About the Stockholm Writers Festival

On April 13-15, 2018 we held Stockholm's first-ever writers' conference gathering authors, poets, agents and editors and delivered in English.

The Stockholm Writers Festival (SWF) seeks to help its attendees polish craft, build industry contacts and join a community of established and emerging authors. Whether you are just starting out as a writer or finishing your latest manuscript – our 2018 Festival aimed to help you find your path to published.

Established in 2017, SWF is a non-profit association of authors, poets, professional copywriters and academics in Stockholm, Sweden. Our annual festival focuses on developing skills, navigating the world of publishing, and fostering a growing community of international writers.

Se hit, svenska författare, poeter och översättare! Vill du knyta kontakter med litterära agenter och professionella redaktörer från New York och London? Sugen på tips från utgivna författare? Vill du dela erfarenheter med skribenter från andra länder? Eller bli publicerad på engelska? Då är du hjärtlig välkommen att delta i Stockholm Writers Festival 2018!

Don't forget to register early - space is limited Add to your calendar now!

Day 01 full schedule

April 13, 2018

Registration opens

Welcome - "Stepping onto the path to published"

Inspiration from our authors: Get to know some of the SWF18 faculty by listening to short passages of their work. Participants: Elinor Lipman, Derek B. Miller, Jess Lourey, Cassie Gonzales, Marina Blitshteyn

First Pages Prize award presentation Discover the winners of our inaugural literary competition, the First Pages Prize. Offered by SWF and The de Groot Foundation, the prize is designed to recognize the talent of emerging writers with generous cash prizes, partial developmental editing, and an agent/editor meeting for our winner and finalists.

Find your Tribe Genre Call Out: Meet like-minded writers at the festival for support in the future.


At Hotel Hellsten Earth Bar, Luntmakargatan 68. Our official hotel sponsor will offer special drinks for SWF attendees.

Day 02 full schedule

April 14, 2018

Additional registration, coffee, welcome

Panel: What’s changing in the industry and best pitching strategies

Disruption in traditional publishing. Self-publishing. Digital dominance. These are just a few of the trends changing "business as usual" in the writing world. Our industry experts discuss the ramifications for authors and share their tips on standing out from the crowd. Bring your questions and soak up insider insights.

Panelists: Terri Bischoff (Acquisitions Editor, Midnight Ink Books), Peta Nightingale (Head of Talent, Bookouture), Brooks Sherman (Agent, Janklow and Nesbit US), Rebecca Carter, (Agent, Janklow and Nesbit UK), Amy Cherry (Senior Editor, W.W.Norton)

Breakout Session 1 (choose 1 of 3)

How to use setting to move your story with Adnan Mahmutovic The details you use in your prose should serve as more than just window dressing. By creating vivid descriptions of setting, authors can signal the inner turmoil of a crisis, convey tone, and telegraph feelings the characters in a story may not even realize they are experiencing. Adnan Mahmutovic, award-winning author and founder of Stockholm University's MA program in Transnational Creative Writing, shows you how to infuse every word in your manuscript with more power to carry the themes of your writing.

Memoir: Writing from past pain with Julie Lindahl Is there something painful in your past that you've thought of writing about, but don't know where to start and wonder about the consequences? In the spring of 2010 Brazilian-born Julie Lindahl visited the German Federal Archives in Berlin in desperation. The past had cast a shadow over her family and asphyxiated relationships, leaving suffering in its trail. Lindahl suspected the worst, and her fears were confirmed as she learned that her grandparents had been in the SS in occupied Poland throughout the duration of World War II, fleeing to Latin America in 1960, shortly before the trial of Adolf Eichmann. How she discovered and reconciled the truth is the subject of her memoir, The Pendulum: In the Frightening Realm of Unclaimed Guilt. Learn the transformational power of storytelling and how to translate a painful past into powerful writing.

Revolutionize your writing with three easy editing hacks with Jess Lourey Editing is supposed to improve your writing, but how do you know if you're doing it right? Join Jess Lourey, author of 16 books, including Rewrite Your Life: Discover Your Truth Through the Healing Power of Fiction. Learn the three must-haves of big-picture editing and how to apply the ARISE method to craft a story your reader won't be able to put down. As a special bonus: get your hands on the ultimate line-editing checklist.

Buttonhole the expert—Part I

Buttonhole the expert is a speed-dating activity where participants move between tables asking questions of experts. Topics range from how to create a great non-fiction proposal to tips for getting through writer’s block. There are six rounds over two sessions, so mix it up and take the opportunity to talk to the experts in a small group format. Come prepared with your need-to-know questions!


Our central location offers a wide range of dining options.

Buttonhole the expert—Part II

Breakout Session 2 (choose 1 of 3)

To indie or not to indie with Lizzie Harwood, Paddy Kelly, Kim Golden Malmgren With the rise of digital publishing, self-publishing or indie publishing; is alluring yet confusing. More and more authors choose to go indie, work with hybrid or small imprints, or even crowdfund (e.g. Unbound by Penguin). How to navigate this landscape? And can there be a return to traditional after starting out indie? Our panel of indie authors (writing memoir/contemporary fiction, sci-fi/fantasy, and romance) discuss if this path is for you and how to go indie with success.

From inspiration to story: the role of research with Jenny White Research. The word is dry. Academic. But bestselling author Jenny White knows it's anything but boring. Find out how research can transform a story, breathe life into it, or push it in an entirely new direction. Learn the techniques Jenny developed while writing three historical novels set in 19th-century Istanbul.

Infusing elements of game writing into fiction with Eira Ekre When you break down an online game—epic quests, vivid characters, narrative hooks—the basics of good storytelling are the same. But how can gaming boost your fiction? Narrative designer Eira Ekre guides participants through a session where the elements of gaming are used to put more power in your prose.

Breakout Session 3 (choose 1 of 3)

Subtext: Finding the Heart of Your Story with Cassie Gonzales In every story there’s the main action: the what and how a character acts. And there’s the why, or the subtext. Getting to the subtext of a narrative transforms it from ordinary to extraordinary and enriches the reader’s experience. Find out how to spot the themes of your manuscript and bring them forward to create more powerful stories.

Writing from abroad: its effects on language and imagination with Derek B. Miller Writing in your mother tongue from abroad. What are the challenges of experiencing our home countries as “distant listeners?” Conversely, what are the advantages? Derek has thoughts on both as a novelist, as a social scientist, and as an American who has lived abroad for twenty-two years—the last seven in Oslo, Norway. In this session he shares his personal insights on writing about home from abroad. And he also gives his perspective on how to bridge the distance gap in theory and practice.

Unlikely paths to publication: Inspiration and take-home tips to find your way to success with Paul Rapacioli, Lola Akinimade Åkerström, Katarina Bivald The journey to put a book into the hands of readers is as varied as the writing represented by this panel. Use these author’s stories as inspiration for your own! Lola started out as a systems architect and ended up a bestselling author and National Geographic photographer. Katarina went from working in a bookstore to getting a book deal after setting her novel in a country she’d never even been to. Paul got his inspiration from a controversial news story.


Swedish for coffee break for those of you unfamiliar with the term. Get your books signed. Take an author headshot with a professional photographer. Make new writing friends.

Panel: Find Your Superpower

What keeps us writing? How do we build a writing practice that will sustain us over the long haul? A writer's path is often difficult and lonely, no matter how many books you've published. Find out how our authors keep going even when things get tough.  
Panelists: Katarina Bivald, Jess Lourey, Derek B. Miller, Marina Blitshteyn, Elinor Lipman

Keynote Address by Elinor Lipman

"What—no outline? Moving forward one sentence at a time without apology.” Elinor Lipman published her first novel, Then She Found Me, in 1990, later adapted as a feature film, written by, starring and directed by Helen Hunt. Her latest novel, On Turpentine Lane, is, according to the New York Times, “constructed with an almost scary mastery. Not a single thread dangles, not a single character is left without a place in Faith’s world. The story folds out and back in as neatly as an origami flower...”

#SWF18 is thrilled to have Elinor as our keynote speaker. Festival goers are sure to gain insight and inspiration from one of America’s leading writers as she shares her "one-sentence-at-a-time" process.


Mingle and Literary Idol Event

Join us at Hotel Hellsten, Luntmakargatan 68, in the Glass Room where we’ll serve wine and hors d’oeuvres.

Literary idol is a fun game-show style event where the first page of an anonymous manuscript is read to an SWF judging panel. Judges buzz in at the point where they would stop reading. A brief summary is conducted reviewing the turn offs and strengths of each piece.

Reader: Marina Blitshteyn

Judges: Elinor Lipman, Brooks Sherman, Peta Nightingale, Terri Bischoff, Amy Cherry

Day 03 full schedule

April 15, 2018

Part II: Intensive Workshops

As part of #SWF18 we want to give our participants the opportunity to go deeper into their craft. That's why we offer a choice of six expert-led, in-depth workshops to help you find your path to published. Remember: to sign up for Part II, you must attend Part I.

Each workshop runs from 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. with an hour break for lunch.

Manuscript Makeover with Cassie Gonzales NOW CLOSED Participants will receive a detailed critique on the first five pages of a work-in-progress. These pages will be used to teach story hooks, narrative voice, characterization, and plot. This workshop will be full of tips and tricks useful to writers of all genres across fiction, non-fiction, and drama.

Finding Fiction in Truth with Adnan Mahmutovic In this session, participants looking to start a project arrive with a page of description of actual events. Then are walked through the process of preventing the facts from “getting in the way” of the truth of their story.

Upping Your Travel Writing Game with Lola Akinimade Åkerström Participants will learn practical ways of improving both their narrative and service-style travel writing including short peer-to-peer critiques and valuable resources for pitching their travel stories to various publications. This includes finding unique story angles, crafting pitches, and tightening your overall storytelling skills. Whether you are just beginning or are already published, take your writing to the next level in this session.

Sound and Sense with Marina Blitshteyn Get to know a language by playing with it! In this workshop we'll be breaking apart familiar and unfamiliar words by their look and their sound in order to make new meaning. We will be composing oddly rhymed poems, homophonic translations of forgotten languages, and alienating ourselves from semantic sense. Bring a notebook and a sense of adventure.

Indie Publishing: Building Your Platform with Kim Golden Malmgren Learn the steps for creating a great platform for your independent book effort during this in-depth workshop. Topics covered include creating a social media platform authentic to your work, choosing your publication channels, and sustaining marketing to support sales.

Writing a Novel: From Idea to Publication with Jess Lourey Learn a seven-step process for transforming an idea into a novel in six months. Topics covered in this workshop include crafting memorable characters, building a page-turning plot, creating cinematic settings, and landing an agent or self-publishing. Bring your ideas as well as something to write with and on.

Part III: Live Pitching to Agents/Editors (400 SEK)

Want to get a live reaction to your latest book project? Sign up for a 10-minute live pitch session to be held on Saturday April 14, giving you the opportunity to hone your marketing skills before a literary agent or acquisitions editor from a publishing house.

Featured Authors and Industry Pros


#SWF18 featured powerhouse authors, writing across a range of genres in fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Our industry pros were literary agents and publishers from the UK and the US.

Our partners and sponsors


The Stockholm Writers Festival would not exist without the generous support of our partners. Thank you for enriching Stockholm’s literary community.

Stockholm, the Venice of the North!

Venue & Accommodations

Our 2018 venue was the Berghs School of Communication in downtown Stockholm. Our partner hotel was Hotel Hellsten on Luntmakargatan 68.

Oh! Don’t forget to follow us and share #SWF18 with your friends!

Booking for 2019 opens later

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