Surrey International Writers’ Conference

Taking the ferry to the mainland for the conference.

I have some exciting news to share. I found out this autumn that I was lucky enough to receive the Diversity Scholarship to attend the Surrey International Writers’ Conference in October 2019, held in Surrey, BC. For those who don’t know the conference, it’s a three-day event that brings together writers, including everyone from emerging writers to best-selling authors. It’s a very welcoming and inclusive conference.

When I went to the registration day on the first morning to check-in, I just about fell over when I picked up the program and found myself in it with a terrific bio. I don’t know why, but I was sure the questions they’d asked me would end up on their blog instead. At any rate, it was a great surprise. It was also an icebreaker all weekend meeting people who had seen me in the program. I’ll definitely admit to some imposter syndrome, but I had some excellent conversations with people I met over the weekend.


All weekend I attended fabulous sessions, from panels to Q&A sessions to craft topics, and much more. One of my favourite panels had to be one by several authors on plotting. Spoiler alert: all of the panelists were pantsers. I felt immediately cheered, because I’m mostly a write-on-the-fly sort myself. There was great discussion. Other great moments included talking to Kevin Hearne about including nonbinary characters in fiction.

I attended an agent pitch session for my novel, which went well. It was the first time for me pitching in person. Luckily, there was so much going on over the weekend I didn’t have time to get too nervous. I also attended a Blue Pencil critique session on my current novel manuscript and had some very encouraging feedback from Denise Mina, plus a bonus laugh over how amazing London Drugs is, a Canadian shop that sells just about everything under one compact roof. Her keynote speech at dinner on Saturday night was inspiring and hilarious–and a fair warning about eating too much ham on a book tour that all writers should heed.

Despite being more introvert than extrovert, I came away from the conference feeling  inspired and energised about my own writing. I loved how approachable and friendly everyone was at the conference. There’s something very special about this conference. I definitely recommend attending if you haven’t been before. It was cool to hear authors who have attended many other conferences saying that there’s a special energy at SiWC.

I want to send out a very big thanks to the scholarship committee for selecting me. I’m definitely going away with a lot of ideas to inspire my work and a community of writers. I’ll do another post soon about some of the great sessions I attended.

Published by Hugh Blackthorne


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