Writing in the Time of Covid

Panel with Jan Carson, Jarred McGinnis and Saeida Rouass

Online Event
Fri 14 May
19:00 UK
Free, ticketed

Writers Jan Carson, Jarred McGinnis and Saeida Rouass discuss how they've found writing during the current pandemic. Has the Covid era changed how they write, and how has lockdown impacted on their creativity and writing lives? Have they been able to find inspiration amongst all the doom and gloom, and is there a new digital landscape for writers? Find out how our panellists have coped as writers over the last year, and perhaps even learn the odd tip for finding motivation, maintaining health and well-being, and coping with increased isolation. Feel free to ask questions!

All of our panellists will also be offering workshops over the weekend of the Writers’ Gathering. Find out more from our full programme.

How to watch: Once you have booked using our online ticketing site, you will receive a direct link to the event as well as a reminder 30 minutes before it starts. Don’t forget to check your spam folder in case the email ends up in there! You will also be able to watch the event live-streamed to our website, YouTube channel and our Facebook page.

About the speakers

Jan Carson is a writer and community arts facilitator based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Her second novel, The Fire Starters, won the EU Prize for Literature for Ireland 2019, the Kitschies Prize for Speculative Fiction 2020 and was shortlisted for the Dalkey Book Prize 2020. Jan won the Harper’s Bazaar short story competition in 2016 and has been shortlisted for the BBC National Story Prize and Sean O’Faolain Short Story Prize. Her latest short story collection, The Last Resort, has just been published by Doubleday (April 2021). 

Jarred McGinnis is co-founder of The Special Relationship, which was chosen for the British Council’s International Literature Showcase. He was the creative director for ‘Moby-Dick Unabridged’, a four-day immersive multimedia reading of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick at the Southbank Centre, involving hundreds of participants. His short fiction has been commissioned for BBC Radio 4 and appeared in respected journals in the UK, Canada, USA and Ireland. Jarred’s debut novel, The Coward, a work of autofiction, is published by Canongate (July 2021). 

Saeida Rouass is the author of Eighteen Days of Spring in Winter set in Cairo during the Arab Spring, and historical crime novel Assembly of the Dead set in Marrakesh in 1906. She has also contributed to anthologies including We Wrote in Symbols: Lust and Erotica by Arab Women (Saqi, April 2021). She was one of the commissioned artists for the Arab British Centre’s Theatre of the East project and is a 2019 Churchill Fellow with her work exploring misogyny and white supremacy in the USA. She is currently working on the sequel to Assembly of the Dead. 

How do the Writers Gathering events work?


Once you have booked your workshop place using our online ticketing site, you will receive a confirmation email. 30 minutes before the start of the workshop, a reminder email will be sent out to you with the link to access the workshop on Zoom. Workshops will not be streamed live anywhere else. Each workshop is limited to a maximum of 20 participants, and will last for two hours, including a short break.

Panel discussion

The panel discussion will be streamed live on the Wigtown Book Festival website, YouTube channel and Facebook page, so you don’t need to register to access it. However, it’s still worth signing up as you will be sent a direct link to the event and a reminder 30 minutes beforehand.

Don’t forget to check your spam folder for the confirmation and reminder emails in case they end up in there.

WG21 Weekend Pass
Why not purchase our WG21 pass, which at £30 gives you a 100% discount on 1 ticket to each event. Please note that you will still need to book a place on the workshops you would like to attend. Click Here To Purchase WG21 Pass. Passes must be purchased separately before booking on to the individual workshops.

We appreciate that not everyone can afford the £8 workshop fee or £30 for a weekend pass. Making the Writers’ Gathering as accessible as possible is a priority of ours and so we are offering a number of bursaries for each workshop. If you would like to apply for a bursary, please complete this online form or email Isla on isla@wigtownbookfestival.com. Live captioning will also be available on request.

Asking questions

During the workshops, you can ask a question verbally and by using the chat facility on Zoom. On live-streamed events, questions can be put into the live chat box on YouTube or in the comments box on Facebook and they will be forwarded to the speakers.

Catch up

The panel discussion will be available on catch-up. However, the workshops are not being recorded and will not be available anywhere else after they take place.

Buy the books

Browse our online bookshop, which will stock all our speakers’ latest titles.


If you have any queries about the Writers’ Gathering, please don’t hesitate to get in touch by emailing isla@wigtownbookfestival.com.