OUR FESTIVAL 2021 PROVISIONAL PARTICIPANTS
NAZIR AFZAL. Nazir Afzal OBE is a former Chief Crown Prosecutor and was Chief Executive of the UK’s Police & Crime Commissioners. During a 24-year career, Nazir prosecuted some of the most high profile cases in the country and advised on many others, with a special focus on domestic violence, child sexual abuse, and honour-based violence. He worked personally on the most high-profile cases whilst simultaneously overseeing the thousands of prosecutions each year, and is particularly notable for his prosecution of the so-called Rochdale sex grooming gang. Today he sits on the board of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) and is also National Adviser on Gender Based Violence to the Welsh Government. In 2018 he joined the advisory board of Google’s Innovation Fund for counter-extremism.
MORGEN BAILEY. Based in Northamptonshire, England, Morgen Bailey lives and breathes writing. ‘Morgen with an E’ is an author, speaker, tutor, editor, and podcaster. As well as being a competition judge, she is a columnist for Writers’ Forum magazine. Morgen’s fiction books include crime and mystery novels, and short story collections. They are mostly set against a Northamptonshire background, whether there is crime involved, a dog-detective that can talk, or a serial dater on a mission! Her non-fiction works are aimed at all levels of writers whether beginners or those who want to refresh their skills – Morgen also tutors in person and has several online writing courses available. She runs her own mentor group on Facebook, very much a collaboration, and she invites all authors to join. Her Writer’s Block Workbooks are a go-to for every author. When Morgen is not editing, speaking, reading, or writing, she's walking her dog, out with friends or at literary festivals. The only time she sits down and does nothing is at the cinema but even then she’s making mental notes!
ADINA CAMPBELL. Adina Campbell is the BBC’s Community Affairs Correspondent and has a wide brief reporting on stories in the UK and abroad. They recently include exclusively speaking to a Windrush victim who was wrongly detained and deported as well as a couple who won their race discrimination adoption battle. She also followed a father’s extraordinary journey to Ukraine where he confronted the man who he believed sold his daughter toxic diet pills online. Adina was involved in the BBC’s coverage of the 2019 General Election and President Trump’s state visit to the UK. Before working in network news, Adina used to report and present on BBC South Today covering stories in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and surrounding areas. Adina is a fitness enthusiast and a qualified England Netball B umpire.
RUTH HOGAN. Ruth Hogan was brought up in a house full of books and grew up with a passion for reading and writing. She loved dogs and ponies, seaside piers, snow globes and cemeteries. As a child she considered becoming a vet, show jumper, Eskimo, gravedigger, and once, very briefly, a nun. She studied English and Drama at Goldsmiths College, University of London where she hennaed her hair, wore dungarees and aspired to be the fourth member of Bananarama. After graduating she foolishly got a proper job and for ten years had a successful if uninspiring career in local government before a car accident left her unable to work full-time and was the kick up the butt she needed to start writing seriously. It was all going well, but then in 2012 she got cancer, which was bloody inconvenient but precipitated an exciting hair journey from bald to a peroxide blonde Annie Lennox crop. When chemo kept her up all night she passed the time writing and the eventual result was her debut novel The Keeper of Lost Things. Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel is inspired by an altogether more positive experience - eloping with her partner to get married in the Royal Pavilion in Brighton. She lives in a chaotic Victorian house with an assortment of rescue dogs and her long-suffering husband. She describes herself as a magpie; always collecting treasures (or 'junk' depending on your point of view) and a huge John Betjeman fan. She still loves seaside piers, particularly The Palace Pier at Brighton and would very much like a full-size galloping horses carousel in her back garden.
ANTONIA HODGSON. Antonia Hodgson was born and raised in Derby. She studied English at the University of Leeds. She is the author of the bestselling Thomas Hawkins crime series. Her first novel, The Devil in the Marshalsea, won the CWA Historical Dagger award in 2014. Antonia lives in London.
CARA HUNTER. Cara Hunter is the author of the Sunday Times bestselling crime novels Close to Home, In the Dark and No Way Out, all featuring DI Adam Fawley and his Oxford-based police team. Close to Home was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick, was shortlisted for Crime Book of the Year in the British Book Awards 2019 and No Way Out was selected by the Sunday Times as one of the 100 best crime novels since 1945. Cara's novels have sold more than three quarters of a million copies worldwide. Her latest title is All the Rage. Cara Hunter lives in Oxford, on a street not unlike those featured in her books. Photograph: Justine Stoddart.
WILLIAM RYAN. William Ryan is the Irish author of five novels, including the Captain Korolev series set in 1930s Moscow. They have been shortlisted for numerous awards, including the Irish Fiction Award, the Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year, the Endeavour Historical Gold Crown and the Crime Writers Association’s Steel, Historical and New Blood Daggers. His latest novel, A House of Ghosts, set in 1917, has been described as ‘an atmospheric, hugely entertaining mystery that offers all the pleasures of a classic ghost story – with an appealing dash of romance’. William lives in London and is a licensed mudlarker and keen cyclist. Not both at the same time.
ANTONIA SENIOR. Antonia Senior is a writer and journalist. She has published two novels set during the English Civil War, and one in twelfth Century Scotland. The latest is The Tyrant's Shadow. Antonia reviews historical fiction for The Times.
LAURA SHEPHERD-ROBINSON. Laura Shepherd-Robinson was born in Bristol. She has a BSc in Politics from the University of Bristol and an MSc in Political Theory from the London School of Economics. Laura worked in politics for nearly twenty years before re-entering normal life to complete an MA in Creative Writing at City University. She lives in London with her husband, Adrian. Blood & Sugar, her first novel, won the Historical Writers’ Association Debut Crown, was a Waterstones Thriller of the Month, and a Guardian and Telegraph novel of the year. It was also shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger and the Sapere Historical Dagger; and the Amazon Publishing/Capital Crime Best Debut Novel. Her new novel, Daughters of Night, is out in June 2020.
DAVE SIVERS. Dave Sivers grew up in West London and has been writing all his life. His books include the popular crime series featuring the Aylesbury Vale detectives, DI Lizzie Archer and DS Dan Baines. The Scars Beneath the Soul and Dead in Deep Water were both top three bestsellers in the Amazon Kindle Serial Killers chart. His latest novel, In Ink, introduces DI Nathan Quarrel. Dave lives in Buckinghamshire and is a founder of the annual BeaconLit festival of books and writing.
EVE SMITH. Eve Smith writes speculative fiction, mainly about the things that scare her. In this world of questionable facts and news, she believes storytelling is more important than ever to engage people in real-life issues. Set in an all-too-believable near future, in the aftermath of an antibiotic crisis, her debut thriller, The Waiting Rooms, was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize First Novel Award, and her flash fiction has been shortlisted for the Bath Flash Fiction Award and highly commended for The Brighton Prize. She recently contributed another flash piece to an anthology of crime shorts called Noir from the Bar to raise money for the NHS. She lives in Oxfordshire.
RUBY SPEECHLEY. Ruby Speechley graduated from Sheffield Hallam university in 2009, with an MA in Creative Writing. She is a Faber Academy alumna and prolific writer whose work has been longlisted for the Lucy Cavendish College Fiction prize, the Exeter Novel Prize, the Caledonian Novel Award, the Bath Novel Award and has won the Retreat West First Chapter Competition. Her debut novel is the psychological thriller Someone Else’s Baby. Ruby is a mum of three, lives in Bedfordshire and was born in Lisbon, Portugal at the time of the first earthquake there in 200 years!
SOPHIE WARD. Sophie Ward is an actor and writer. Sophie’s novel Love and Other Thought Experiments was published in February 2020 by Corsair. The paperback will be released on 6th August 2020. Her short stories have been published in the anthologies, Finding A Voice, Book of Numbers and The Spiral Path, and The Gold Room. Her book, A Marriage Proposal; the importance of equal marriage and what it means for all of us was published by The Guardian short books in 2014. In 2018, Sophie won the Royal Academy Pin Drop award for her short story Sunbed. She has a degree in Philosophy and Literature and has a PhD from Goldsmiths on the use of narrative in philosophy of mind. Photograph: Leo Holden.