The Rock Retreat


The Rock Retreat Gibraltar is a 5 day creative residency for emerging writers and artists who’s aim is to create books for children and young adults. Led by renowned professionals from the children’s publishing industry our aim is to equip participants with courage, motivation, method and of course information and the necessary networks that too often feel out of reach. We want everyone who becomes part of the residency to believe in their unique voice, feel supported, valued and able to access the world of children’s publishing. The Rock Retreat is non profit and through the support of our sponsors here in Gibraltar and across the globe is proud to offer fully funded places to attend this career building retreat. Follow our instagram for future Rock Retreat dates and application details.

What’s On in 2023…


CALLING YOUNG WRITERS AND ILLUSTRATORS 9 TO 19+ for a Creative Storytelling Workshop 23rd 24th 25th February 2023 at John Mackintosh Hall, Main Street, Gibraltar and online live and recorded.

The Youth Workshop

Accra, Ghana is UNESCO World Book Capital 2023 and to celebrate this Accord Literary and The Rock Retreat are collaborating on an exciting global writing project and competition. Young people from Ghana, Bermuda and Gibraltar will be taking part in this three day festival of writing and creativity.

This February join an outstanding group of authors, illustrators, poets and songwriters to boost your skills. We shall be looking at all the ways to tell a story from writing, through creating a graphic novel, telling a story in pictures, poetry and song. Focussing on the building blocks of successful stories including how to plot, create characters, find the perfect setting and use your unique authorial voice this is the workshop to sharpen skills, improve confidence and embark on the joy of expressing yourself. The mood of the workshop will be all about having fun in a relaxed, collaborative and supportive environment. During the 3 days you will receive guidance and connect globally with other people your age from Gibraltar, Ghana and Bermuda who will be taking part in the workshop and competition via zoom. 

The Competition

The work that is created during the sessions will be eligible for submission to the Junior Writing Competition. Your entries will be judged by an international panel of authors and prizes will be awarded during The Accord Festival of Children’s Literature in Accra , Ghana in May 2023. 

Prizes will be awarded in Accra on the 27th May 2023. The winning and commended pieces of writing and illustrating will be published in the World Book Capital Rock Accord Anthology. Your winning work will be broadcast on the radio in your country and featured in a short film about this brilliant competition. Entries for the competition must be submitted to Accord Literary or the Rock Retreat by midnight GMT 31st March 2023.

For full details of the competition, including how to connect to the zoom or be sent the recordings, timetable, writing topics and competition judges email

Meet the team who will be inspiring and supporting you.

Benjamin Zephaniah @officialbenjaminzephaniah Self proclaimed “Poet, writer, musician and troublemaker”. Born and raised in Birmingham, England. He cannot remember a time when he was not creating poetry but this had nothing to do with school. Benjamin is one of our most important living writers and we are delighted that he is going to be joining us.

Frances Moloney @francesmoloneyauthor was born and raised in London, where she now lives having spent brief stints in Cornwall, where she studied English with Creative Writing at Falmouth, and Sweden. She has worked in the world of stories for over ten years and loves reading, running and yoga – though not all at the same time! The Mystery of the Missing Mum is her first novel.

Gareth P Jones facebookGarethPJonesAuthor  is an author of many very popular books for young readers including The Ninja Meerkats and The Thornthwaite Inheritance. Gareth loves talking about his writing and enjoys discussing where ideas come from. You might be surprised!

Sarah Odedina @sarahodedina is an editor of books for young readers and has published books by JK Rowling, Neil Gaiman and many other firm favourites. Sarahs favourite bit of her job is working with helping writers getting their ideas on to page

Elizabeth-Irene Baitie @elizabeth_irene_baitie lives in Accra where she works during the day as a scientist and at night creates her wonderful stories about the lives of young people in Ghana 

“Writing is very much a part of who I am. To me, it is as natural as breathing, eating chocolate, exercising, and having long phone conversations with my sisters”

Oksi Odedina @oksillary is a music industry award winner and will be sharing her experiences of the world of music storytelling with an invited songwriter.

Jonathan Pizarro @js.pzro will be talking about his highly commended Commonwealth Prize Short Story which is set in his native Gibraltar. 

Sylvia Arthur @loatad_org and @africanwomenarehistory will be letting us in to her library in Accra, Ghana and sharing the experience of her project with National Geographic to create a people’s history of West Africa. 

Helle Norup @hsnorup is an award winning author from Denmark who now lives in Switzerland and loves to daydream. Her most recent novel is The Hungry Ghost. 

Gary Northfield @stupidmonster has been writing and drawing comics since 2002. He’s published many books including the hilarious Derek the Sheep. Gary’s work regularly features in magazines such as The Beano, National Geographic Kids and The Dandy. 

James Blagden @jimmyblags lives and works in Los Angeles. He’s an animator and filmmaker and when not creating his wonderful characters he enjoys skateboarding and eating garlic.

Yesha Townsend @ameliapureheart_   is a Bermudian writer and poet. She is a mentor and coach for the Bermuda National Youth Poetry Slam Team. Watching Yesha perform her poetry is sure to ignite a passion for this art form in the audience. 

Eleanor Dobbs @eleanordobbs is an award winning illustrator. She has created over 50 books for children including The Hogwarts Crest for Harry Potter and The Further Tales of Peter Rabbit with Emma Thompson. Eleanor divides her time between Gibraltar and London. With Sarah Odedina, Eleanor runs @the_rockretreat.

….And in May ’23 The Rock Retreat will be getting on a plane with creatives from Gibraltar to join the Accord Literary residency in Accra. Watch this space!