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 Retreat West on retreats, courses and competitions include Man-Booker Prize shortlisted author, Alison Moore; Richard & Judy Book Club author, Rowan Coleman; 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.

For the First Chapter competitions top literary agents read the shortlisted entries and it’s a great chance for you to get past the slush pile and get your work reviewed by them. So far we’ve worked with Jo Unwin in association with Rogers, Coleridge & Wright; Susan Armstrong, Senior Literary Agent at Conville & Walsh; Jenny Savill, Senior Literary Agent at Andrew Nurnberg Associates; and Laura Williams, Literary Agent with Peters, Fraser and Dunlop. The current competition is being judged by Diana Beaumont, Senior Literary Agent at Marjacq.

In 2017, Retreat West Books was launched and is now accepting submissions. Get more info here. 

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.

Louise lives in Northamptonshire with her husband and five children. She is the author of two novels, Mrs Sinclair’s Suitcase (2014) and A Life Between Us (2017).

Find out more about Louise on her website.

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 next year, 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. Find out more here.

Amanda Saint

Amanda’s debut novel, As If I Were A River, was published in Spring 2016 and was chosen as a NetGalley Top 10 Book of the Month, longlisted in the 2016 Guardian Not the Booker Prize, included in a WHSmith Travel promotion, and selected as a Top 20 Book of 2016 by The Book Magnet blog. Her short stories have appeared on the Fish Flash Fiction long list, the Ink Tears Short Story and Flash Fiction competition long lists, and won the monthly Editor’s Choice at 101 Words. They’ve also been published in the best-selling Stories for Homes charity anthology, the 2016 National Flash Fiction Day anthology, A Box of Stars Beneath the Bed, and in various literary magazines.

Amanda 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 and also a mentor on the WoMentoring Project.

Before it was all about the words she also 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.

Find out more on her website


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