Authors & Speakers

Discover all the authors, speakers and performers who will be coming to WORDfest 2015 – in alphabetical order by surname.


Eve Ainsworth

eve ainsworth

Get Stuck in Day (25/4/15) / Do Stuff Bus

Eve Ainsworth always dreamed of being a writer and spent most of her childhood telling stories to herself in her back garden. She worked in a large secondary school, supporting teenagers with their emotional and behavioural issues, whilst also concentrating on her writing. Eve has had competition success with her short stories, most recently in Prima and Writer’s Forum. A short story has also been published in The Weekly News. Her previous Young Adult novel, The Art of Kissing Frogs, was shortlisted for the Greenhouse Funny Prize (June 2012). Her first Young Adult Novel – Seven Days – about bullying from both perspectives, was published by Scholastic in Feb 2015 and has been listed as a top Young Adult read in 2015 by The Telegraph. Crush, a novel about controlling/abusive relationships will be published in February 2016. Eve lives in Crawley, West Sussex with her husband and two children.



Gareth Brookes


Get Stuck in Day (25/4/15)

Gareth Brookes was born in Woking and studied Fine Art at Newcastle University and The Royal College of Art. In 2012 he was the winner of the Myriad First Graphic Novel Competition, with an extract from his graphic novel The Black Project (Myriad, 2013), a book executed in the mediums of lino-cut and embroidery. Known for his unusual approach to materials, he has used embroidery, textiles, lino-cut print, stenciling and even pressed flowers in his work and much of his self-published output is handmade. He has delivered workshops at The Eden Project and elsewhere. He is currently working on his second graphic novel for Myriad.



Rachel Cowell

Get Stuck in Day (25/4/15)

Rachel was born in Scotland but grew up in Sussex. She studied at Worthing College of Art and Design completing a General Art and Design course over three years, then onto study Three Dimensional Design at Middlesex University. After graduating she focused mainly on 2D works in the form of mixed media pieces, inspired by colour, movement and everyday things. Recognising the importance of inspirational art in our lives, Rachel set up her business Ginger Moo with the aim of promoting mainly local, fresh and largely undiscovered artists work through commercial and domestic projects.

Ginger Moo Gallery was established in 2009 continuing to champion artists work and leading a wide range of creative projects locally and further afield. Rachel works to develop as an independent artist whilst finding new links with fellow creatives, organisations and businesses.



Julia Crouch, WORDfest Patron


Launch Night (23/4/15) / Dark & Stormy (6/5/15)

Julia started her working life as a theatre director and playwright before retraining as a graphic designer and setting up her own website design and illustration business, which she was able to fit around starting a family. She has an MA in Sequential Illustration from Brighton University and has completed an Open University Course in creative writing, focusing on writing fiction for adults. Through this, she discovered NaNoWriMo [National Novel Writing Month encourages participants to write a 50,000-word novel during November] and after that, there was no looking back. Her first novel Cuckoo came out in hardback in the UK in March 2011. Her second novel, Every Vow You Break, was published in March 2012, and third, Tarnished – also nurtured during NaNoWriMo – in March 2013. Julia’s fourth novel, The Long Fall, came out in June 2014 and she is currently working on novel number five about some bad things happening in Elephant & Castle. She now spend her days writing at an untidy desk in a shed at the bottom of her garden in Brighton.



Hannah Eaton


Get Stuck in Day (25/4/15)

Hannah Eaton was born in London and now lives in Brighton. She is an artist, writer and performer, and works with young people in care. Naming Monsters(Myriad, 2013) is her first book; an excerpt from it was shortlisted for the 2012 First Graphic Novel Competition. After receiving a BA in Fine Art from the University of Oxford and studying for an MA in Cultural Studies and teacher training, she worked with children in residential settings and in primary school. She has delivered comics workshops with adults and young people, and is currently working on her second graphic novel for Myriad.

Read Hannah’s responses to Six Questions

Roger Griffith


WORDfest Finale (7/5/15)

Bristol broadcaster, who’s just published his memoir, My American Odyssey: From the Windrush to the White House. In 2009 he accepted redundancy from a local authority after working in social housing and community development for 18 years. Before that he was largely unemployed for ten years after leaving school without qualifications or confidence. He worked in the building trade before re-discovering the purpose of education through understanding his heritage, which changed his life. Belatedly discovering the value of education drove Roger to write a book. He wanted to chronicle the stories that he found inspiring yet had to search for to provide a voice from his generation – the first to be born Black and British after World War II. In his book, Roger Griffith documents the experiences of his parents’ generation, known as the Windrush Generation – arriving from the Caribbean to help rebuild the ‘Motherland’ after World War II and his generation, the first generation of Black-Britons born in the UK.


Read Roger’s responses to Six Questions


Elly Griffiths


Dark and Stormy (6/5/15)

Elly Griffiths was born in London, studied English at King’s College London and worked in publishing for 15 years. She wrote four books (under her real name Domenica de Rosa) before her husband’s career change inspired her to write about forensic archaeologist Dr Ruth Galloway. Her agent told her she needed a ‘crime name’ so she became Elly Griffiths. The first Ruth book ‘The Crossing Places’ won the Mary Higgins Clark award. The seventh book, ‘The Ghost Fields’, was published in March 2015 and ‘The Zig Zag Girl’, the first in a new series, in 2014. She has twice been shortlisted for the Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year. Elly lives near Brighton with her husband and two children.




Mata Haggis


Launch Night (23/4/15) Get Stuck in Day (25/4/15)

Mata Haggis is a multi-media storyteller, academic, and games designer with 15 years of experience working in the creative industries. He started as an artist experimenting with the internet as a medium as well as a platform, before quickly expanding into animation and games development. He has worked on games with enormous budgets and games with no budget at all. Both types have been played by millions of people, and his animations have been broadcast across Europe. He was recently appointed the Associate Professor of Creative & Entertainment Games at NHTV University in The Netherlands, where he has been teaching for the last five years.Outside of university he is collaborating with SassyBot Studio to create the PINE (Playable Interactive Narrative Experience) game ‘Fragments of Him’. He also writes, and occasionally exhibits paintings. He has been a circus performer, taught classes on martial arts, and has a PhD in cyberpunk. He is a strong proponent of expanding games into wider fields of creativity, diversity, and narrative variety than they commonly occupy, and often speaks internationally on this subject.


Read Mata Haggis’s responses to Six Questions


Kate Hamer

Kate Hamer Mei Williams credit, 300 DPI

New Faces of Fiction (29/4/15)

Kate Hamer grew up in Pembrokeshire and studied History of Art at Manchester University. After graduating in 1988, she had two children and worked in television for over ten years, mainly on documentaries. Having always written purely for herself, she finally decided to begin an MA in creative writing at Aberystwyth University in 2011. Here, she won a prize for the best beginning of a novel – the work that became The Girl in the Red Coat. Kate also won the Rhys Davies short story prize and the story One Summer was broadcast on Radio 4 at the end of last year. Recently, she was awarded a Literature Wales bursary. She lives in Cardiff with her husband Mark and is currently writing full time.




Alice Hemming

Alice Hemming

Get Stuck in Day (25/4/15)

Alice wrote her first picture book, about a robin that couldn’t sing, when she was six. She planned to become a writer but instead worked as a professional librarian, a website editor and an Outreach Manager for a university. After having children, Alice remembered her writing dream and The Black and White Club, was published by Maverick in 2013. Illustrated by Kimberley Scott, it was shortlisted for the Portsmouth Book Award, has been selected as a 2015 Summer Reading Scheme book and is on the National Bookstart Week booklist. The sequel, A Gold Star for George, will be coming out in May 2015. Alice has written two other picture books: Bibble and the Bubbles, illustrated by Sara Sanchez; and Robopop, illustrated by James Lent; as well as five reading scheme books with Ransom publishing. Alice is mum to Clara and Tommy, and lives in Hertford.



Alex Hourston

Alex+Hourston_credit_Jonathan+Ring (1)

New Faces of Fiction (29/4/15)

After fifteen years writing strategy for advertising agencies, Alex Hourston took a break to go back to university and her first love, books. She completed a Masters in English and started a PhD, but put it aside when the idea for this novel surfaced. Alex lives outside Brighton with her family. In My House is Alex’s first novel, and was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize 2013. She is working on her second novel, an exploration of infidelity and emotional inheritance.


Read Alex Hourston’s responses to Six Questions


AC Koning

AC Koning

Launch Night (23/4/15)

Christina Koning was born in Kuala Belait, Borneo, and grew up in Venezuela and Jamaica. After coming to England, she was educated at the University of Cambridge, Newcastle College of Art and the University of Edinburgh, eventually settling in south east London. Her first novel, A Mild Suicide (Methuen, 1992) was short-listed for the David Higham Prize for Fiction. Undiscovered Country (Viking, 1997), won the Encore Award for the best second novel and was longlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction. Set in 1950s Venezuela, the novel explored aspects of colonialism – a theme dealt with elsewhere in Koning’s fiction, notably in Fabulous Time (Viking, 2000), which is partly set in China during the 1911 revolution and was awarded a Society of Authors’ Travelling Scholarship, and The Dark Tower (Arbuthnot, 2010), set in South Africa during the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879. Line of Sight (Arbuthnot, 2014) is the first in a series of detective stories set in late 1920s London.



Jane Lythell

Jane Lythell

Dark and Stormy (6/5/15)

Jane lives in Brighton and is “a sea-lover, star-gazer, film and football fan”.
 Her novels After the Storm (2015) and The Lie of You (2014) were published by Head of Zeus.
 Her background is journalistic writing and television production – she was a TV producer for 15 years before leaving to become Deputy Director of the British Film Institute and later Chief Executive of BAFTA. She then joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for seven years. Jane is now a full-time writer




Rupert Matthews

Lunchtime Talk Special, (29/4/15)

Rupert Matthews is a writer of non-fiction books, magazine articles and newspaper columns. Rupert has been working in publishing for over 20 years and has built up a wealth of experience and expertise that can be brought to bear on any writing or editing task you care to mention. He specialises in history, but has written on a range of subjects.



Mohamed ‘Mo Rhymes’ Mohamed

Mohammed Mo Rhymes

WORDfest Finale (7/5/15)

Mohamed is a London-based Spoken Word Poet who has been writing poetry since the age of 11, entering a variety of children’s competitions. Since 2011, Mohamed has performed and delivered workshops in many cities across the UK at University institutions, student-led organisations, charity projects, poetry clubs, and community/youth initiatives, including his December 2014 performance in London for the daughter of Malcolm X, Malaak Shabazz and most recently, performing at the University of Oxford .



Sam Murray

Sam Murray

Get Stuck in Day (25/4/15) / Do Stuff Bus / WORDfest committee member

Six years visual arts training at Northbrook College and Brighton University gained her National diplomas and a BA Hons degree. Time spent in television and advertising at Rushes Postproduction forged her feelings that nothing is impossible. Sam devises, encourages and promotes creative projects to enrich the town, coordinating community projects that include consultation, coordination, execution and evaluation. Encouraging creative growth in others, she spearheaded the Big Draw programme locally, becoming a national ‘Trailblazer’ award winner for the Campaign for Drawing. She and husband Ben also own the Do Stuff Bus – a ‘vehicle for your imagination’ – which debuted during WORDfest 2012.


Talia Randall

talia randall

Launch night (23/4/15) Get Stuck in Day (25/4/15)

Talia Randall is an artist whose work is rooted in spoken word but who skips between poetry, theatre and music. Whether she’s collaborating with circus artists, musicians, theatre directors or performing her spoken word, Talia’s work is driven by her need to discover the experiences that shape us. Talia has performed at major venues and festivals across the UK including The Southbank Centre, The Roundhouse, Battersea Arts Centre, The Whitechapel Gallery, Glastonbury, Latitude and The Edinburgh Fringe. Talia is also an experienced educator and has worked with thousands of young people on creative writing projects, empowerment programmes and her ‘incrEDIBLE poetry’ workshops (poems you can eat!)



Joshua Raven

Joshua raven2

Launch night (23/4/15)

Joshua Raven has enjoyed over 20 years as an international journalist and editor, interviewing leading business figures and writing for magazines, papers and global corporations across the world. Three of the novels in his 5fingers quintet have been published: they are a series of five supernatural adventure-thrillers ( ). Available in paperback and e-book, with audiobooks in development. His novels explore themes of blackmail, betrayal and isolation, as well as hope, freedom and friendship. The plots span the globe, taking place in the UK, Nepal, Eastern Europe, New York, Bolivia, Tanzania and China, with the action overflowing into the Mezzanine: a spectacular world with shape-shifters and spawners, where angels and demons war against each other. He is married with three children and enjoys cycling, playing the tenor sax, cooking and travelling.






Akila Richards


WORDfest Finale (7/5/15)

Akila Richards is a published writer, poet and spoken word artist of Liberian and German heritage. She performs and reads in a variety of academic, cultural, professional and community settings. Akila became involved in theatre and playwriting greatly inspired by the consciousness raising artistic expression in the 80s. Her short story Eleven Years was published in an anthology by Penguin in 2008 and so was her poem Red Saviour appeared in the RED anthology by Peepal Tree Press in 2010 Akila is currently writing her first short stories collection.



Siobhan Rowden

siobhan rowden

Get Stuck in Day (25/4/15)  / Do Stuff Bus

Siobhan was born in Scotland to Irish parents but was brought up in the south of England. She studied English Literature at Middlesex University and worked for a TV post-production company in London before leaving to have her family and write them silly stories. Her first book, The Curse of the Bogle’s Beard was published in 2012. This was followed by the sequel, The Revenge of the Ballybogs. Wild Moose Chase came out in 2014 and her fourth book, Stardust Academy will be published in May 2015. She lives in Hove with her husband and children.




William Shaw

William Shaw

Dark and Stormy (6/5/15)

The New York Times recently called William Shaw’s trilogy of detective books set in late sixties London “an elegy for an entire alienated generation.” A Song from Dead Lips was picked by Time Out as one of the crime books of 2013; The Daily Mail hailed A House of Knives as “a distinctive British crime drama, which benefits from a clear moral sense”. The third book in the series, A Book of Scars, will be published in hardback on June 4. Before becoming a crime writer, William Shaw was an award-winning music journalist and the author of several non-fiction books including including Westsiders: Stories of the Boys in the Hood, about a year spent with the young men of South Central Los Angeles, and A Superhero For Hire, a compilation of columns in the Observer Magazine.




Philip Sherman, Booster Cushion Theatre

Phil Sherman

Get Stuck in Day (25/4/15)

After finishing a degree in Accounting in Manchester, Philip started training to be a mime in London in the early 1980s, working with Decroux and Lecoq teachers. He then furthered his studies with practical clowning, dance, acrobatics, comedia del arte and a little bit of trapeze. Additionally, he has worked with community arts via Haringey Arts Council to Collage Arts at the present day. He formed The Booster Cushion Theatre for Children in 1989, specifically to work with children and to encourage them to take greater interest in books. Since then Booster Cushion Theatre has performed to over 300,000 people in schools and theatres all over the country providing quality work with care and commitment. Booster Cushion Theatre’s shows involve a high level of audience participation on the part of the children. They are designed to foster a feeling of strong involvement and the joy of using their imagination.





Jo Simmons


Get Stuck in Day (25/4/15)  / Do Stuff Bus

Jo Simmons is the author of the Pip Street series of children’s books. Reissued in March 2015 with glowing praise from Bake Off presenter Mel Giedroyc, these four books are full of fun, quirky characters all living on Pip Street, with young Bobby Cobbler and his best friend Imelda Small investigating mysteries and solving problems there. They are perfect for children in years 2-6. Jo’s new book, Super Loud Sam, about a noisy boy who becomes a super hero, is out in May 2015, and she is currently working on a sequel to be published in May 2016. Jo is also a journalist, and lives in Hove with her husband, two sons, a dog and cat.



Phil Viner

Phil Viner Author photo 2

Dark and Stormy (6/5/15)

PD Viner is the author of the Sad Man and Dani Lancing series of crime novels.

A TV series based upon The Last Winter of Dani Lancing is in production for 2016 and he is busy writing a new novel, a TV series and trying to understand his seven-year-old daughter’s maths homework. In his past life he worked in film and theatre in Europe & America, and created the SmartPass Guides and Shakespeare Appreciated – audio guides to Shakespeare and classic literature. Two of his crime novels – The Sad Man and The Ugly Man are available FREE as ebooks. Phil lives in Brighton, drinks coffee and sits around dreaming all day.





Sam White

Get Stuck in Day (25/4/15)

A library assistant at Crawley Library, Sam White will be running the Minecraft event at Get Stuck In Day. He has painstakingly spent many hours creating a digital representation of Crawley Library. “What you will see on the tablets in Minecraft is the result of quite a few hours of me tapping away on my phone,” says Sam. Sam says he “plays quite a few video games” but spends more time watching videos on Minecraft than playing it.



Rebecca Whitney

Rebecca Whitney

Dark and Stormy (6/5/15)

Rebecca Whitney studied Creative Arts and Nottingham Trent University, and has a background in film and television production. More recently she completed the Creative Writing Certificate at Sussex University, where she began work on her first novel The Liar’s Chair. Rebecca is currently working on her second psychological triller, as well as writing short stories, magazine and newspaper features, and tutoring in creative writing. She lives in Brighton.




Susan Wilkins

Susan Wil

Dark and Stormy (6/5/15)

After a degree in Law and a stint as a journalist, Susan embarked on a career in television drama. She has written numerous scripts for shows ranging from Casualty and Heartbeat to Coronation Street and EastEnders. She created and wrote the London-based detective drama South of the Border of which the BBC made two series. Her first novel The Informant, published in November 2014, was described by the Daily Mail as “a very promising debut from one of Britain’s most versatile television screenwriters”, which “brings a freshness to the milieu that is particular and distinct.” A sequel, The Mourner, will be out at the end of May, followed by The Avenger in 2016.



Bert Williams MBE

Lunchtime Talk Special (6/5/15)

Bert has lived in Brighton and Hove since 1967, he moved down after he left the Royal Air Force. He is retired now after working for the NHS for 26 years. He volunteers for MOSAIC (a local charity that supports black and mixed parentage families) and helping to run the Brighton and Hove Black History Group. At WORDfest, he will be presenting his talk entitled: Indian Soldiers in Sussex.


Susan Wilkins

Dark and Stormy (6/5/15)

Biography to come…



Amy Zamarripa Solis

Credit: Phil Burrowes, Avant Photographic


WORDfest Finale (7/5/15)

Amy Zamarripa Solis is a Mexican-American writer and cultural producer based in Brighton. Her writing has appeared in national and international publications. She is the founder of Writing Our Legacy and co-founder of award-winning story platforms Grit Lit and Flash Lit Fiction. She has made the UK her home since 1997. She is currently working on a collection of short stories and an artist film as part of the No Place Like Home project, funded by the British Council and Arts Council England.