Maybe a Bully: How to Write for Kids/ Rachel Vail Tips and techniques for anyone trying to write for kids. How to hone the honesty of your characters' voices, sharpen the specificity of story details, and utilize plot techniques to keep readers engaged. All your questions answered, some truthfully.
Pathways/ Colin Grant What’s the center of your story and how do you find the voice in which to tell it? What techniques might you employ to anchor a narrative? How do you begin to shape your anecdotes so that they are true to the experiences? A workshop to explore the pathways of creative non-fiction.
Location, Location, Location/ Diccon Bewes
Where am I? For readers (and writers), a sense of place is essential for creative non-fiction, especially travel writing. In this fun workshop, we’ll look at examples of good and bad, then use writing exercises to help you go beyond the clichés and bring in all your senses.
The Zen of Writing/ Susan Tiberghien In this workshop, after a brief introduction to Zen, we will look at the practice of clear seeing / clear writing, focusing on essays and memoirs. In reading excerpts from D.T.Suzuki, C.G.Jung, Thich Nhat Hanh, Annie Dillard, Ta-Nehisi Coates, we will let Zen illuminate our own writing.
Finding your Place in a Piece of Nonfiction/ Wallis Wilde-Menozzi You control what you write about yourself, but others are not allowed that control. How do you understand the limits of understanding as you tell a story? The black box you can access is yourself. In exercises and examples, we will explore various strategies for making non-fiction a true story.
Waking Up to Surprise / David Rivard As Grace Paley says, “You don’t write about what you know, you write about what you don’t know about what you know.” Using exercises and examples, we’ll discuss how to give ourselves fully to the process of discovery and surprise, letting the play of language show us where we need to go in writing our poems.
Form and Freedom / George Szirtes There are various arguments for and against the use of regular or prescribed form in poetry. This workshop will look at the issue from the point of view of constraint and its possible liberating effect, not in terms of tradition versus modernity, but as a way of engaging with language.
Panels and Writing Labs
Are You Speaking My Language?/ Alison Anderson, Tasja Dorkofikis This panel is for writers interested in translating or translators interested in writing. A discussion of the business and art of translation: from getting started, to understanding context, to how translating can inform and help your own writing.
Living Locally, Writing Globally/ Susan Jane Gilman, Anne Korkeakivi This panel discusses how writers in a foreign place face different obstacles and have different opportunities than those residing in their native country. How does being a displaced writer inform our work and can we leverage that? Does geography really matter? Is it possible to create a bridge when you're based in one country and your audience is elsewhere?
Secrets of the Book Trade/ Diccon Bewes This lab is for writers looking to understand just what it takes to get from an idea to a published product. How do you write a good query letter? What is in a non-fiction proposal? How do royalties actually work? What do booksellers want? A look at the book trade, from concept to customer. Understanding these basics will help you get published.
Making Words Matter/ Marga Fripp, Jason Donald, Paula Read This panel is for writers who want to make a difference. How do writers become activists on the page? Or can creative writing itself be a means for change? Will people listen? A discussion on the rewards and frustrations of using your words to try to alter awareness.
What They Wish You Knew/ Aimee Ashcraft, Kate Johnson, Veronica Liu, Hannah Knowles This panel is for writers who are looking to find an agent or publisher. Forget the thin submission advice from the internet; our panel of agents and editors reveal the top three things they wish they could tell writers and why they are important.
Who's Afraid of Social Media?/ Denise Nickerson To be successful in today's literary world, even the most private of writers should have an online presence. But how do we make our voices heard in the chaos of the web? What can writers do to maximize their social media impact? What are some strategies they can use to fit posting to social media into their schedules? This writing lab is for any writer who would like to know how to make the most of their presence online.
Founder: Susan Tiberghien
Director: Katie Hayoz
Assistant Directors: Jennifer Bew Orr, Paula Read
Kathy Bijleveld, Elizabeth Boquet, Christine Breede-Schechter,
Elizabeth Coleman, Bill Lloyd, Massimo Marino,
Alnaaze Nathoo, Caroline Thonger, Rosalind Yarde Jumbe