Retreat West is all about reading and writing fiction.

Retreat West was founded by novelist and short story writer, Amanda Saint, in 2012. So far some of the people that have worked with us include Man-Booker Prize shortlisted author, Alison Moore; multi-award-winning short story writer, Vanessa Gebbie; Polari Prize winning-novelist and founder of the London Short Story Festival, Paul McVeigh; and the head of the Faber Academy’s fiction programme, novelist and poet, Richard Skinner.

We’ve also worked with top literary agents for the First Chapter competitions, including Jo Unwin in association with Rogers, Coleridge & Wright; Susan Armstrong, at Conville & Walsh; Jenny Savill, at Andrew Nurnberg Associates; Laura Williams at Peters, Fraser and Dunlop; and Diana Beaumont at Marjacq.

In 2017 what we do was expanded and Retreat West Books independent press was launched. We’re publishing anthologies of the winning stories in the annual Retreat West Competitions, as well as commissioning short story collections and novels from emerging authors and having open submissions for various charity anthologies. See all the titles we’ve published so far, and the ones we have coming soon, here.

The Retreat West Team


Amanda Saint

Amanda’s debut novel, As If I Were A River, was as a NetGalley Top 10 Book of the Month and a Top 20 Book of 2016 on The Book Magnet blog. Her short stories have been long and shortlisted for, or won, various prizes, and been widely published in literary journals and anthologies. She studied Creative Writing and Literature with the Open University; worked as a magazine editor, online editor and manuscript assessor for many years; and has a Diploma in Proofreading & Editing and a degree in Marketing and Communications.

She is a member of the Society of Authors, a mentor on the WoMentoring Project and can often be found teaching and judging competitions at literary festivals. Before it was all about the words she worked as a waitress, on a call centre, in a wheelchair factory and as a pie heater. Proper jobs included a stint working for Microsoft, and the Labour Government in Westminster, but she didn’t really like having a proper job.


Louise Walters

Louise Walters works with Retreat West as a reader for the competitions helping to choose the long lists first and then the shortlisted stories that will go onto the judges to read in the final round. She’s also part of the editorial team providing manuscript assessments and helping writers to develop their work.

Louise lives in Northamptonshire with her husband and five children. She is the author of three novels, Mrs Sinclair’s Suitcase (2014), A Life Between Us (2017) and The Road to California (2018). She is also an independent publisher at Louise Walters Books.


Sophie Jonas-Hill

Sophie Jonas-Hill is a blogger for Retreat West writing book reviews and interviewing authors about them too. For most of her life Sophie has told stories, it’s just that a lot of them have been through the visual rather than the written arts. It was in her thirties that she took steps to nail some of them down in words, and since then she’s been writing novel after novel, finally reaching her goal of being published in 2017, after many a near miss and dashed hope.

She continues to write as if someone is about to steal her laptop, and designs and leads workshops for Kent Adult education, as well as creating her own weird and wonderful art works in case there’s any danger of her having some free time.

Her first published novel is a thriller called “Nemesister”, with a sequel due out in 2018 and she’s currently working on three others which can all loosely be called thrillers. She was once voted Knitter of the year by the British hand knitting guild, and knows a lot more about chickens than you might expect.


Rose McGinty

Rose works with Retreat West running courses, co-editing anthologies, providing editorial reports, and reading for competitions. She is the author of Electric Souk, published in 2017 and also available as an audible book by Spokenword Audio. Electric Souk charted in WHSmith, and was a Hodges Figgis bestseller in Ireland. It was listed for the Not the Booker prize, featured in @TheQuietKnitter’s top reads of 2017; and guest reviewed by Isabel Costello’s Literary Sofa, by Angela Clarke on her YouTube channel and Rose was invited to open the 2018 Waverton Good Reads competition.

Rose has won a number of writing competitions, had short stories published, spoken at festivals and taught creative writing workshops for charities. You can find her short stories in: Stories for Homes, Volume 2, in aid of Shelter; Nothing Is As It Was, in aid of Earth Day Network, published by Retreat West Books; and Inky Lemons, an anthology by the Hounslow Young Women Writers project, published by Vanguard Editions.

Rose lives in Kent and for over twenty years worked for the NHS, and has lived overseas, including the Middle East. She also paints. She is an alumni of the Trinity College, Dublin and the Faber Academy.

Follow Rose on Twitter @rosemcginty and rosemcginty.wordpress.com


Phil Sobell

Phil is an intern at Retreat West managing the Facebook and Twitter accounts and running various flash writing challenges. He has been writing short stories (mostly science fiction with a bit of horror and fantasy) for several years and found Retreat West through the competitions while seeking to progress with his creative writing.

His short story, Portal, was published in the cli-fi anthology, Nothing Is As It Was.



Olivia Campbell

Olivia is an intern at Retreat West managing the Instagram account. She has been writing short stories and poetry since 2014, when she began her degree in Creative Writing. This year, after taking a break from literature to complete a Masters in Philosophy, she began her PhD in Creative Writing. She is currently writing her first novel.

Olivia currently lives in Cheltenham with her fiance. They both get a lot of work done at night as their cat, Sonny Jim, is afraid of the dark.


What People Say

I found your comments incisive and helpful. My story is much better now.

Michelle Scorziello
Michelle Scorziello, Used Critiquing Services

Amanda is a natural at hosting retreats. From inspiring venues to top-calibre tutors, from delicious home cooking to warm hospitality, she has thought of everything and really cares about getting it right.

Isabel Costello
Isabel Costello, Came to the Beach House retreat

Your queries about word choice really helped me crystallise the characters. Definitely the most effective feedback I’ve had.

Amanda Murphy
Amanda Murphy, Used Critiquing Services

Sharp and insightful critique of my first two chapters, at very reasonable cost.

Matt Lewis
Matt Lewis, Used critiquing services