Lancashire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
Claire Kenny
Features Writer
1:00 AM 9th September 2023

Life At The Retreat ... Autumn Approaches

A column about life at Writers Retreat, a North Yorkshire haven of peace and creativity for writers, academics and businesses.

(L-R)Siobhan Daniels owner Jan Birley
(L-R)Siobhan Daniels owner Jan Birley
This late summer is quite a surprise isn’t it?! That said, with its thick stone walls and multiple cosy corners, you never quite know what season it is when you walk into the Retreat! In North Yorkshire, the landscape is beautiful all year-round, but the warmer months do make our writers and corporate guests more amenable to a walk to see the local area. It's a great way to refresh themselves and prepare for their next writing session.

In our last column, we were busily planning for our weekend workshops with author and positive ageing influencer Siobhan Daniels and we’re pleased to report that these were a great success. The sessions were centred around Siobhan’s unique perspective on surviving, thriving and ageing positively, as well as readings from her novel Retirement Rebel. Guests were also invited to share their own stories and many left feeling that anything was possible! Siobhan regularly addresses huge audiences, so she really enjoyed working in smaller, more intimate groups in our cosy, informal setting.

(L-R) Shane our chef, Sophie Mei-Lan, Danny Malin and Karen Wright
(L-R) Shane our chef, Sophie Mei-Lan, Danny Malin and Karen Wright
As well as time with Siobhan, the workshops also included a freshly prepared afternoon tea and with guests including Karen Wright from the Great British Bake Off and Danny Malin from Rate My Takeaway, the pressure was on for our chef Shane. Of course, he rose to the occasion with a beautiful spread of hot and cold dishes, getting a resounding seal of approval into the bargain.

With autumn approaching, we’ve added some new one-day workshops for the remainder of the year which are hosted by our writer in residence, the award-winning Sara Bodinar. Topics include Write a short story in day, Write a film/screenplay in a day, Romance writing/trouble shooting, and Writing for the Christmas fiction market. The purpose is to learn basic and advanced tips and create something guests can then submit to collections or magazines. We’re particularly excited for our Writing for the Christmas fiction market workshop on 11th November – this will show guests how to tap into this a lucrative genre market and get everyone feeling festive early as an added bonus (we'll also give Shane a nudge to see if he'll make some mince pies)!

Shelley Weiner
Shelley Weiner
Finally, it was such an honour to host Shelley Weiner, acclaimed novelist, short-story writer and journalist, at our August retreat. As well as her own writing career, Shelley has built an impressive reputation as an inspirational tutor and nurturer of new talent. She is a longstanding tutor at the Faber Academy, delivers regular Guardian Masterclasses and works as a mentor for the Gold Dust scheme. She has also tutored for the Skyros Writers’ Lab and at other international venues.

Shelley spends a significant amount of her time supporting fellow writers, so she came to Writers Retreat to give herself the space and time to work on her current manuscript, free of other responsibilities and distractions. She was really pleased with her progress.

Catch up with us next time when we’ll have a VERY exciting announcement!

For more information on Writers' Retreat, visit their website or follow them on Instagram.