Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2020
The EAFOL 2020 is fast-approaching – it’s being held slightly earlier than usual this year, running from Feb 4-9 with an action-packed programme of international authors, agents, illustrators and coaches.
I’m taking part in two sessions this year:
Tomorrow, I Will Fly
Thursday 6 Feb 2-3pm
Intercontinental Dubai Festival City
Late last year, best-selling author Clare Mackintosh and I spent a week as writers-in-residence at Dubai Central Prison. The result is Tomorrow, I Will Fly – an anthology of stories and essays written entirely by inmates of Dubai’s penal and correctional institutions.
Discussing this unique project’s positive impact on prisoners’ rehabilitation with us on a panel will be Colonel Jamila Al Zaabi, director of Dubai Women’s Prison, and Major General Nasser Al Razooqi, who was one of Dubai’s very first police officers.
Come along and join the celebration of a ground-breaking project in the Arab world as we launch Tomorrow, I Will Fly at the festival.
Tickets available here.
Friday 7 Feb 4-6pm
Intercontinental Dubai Festival City
Do I need an agent? Who will edit my manuscript? How do I get a publishing deal?
Writers, if you’ve ever asked yourself these questions, Jessica Jarlvi and I have once again teamed up to offer just the workshop for you.
From polishing your manuscript to marketing your finished novel, ‘Publishing 101’ aims to answer all these questions and more in an interactive, two-hour session. Get your tickets here.
Montegrappa Writing Prize
Jessica Jarlvi and I held a workshop on Saturday for those intending to enter the annual Montegrappa Writing Prize, held by the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. I won the competition in 2013, and Jessica was a runner-up in 2016 – since then, we’ve both gone on to become published authors.
In 90 minutes, we covered what you need to do to win: namely, submit a killer synopsis and the first 2,000 words of your work, which should begin with an intriguing hook. We worked on how to create your elevator pitch, how to work that up into a synopsis, and examined what the synopsis needs to cover. We also looked at opening sentences that would grab the attention of the judge, ways to create three-dimensional characters, how to pace your action, and did some work on the famous ‘show, don’t tell’. In the words of Chekhov, ‘Don’t tell me the Moon is shining – show me the glint of light on broken glass.’
At the end, Jessica and I sat one-by-one with the participants and gave individual feedback on their potential competition entries to help them get their work into the best possible shape.
Even if you weren’t at our workshop, there’s still time to enter the Montegrappa Writing Prize – and you could win the attention of top London agent, Luigi Bonomi.
Win the Montegrappa Writing Prize!
On Saturday, I got together with one of my fellow Montegrappa prize-winners, Jessica Jarlvi, to present a two-and-a-half-hour workshop for those entering the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature’s Montegrappa Writing competition this year. This competition was the springboard to success for both of us, gaining us the attention of top London literary agent Luigi Bonomi, and paving the way for us both to sign up with him as an agent and gain our book deals.
The workshop was called ‘How to write a best-seller’ but I would have titled it ‘How to win the Montegrappa Prize’ as the advice we gave was very specific to the competition entry.
For that, you need to submit a 400-word synopsis of your story, plus the first 2,000 words of the manuscript, so we covered topics such as: what is a synopsis and why you need one; how to write a synopsis; how to write an elevator pitch; how to hook the reader with your opening sentence; where to start your story; how to ‘show don’t tell’; common mistakes; and things we wish we’d known when we entered the Montegrappa Writing Prize. We also read the participants’ entries (in advance, not on the day!) and gave individual feedback on them.
We were impressed with the originality of the stories people have to tell: if this is you, and you’re thinking of entering the competition, head over to the EAFOL blog for our specific tips on writing the synopsis and the first few pages so you can maximise your chances of winning.
And, speaking of the EAFOL, the author line-up for 2019 was announced yesterday. Tickets don’t usually go on sale till around January, but I don’t think it’s ever too early start planning the best two weeks of the year – do you?
When I won the Montegrappa Prize for First Fiction at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature back in 2013, no-one knew how things would turn out: it was the first time a competition of this nature had been run in Dubai and, unlike in similar competitions in the UK, no book contract was offered. What I had won, though (aside from a marvellous trip to the London Book Fair thanks to Emirates Airline and The Inter-Continental Park Lane), was a toe in the door of top agent Luigi Bonomi in London.
Over the next year, Luigi helped and encouraged me to get my first draft of Coming Home ready for him to sell. I had a tense few weeks while we waited to hear the publishers’ verdicts – and quite a few rejections – before I was offered a three-book deal with Harlequin MIRA.
Since then, many new writers have got their start thanks to the Montegrappa / Emirates Airline Festival of Literature competition, and Luigi has seen much success bringing new writers to publication. A nice spin-off from this has meant that we now have a lovely group of authors living here in Dubai. Here are a couple of pictures of various Montegrappa winners and runners-up taken at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2017.