Meet Our Guests

2020 Literary Guests

David Gange

Headline Reader

David Gange is a historian, nature writer, and sea kayaker. He has written three books, including The Frayed Atlantic Edge: A Historian’s Journey from Shetland to the Channel (Harper Collins, 2019), writes for media including The Guardian, The Big Issue and The Scotsman, and has appeared on BBC2, BBC1 and Smithsonian TV. He is currently working on two projects: Afloat: Small Boats & Sea Spray, and Being Littoral: Rethinking Atlantic Britain and Ireland.

Ruqaya Izzidien

Rabat, Morocco, Monday, April 24, 2017.
(AP Photo/Mosa’ab Elshamy)

Ruqaya Izzidien is an Iraqi-Welsh writer and graduate of Durham University. As a journalist, her work has appeared in the New York Times, Al Jazeera, the New Statesman, The New Arab, The National, and the BBC. Her debut novel, The Watermelon Boys, set in WW1 Baghdad, received a Betty Trask Award for first-time novelists under 35.

Andy Brown

Masterclass – Poetry & Life Writing

Andy Brown is Associate Professor of English & Creative Writing at Exeter University. His recent poetry books include Casket (Shearsman, 2019), Bloodlines (2018) and Exurbia (2014) both with Worple Press, and a collaboration with Marc Woodward, The Tin Lodes (Indigo Dreams, 2020). Previous books include The Fool and the Physician (2012), Goose Music (with John Burnside, 2008) and Fall of the Rebel Angels: Poems 1996-2006 (2006), all with Salt Publishing. He co-edited A Body of Work: An Anthology of Poetry and Medicine (Bloomsbury, 2016) with Corinna Wagner, and edited The Writing Occurs As Song: a Kelvin Corcoran Reader (Shearsman, 2015). Andy Brown trained as an ecologist. He is a singer-songwriter and the director of Maquette Press. He lives with his wife in Devon and Brittany.

Irenosen Okojie

Irenosen Okojie is a Nigerian British writer. Her debut novel Butterfly Fish won a Betty Trask award and was shortlisted for an Edinburgh International First Book Award. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Observer, The Guardian, the BBC and The Huffington Post amongst other publications. Her short stories have been published internationally including Salt’s Best British Short Stories 2017, Kwani? and The Year’s Best Weird Fiction. She was presented at the London Short Story Festival by Booker Prize winning author Ben Okri as a dynamic writing talent to watch and featured in the Evening Standard Magazine as one of London’s exciting new authors. Her short story collection Speak Gigantular, published by Jacaranda Books was shortlisted for the Edgehill Short Story Prize, the Jhalak Prize, the Saboteur Awards and nominated for a Shirley Jackson Award. She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Her new collection of stories, Nudibranch, is published by Little Brown’s Dialogue Books.
Twitter: @IrenosenOkojie

Monica Suswin

Workshop – Writing for Wellbeing

Monica Suswin is an experienced practitioner in the healing arts and has been running Writing Workshops for twenty years. The author of a series of books on Creative Therapeutic Writing, Monica’s contributions to the field have been published in anthologies and journals. Her background is in humanistic psychotherapy and journalism; she worked as a producer for BBC Radio 4, and gained an MA in Creative Writing (Sussex University 2002). Monica lives in Forest Row, East Sussex. 
Further information please see

Peter Fiennes

Join author Peter Fiennes as he talks about his latest book, ‘Footnotes: A Journey Round Britain in the Company of Great Writers’ (Oneworld Publications, 2019). The book follows in the footsteps of twelve authors, starting with Enid Blyton in Dorset and ending with the final journey of Charles Dickens, as his coffin was carried from his home in Kent to its grave in Westminster Abbey. All the journeys connect, like a literary relay race, from childhood to death, and of course along the way we catch up with Samuel Johnson and James Boswell as they proceed from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye and back.

Peter’s previous book, the acclaimed ‘Oak and Ash and Thorn’, was a Guardian Nature Book of the Year. ‘Footnotes’ is a Guardian Travel Book of the Year and shortlisted for the Edward Stanford Best Travel Memoir of 2019. As the reviewer in the Observer put it, “I didn’t really know that I’d been waiting for a more literary and stylish Bill Bryson to update ‘Notes from a Small Island’, but that’s just what ‘Footnotes’ is, and I loved it.”  Before becoming a full-time writer, Peter was the publisher for Time Out; he published their city guides, as well as books about Britain s countryside and seaside. He lives in South West London and is currently working on a new book which will explore the sites and settings of the Greek myths.

Lulah Ellender

Lulah Ellender is a freelance copywriter and author. Her first book, Elisabeth’s Lists, was published by Granta in March 2018 and is a memoir of finding her long lost grandmother through a book of handwritten lists. Her writing has featured in The Guardian,,, YOU magazine, EasyLiving magazine and The Pool, amongst others. She has taught on the Autobiography and Life Writing course for The Creative Writing Programme and regularly gives talks about writing, lists and publishing. She lives in Lewes, East Sussex with her husband, four children and an assortment of animals.

Genevieve Grant-Thompson

Workshop – Read To Me

Genevieve Grant-Thompson has over 14 years experience delivering and devising training and coaching for a diverse range of individuals and organisations. She is a performance poet, dramaturg, stage-manager, and massage therapist. She has a B.A. in dramaturgy from Towson University, an M.A. in interdisciplinary studies: performance theory from Goldsmiths College, University of London. Her studies have focused on whether feminism works in practice, what a healthy body does, awkwardness as a sociological event, and the myriad means for communication and their effectiveness. She works with precision and gusto in service of her clients as they pursue joy, effectiveness, and wholeness in their lives and work.

Beth Miller

Masterclass – Writing Sizzling Sex Scenes

Beth Miller is the author of four novels: The Missing Letters of Mrs. Bright (2020), The Two Hearts of Eliza Bloom (2019), The Good Neighbour (2015) and When We Were Sisters (2014). She has also published two non-fiction books: For the Love of Shakespeare (2016) and For The Love of The Archers (2015). She teaches on New Writing South’s Creative Writing Programme, is a tutor for Arvon, and a guest tutor on the MA at Brighton University. She also works as a writing mentor and book coach.

Jacq Molloy

Workshop – Getting Started with Creative Nonfiction

Jacq Molloy is an award-winning short story writer, performed playwright and freelanced for many years as an arts writer for various magazines and newspapers. Publications include short stories in anthologies, ‘The Brighton Prize, ‘Memories of Clothes’ and ‘Needlewriters’. Her short stories have won/placed in many competitions. Jacq has a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Sussex University and is a Certified Writing Coach through NAWE, (National Association of Writers in Education). She teaches for the Open University on their undergraduate creative writing module and on the MA in creative writing where her specialism is creative non-fiction. She also coaches writers in both fiction and non-fiction.

2020 Student Readers

Julie Evans

MA Creative Writing – University of Surrey

Julie Evans is a writer from Puttenham, a village just outside Guildford. After reading History at Oxford and a career in Human Resources, she spent some years ‘just being Mum’ to her three (now grown-up) children, in Surrey and in Singapore. Since taking up writing three years ago, she has won several competitions – the Frome and Farnham competitions for short stories and the Winchester Festival competition for flash fiction – and has been placed and shortlisted in several others, including the Historical Writer’s Association’s annual prize. Her short fiction is published in several anthologies. Judge’s comments highlight the emotional intensity, colour and originality in her work. She is currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Surrey.

Julie’s passion for stories which are set in the past have been inspired by her academic study, by her interest in genealogy and by the literature, artwork and diaries of the Victorian era.  She finds the clues to understanding the everyday lives of our ancestors fascinating – in landscape, buildings, objects, documentation and artwork. She is most interested in exploring the ways that past lives interact with our lives in the present and is always keen in her writing to evoke a strong sense of place as well as era. At home, Julie’s enjoys walking her dog, Mouse, in the Surrey countryside, which provides a great deal of inspiration. She describes herself as ‘a winter person, in love with cold air, forests and firelight.’

Kari Gillespie

MFA Creative Writing – University of Surrey

Kari Gillespie hails from Perthsire, Scotland. Two years ago she moved South and now lives in West Horsley, Surrey. After reading English at Oxford a short career in publishing was followed by a much longer career as an English teacher. On the wall above the smartboard in her classroom, the words ‘language is power’ made no secret of her agenda.  Foremost in her teaching came a message that our experience of the world is formed and shaped by the words we choose; a close second came the creation of an environment that was comfortable enough for children to pause, to think, and to take the risk, to stretch a bit further and to reach, and reach. Underneath the board a second mantra was pinned: ‘Noli Timere’ it read, in 750pt Ariel Black. Three years ago, fin ally taking her own advice, she gave up teaching to focus upon her writing.  She currently in the final semester of an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Surrey.

Kari’s first book, Pilgrim, is a memoir of her journey to Santiago de Compostella, a pilgrimage of some 900kms.  Long-distance walking is recalibrating for Kari, who finds renewal and inspiration in the landscape and the people she encounters along the way.  Last year she walked the Pilgrim’s Way from Winchester to Canterbury and in September, she begins the Via Francigena which will take her from Canterbury to Rome. She has written a collection of poems for children called Wonder Child, and is currently finishing her first novel.

At home, Kari is happiest in her garden with her hands in the dirt. Last year she attempted to become self-sufficient in the veg department, and although her attempts were not entirely successful, she now has enough recipes for a cookbook called ‘101 Things to do with Courgettes’.

Jane Puddicombe

MA Creative Writing – University of Surrey

Jane Puddicombe was born in Aldershot, Hampshire. After a career in sales and marketing, and at the age of 34, she attended Royal Holloway University and graduated with a degree in English Literature and Philosophy. Until recently she taught English and Philosophy A Levels at Farnborough College of Technology. She is due to finish her MA in Creative Writing at the University of Surrey this coming summer.

Jane lives in Farnham in Surrey with her husband and two sons.

Previous Guests:

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

Masterclass: Submitting You Work to Agents with Beth Miller

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

Writing for Television and Film
with Jonathan Crewe, Jennifer Good and Lydia Yeoman
Literary Start-ups
with Stewart Ferris, Kylie Rolle, M.E. Rolle and Broc Silva
Gathering a Creative Support System
with Peggy Hughes, Ellie Kerr-Smiley and Jas Smith
PR and Marketing
with Charlotte Ledger, Jeanette Lynes and Laura Williams