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Room To Read and Write

Writers Wendy Robertson, Avril Joy and Gillian Wales set up the organization as Room To Write in 2010. Reflecting their professional interest as readers, writers and creative writing tutors it was conceived as an organisation dedicated to encouraging aspiring and professional writers to escape domestic and other commitments for periods of intense writing or reading development. Meetings are held in a variety of venues including the luxurious, aesthetically pleasing environment of Whitworth Hall - a painting of the 18th Century building, by Fiana Naughton, above -  with its deer park, walled garden and lake. In 2011 we inaugurated our Inconic Book Group. In this group we meet every two months and discuss and evaluate two books. This started with the Reading Down the Decades project, considering  novels from the 1960s to the 1990s. We have now moved to a list of novels chosen by the members of the group.

All of these skills and services are part of the mix in  the RoomToWrite project. 

Wendy says: ‘Most of all I love to write – to generate stories that have something to say about me, about the intriguing elements and surprising factors of the world as I find it. Because I have been writing for more than twenty years, with a different novel every year, the world and the way I view it has changed and evolved. Each novel is unique unto itself.’

Also in the mix is Gillian Wales  who recently retired as manager of Bishop Auckland Town Hall which, operates as an arts venue incorporating the Eden Theatre and the McGuinness Gallery together with the Hutchinson Library and the Tourist Information Office. In addition to programming the venue, Gillian was also group manager of libraries in the Bishop Auckland area and has a keen interest in reading and promoting contemporary fiction. Gillian takes the lead in our Iconic Book Group.

She originated the extremely successful literary programme, ‘Book It!’, which included book launches, writing and publishing workshops. She also ran the national ‘Novel Approach/Practise to Deceive’ writing competition for 10 years. Patrons included David Almond, Pat Barker, Terry Deary and Anne Fine. The first winner,Jonathan Tulloch, went on to develop his prize-winning short story, Season Ticket, into a full-length novel which was subsequently filmed as‘Purely Belter’.

Gillian has researched, co-written and published five well received books on mining art. The latest is The Quintessential Cornish Gillian served a season ad a director of Mslexia, the highly-praised literary magazine for women who write. 

She has now developed a blog reflecting on the gardening year under the supervision if her cat Pablo. Go to:Pablo's Garden

Wendy Robertson - a professional writer who has published more than 20 novels, as well as regular articles and short stories. Her tutoring skills come from a long experience in formal and informal education, tutoring people of all ages and abilities. More recently these have been focused on specialized workshops in locations as diverse as libraries, colleges, community centres and even a womens’ prison, where she directed a Litfest Inside as part of the Durham Literature festival.

For ten years she was director, with Gillian Wales, of the Practise To Deceive national short story competition which later generated great success for some of the winners. She still works as a mentor for individual writers to help them reach the point of publication. She is delighted with three new writers from Rom To Write who recently reached that goal. She evaluates individual writers’ work by post and judges their potential. In addition she has anthologised, edited, and published collections of other people’s writing including The Self Revealed , a collection of writing from prison.

To find out more about Wendy, her world view, her books, and her two blogs visit her website

Avril Joy is a published novelist and former Head of Learning and Skills at HMP Low Newton a women’s prison. She has over twenty years experience in working with groups in the varying roles of teacher, facilitator and trainer. She has recently put this experience to good use running local writing workshops including a six session group for novel writers. In August 2008 she gave up her position in the Prison Service to concentrate solely on her career as a writer.    Avril  was born and brought up on the Somerset Levels, the setting for her first novel, The Sweet Track, published in 2007 by Flambard Press.  She writes novels, short stories and poetry and has recently completed a new venture into crime fiction,Blood Tide, a novel set in the heart of Newcastle

Avril has been shortlisted for the Costa Short Story Award for Millie and Bird,

Avril says:‘I am very excited about RoomToWrite. When I finally ‘got out’ of prison writing became my main occupation. However, running writing workshops has also become an important and growing part of my new life. I am passionate about workshopping and always feel at home in group of writers: simply the best people. This is where I believe I can share some of the things I’ve learned, and am still learning, on my own rocky road to publication. I believe in the power of inspiring workshops, as it was in such a weekend workshop, run by Wendy Robertson and the late Julia Darling that I began my novel The Sweet Track, published by Flambard Press in 2007. If I can do it, so can you! I have recently published on Kindle a series of stories about young women in prison, have completed a crime novel set in Newcastle and have also been writing stories and poems, keeping a journal and developing a much visited blog  at

Room To Write has facilitated the publication of 5 new books under the Room To Write Imprint. Refer here to Our Books  tab.

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