Meet Our Guests

2023 Festival

Louis Emmitt-Stern

Panellist: Writing for Performance

Louis Emmitt-Stern is an award-winning playwright and director from Gibraltar based in London. His debut full-length play SLIPPERY won the prestigious Tony Craze Award 2021. It is currently optioned and in-development for full production. 

His second play I F*CKED YOU IN MY SPACESHIP won the Origins Award for Outstanding New Work at VAULT Festival 2023, following its critically acclaimed sold-out premiere. Louis was called “a rising star playwright” by Time Out. The production will subsequently transfer to Soho Theatre, London, for a three-week engagement this summer. The play is published by Nick Hern Books. 

Louis’ other work as been performed at Southwark Playhouse, Watford Palace Theatre, Pleasance Theatre Islington, LAMDA, Ivy Arts Centre, and supported by Farnham Maltings. He trained at Guildford School of Acting, and the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, and is an alumnus of the Gibraltar Academy of Music and Performing Arts, Soho Theatre Writers Lab, Soho Writers Alumni Group, National Theatre Young Playwrights Programme, and Young Lyric Directors Course at Lyric Hammersmith.

Louis is a two-time HM Government of Gibraltar Cultural Award finalist for his work with under-represented young people in the arts and education. He teaches acting and playwriting in both the UK and Gibraltar.  

Sharron Green

Chairperson: Lunch Time Open Mic

Sharron Green, also known as @rhymes_n_roses on social media has had poems published in over fifteen international anthologies and produced two booklets, ‘Introducing Rhymes_n_Roses’ and ‘Viral Odes’, a collection of pandemic poems published by Ink Gladiators Press. Both are available via her website and from online bookshops. In 2021 she completed an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Surrey.Sharron enjoys performing her poems at open mics and co-hosts two monthly gatherings – ‘Poetry and Pizza’ at Solar Sisters café in Guildford and ‘Write out Loud Woking’ at The Lightbox.  On July 7th she will also be performing with fellow ‘Booming Lovelies’ Trisha Broomfield and Heather Moulson at the Guildford Fringe.

Monica Ali

In Conversation

Monica Ali is a best-selling and critically acclaimed novelist. In 2003, she was selected as one of the “Best of Young British Novelists” by Granta magazine; her debut novel, Brick Lane, was published later that year. It was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and adapted as a film released in 2007. She has also published four other novels. Her fifth novel, Love Marriage, was published in February 2022 and became an instant Sunday Times bestseller. Monica was Distinguished Writer in Residence in the School of Literature and Languages at the University of Surrey from 2015 to 2018. 

Neel Mukherjee

In Conversation

Neel Mukherjee is the author of three acclaimed and brilliant novels: A Life Apart (2010), The Lives of Others (2014), and A State of Freedom (2017). His book for the Cahier Series, Avian, was published in 2020. He has won multiple accolades, including an Encore Award from the Royal Society of Literature for the best second novel, The Lives of Others. He was shortlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2017. Neel has been Distinguished Writer in Residence in the School of Literature and Languages at the University of Surrey since 2021.  

Annum Salman

Workshop: Idea Generation Techniques for Unique Storytelling

Panellist: Writing for Performance

Annum Salman is a spoken word poet and published Author hailing from Pakistan. After completing her MA in Creative Writing from University of Surrey in 2018 she went onto self-publish her debut poetry book ‘Sense Me’ in the UK in 2019. Annum performs poetry on stages and has had featured shows all across Pakistan and the UK, with notable ones being for Nottingham Poetry festival, That’s What She Said, Lightbox Literary Festival, Karachi Literature Festival, and TEDX women Lahore. Annum is also a workshop instructor, running her poetry workshops ‘Poetry Stops’ for the past 3 years in both countries. Her workshops explore emotions, senses and encourage vulnerability, allowing new and experienced writers to create moving material. She has also delivered workshops with The British Council.

Leon Lynn

Workshop: To Do, or Not To Do: An Introduction to Interactive Storytelling

Chairperson: Visual Writing

Leon Lynn is a writer and narrative designer from north Hampshire, best known for his writing in the D.I.C.E-nominated digitisation of the smash-hit board game Gloomhaven. Raised and experienced in Guildford’s gaming industry, Leon crafts stories that—whether interactive or not—prompt the audience’s participation. He is currently a game story writer at Kwalee, a world-class mobile game publisher, and has held several interactive writing talks—including at his alma mater, the University of Surrey. Leon is also a founding member of Word Tonic, a digital community for Gen Z copywriters worldwide. His first physically-published short story is set to be released in 2023.

Ellery Lloyd

In Conversation

Ellery Lloyd is the pseudonym for London-based husband-and-wife writing team Collette Lyons and Paul Vlitos.

Collette is a journalist and editor, the former content director of Elle (UK) and editorial director at Soho House. She has written for The Guardian, The Telegraph, and the Sunday Times.

Paul is the author of two previous novels, Welcome to the Working Week and Every Day is Like Sunday. He is the subject leader for English Literature, Film and Creative Writing at the University of Surrey

Farah Cook

Panellist: Paths to Publication

Farah Cook is a Danish writer of Kashmiri descent. She grew up in Copenhagen with a creative and explorative childhood spent mostly outdoors. At the age of twelve, she began writing several short stories to fuel her passion for storytelling. Later, Farah graduated with a BA in Social Science from Sweden, an MA in Arts from London and an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Surrey. Farah has lived in many countries, including Germany and New Zealand, but settled in London where she worked as a Marketing Manager for a large financial conglomerate. Her passion for storytelling remained, and at night she started to write all the things she’d imagine.

An alumna of the Faber Academy in London, Farah now lives in Bad Homburg, just outside Frankfurt, with her husband and two sons. She speaks six languages fluently including Danish, Swedish and German, and writes full-time.

Jane Hennigan

Panellist: Paths to Publication

Author Jane Hennigan is a traditionally published and self-published novelist. Her best-known work is the dystopian post-apocalyptic thriller, Moths which was released in March 2023 by Angry Robot Books. Originally successfully self-published, the novel is set in a post-apocalyptic version of Surrey and explores male violence against women, homo-normativity, and gynocracy through the lens of a main character in her 70s. Its sequel, Toxxic, is due out in March 2024 and deals with toxicity towards shifting gender norms. Jane was born in Aldershot and lived in Farnham in Surrey for most of her life. She worked as an English and philosophy teacher until recently, when she moved to the south coast and started writing full-time. In 2021, Jane graduated from the University of Surrey with an MA in Creative Writing.

Margaret Buntrock

Panellist: Paths to Publication

Margaret Buntrock has enjoyed a long career as an award-winning journalist, writing feature articles for The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The European etc.. Despite these credentials when Margaret sought a literary agent for her first novel, a psychological thriller based on a real-life mystery, she met with rejection from twenty-three agents, none of whom even asked to read her manuscript. Eventually Margaret decided to self-publish and in April last year she set herself the task of discovering everything there was to learn about self- publishing, with the aim of retaining complete control of the whole process. Six months later, Margaret proudly published her paperback, Pains Hill, which sells online around the world with Amazon, Waterstones, Barnes & Noble etc. The novel is also stocked by local Surrey bookshops and has repeatedly sold out. Along the way, Margaret has gained considerable insight into the publishing world. While she believes she has managed to get many things right, she has made some mistakes and she will be sharing her experience.

Melissa Addey

Workshop: How to Make a Living as an Author

Panellist: Paths to Publication

Melissa Addey spent fifteen years in business, first as a project manager for new product development, then mentoring over 500 entrepreneurs through innovation programmes. She has an MA in Innovation in Business. In 2015 she became a fulltime self-published author and has since written and published 16 books, primarily historical fiction, for which she has won the inaugural Novel London award and twice been picked for Editor’s Choice by the Historical Novel Society. She has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Surrey and was the Leverhulme Writer in Residence at the British Library, where she continues to run monthly workshops. She has successfully applied for £75,000 in grants at different stages of her writing career, including for travel, her PhD, creating public art and the writing residency. Melissa focuses a lot of her talks and workshops on authors making a living and taking an entrepreneurial approach to their writing careers. She campaigns with the Alliance of Independent Authors for ethics and excellence in self-publishing.

Previous Guests:


Elise Valmorbida

Beth Miller

Michael Donkor

Neel Mukherjee

Stephen Mooney

Chiara Fumanti

Sharon Green

Dara Kalima

Julia Armfield

Sunny Singh

Angela Szczepaniak

Lauren Foley

Joelle Taylor

Ella McLeod


Julia Armfield
Liz Bahs
Gillian Best
Ruth Brandt
Martha Cook
A.M. Dassu
Ben Dixon
Michael Donkor
Inua Ellams
Diana Evans
Nikita Gill
Lucy Hughes-Hallett
Rob Kiely
Collette Lyons
Roz Morris
Alex Reeve
Ally Sherrick
Paul Vlitos


Andy Brown
Lulah Ellender
Julie Evans
Peter Fiennes
David Gange
Kari Gillespie
Genevieve Grant-Thompson
Beth Miller
Jacq Molloy
Jane Puddicombe
Monica Suswin


Sophie Mackintosh
Erinna Mettler
Beth Miller
Jacq Molloy
Courttia Newland
Jeremy Page
Kate Potts
Alison Rumfitt
Stephanie Saulter
Azad Sharman
Monica Suswin
Keston Sutherland


Melissa Addey
Gemma Connell
Jonathan Crewe
Marek Czubala
Stewart Ferris
Jennifer Good
Catherine Graham
Peggy Hughes
Tom Jenks
Ellie Kerr-Smiley
Charlotte Ledger
Holly Luhning
Jeanette Lynes
Rachel Marsh
Steven O’Brien
Kylie Rolle
M.E. Rolle
Michael Roke
Broc Silva
Jas Smith
Paul Vlitos
Laura Williams
Lydia Yeoman