Virtual Autumn Retreat: Tips from a Literary Agent

Tue 27 October 2020 - Thu 29 October 2020
Tutors / Cathryn Summerhayes & Christina Thatcher
Guest Reader / Helen Sedgwick
Course Fee / From £150 per person
Language / English

For 2020, we are moving some of our courses and retreats online.

For our Autumn Retreat, literary agent Cathryn Summerhayes will run two virtual workshops to help you progress your career as a writer including good practice in finding an agent, how to get published, tips of the trade, and more. She will also be available for a short one-to-one tutorial with each writer to discuss your work and your journey as a writer. On Thursday morning, poet and lecturer Christina Thatcher will join the retreat to share her knowlege on developing your career as a writer.

Helen Sedgwick will also feature as a guest reader to talk about her work and her journey as a writer, editor and lecturer.


Tŷ Newydd Virtual Retreats: How do they work?

Our new virtual programme will offer writers in Wales and the rest of the world the opportunity to take part in one of Tŷ Newydd’s famous creative writing courses from the comfort of their own home. Launched in 2020 during the lockdown, these virtual courses offer writers who can’t travel to Tŷ Newydd the opportunity to be tutored by renowned writers in a format that mirrors a real residential course.

Workshops will be delivered via the video conferencing platform, Zoom. You will need good internet access to take part, and we advise you to try Zoom out before booking onto the course to make sure that everything works. Literature Wales staff will be on hand to facilitate the retreat and to offer assistance.


Autumn Retreat Timetable

Tuesday 27 October

10.00 am – 11.30 am: Workshop on how to get published

Cathryn Summerhayes will share tips of the trade on how to dip your toes into the world of publishing.

2.00 pm – 5.00 pm: One-to-one tutorials (timetable will be provided beforehand)
During the retreat you will receive one 30-minute tutorial with Cathryn. You will be invited to send ahead an introduction and an excerpt of work.


Wednesday 28 October

10.00 am – 11.30 am: How to find an agent

Cathryn Summerhayes’ clients include Dr Adam Kay, Ella Mills (Deliciously Ella), Dara McAnulty, Toby Litt, Mark Watson, Naomi Wood, Kirsty Logan and more. She re-joined Curtis Brown in September 2016 having started her literary agency career there as an intern in 2004. This workshop will look at how to secure an agent.

2.00 pm – 5.00 pm: One-to-one tutorials (timetable will be provided beforehand)

During the retreat you will receive one 30-minute tutorial with Cathryn. You will be invited to send ahead an introduction and an excerpt of work.

8.00 pm – 9.00 pm: An evening with Helen Sedgwick
Join us on Zoom for an evening with Helen Sedgwick who will talk about her work and journey as a writer. The talk will be followed by a Q&A session.


Thursday 29 October

10.00 am – 11.30 am: Professional Practice with Christina Thatcher

For our third day, writer and lecturer Christina Thatcher will join to share information on professional practice as a writer including submitting to literary magazines and competitions, taking part in events, and branding yourself successfully.


Additional Activity

  • During Tuesday and Thursday evening between 8.00 pm – 9.00 pm, a Zoom room – or a virtual Tŷ Newydd library – will be open for the group to drop in and out to socialise and network. A Literature Wales member of staff will be present to share a cup of tea or a glass of wine and to say hello.
  • Former Tŷ Newydd participants might remember our resident chef, Tony’s delicious food. Some of his recipes are available on our blog for you to prepare during the week.



Cathryn Summerhayes

Cathryn Summerhayes re-joined Curtis Brown in September 2016 having started her literary agency career there as an intern in 2004. She established an eclectic list of clients at WME agency, where she worked for ten years. Prior to that she worked at several other British literary agencies and at Colman Getty PR – where she worked on a number of high-profile book events including the Man Booker Prize and Samuel Johnson Prize. Cathryn also works in the production office at Port Eliot Literary Festival and is actively involved in both Hay and Edinburgh International Festivals. She was shortlisted for The British Book Awards’ Agent of the Year in 2016 and her clients include Dr Adam Kay, Mark Watson, Naomi Wood, Kirsty Logan, Susan Fletcher, Johanna Basford, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Lucy Foley, Polpo’s Russell Norman, Mark Hix and Clemmie Hooper.

“My true passion as a literary agent is for uniqueness, be that in the way an author writes or the subject he or she is writing about. I am passionate about great storytelling, beautiful books, inspiring voices. My relationships with each of my authors is very important and I pride myself of being in it for the long-game, nurturing books through to publication and beyond and building writing careers long-term. The Curtis Brown team’s passion for the written word and printed pages mirrors my own. My taste is best described as literary, but I have some wonderfully commercial authors whose voices and plots transcend the everyday. I am looking for something special in everything I read – and I am constantly surprised by what enchants me” – Cathryn Summerhayes

Christina Thatcher

Christina Thatcher

Christina Thatcher is a Creative Writing Lecturer at Cardiff Metropolitan University. She keeps busy off campus as the Poetry Editor for The Cardiff Review, as a tutor at The Poetry School, and a freelance workshop facilitator across the UK. Her poetry and short stories have featured in over 50 publications including The London Magazine, Planet Magazine, Acumen, The Interpreter’s House and more. Her first collection, More than you were, was shortlisted in Bare Fiction's Debut Poetry Collection Competition in 2015 and published by Parthian Books in 2017. Her second collection, How to Carry Fire was published by Parthian Books in spring 2020. | @writetoempower

Guest Reader

Helen Sedgwick

Helen Sedgwick is the author of The Comet Seekers (Harvill Secker, 2016), The Growing Season (Harvill Secker, 2017), and When The Dead Come Calling (Point Blank, 2020). She has won a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award and The Growing Season was shortlisted for the Saltire Society’s Fiction Book of the Year. Before she started writing, Helen was a research physicist with a PhD from Edinburgh University; since then she founded Wildland Literary Editors and has worked as managing director of Cargo Publishing, managing editor of Gutter, and as a creative writing tutor, lecturer, and mentor. She lives in the highlands and keeps chickens.

Online Booking

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If you wish to pay by cheque, simply use the online booking form above and select ‘Pay by Cheque’ in the payment options.

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+44 (0) 1766 522 811