Sara Okaya Gangai is the former director and event manager of the Winchester Writers’ Festival and now director of the Writers’ Weekend. Originally from the east coast of America, she has been in England for almost 13 years. She has an MA in Regional and Local History and Archaeology from the University of Winchester and loves to research and explore personal and family histories, visit historic buildings, travel and read lots of books!
Holly Butcher is our new social media guru. She discovered the art of telling a good story while studying for her BA in Fine Art from The University of Reading. She went on to earn an MA in Writing for Children from The University of Winchester and started volunteering with SCBWI and helped as a student volunteer at the Wincher Writer’s Festival. She’s always enjoyed getting involved with the writing community, meeting fellow writers and chatting about books.
Georgina Lippiett is an all-around huge help to the Writers’ Weekend. She moderates, she adjudicates, she proofreads and edits, and is a valued ‘sounding board’. She has an MA in Writing for Children, is an active member of SCBWI-BI and is delighted to be involved with the Writers’ Weekend.
Dan Gangai is a product manager and software developer. A native New Yorker, he is happy to escape the snow, but misses sailing his Hobie catamaran out to Fire Island. He loves a good hike in the New Forest and leads a DofE Bronze group in Winchester.
A bit of history…
Sara Gangai, Director of the Writers’ Weekend, was the former Director of the Winchester Writers’ Festival, which was formed in 1980 by Barbara Large MBE and is owned by the University of Winchester. Throughout the years, the Writers’ Festival was host to many distinguished authors, including Carol Ann Duffy, Sir Terry Pratchett, Sebastian Faulks, Lemn Sissay, Joanne Harris, Julian Fellowes, Meg Rosoff, Patrick Gale and Katherine Rundell. The Festival was also the launchpad for over one hundred writers who found representation and, ultimately, publication by attending.
In July, 2019, after 39 years, the university decided that the Festival would no longer be held in its current format going forward. After receiving many appeals to not let this prestigious and much-loved conference fade away, Sara formed the ‘Writers’ Weekend‘, which carries on the friendly and supportive atmosphere of the Writers’ Festival, but with a fresh programme.
The inaugural Writers’ Weekend in 2020 was planned as an in-person event on the University of Winchester campus. However, when the Covid19 pandemic struck, it required a quick change of direction and Sara, with much support by her husband, Dan, a software developer, created an exciting, fully virtual programme – one of the first in the country to attempt a large-scale virtual festival. It was dynamic, interactive and packed with talks, workshops, panels, one-to-one appointments with literary agents, peer-to-peer Writers’ Circles, Braindates to virtually discuss topics important to attendees, open mics and two fantastic virtual keynotes with bestselling authors Lissa Evans and Eoin Colfer. Attendees said that it far exceeded their expectations of how interactive and enjoyable a virtual event could be! For 2021, it was decided to ‘go virtual’ again due to the ongoing pandemic.
The 2021 programme was even more interactive than 2020, with the addition of virtual writing groups, and there were 65 fantastic speakers, including top literary agents, outstanding authors and virtual keynotes with bestselling authors Diana Gabaldon and Chris Riddell.
Keep an eye on this website, subscribe to the newsletter, or follow us on Twitter (@WritersWkend), or Facebook (Writers’ Wkend) for updates as the 2022 programme progresses.
If you’re interested in sponsoring, please do get in touch. We can promote your business, group, event, or club to the ‘Write Crowd’! Please contact Sara at Sara@WritersWeekend.uk