THE coronavirus pandemic has led to the cancellation of numerous events around the country, but one Winchester affair has found a way to go on, albeit in a very different format.

The south east’s biggest writing event, Winchester’s Writers’ Weekend, will now be streamed online from July 9 to 12.

Founded by Sara Gangai, former director and event manager of the Winchester Writers’ Festival, the Writers’ Weekend is a four-day virtual conference for writers of all abilities and genres.

Worried that the Winchester event was going to be cancelled, Sara worked tirelessly to create a fully virtual event that is accessible to anyone with an interest in writing.

She said: “It has been a huge undertaking, but I’ve learnt a lot about virtual-conference software and with the support of the speakers we’re very excited to provide an interactive and exciting programme to a wider audience in the comfort of their home.”

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And author of the Artemis Fowl series Eoin Colfer will be the event’s keynote speaker.

Asked how important are these events for emerging writers, he said: “Writing festivals are vital for writers to get noticed; I first met my publisher at a literary festival in Ireland and events like these are without a doubt the best forum for all aspiring writers.”

The four-day event will offer over 800 virtual one-to-one appointments with literary agents and editors.  Representatives from publishers such as Harper Collins and Troubador will be available for talks and workshops as well as open mic sessions and author/agent/publisher panels. 

“Attendees will have a programme that is as engaging as an in-person event. We have partnered with a technology platform that is easy-to-use, ensuring every workshop, panel and one-to-one appointment is fully accessible to our attendees, streamed to a computer, tablet or phone,” Sara added.

To make the event as inclusive as possible, bursaries are available for those needing financial assistance to attend and three full scholarships are on offer for writers aged 18-15.

Leading up to the event, the Writers’ Weekend is running six writing competitions to encourage writers to create new work and give children a fun outlet for their creativity.   

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