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Events Round-up: Salons, (Not) Darwin & More

The fact that I'm online in a hotel bar perched above a staggeringly beautiful gorge in North Mexico is not something I'm typing just to make you jealous. I've squeezed in a few days away (photography, poetry, walking, trains ... my usual stuff) while I'm really here for work. But it's made me realise that it's been a while since I posted about what I'm up to in the next few months, so here goes.

I don't know how many readers of This Itch of Writing live in or around Mexico City - although it never ceases to astonish me what distant quarters of the globe the Itch reaches, but if you are...

Thursday 24th August 6pm
EVOLUTION, EFFECTS & AFFECTIONS OF THE DARWINS: a family story (Evolución, efectos y afectos de los Darwin. Una historia de familia)

Not a lot of people know that the Darwin-Wedgwood-Galton clan included (and includes) not only scientists but artists, scholars, engineers, writers and musicians. In this conversation with Antonio Lazcano, one of Mexico's most distinguished biologists, and I will be exploring how the family evolved and changed over the years. This event takes place as part of FILUNI 2017, which is the first book fair drawing together university presses from across Latin America and beyond. A long time ago I worked for for a few years marketing and distributing university presses, and now that trade publishing has narrowed its lists so drastically, university presses are often where the most exciting publishing is happening. Although my Spanish is non-existent, I'll be very to see what's going on. Darwin poster

Friday 25th August at 6pm
THIS IS NOT A LECTURE ABOUT CHARLES DARWIN: creative thinking in the Darwin-Wedgwood Dynasty

In this illustrated lecture I shall be exploring the family's history through the lens of how creative thinking works across the arts and scientists. What did my physicist great-grandfather George Darwin have in common with his artist daughter Gwen Raverat - and what did he not? I am honoured to have been asked by Antonio Lazcano to give this lecture at Mexico's Colegio Nacional, which gathers together the most distinguished men and women in every field of activity. If I've read the website right, it will also be live streamed, although as we're 6 hours behind the UK, so it might be a bit late (or early, for Kiwi Itch-readers, of course!). 

Friday 8th to Sunday 10th September

As ever, I'll be there, giving workshops on Point of View and Psychic Distance on the Saturday, and Memoir, Biography and Life Writing on the Sunday. I'll also be doing one-to-ones with writers (a bit like speed-dating, but much more useful), and generally hanging around the bar. If you've never been to York, this batch of posts will give you an idea of what to expect; they're still open for bookings, and if you do take the plunge, do please come and say Hi!

Monday 18th September at 9am

I'm flattered to have been asked to give a workshop at the Society of Editors and Proof-readers' Annual Conference. We will be exploring how writers work - the creative and technical decisions we make and the way we try to put them into practice - from the point of view of the professional editors whose job is to "help you to write the book you thought you'd already written". There is 


Do come and join us at the Tea House Theatre Vauxhall, for an informal evening as we welcome a different, inspiring writer each month. Words Away's Kellie Jackson and I start the conversation and everyone joins in, all helped along with plenty of tea, wine and cake. Doors at 7.30.

Monday 11th September 2017 at 7.30pm

Dynamic characters-in-action are the life blood of strong story-telling, but how do you set about imagining people who never existed, then give them the substance and individuality that they need? In this session, we’ll be joined by the award-winning, best-selling writer Monica Ali to explore ways to create living, breathing fictional characters with agency and drive. By the end of this salon you should be flush with new ideas to propel your characters and WIP to the next level.

Monday 9th October 2017 at 7.00pm

Writing fiction inspired by a real person or people is an exciting challenge for the writer but fraught with obstacles. Jill Dawson is an award winning novelist who’s especially skilled at incorporating real people in her fiction, the most recent being The Crime Writer about the author Patricia Highsmith. Others include Fred and Edie about the hanged murderess Edith Thompson, and The Great Lover, about the poet Rupert Brooke. You should come away from this evening with a bundle of new approaches to creating characters based on real people.

Monday 6th November 2017 at 7.30pm

Ever start writing in one form and find it’s morphed into something else entirely? Join us as we explore the possibilities of form in fiction. Our guest author, Tessa Hadley, is a Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, and an award winning novelist and short story writer. She publishes short stories regularly in the New Yorker, reviews for the Guardian and the London Review of Books. This salon should appeal to writers who are trying to decide whether to distil their idea into a short story or expand it to a novel.

Monday 4th December 2017 at 7.30pm

Join us alongside the award winning poet, Maura Dooley, as we discuss how thinking like a poet helps prose-writers to “flex muscles you don't use enough”. Maura is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and Reader in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths. You should come away from tonight’s salon with a clearer idea of the possibilities, and some creative suggestions to enrich your practice and nourish your prose.