21-25 September 2020

Welcome to five days' worth of workshops and discussions 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 creating community through workshops, discussions, and readings. Our 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.

Each session must be registered for individually, costs 20 CHF, and consists of a 60-min workshop, followed by 15 minutes of Q&A.

After registration, you'll be sent a link to the Zoom meeting(s) for all your paid sessions. 


DATE & TIME  (all times CET)

MONDAY, 21 SEP 2020

Evening Session, 1930 - 2045 

Evening Session, 1930 - 2045 

TUESDAY, 22 SEP 2020

Midday Session, 1200 - 1315

Evening Session, 1800 - 1915

Evening Session, 1800 - 1915

Evening Session, 1930 - 2045

Evening Session, 1930 - 2045


Midday Session, 1200 - 1315 

Midday Session, 1200 - 1315

Evening Session, 1800 - 1915

Evening Session, 1930 - 2045 

Evening Session, 1930 - 2045


Anne Korkeakivi (fiction/nonfiction) - part 1

Carmen Bugan (poetry)

Susan Jane Gilman (nonfiction) - part 1

Besty Tobin (fiction)

Susan Jane Gilman (nonfiction) - part 2

Sharon Mesmer (poetry)

Anne Korkeakivi (fiction/nonfiction) - part 2

Susan Tiberghien (nonfiction)

Denise Nickerson (social media)

open discussion 1 for conf. participants

April Eberhardt (agents)

Allison Lynn (fiction)


Midday Session, 1200 - 1315

Midday Session, 1200 - 1315

Evening Session, 1800 - 1915

Evening Session, 1800 - 1915

Evening Session, 1930 - 2045

Evening Session, 1930 - 2045

Olivia Wildenstein (YA voice)

Colin Grant (nonfiction)

Jeannette Ng (Sci-fi)

Denise Nickerson (social media)

Tom Witcomb (publishing)

Susan Tiberghien (nonfiction)

FRIDAY, 25 SEP 2020

Midday Session, 1200 - 1315

Evening Session, 1800 - 1915

Evening Session, 1930 - 2045

Evening Session, 1930 - 2045

open discussion 2 for conf. participants

member readings (limited to 10)

Juliet Gilkes Romero (drama)

Tom Witcomb (publishing)



Anne Korkeakivi is the award-winning author of the novels An Unexpected Guest and Shining Sea, both published by Little, Brown (US). Her short fiction and nonfiction have appeared for numerous periodicals in the US, the UK, and online, including The Wall Street JournalTime, The Atlantic, USA TodayADLit Hub, and The Millions.. A Yaddo and Hawthornden fellow, she is currently working on a new novel.


Allison Lynn is the author of the novels The Exiles (Little A/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) and Now You See It (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster). Her essays, reviews, and articles have appeared in publications ranging from the New York Times Book Review to People magazine. She teaches fiction in the MFA program at Butler University, and has previously taught at NYU, Lehigh University, and the Wesleyan Writers Conference.


Betsy Tobin is a novelist, playwright, and co-owner of INK@84 Bookshop in Islington, London.  She was born and raised in the American Midwest, the setting of her fifth book, and resettled in the UK in 1989. She is the author of five novels of literary fiction: Bone House, short-listed for the Commonwealth Prize and winner of a Herodotus Prize in America; The Bounce; Ice Land; Crimson China, a BBC Radio 4 Book At Bedtime and short-listed for the RNA's Epic Romantic Novel of the Year; and Things We Couldn't Explain.

Betsy also writes commercial women’s fiction under the pseudonym Natalie Cox and won the RNA’s Romantic Comedy Of The Year award in 2019 for Not Just For Christmas (published as Mutts and Mistletoe in the US). She is a past winner of the London Writer’s Competition and has taught creative writing for both Arvon and First Story.


Susan Jane Gilman is the bestselling author of five books, 3 nonfiction: Kiss My Tiara, Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress, and Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven; and 2 novels: The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street and Donna Has Left the Building.

Gilman has written for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Daily Beast, Salon, The Guardian, Real Simple, and Ms. magazine, among others, and has been a commentator for National Public Radio in the USA. Her short fiction has been published in a variety of journals and won several literary awards. She has also given a TEDx talk on the creative process, “There Is No Lightning Bolt.”


Colin Grant is an author of five books, including:: Negro with a Hat: The Rise and Fall of Marcus Garvey; and a group biography of the Wailers, I&I, The Natural Mystics. His memoir, Bageye at the Wheel, was shortlisted for the Pen/Ackerley Prize, 2013. Grant’s history of epilepsy, A Smell of Burning, was a Sunday Times Book of the Year 2016.

As a producer for the BBC, Grant wrote and directed several radio drama documentaries including A Fountain of Tears: The Murder of Federico Garcia Lorca; and A History of the N Word. Colin also writes for a number of newspapers and journals including the Guardian, Observer, New Statesman, TLS, London Review of Books, Granta, and the New York Review of Books. Grant's latest book, Homecoming: Voices of the Windrush Generation, was a BBC radio 4 Book of the Week and a Daily Telegraph Book of the year 2019.


Susan M. Tiberghien is an American-born writer living in Geneva. She holds a degree in Literature and Philosophy, with graduate work at the Universit√© de Grenoble and the C.G. Jung Institute of Zurich. She is the author of four memoirs: Looking for Gold, Circling to the Center, Side by Side, and Footsteps; as well as two writing books: One Year to a Writing Life and Writing Toward Wholeness, Lessons Inspired by C.G. Jung. She recently published the 20th-Anniversary Edition of Circling to the Center, An Invitation to Silent Prayer. Susan has been teaching for over 20 years at C.G. Jung Societies, the International Women’s Writing Guild, and at writers’ centers and conferences in Europe and the USA. An active member of International PEN, she founded and directed the Geneva Writers’ Group for 25 years.


Carmen Bugan’s books include the memoir Burying the Typewriter: Childhood Under the Eye of the Secret Police, which was a Waterstones Book Club Choice and serialized for radio as BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week. The book also won the Bread Loaf Conference Bakeless Prize for Nonfiction and was a finalist in the George Orwell Prize for Political Writing and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. The documentary film based on the book has also just been released as part of the Astra Film Festival.

Her collections of poems are: Releasing the Porcelain Birds,The House of Straw, Crossing the Carpathians, and Lilies from America, which won a Poetry Book Society Special Commendation. She is also the author of Seamus Heaney and East European Poetry in Translation: Poetics of Exile, and her book of essays, Poetry and the Language of Oppression, is forthcoming with Oxford University Press. She has a doctorate in English literature from Balliol College, Oxford University.


Sharon Mesmer is the author of five poetry collections. Her most recent, Greetings From My Girlie Leisure Place by Bloof Books, was voted “Best of 2015” by Entropy magazine. Four of Sharon's poems appear in Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology (second edition, 2013). Her three short fiction collections include Ma vie √† Yonago: Illuminations, in French from Hachette. Her essays have appeared in the New York Times, New York Magazine, Paris Review, and American Poetry Review. She teaches fiction and poetry workshops at New York University and the New School.


Juliet Gilkes Romero is a playwright and journalist. She is the recipient of the Roland Rees Bursary 2019, named in honour of the co-founder of the Alfred Fagon Award.  Her plays include The Whip to be performed at the RSC’s Swan Theatre, February 2020. At The Gates of Gaza, winner of the Writer’s Guild of Great Britain Best Play award 2009, Day of The Living performed at The Other Place as part of RSC’s Mischief Festival in 2018, and Uppercut at Southwark Playhouse in 2015. One Hot Summer aired on Radio 4 in 2019 and Bilad Al-Sudan was performed at the Tricycle Theatre (now Kiln) as part of the 2006 season dealing with genocidal conflict in Darfur.


Olivia Wildenstein grew up in New York City and earned her bachelor’s in comparative literature from Brown University. After designing jewelry for a few years, Olivia traded in her tools for the writing life, which made sense given her degree. 

When she’s not sitting at her computer, she’s psychoanalyzing everyone she meets (yes, everyone), eavesdropping on conversations to gather material for her next book, and attempting not to forget one of her kids in school.

Olivia has a slight obsession with romance, which might be the reason why she writes it: she’s a hybrid author of over a dozen Young Adult love stories.

You can find her on Instagram: @olives21 and Twitter: @OWildWrite .


Jeannette Ng is originally from Hong Kong but now lives in Durham, UK. Her MA in Medieval andRenaissance Studies fed into an interest in medieval and missionary theology, which in turn spawned herlove for writing gothic fantasy with a theological twist. She used to design costumes and sell them out of her garage. She runs live roleplay games, performs hair wizardry, and sometimes has opinions on the internet, including in foreign policy.

She has won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer in 2019 and the Sydney J Bounds Award (Best Newcomer) in the British Fantasy Awards 2018 for her debut novel, Under the Pendulum Sun. You can follow her on Twitter: @jeannette_ng .


April Eberhardt is a self-described “literary change agent” and author advocate who is passionate about helping authors publish in the most satisfying way. After 25 years as a corporate strategist and management consultant, she joined the literary world, where she saw strategic opportunity to play a role in the changing world of publishing. April advises and assists authors as they choose the best pathway to publication for their work, be it indie or traditional, digital or print. 

In addition to speaking at conferences worldwide, April serves on the Advisory Council for The American Library in Paris and is also a reader for The Best American Short Stories series (published annually by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). 

April holds an MBA in Marketing and Finance from Boston University, a BA in French and Anthropology from Hamilton (Kirkland) College, and a CPLF degree from the University of Paris. April divides her time between San Francisco, New York, and Paris.


Denise Nickerson is the author of Education Guide Switzerland, and she is a professional creative consultant, counselor, coach, speaker, and community leader. She grew up in the USA and has lived in France for more than 20 years. She volunteers in advocacy for women and girls and her social impact enterprise has sent 55 girls to school in several developing countries. She is also the co-author of the online coaching and training program, The Integrity System.


After over a decade as a literary agent at Blake Friedmann, Tom Witcomb is now a commissioning editor at Orion Fiction. His clients include a Sunday Times bestseller and have been published around the world.

He is always on the lookout for commercial and upmarket genre fiction, crime, thrillers, psychological/domestic suspense, action/espionage, police procedurals, and good science fiction (both core genre and more speculative/literary crossovers). He also likes nonfiction in popular science and any sports or self-help books with something new and interesting to say.



Beginnings in Fiction with Allison Lynn

The beginning of a story or novel not only needs to capture the reader's attention, but at its best should forecast much of the story/novel to come—its plot, characters, and major concerns. In this workshop we'll look at excellent examples of classic (and not-so-classic) beginnings. And then, in exercises that use these examples as jumping-off points, we'll write a number of new beginnings of our own.

Scene Construction with Betsy Tobin

Scenes are an essential component of both fiction and non-fiction writing. How does a writer decide which scenes to include, and at which point to enter and exit the scene? Further, how do we enter and exit the scene with economy and precision so as to maximize the scene’s impact? Please bring along a scene from a work in progress, or an idea for a scene you would like to write.

From Rough to Ready: A workshop in two parts with Anne Korkeakivi

You’ve completed or are close to completing a draft and are wondering what to do next. This two-part workshop will look at the process of preparing a work of fiction or creative nonfiction for submission. Topics will include meaningful revision, working with beta readers, effective networking, persuasive presentation, and knowing when to press send. There may be both in-class writing and a very brief between-workshops assignment. Although interconnected, the workshop parts can also be taken independently.


Telling Your Best Story with Susan Jane Gilman

Sometimes we have a true story we’re dying to tell, but we’re unsure how to write it. This hands-on workshop will focus on the essentials of writing a memoir – what makes a good story, how to structure a compelling narrative, what to show and what to tell, and the broader issues of what’s involved in turning a private experience into a public work. Through writing exercises, participants will get a chance to bring their material to life.

Only Your Point of View with Colin Grant

Have you ever encountered a line of argument that ends “that may be your point of view, but...”? Our memories are faulty yet we rely on them for underscoring the truth in creative nonfiction writing. In an immersive workshop, Colin Grant explores how you can recover or deepen elusive memories, and how you might embrace dialogue and artifacts such as letters, emails, postcards and photos in your non-fiction writing. He’ll encourage you to utilize a range of literary tools to introduce other points of view to enrich your real-life stories, biographical or other forms of creative nonfiction.

Finding our Stories for a New Tomorrow (All Genres) with Susan M. Tiberghien

Where is the story? Margaret Atwood writes, “The story is in the dark”. We will find our way into the dark, into the unconscious, and bring our stories into the light. Reading examples from Margaret Atwood, Toni Morrison, Orhan Pamuk, Terry Tempest Williams, we will craft our stories into journal entries, essays, short stories, poems. Our voices will bear witness in our turbulent times.


Poetry and Politics with Carmen Bugan

Joseph Brodsky said that poetry and politics have nothing in common except the letters ‘p’ and ‘o’, suggesting perhaps that politics is too much of a public act, in direct opposition to the poetic act, which takes root in private experience. He insisted on protecting lyric language from the pollution of deformed political discourse, which often feels manipulative. But what happens if political realities shape and change the way we live our private, individual lives? Is there a language that feels artistically appropriate as it takes on the subject of politics? What is the difference between verse propaganda and poetry that shows how politics affect the inner landscapes of our experience? What constitutes political poetry? Can poetry articulate the damage done by politics? In this workshop we will read several poems that tackle political subjects, to identify the language of poetry that can take on difficult subjects, without losing its power to move and delight. We will also generate new work with the help of several writing prompts.

Accidentally On Purpose: Using Chance to Generate New Poetry with Sharon Mesmer

 A “chance operation” is a way of beginning a poem that leaves part of your compositional method to chance, to the random coming-together of elements which, ideally, produce surprising new images, ideas and language. While a chance operation can be almost anything (like using the I-Ching or Google search results), we will work with two collaborative methods: word rounds and cut-ups. With word rounds, our group will generate spontaneous three-word phrases that can be incorporated into the in-class writing; with cut-ups, we will assemble brief fragments of other poets’ texts which can be edited or expanded to create work. Beat novelist William Burroughs and artist Brion Gysin termed this the “third mind method” — the first mind being the assembler, the second being the original author(s), and the third being the strange organizational principle that allows the work come together in fortuitous ways. Before beginning, we’ll talk a little about the history of chance operations.

Materials needed: For the cut-up, please have on hand a pair of scissors and three pages cut from a magazine, newspaper or book. These can be random pages, but see if you can copy or scan three pages from a book you feel particularly close to. Often, material you’re drawn to works best with this practice. We’ll do the cut-up during our meeting. For the word rounds, just have a piece of paper or your journal handy.



Historical Drama in Theatre: Retelling the Past with Juliet Gilkes Romero

Does historical drama have a duty to be factually accurate? The art form comes with an ocean of challenges. How do storytellers navigate these stormy waters? In this workshop you will learn how to create drama that is both historically authentic and commercially appealing. Exercises will also guide you in the creation of compelling characters rooted in historical research.


Finding Your Young Adult Voice with Olivia Wildenstein

After a solid plot, voice is a pivotal factor in snagging an agent or a reader. This workshop is geared toward novel writers who wish to write to the Young Adult market (which is also read by many adults) and better understand it. The focus of the course will be put on craft: prose and dialogue. Wildenstein will help you find and polish your voice, and build your novel through plotting, pantsing, and editing. She will also share her experience of selling YA books in the independent and traditional markets.

The workshop will involve short exercises, as well as group discussions of excerpts she’ll bring along. Participants will work individually; once the writing exercises have been completed all will be encouraged, at some stage of the workshop, to read from what they have worked on.

Writing tools needed: laptop or notebook and pen. Working brain.


The Foundations of World-building Culture with Jeanette Ng 

Led by Astounding Award Winner Jeannette Ng, this world building workshop will examine cultures and the base assumptions we make when building them in fiction. Through a series of guided writing exercises, it will explore the relationship between character and culture, how to avoid the temptation of "Alien Christmas" style cultural palette swaps, and whether "universal" cultural themes and stories really exist—and if so, how to write them!


Plotting Your Personal Path to Publishing and Marketing with April Eberhardt

In this workshop, Literary Change Agent and Author Advocate April Eberhardt will discuss the changes within the industry that enable authors to plot their own successful paths to publication outside of the traditional industry. We'll examine the multiple publishing alternatives available today and how they differ, particularly in relation to authors' individual goals, dreams, timetable and budget. April will also present a wide range of marketing approaches available to authors, including social media, but also a variety of "personal touch" initiatives that can yield excellent results. The workshop will arm authors with a plan for publication and an effective, enjoyable marketing plan.

How to Write a Query Letter with Tom Witcomb

Your pitch letter is the first thing an agent sees - it sets the mood for your relationship with your future champion. So why does it seem so hard to write one? I thought the book was supposed to be the hard bit? We're here to bust some myths, and work with you to develop the perfect query letter to help you put your best foot forward on your publishing journey.


Social Media as a Force for Good with Denise Nickerson

To be successful in today's literary world, even the most private of writers should have a meaningful online presence. But how do we make our voices heard in the chaos of the web? What can writers do to maximize their positive social media impact? What are some strategies we can use to fit posting to social media into our schedules? How should we choose digital platforms? How should we use images and videos in social media? This active writing lab is for any writer who would like to know how to make the most of her/his presence online, create a simple strategy, learn the basics of content creation and personal branding, and overcome fears. If we have time or the participants wish, we can also focus on the practical aspects of self-publishing and blogging. Complete beginners to experts are welcome.

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