Join us for a jam-packed programme of events and classes on writing and publishing short stories.

Taking place on Zoom and hosted by Dahlia Books’ founder Farhana Shaikh, our Short Story September Festival is the ultimate retreat for anyone looking to master writing short stories. All attendees will be sent recordings and a copy of the chat following the event. Recordings will be available to playback for up to 90 days.

FESTIVAL PROGRAMME (subject to change)

Saturday 25th September 

10.30 AM Registration & Warm-up workshop

In this warm-up workshop, we will begin to think about using our own life as a springboard for generating new ideas for fiction. Through a series of writing games and prompts we will begin to write fragments and set them free in our shared online writing journal.

11.00 – Morning Keynote with Paul McVeigh

Paul’s debut novel, The Good Son, won The Polari First Novel Prize and The McCrea Literary Award, and was shortlisted for many others including The Prix du Roman Cezam. Paul began his writing career as a playwright and comedy writer. His short stories have been in numerous anthologies, journals and newspapers, as well as, on BBC Radio 3,4 & 5, and Sky Arts. He co-founded the London Short Story Festival and is associate director of Word Factory, London; ‘the UK’s national organisation for excellence in the short story’ The Guardian. He co-edited the anthology Belfast Stories, and edited Queer Love & The 32: An Anthology of Irish Working Class Voices. He has judged numerous literary prizes, including The Edge Hill Short Story Prize, The Dylan Thomas Prize and, currently The V. S. Pritchett Short Story Prize for the Royal Society of Literature. He is writing has been translated into seven languages.

11.30 – 12 PM Breakout groups

12 PM –  Publishing your Short Story Collection with Reshma Ruia and Mona Dash 

How can short story writers develop their writing skills and how do they navigate the publication journey? In this session, Dahlia Books 2021 authors Reshma Ruia and Mona Dash share their experiences of writing their first collection, finding their voice, and getting published. This event will be pre-recorded. 

12.15 – 1.15 PM Lunch

1.30 – 2.45 PM A Brief Pause Showcase: Developing your practice

Earlier this year, twenty writers from across the UK were selected to take part in our short story development programme, A Brief Pause. In this showcase event, writers will share their work and discuss how the scheme has helped them to take the next step in their career.

3 – 5 PM Writing Workshop with Kathy Fish

Embracing Your Inner Wild: Creating Untamed Flash Fiction

Creative breakthroughs occur when we stretch our writerly muscles. This session is aimed at working outside your comfort zone to more vibrant, risk-taking writing. What happens when we unbind ourselves from the constraints of tame, domesticated realism and let our imaginations run wild? We will explore playfulness of language and structure as well as trying our hands at writing flash of a more surrealistic bent. Come ready to write and expect to surprise yourself!

Kathy Fish has published five collections of short fiction, most recently Wild Life: Collected Works from 2003-2018. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Ploughshares, Copper Nickel, Washington Square Review, and numerous other journals, textbooks, and anthologies. Fish’s “Collective Nouns for Humans in the Wild,” was selected for Best American Nonrequired Reading 2018 and the current edition of The Norton Reader. She is the recipient of a Ragdale Foundation Fellowship and a Copper Nickel Editors’ Prize. Her free monthly newsletter, The Art of Flash Fiction, includes a craft article and writing prompt. Subscribe at

5 – 5.15 PM – virtual tea break with chai and brownies

5.30 – 6.30 PM – Leicester Writes Short Story Prize Ceremony

The Leicester Writes Short Story Prize was set up in 2017 to recognise and reward the best short story writing talent. Join us to celebrate this year’s fantastic long-listed writers and listen to the short stories that made it to our top 20 from more than 310 entries! Our prize anthology featuring all 20 short stories will be launched on the day. Readers on the night tba.

Bursaries are available for writers on a low income*

Please email Farhana at to apply for a bursary place demonstrating your commitment to your creative practice and a brief statement on your current circumstances. Please email by 10th September at the latest.

*Household income threshold of less than £28,500.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.