On the lineup: Jacqueline Crooks introducing her Women’s Prize-shortlisted debut novel Fire Rush; popstar-turned-published-author JB Gill (formerly of boy band JLS) who will discuss his new writing career; Emma Kennedy, best-selling author, actor, presenter and Celebrity Masterchef champion; award-winning journalist Angela Saini; actor Rebecca Humphries who will talk with friend and Limelight author Daisy Buchanan; actor and author Andi Osho who will crown the winner of the Primadonna Prize; bestselling political writer Ian Dunt with his book How Westminster Works (…and Why It Doesn’t); and many more award-winning and bestselling authors including Diana Evans, Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, Joanna Cannon, Adele Parks, Patrice Lawrence and Joanne Harris. Plus everything you need to become a published author yourself, and workshops of all kinds designed to inspire and enlighten. For fun, there’s stand-up from Cally Beaton, a regular on BBC1’s QI, Live at the Apollo and The Apprentice: You’re Fired, a Mary Poppins Dancealong, DJs, wellbeing and live music from Miki Berenyi, Fightmilk, Rubber Rose and many more. And loads of stuff for kids including Captain Loo Roll, The Ministry of Unladylike Activity and Rapunzella, Or, Don’t Touch My Hair. All for £50 for the weekend (day tickets start at £15).
British born author Adele Parks is the author of 22 bestselling novels including the recent Sunday Times Number One hits Lies Lies Lies and Just My Luck. Over four and a half million UK editions of her work have been sold and her books have been translated into 31 different languages. She is an ambassador of the National Literacy Trust and the Reading Agency: two charities that promote literacy in the UK. Adele also writes for national media including The Times, Guardian, The Telegraph and appears regularly on TV as a spokesperson for the publishing industry. In 2022 she was awarded an MBE - a British order of chivalry – by His Majesty King Charles III for services to literature.
Alex Peake-Tomkinson is a freelance journalist writing for the Spectator, the Financial Times, The Economist, Prospect, the Evening Standard, the Times Literary Supplement and many others. She writes mainly about books and food but would usually rather be reading than doing anything else. She has interviewed many authors, of whom the late novelist Elizabeth Jane Howard is still her favourite.
Amanda Harris joined YMU in 2019 and became Global MD of the Literary division in 2021. She has worked in publishing all of her career, at houses including Macmillan, Simon & Schuster and Hachette. She founded two imprints at Orion, and has published an eclectic list of high-profile, award-winning and Sunday Times bestselling authors including Jackie Collins, His Majesty, King Charles, Sir Paul McCartney, Bryan Cranston, Fearne Cotton, Davina McCall, Dr Giles Yeo and Amy Cuddy.
Since joining YMU, Amanda has been shortlisted for Literary Agent of the Year twice (2021 and 2023) and was named an industry Top 150 Influencer. She has agented over 25 Sunday Times bestsellers by Claudia Winkleman, Matt Lucas, Ant and Dec, Fearne Cotton, Professor Noel Fitzpatrick, Stacey Solomon, Tom Daley, Gary Barlow, Jake Humphrey, Joe Swash, Jemma Solomon, and more. She also agented the double-award winning, and 2023 Nibbies Overall Book of the Year, Menopausing by Davina McCall.
Amie Corry is a London-based writer and editor. She was senior editor of Other Criteria Books from 2014 to 2020 and is director of publications for Do Ho Suh. Corry contributes to the Times Literary Supplement, Burlington Contemporary, and other publications, and in 2013 she coproduced a pioneering audit on gender equality within the London art sector. She is cofounder of the literary festival Primadonna and works closely with the art-and-mental-health charity Hospital Rooms. She is currently producing a collection of short fiction.
Amy Ridler is a writer and English teacher in East London where she runs the LGBT+ society in her school. She is currently the Managing Editor of MIR Online. She has worked with queer, feminist, live art and theatre company Carnesky Productions as an Associate Artist since 2009 and continues to be a member of the advisory board.
Andi Osho’s eighteen year career spans film, TV and theatre, from much-loved BBC drama like Line of Duty, Death In Paradise and Holby, to movies such as Lights Out and DC Comics’ Shazam!
Other projects include Michaela Coel’s ground-breaking I May Destroy You: Kiri, which became Channel 4’s highest rated drama and Olivier-nominated The Miser – Andi’s West End debut.
Andi also wrote and starred in Twin Thing on Sky Arts and E4 sketch pilot The Andi O Show. Her debut novel, Asking For A Friend was published by HarperCollins in 2021 and her follow-up, Tough Crowd, was released March 2023.
Andi also hosts the Creative Sauce podcast.
Anita Bhagwandas a multi award-winning freelance journalist and beauty director based in London. She’s a beauty columnist at The Guardian’s Saturday magazine, Beauty Director at Conde Nast Traveller and her non-fiction debut Ugly was released in February 2023.
Prior to being freelance, Anita spent the last decade climbing the ranks of some of the UK’s biggest titles with prestigious roles at Marie Claire, Women’s Health and most recently Stylist where she held the roles of Features Director and Beauty Director, and has chatted on BBC’s Woman’s Hour, Radio 4 and The Asian Network as well as live stints on ITV’s This Morning and Channel 4’s Steph’s Packed Lunch as a beauty expert.
You'll have heard her on BBC Radio 1, 1Xtra and 6Music – including this year’s Radio 1 New Year’s Day Indie Show – and regulars to BBC Radio Suffolk will know her BBC Introducing and Belongings shows. We know her as a LEGEND, and are so excited that she’s bringing her mix to the Museum for a Friday night mash-up of hip-hop, indie, dance and more in the late night barn.
Anna Jefferson is a fiction writer and playwright. She has written for stage and screen since 2005. Having grown up in rural Lincolnshire, her work draws on her abiding love of northern England, its people and humour. She has published three novels, Winging It (2020) and Nailing It (2021) both published with Orion and The List for Living, due for publication in 2024 with Penguin Random House, Germany. She is currently writing her forth novel. Anna’s first short film script, Rudy Can’t Fail, was produced by Makelight Productions in 2014 and screened at BFI Flare, GAZE Festival, Dublin, MIX Copenhagen and London Short Film Festival.
Anna co-directs Writing Around the Kids, a creative writing organisation working with mothers of young children, in partnership with museums and cultural organisations. Through the organisation she hosts panel discussions with award-winning published female writers and hosts a podcast. Anna lives in Brighton with her husband and two children.
Ashley Hickson-Lovence is a novelist and Creative Writing lecturer at the University of Suffolk. While working as a secondary school English teacher, he completed his MA in Creative Writing and Publishing and is currently finishing his PhD in Creative and Critical Writing at the University of East Anglia. He is the author of The 392 (2019), Your Show (2022) and Wild East (2024).
Athena Stevens is an Olivier nominated actor and playwright. She is an associate artist at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre as well as a playwright on attachment at Finborough Theatre. Currently she is writing the book for a new musical as well as being under commission for BBC Radio 3 and National Youth Theatre. She was the first actor in a wheelchair nominated for an Offie for her performance in Schism, as well as appearing at the Barbican as Juliet last year. Stevens is also a spokesperson for the UK’s Women’s Equality Party. See her website here or find her on Twitter @athenastevens
Athian Akec is a 20 year old Londoner defined by his multidimensional work which ranges from speeches to essays to guest lectures. His focus is on providing young people with the perspective which will help us navigate the turbulent times ahead. He's produced the "Beyond Black history month" series with i-D magazine, spoken in the House of Commons on the socio-economic roots of youth violence and been published by Penguin with an essay on the political potential of Black culture. He's been featured on the 2022 Dazed 100 list, been published in the 2023 Mandem essay collection and has guest lectured on the power of culture as a tool for liberation at London Metropolitan University.
Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ (born 29 January 1988) is a Nigerian writer. Her 2017 debut novel, Stay With Me, won the 9mobile Prize for Literature and the Prix Les Afriques. She was awarded The Future Awards Africa Prize for Arts and Culture in 2017.
Bee is a writer and producer. Her award-winning travelogue In Search of Mary was a ‘biography of the year’. She co-wrote the best-seller Talking about Jane Austen in Baghdad, dramatised by the BBC, and was one of Virago’s Fifty Shades of Feminism. Her play about Mary Wollstonecraft debuted in London’s West End. Bee led the Mary on the Green campaign for a memorial artwork for Wollstonecraft and is chair of the new human rights education charity the Wollstonecraft Society. Bee has judged the Poetry Society Young Poets’ award and the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year award. She mostly lives at the British Library.
Brenda read brown
You'll have heard her on BBC Radio 1, 1Xtra and 6Music – including this year’s Radio 1 New Year’s Day Indie Show – and regulars to BBC Radio Suffolk will know her BBC Introducing and Belongings shows. We know her as a LEGEND, and are so excited that she’s bringing her mix to the Museum for a Friday night mash-up of hip-hop, indie, dance and more in the late night barn.
Brigitte Aphrodite is a neurodiverse punk poet, musician, writer, theatre-maker and intersectional feminist show-woman from Kent. She makes genre-crossing, status-quo defying, passionate multidisciplinary work which is free from pretension, is anti-hierarchical and aims to be accessible to all. During Brigitte’s formative years she toured extensively as a musician, alongside artists such as Kate Nash and Josie Long. Brigitte has written three critically acclaimed shows (featured in The Guardian, Elle, BBC News); My Beautiful Black Dog: a punk, gig theatre musical exploring depression, Parakeet: an eco-punk musical made and set in Margate about nature, young women and fighting for what you believe in and The Christmas Goblin: a gig-theatre mythological family show. Her work has sold out at the Edinburgh Fringe and Southbank Centre, and toured nationally. Brigitte is also an experienced community facilitator, hosts and curates a number of creative events, and is an occasional bangin DJ. Her expressive, multifaceted work has won her a loyal following, including the likes of Arthur Brown and Lauren Laverne.
Cally Beaton is a comedian, business leader, podcaster, writer, keynote speaker and entrepreneur. Well-known for being a natural storyteller, full of intelligent, distinctive and punchline-rich material, Cally is one of the UK’s most sought-after acts for both comedy and corporate work.
Catherine Riley is a writer, and director of the Primadonna Festival.
Catherine has published two books on contemporary feminist publishing in the UK and contributed chapters and articles to edited collections on this topic, as well as teaching at universities in London and the north of England.
Her debut novel, Is This Love?, was published by Serpent's Tail in August 2022.
C E McGill
C. E. McGill (they/them) was born in Scotland and raised on the east coast of the US, in North Carolina. In 2020, pining for the drizzly green countryside (and universal healthcare) once more, they and their family moved back to Scotland.
C. E. McGill has written for Publishers Weekly, Electric Literature, Writers Digest, and Literary Hub. Their short fiction has appeared in Fantasy Magazine and Strange Constellations, and they are a two-time finalist for the Dell Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing. When not writing, they can be found reading, baking, sewing, crying over characters on TV, or preparing elaborate meals for the reincarnated spirit of a willful and demanding princess who cannot be convinced that she is, in this life, a cat.
C. E. McGill’s first novel, OUR HIDEOUS PROGENY, is out now from Transworld / Harper.
Chịkọdịlị Emelụmadụ was born in Worksop, Nottinghamshire and raised in Awka, Nigeria. A product of not one but two Nigerian boarding schools, she went on to attend Nnamdi Azikiwe University in Nigeria and the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. She was the winner of the Curtis Brown First Novel Prize in 2019. Her work has also been shortlisted for the Shirley Jackson Awards (2015), a Nommo Award (2020) and the Caine Prize for African Literature (2017 & 2020).
Corinne Fowler is Professor of Colonialism and Heritage in Museum Studies at the University of Leicester. She is author of Green Unpleasant Land: Creative Responses to Rural England's Colonial Connections (Peepal Tree, 2020) and her forthcoming book is Our Island Stories: Country Walks Through Colonial Britain (Penguin Allan Lane, Spring 2024).
Daisy Buchanan is an award-winning journalist, author and broadcaster. She has
written for every major newspaper and magazine in the UK, from the Guardian to
Grazia. She is a TEDx speaker, and she hosts the chart-topping podcast You're Booked, where she interviews legendary writers from all over the world about how their
reading habits shape their work. Her other books include the nonfiction titles How To
Be A Grown Up and The Sisterhood, and the novels Insatiable: A Love Story For Greedy Girls and Careering.
Dean Atta is a British author from London. He is a Malika's Poetry Kitchen member, National Poetry Day ambassador and LGBT+ History Month patron. Dean’s poems have been highly commended by the Forward Prizes for Poetry and shortlisted for the Bridport Poetry Prize and Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition.
Dean's debut poetry collection, I Am Nobody’s Nigger (The Westbourne Press, 2013), was shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize. His debut young-adult novel in verse, The Black Flamingo (Hodder Children’s Books, 2019), won the American Library Association's Stonewall Book Award, CILIP Carnegie Shadowers Choice Award, West Sussex School Librarians' Amazing Book Awards, What Kids are Reading Quiz Writers’ Choice Award and was shortlisted for the Books Are My Bag Reader Award, CILIP Carnegie Medal, Jhalak Prize, Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and The Bookseller's YA Book Prize.
Debbie started DJ'ing in the late 1990s in various clubs and bars mostly in the Camden area of London, playing a mixture of 1980s – 1900s indie and alternative, Big Beat, Jungle, 1970s classics and a bit of disco. This was challenging to some audiences, and confusing for Debbie. In the early 2000s they started the much loved club night ‘The Nitty Gritty’ with DJ Jaybyrd Slim, and happily their style settled down to a much more straightforward and dance floor friendly blend of 1950s & 60s sounds – ska & rocksteady, girl groups, US Garage punk, funk, rhythm & blues, Northern Soul and UK mod grooves.
Diana Evans is the author of Ordinary People, which won the South Bank Sky Arts Award for Literature, and was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, the Rathbones Folio Prize and the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction. Her previous novels are The Wonder and her bestselling debut 26a, which won the inaugural Orange Award for New Writers. Her journalism and essays appear in Time Magazine, the Guardian, Vogue and Financial Times among others. She is an associate lecturer in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. A House for Alice is her fourth novel, a sequel to Ordinary People.
Dija Ayodele is a fully qualified and insured Aesthetician and the founder of West Room Aesthetics, a skincare destination for women of colour. She is also the founder of the award-winning Black Skin Directory, which connects people of colour to skincare brands and experts. With over a ten years’ experience in the aesthetics industry, Dija has is trained in everything from nails to advanced skincare.
Dija is a Trustee for the Beauty Backed Trust and advises several boards including the British Beauty Council, British Association of Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology (BABTAC) and Aesthetic Medicine Journal. She has great connections with Boots No7, Glamour, Stylist and Refinery29 among others.
Raheem Payne is the artistic genius behind Dosa Cat the Drag Queen. With a double Masters in Contemporary Movement and trained in Kathak, Raheem is a choreographer and performer having done a TedEx Talk on Fluidity, Sexuality and Identity. Raheem is a brilliant host, hilarious speaker and fabulous personality - breaking down gender norms and expectations in their natural presence, style and beauty. Raheem is also a professional stylist with a natural flare for fashion and beauty.
Elaine is a Counselling Psychologist, keynote speaker, consultant, author, and psychological/transformational coach. She’s an expert on navigating the stress and challenges of modern life, including the role and impact of technology on our work, family, individual psychology, and relationships. Her latest book, released in August 2023, is Reboot: Reclaiming Your Life in a Tech-Obsessed World. She is also the author of All the Ghosts in the Machine: The Digital Afterlife of Your Personal Data (2020), in which she argues that what happens to our data when we die is the perfect lens for understanding the true power big tech wields over our information and our identities. She’s a seasoned onstage storyteller and the host of three podcasts: Still Spoken, This is Your Life on Tech, and Wednesday’s Ghost. In 2020, she was made an Honorary Professor of Psychology at the University of Wolverhampton for her body of work on life in the digital age; she is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. She’s currently editing her first novel.
Electric Fire is made up of Alicia (vocals), Ehima (drums, percussion and vocals), Sam (synths and vocals) and William (laptop, production and vocals). Their unique sound was developed through Heart n Soul’s digital music project SoundLab. It has evolved into an incredible live act, and the band have performed on stages from Hong Kong to Amsterdam, London to Paris. During lockdown they have found new ways to work together remotely, and have been busy writing and recording even more hit songs. Electric Fire are supported by Heart n Soul, a creative arts company that believes in the power and talents of people with learning disabilities.
Elissa Soave is a Scottish writer. She won the inaugural Primadonna Prize in 2019, and her debut novel, GINGER AND ME, was published by HQ, Harper Collins in July 2022. Elissa is on the judging panel of this year's Primadonna Prize.
Ella McLeod is a writer, poet, performer and graduate of Warwick University. She has worked as a spoken word poet and actress and as an Assistant Producer for Somethin’ Else. Ella also created and narrated Celina and the Spider, a series of three family-friendly storytime sessions with HOME Manchester. Her debut novel Rapunzella, or, Don't Touch My Hair, was published in July 2022.
Ellisha is an award-winning Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Specialist. She is also Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion for several colleges and adult education institutions in East Anglia. As a lecturer Ellisha has worked in the education sector for the past 7 years, and in the health and social care/ Public Health sector for over 10 years.
Ellisha is an advocate for change on social mobility and was highly influential as one of the first Further Educational lecturers to facilitate Black History across the year in the UK. Her accolades include author on the list creating one of the first Black History interactive books that shows positive representation in book Elimu Little Book of knowledge, which is being used across schools and the award-winning Power of Stories Black Panther Exhibition
She also mentors’ young people in the community and collaborates with businesses and communities to empower others and create new opportunities. Ellisha has worked closely with the Department of Education, and has supported with the equality act legalisation review and continues to do so on creating changes, written educational articles and has been featured in national journals as column writer and papers such as The Guardian and was recently honoured in Glamour magazine for being Top 15 Trailblazer Black Women in the UK, and is United Nations Women’s delegate.
Emma Hughes is a novelist and freelance journalist who has written for The Guardian, Time Out, Vogue.co.uk, Wired, ES and Stylist. Her first novel, No Such Thing As Perfect, came out in 2021 with Century, and was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Prize. Her second novel, It's Complicated, is out now. She lives in London and enjoys drinking coffee, buying books and looking at things on her phone while pretending to watch TV.
Emma Kennedy is a best-selling author, TV writer, actress and presenter. She has appeared in numerous TV comedies including Goodness Gracious Me, The Smoking Room and Miranda, and wrote the BBC sitcom The Kennedys, based on her book The Tent, the Bucket and Me. Emma has also written for award winning-CBBC show Strange Hill High and Dangermouse. Her novels include The Things We Left Unsaid (2019) and The Never Ending Summer (2021), and her latest book, Letters from Brenda (2022), is a heartbreakingly funny account of finding a collection of her mother's lost letters after her death and exploring the question of who she really was. Emma won Celebrity Masterchef in 2012 and is a Guinness World Record Holder.
Emma Shercliff is a literary agent with over 20 years’ experience in the publishing industry. In 2020, she founded Laxfield Literary Associates as a response to the lack of literary agents outside London. She provides representation for authors in Suffolk and Norfolk, and writers from under-represented backgrounds, and you can sit down with her for 10 minutes of life-changing advice – sign up in the morning on the Chapel noticeboard to secure your slot.
Emma Styles writes contemporary Australian noir about young women taking on the patriarchy. She grew up in Western Australia and lives in London. Her debut road trip thriller, No Country for Girls, was published by Sphere in 2022. Described as ‘Thelma & Louise meets The Tourist’ it won the 2020 Little, Brown UEA Crime Fiction Award, was a New Blood pick at the 2022 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival and has been shortlisted for the 2023 Crime Writers' Association John Creasey New Blood Dagger and the Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize. She is currently working on her second standalone thriller.
Fatima Manji is a journalist and newsreader for Channel 4 News, and author of Hidden Heritage: Rediscovering Britain’s Lost Love of the Orient, which powerfully recontextualises the relationship between Britain and the people and societies of the Orient.
Fats Timbo is a creator, comedian and educator who has risen to prominence with her snappy sketches, quick wit and advocacy. She pulls no punches in her comedy, confidently and shamelessly finding fun in stories of her own life, and the world around her. Fats, though, is as comfortable being serious as she is being silly, and she uses her platform to educate people on questions around disability, and open conversations about the many shapes that human bodies and minds can take.
She has over 2.3 mil followers on her social channels, and a growing presence on our television screens after taking presenting roles on Channel 4’s Celebrity Gogglebox and BBC’s Laugh Lessons. With her versatility and ease in front of the camera you can expect to see much more of Fats wherever you look, and you can expect to laugh and think, when you do.
A lockdown band formed by three indie pop legends, Fightmilk takes an acidic perspective on modern politics and sell-out bands, demanding that you join in, and rock out.
Florence Schechter is the director and founder of the Vagina Museum. Her background is in science communication and she has a degree in biochemistry from the University of Birmingham. Since it opened in 2019 in Camden Market, the Vagina Museum has been covered in international news from The New York Times to The Lancet to TIME magazine to even appearing in a joke in SNL's Weekend Update. The Museum relocated to Bethnal Green in 2022. The museum has received over 150,000 visitors. She has presented at a number of conferences around the world about her work in activist museums. She has spoken about Vs everywhere, from the British Library, Science Museum, Royal Institution, The Courtauld Institute of Art and Tate Modern, to name a few. She came highly commended in the Women of the Future Awards 2017 in the arts and culture category for her work in the museum sector, won a Sexual Freedom Award in 2019 and was nominated for the Rising Star of the Year award by DIVA in 2020. Her debut book, "V: An empowering celebration of the vulva and vagina" was published by Penguin Random House in March 2023.
Gayathiri Kamalakanthan is a Tamil poet, theatre-maker and facilitator who is interested in how language shapes childhood and how we use it to queer the future. They have spoken on decolonising desire, healthcare, literature and sex education.
Gwenllian Ellis's debut Sgen I'm Syniad: Snogs, Secs, Sens is described as 'a book about friends, family, growing up in north Wales, feeling you're being left behind, snogging, sex, lessons learned along the way and the people who carried you when you didn't even know you needed to be carried. A book about making sense of things when you have no idea how to do so.'
It is on the shortlist in the non fiction category for the Welsh Book of the Year.
Hamza Jahanzeb (he/they) is a Publishing Professional and a theatre reviewer based in Pimlico, London. Hailing from Lancashire in North West England, and a Queer British-Pakistani he is passionate for equality in the Publishing industry and commissioned Remember Me? by Shobna Gulati (dinnerladies, Coronation Street) whilst at Hachette UK. A staunch advocate for #BookJobTransparency and co-founder of the Pride in Publishing initiative, he is a campaigner and activist who seeks to change hiring practices to be more inclusive. He was also chosen as a Bookseller Rising Star of 2020. You can find him on Twitter at @hamzajahanzeb or on instagram: @hamzajahanzebuk
Hanan is a Welsh-Iraqi poet, filmmaker, and artist. Her publications include her poetry collection My Body Can House Two Hearts and Welsh Plural: Essays on the Future of Wales. Her winning monologue With Her Back Straight was performed at the Bush Theatre as part of the Hijabi Monologues. She is part of the writersroom for Channel 4’s award-winning series We Are Lady Parts. Hanan is co-founder of the Where I’m Coming From open mic series. She was the recipient of the 2020 Ffilm Cymru/ BBC Wales commission for her short film The Golden Apple. She is the current National Poet of Wales and 2022-2023 Hay International Fellow.
Hannah Silva is a writer and performer working in sound poetry, radio, and experimental non-fiction. Their record Talk in a bit was included in The Wire's Top 25 Albums of 2018. They have written eight plays for BBC Radio 3 and 4, winning the Tinniswood Award for best script and numerous placements in the BBC Audio Drama Awards. Their debut poetry collection Forms of Protest was Highly Commended in the Forward Prizes.
Silva's latest radio play An Artificially Intelligent Guide to Love was written using text generated by a machine-learning algorithm (Afonica, Radio 4) and starred Fiona Shaw. It was the starting point for My Child, the Algorithm, a memoir about queer single parenting and love (Footnote Press). Silva holds a PhD from Stirling University on the analysis of poetry in performance, and is currently a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Queen Mary University of London.
Harriet is a founder member of Women In Criminal Law, and joint Chair of the board of trustees at Women In Prison.
Harriet acts in cases involving the most serious allegations of criminal and civil wrongdoing.
Harriet is a fierce advocate of women’s rights, and in 2016 founded Doughty Street’s annual #DoughtyStWomenevents: a series of conferences for lawyers, charities, academics and activists that invites delegates to consider what more the law can do for women.
Harriet's first book, “Enough: the violence against women and how to end it” was published by Harper Collins in 2022 and was named by Waterstones on their list of the best books of the year.
Solo artist Hasna's work is inspired by underground R&B and hip-hop with a clear passion for soul and jazz. As a self-taught and self-managed artist, Hasna has collaborated with multiple beat makers to find her sound including KRZ, a Paris-based beat maker working across rap and R&B.
Ian Dunt spent several years working in the heart of Westminster as editor of Politics.co.uk. His most recent book How Westminster Works... And Why It Doesn't reached number 2 in the Sunday Times' bestseller chart.
podcast host of Oh God What Now and Origin Story, regularly appears as a political pundit on TV and radio and is the author of two previous books – Brexit: What the Hell Happens Now and How to
be a Liberal.
Iggy London is an award-winning filmmaker, artist and writer whose work touches upon themes of identity, community and coming of age. Known for his distinctive style and gripping, unexpected stories, his work crosses many mediums from film to poetry to photography. Iggy has directed films for Nowness, Love Magazine, Nike, Vogue and Adidas to name a few. He is best known for his powerful short Velvet and 2022 Timberland campaign Built For The Bold, with voiceover by Mary J Blige. His work has been covered by the likes of i-D, Highsnobiety, Hunger Magazine, Dazed The Guardian and many more.
Iggy edited Mandem, featuring essays from Yomi Sode, Jeffrey Boakye, Christian Adofo, Ashley Hickson-Lovence, Athian Akec, Dipo Faloyin, Okechukwu Nzelu, Phil Samba, Sope Soetan, and Jordan Stephens – an unmissable, thoughtful anthology of Black male expression.
Jack believes economics is for everyone and has made it his mission to make it relevant, accessible and even entertaining. He has more than a decade of experience as an professional economist at the highest level. He has a PhD and has been the Economic Advisor to two Chief Economists at the prestigious Bank of England, helping them set policy and navigate the challenges of Brexit, a global pandemic and the Cost of Living Crisis.
Jack is a passionate advocate for economic education and inclusion, regularly banging the drum for economics to step out into the real world and engage with people from more diverse back stories. He has recently brought his two passions together and written the now best-selling Can’t We Just Print More Money? with his colleague Rupal Patel, opening up economics in a fun way to help people see how it can improve their lives and the world around them.
Dr Jacky Collins, Lecturer in Spanish and Latin American Studies at Stirling University, is the Festival Director for Newcastle Noir. As ‘Dr Noir’ she regularly interviews a range of internationally acclaimed and emerging crime fiction authors at national and international events. Her series of author ‘consultations’ on the Newcastle Noir YouTube channel - ‘The Doctor Will See You Now’ - is where crime fiction lovers can get to know authors better and catch up on news about latest publications.
Jacqueline Crooks is a Jamaican-born writer who writes about Caribbean migration and sub-cultures, in particular the supernatural and supranational stories that sustain the diaspora. Her short story collection, The Ice Migration, was longlisted for the 2019 Orwell Prize in the Political Fiction category, and she has also been shortlisted for the Asham and Wasafiri New Writing awards.
Her short story, Silver Fish in the Midnight Sea, was shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award 2019. Her stories have appeared in Wasafiri, Virago, Granta and Mslexia.
Jacqueline has a degree in Social Policy from Roehampton University and an MA in Creative and Life Writing from Goldsmiths University. She delivers writing workshops to socially excluded communities including older people, refugees and asylum seekers and vulnerable young people.
She is one of ten commissioned writers working with historians on the University of Leicester’s Centre for New Writing’s Colonial Countryside national writing and history project in partnership with Peepal Tree Press and the National Trust.
Jacqueline’s debut novel Fire Rush was published by Jonathan Cape in the UK and Viking in the US.
James McDermott’s poetry collections include Manatomy (Burning Eye; longlisted for Polari’s First Book Prize 2021) and Wild Life (forthcoming from Nine Arches). Their pamphlets include Erased (Polari Press) and Green Apple Red (Broken Sleep Books). James’s poems have been published in various magazines including Poetry Wales, The North, Butcher’s Dog, Popshot Quarterly, Ink Sweat & Tears and Fourteen Poems. James's plays published by Samuel French include 'Time and Tide' (Park Theatre; Offie nominated for Best New Play) and 'Rubber Ring' (Pleasance Islington/UK Tour). James's other plays include 'Acid's Reign' (VAULT Festival), 'Robin Good: The Politico-Panto' (Norwich Playhouse) and 'Ghosted' (St George's Theatre/Out There Festival). James is also one of the writers on EastEnders and has written plays for BBC Radio 4. He is an Arvon writing tutor and lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia.
Jane Dyball is one of the first, and very few CEO-level women executives in the music industry, running 3 collection societies (MCPS, PMLL and IMPEL) with a combined turnover of £150m and the trade association which owned them (the Music Publishers Association) between 2014 and 2019. Consolidating the companies, she led the renegotiation of MCPS’ arrangement with PRS and the paying down of over £20m of debt at MCPS, while also creating new training, mentoring and networking initiatives for music publishers at the MPA.
In November 2018 she won the Outstanding Contribution award at the Music Week Women in Music Awards, and in October 2019 she was recognised for her contribution to the songwriting community at the Ivors Academy Gold Badge Awards.
She’s a regular speaker with charity Speakers4Schools and at corporate awaydays, and runs her own music, tech and digital strategic consultancy business. She’s passionate about fair access to opportunity, developing talent and is a mentor for tech music incubator Abbey Road Red, based at the iconic Abbey Road studios.
JB Gill rose to fame as a member of one of the UK’s biggest boybands – JLS. They dominated the charts for five years, boasting five number 1 singles, over 10 million record sales worldwide and a multitude of awards.
Eleven years ago, JB set up a farm in the Kent countryside, where he lives with his wife, Chloe, eight-year-old son, Ace and four-year-old daughter, Chiara. Their smallholding successfully produces award winning KellyBronze turkeys and free-range Tamworth pork.
Now an established member of the farming community, JB has used his success within the entertainment industry to highlight his passion to educate children about the origins of their food and he is the lead presenter on CBeebies’ BAFTA-nominated television series, ‘Down On The Farm’ (created for children aged 0-6 years, teaching them about life on the farm and in the outdoors). JB’s enthusiasm for farming life and knowledge of countryside issues has seen him become part of the presenter team for Channel 5’s ‘on the farm’ series and regularly contribute to BBC’s ‘Countryfile’ and ‘Springwatch’.
Dr. Jenni Nuttall is an academic who teaches and researches medieval literature at the University of Oxford. She has a DPhil from Oxford and completed the University of East Anglia’s MA in creative writing. She is the author of a readers’ guide to Geoffrey Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde from Cambridge University Press and she is contributing a chapter on “literary language” for the fifteenth century volume of The Oxford History of Poetry in English.
Jennifer Lunn is a writer, director and producer.
Her debut play Es & Flo had its premiere at Wales Millennium Centre in April 2023 and then a transfer to the Kiln Theatre. It won the New York award – the Nancy Dean Lesbian Playwrighting Prize in 2022 and the Popcorn Group New Writing Award in 2020. It was shortlisted for the Verity Bargate Award and longlisted for the Bruntwood Prize in 2017. It is published by Nick Hern Books.
Her play Core was shortlisted for the RSC 37 Plays project in 2023, the Papatango Prize in 2022 and the Women’s Prize for Playwrighting in 2021.
Other commissions include Terroir for RWCMD/Sherman Theatre and Stop The Drop for Theatr Clwyd as part of Curtain Up both in 2021.
She was Writer in Residence at Theatr Clwyd in 2022.
She has worked in TV writers’ rooms for Pulse Films and Mash Pictures on shows currently in development and was shortlisted for the Channel 4/Blacklight 4-Stories project in 2022 and the Channel 4 Screenwriting Scheme in 2019.
Joanna Cannon is a Sunday Times bestselling author of The Trouble With Goats and Sheep and Three Things About Elsie. A Tidy Ending, her latest novel, is out now.
Joanne Harris (MBE) was born in Barnsley in 1964, of a French mother and an English father. She studied Modern and Mediaeval Languages at Cambridge and was a teacher for fifteen years, during which time she published three novels, including Chocolat (1999), which was made into an Oscar-nominated film starring Juliette Binoche. Since then, she has written 19 more novels, plus novellas, short stories, game scripts, the libretti for two short operas, several screenplays, a stage musical (with Howard Goodall) and three cookbooks. Her books are now published in over 50 countries and have won a number of British and international awards.
She is a passionate advocate for authors’ rights, and is currently the Chair of the Society of Authors (SOA), and member of the Board of the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS). She works from a shed in her garden, plays in the band she first joined when she was 16, and lives with her husband in a little wood in Yorkshire.
Joel Millerchip is an artist, ADHD thinker, illustrator and tattooist-in-the-making. Born in Birmingham, blossoming in Suffolk.
His distinctive illustrative style is perfect for bold, impactful designs that work in print, on a wall, on a screen or all over your left leg.
He runs workshops for all ages looking to make their creativity explode.
Jónína Leósdóttir is an Icelandic novelist, playwright, former journalist and Spouse of the Prime Minister of Iceland from 2008 until 2013. She is the author of a dozen plays, eleven novels, two biographies and a collection of articles she originally wrote for a women's magazine.
Justine di Mierre
Justine is a passionate, energetic and inventive performer who delights in connecting playfully with audiences and artists through her storytelling, improvisation, hosting and music. With over 25 years professional performance experience, Justine came to storytelling from a background in community and street theatre. Her storytelling practice So… what’s the story? has seen her telling and hosting at festivals and events nationally and internationally including the International Storytelling Festival in Marrakech, Cambridge Folk Festival, Leigh Folk Festival, Bath Literary Festival, Edinburgh Literary Festival, Folk East and The National Centre for the Folk Arts at Halsway. In October she’ll be telling in Timisoara, Romania as part of the European Capital of Culture programme. Her eclectic storytelling work ranges from telling and facilitating in schools, libraries and prisons, to performing raucous adults only one-woman storytelling shows, to facilitating story sharing through drama for learning disabled people.
Her love of live, spontaneous, responsive performance and supporting others to do the same runs through her other performance practices: running courses with her improv company The Unqualified Yes, and hosting joyously eclectic ‘Busking Nights with Lady J’ open mic events which bring together new and experienced performers to collaborate across spoken work, improv and music.
Jyoti Patel is the author of The Things That We Lost, published by #Merky Books. An extract of the novel was chosen as the winning submission from over 2,000 entries for the 2021 #Merky Books New Writers’ Prize, a competition that aims to discover unpublished, underrepresented writers aged 16-30 from the UK and Ireland. The panel of judges included #Merky Books founder Stormzy, Candice Brathwaite, Emma Dabiri, Guz Khan, and Katarina Johnson-Thompson.
Jyoti is a graduate of the University of East Anglia’s Creative Writing Prose Fiction MA and was selected as one of The Observer’s 10 Best New Novelists for 2023. Her writing has previously been published as part of We Present’s ‘Literally’ series and in the anthology for the 2022 Bristol Short Story Prize, for which she was shortlisted.
K Patrick is a writer based in Glasgow. Their poetry has appeared in Poetry Review, Granta and Five Dials, and was shortlisted for The White Review Poet’s Prize in 2021, the same year that K was also shortlisted for The White Review’s Short Story Prize. In 2020 they were runner-up in the Ivan Juritz Prize and the Laura Kinsella Fellowship.
Their debut novel,Mrs S, published by Fourth Estate (UK) and Europa (US) was selected as an Observer Best Debut of the Year, and K was named a Granta Best of Young British Novelists for 2023. Their debut poetry collection, Three Births, will be published by Granta Poetry in 2024.
Katie Fulford spent 25 years at HarperCollins in a variety of roles including Group Rights Director, Managing Director of Collins non-fiction and senior positions in William Collins and 4th Estate, Fiction and Children’s. She was Executive Producer on Channel 4’s 2019 critically acclaimed TV adaptation of the much loved classic The Tiger Who Came To Tea by Judith Kerr which was awarded an international Emmy. As a new (ish) agent, she is looking for authors in both non-fiction and fiction, and is committed to increasing representation and accessibility in the industry.
Kia Abdullah is a bestselling author and travel writer. Her novels include Take It Back, a Guardian and Telegraph thriller of the year, Truth Be Told which was shortlisted for a Diverse Book Award, and Next of Kin which was longlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger Award and won the Adult Fiction Diverse Book Award 2022. Her new novel, Those People Next Door, is out now.
Kia has written for The New York Times, The Guardian, The Financial Times, The Times, The Telegraph and the BBC, and has received a JB Priestley Award for Writers of Promise (2020). She is also the founder of Asian Booklist, a nonprofit that advocates for diversity in publishing.
Kieran Yates is a London-based journalist, broadcaster and editor who has been writing about culture, technology and politics for over 10 years. She’s written everywhere from The Guardian, FADER, VICE, The Independent and beyond, had an acclaimed monthly column at VICE titled ‘British Values’, was nominated for Culture Writer of the Year in 2016 and regularly host events and panels discussing issues across music, politics, and news. Kieran is also a regular host, most recently hosting a discussion at the Southbank’s WOW festival discussing race, interviewing Mohsin Hamid and Riz Ahmed at the London Literature Festival, and hosting discussions around decolonising architecture for RIBA.
Kieran’s debut book about home and the housing crisis titled ‘All The Houses I’ve Lived In’, published by Simon and Schuster, is out now.
Kim Sherwood is an author and creative writing lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, where she lives in the city. Kim Sherwood’s first novel, Testament (2018), won the Bath Novel Award and Harper’s Bazaar Big Book Award. It was longlisted for the Desmond Elliot Prize and shortlisted for the Author’s Club Best First Novel Pick. In 2019, she was shortlisted for The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award. Her second book, Double or Nothing (2022), is the first in a series commissioned by the Ian Fleming Estate to expand the world of James Bond. Her latest novel, A Wild & True Relation (2023), was described by Hilary Mantel as “a rarity – a novel as remarkable for the vigour of the storytelling as for its literary ambition. Kim Sherwood is a writer of capacity, potency and sophistication.”
Kuba Shand-Baptiste is assistant opinion editor and columnist at i newspaper. She was previously deputy opinion editor at The Independent. She has written feature, news and opinion articles for the Guardian, Black Ballad, Metro, VICE, gal-dem, Stylist and more.
Laura has been teaching Taiji (Tai Chi), Qigong (Chi Kung) for 25 years. She has learnt from several masters including with Professor Li Deyin, Professor Hu Xiao Fei and Grandmaster Chen Xiao Wang and his son Chen Ying Jun. In 2006 she trained in Beijing and Wudang Mountain and in 2012 she visited Chen Jiagou, the birthplace of Taiji, to study with Chen Xiao Wang.
Laura has a Masters degree, with distinction, in Chinese Medicine (Acupuncture) from South Bank University and spent six months at Heilongjiang University (China) where she studied with the leading experts in the field. She has been practising Acupuncture and Chinese medicine for over 10 years.
Laura Kay is an author and journalist. She has an MA in American History from the University of Sheffield, and now lives in East London. In 2018, Laura was selected as one of the ten PRH WriteNow mentees, where she developed her debut novel, The Split. Tell Me Everything is her second novel.
Lenna Cumberbatch is an experienced diversity and inclusion (D&I) strategist working for over 20 years in the UK, USA, and EU, across corporate, education, and health environments, and a drag king.
Leone Ross is a writer, editor and academic. She was born in England and grew up in Jamaica. Her first novel, All The Blood Is Red, was longlisted for the Orange Prize and her second novel, Orange Laughter, was named by Wasafiri magazine as one of the most influential British novels of the last 25 years. Ross’s first short story collection, Come Let Us Sing Anyway (Peepal Tree), was shortlsted for the V.S.Pritchett Prize, the Jhalak Prize and the Edge Hill Prize 2018. She is a Senior Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy.
Her third novel This One Sky Day is published by Faber in the UK and FSG in the US. It was shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize 2021.
Lisa Milton is Executive Publisher HQ Stories as well as sitting on the Exec Committee of HarperCollinsUK. She joined HarperCollins in 2015 after a decade as Managing Director of Orion Publishing where she was responsible for Orion, Orion Children’s, Gollancz and Weidenfeld & Nicolson, which was awarded Imprint of the Year at the 2015 Bookseller Industry Awards. Whilst there she published major bestsellers and award winning authors including Maeve Binchy, Ian Rankin, Gillian Flynn and Malala Yousafzai. Previously Lisa was Editorial Director at BCA, the UK’s biggest book club, and prior to this she had a successful career at Waterstones, where one of her most notable achievements was opening the flagship store in Piccadilly and winning the Bookshop of the Year Industry Award in 2000. Find her on Twitter @MsLisaMilton
Louise was born and lives in South Wales. In the summer of 2019 Louise experienced a once-in-a-lifetime moment: she was discovered as a new writer by her publisher at the Primadonna Festival. Everything has been a bit of a whirlwind since then! Louise’s debut novel Sleepless was published in December 2020 by HQ HarperCollins. A UK Amazon Kindle Top 50 bestseller, it was the Asda Karin Slaughter Killer Read for July 2021. Her second thriller, The Safe House, was published in May 2022.
Lynn has been a performer and storyteller for many years - 20 odd years of them as a professional actor/singer and about the same again as a community animateur. She particularly loves telling local heritage tales and is a registered tour guide in Bury St Edmunds. She is a member of the Natural Voice Network which gets people singing by ear and dot-free!
Mahsuda Snaith is a writer of novels and short stories. After the release of her debut novel 'The Things We Thought We Knew' she was named an Observer New Face of Fiction. Her second novel 'How to Find Home' was chosen as a BBC Radio 4 'Book at Bedtime'. She is the winner of the SI Leeds Literary Prize 2014 and Bristol Short Story Prize 2014. Mahsuda is a commissioned writer for the Colonial Countryside project and her short story 'The Panther's Tale' is included in 'Hag: Forgotten Folktales Retold'. She works as a writing coach for The Novelry. Find out more about her work at www.mahsudasnaith.com.
Marchelle Farrell is a writer, medical psychotherapist, and amateur gardener, born in Trinidad and Tobago, but having spent over 20 years attempting to become hardy here in the UK. She is deeply curious about the relationship between our external and internal landscapes, the patterns we reenact in relation to the land, and how they might be changed. When not neglecting it for the care of her children, Marchelle spends much of her time getting to know her country garden in Somerset, and writing about the things the garden teaches her about herself. Her debut book, Uprooting, won the Nan Shepherd Prize for nature writing and will be published by Canongate in August 2023.
Margaret Meyer was born in Canada, grew up in New Zealand and now lives in Norwich, England. She worked in publishing and literature promotion before retraining in a second career as a mental health therapist. In 2020 she completed an MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. The Witching Tide is her first novel.
Marisa Bate was the first member of staff at the Webby-winning The Pool and has built a respected name as a feminist journalist, writing for, amongst others, the Guardian, The Times, The Telegraph, the i Paper, the Independent, Marie Claire, PORTER, Grazia, Stylist, and Vogue.co.uk. She is a regular commentator on feminist issues, with appearances across TV and radio including BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight and Woman’s Hour.
In June 2021, she was shortlisted in the Newsletter category at the inaugural UK Freelance Writing Awards for my newsletter, Writing About Women.
Her first book, The Periodic Table of Feminism (Ebury, 2018), was published in the US by Seal Press and included in Bustle’s best books of the year.
Her memoir Wild Hope has just been published by HQ.
Maryam Ebrahim is an aspiring London-based deaf, autistic writer and poet. She also has neurological disabilities and is a keen advocate on the access and awareness of invisible disabilities.
Maryam is a bibliophile and an avid reader. She is passionate about writing on topics that are close to her heart and hopes that through her writing she can spark a change in the world – one pen stroke at a time!
Maryam is also an Old Vic Theatre Makers alumna.
Maryam enjoys the company of animals and an enticing book. She is rarely seen without pen or paper; when her pen is not moving, she is often found entertaining the family cats!
Matilda Leyser read English Literature at King’s College, London and then ran away to join the circus. She trained as an aerialist, working up a rope, collaborating with dance and theatre companies, making her own work, and performing in diverse venues, including the National Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe, and the Royal Opera House. After ten years in the air, she decided to come down to earth and take up the far more dangerous act of writing on the ground. She has two children, and is the founder and director of an international movement for creative mothers and carers called M/Others Who Make: https://www.motherswhomake.org. She also works as an associate director with Improbable, a world-renowned theatre company: https://www.improbable.co.uk.
Matt is an author and illustrator of ridiculous picture books. His new book Captain Looroll is about a superhero toilet roll who sort of saves the world with the help of his band of friends. Think Marvel Avengers but with household cleaning products and more toilet humour.
UK doctor Meenal Viz became a global figure after her one-woman protest outside Downing Street in 2020 following the death of a fellow health professional. She recently collaborated with Led By Donkeys around the PPE scandals during Covid and is now writing a book about her protest outside Downing Street during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Miki Berenyi is a singer, songwriter and guitarist, formerly of Lush and now with Piroshka and the Miki Berenyi Trio.
Described as ‘an extraordinary life story’ by MOJO Magazine, her critically acclaimed autobiography, Fingers Crossed: How Music Saved Me from Success, tracks the trials and tribulations of being a female singer-songwriter rising to fame in the 90’s. Much more than your average rock autobiography Miki explores with great honesty how music became the route out from a troubled childhood, marked by neglect, frequent relocation and abuse. Told through frank confession, wry humour and emotional honesty, this is the remarkable, beautifully told story of a trailblazing woman in an often infuriatingly male world.
Plus size fitness instructor and fat liberation activist with her own inclusive feel-good dance based exercise classes - designed for those who don't feel at home in the gym! Becky knows that all bodies are good bodies and everyone deserves an opportunity to explore joy in movement to feel the general wellbeing benefits but also to feel more connected to their bodies.
Monika Radojevic is a Brazilian-Montenegrin poet, award winning writer and women's rights campaigner. In 2019, she became the inaugural winner of the Merky Books New Writers' prize for her poetry, and her debut collection, teeth in the back of my neck was published in 2021 with Penguin Random House. Her writing has been described as a "vital contribution to literature" by Huck Magazine and "courageous and arresting...a poet to watch" by the Independent. In 2022, Monika launched 'Feminist Invoicing', a poetry project and workshop series about power dynamics and what we're owed from systems of oppression, and she is also working on her first short story collection.
Crime writer and broadcaster Myfanwy Alexander who grew up in the hills of Montgomeryshire and takes inspiration from its landscape, culture and people
Nadia Mikail is a full-time personal assistant to two demanding house cats and part-time investigative journalist of what London’s pigeons are planning when they flock together like that. She is mostly unsuccessful at (but still hopeful about) both these occupations.
She is from Sarawak in Malaysia, where the air is always sweeter, the food is always tastier, and the pigeons are considerably less bold.
Nadia’s debut YA novel, The Cats We Meet Along the Way was published by Guppy Books. The Cats We Meet Along the Way was awarded the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2023, winning in the Older Reader’s category before taking home the overall prize.
Octavia Bright is a writer and broadcaster. She co-hosts Literary Friction, the literary podcast and NTS Radio show, with Carrie Plitt. Recommended by the New York Times, Guardian, BBC Culture, Electric Literature, Sunday Times and others, it has run for ten years and has listeners worldwide. She has also presented programmes for BBC R4 including Open Book, and hosts literary events for bookshops, publishers, and festivals – such as Cheltenham Literature Festival and events for The Southbank Centre. Her writing has been published in a number of magazines including the White Review, Harper’s Bazaar, ELLE, Wasafiri, Somesuch Stories, and the Sunday Times, amongst others. She has a PhD from UCL where she wrote about hysteria and desire in Spanish cinema.
Patrice Lawrence was born in Brighton and brought up in an Italian and Trinidadian household. Her first book for young adults, Orangeboy, was shortlisted for the Costa Children’s Book Award and won the Bookseller YA Prize and Waterstone’s Prize for Older Children's Fiction. Indigo Donut, her second book for teenagers, won the Crimefest YA Prize. Both books have been nominated for the Carnegie Medal. Patrice worked for more than 20 years for charities supporting equality and social justice. These themes (along with a serious amount of music) inform her stories. Patrice still lives in Brighton.
Preeti is first and foremost a Brown, British-Asian woman with all the complexities that includes. She is also a researcher, writer and historian, with a BA History and Politics from the University of Oxford, and a master’s in Public Policy and International Development. She is passionate about capturing hidden stories from oppressed and marginalised communities. Preeti was an Independent Research Fellow with the Women’s History Network 2021-2022 and has written for think-tanks, NGOs, Shout Out UK and The Rights Collective, and was longlisted for Penguin WriteNow in 2020. Her debut book, The Shoulders We Stand On: How Black and Brown people fought for change in the United Kingdom will be published in September 2023 by Dialogue Books. When she’s not researching, writing or reading, she can be found playing cooperative board games, bingeing TV shows, hiking slowly, or cooking delicious vegetarian food.
Polly Crosby writes historical mysteries set in her beloved East Anglia. She grew up on the Suffolk coast, and now lives with her husband and son in the heart of Norfolk.
In 2018, Polly won Curtis Brown Creative’s Yesterday Scholarship, which enabled her to finish her debut novel, The Illustrated Child. Later the same year, she was awarded runner-up in the Bridport Prize’s Peggy Chapman Andrews Award for a First Novel. Polly received the Annabel Abbs Creative Writing Scholarship at the University of East Anglia.
Rachelle Atalla is a Scottish-Egyptian novelist, short story writer and screenwriter based in Glasgow. Her debut novel The Pharmacist was published by Hodder and Stoughton in 2022 to critical acclaim, and her second novel Thirsty Animals was published in March of 2023. Her short stories have been published widely, she is the recipient of a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award and she also co-edited Scotland’s leading literary anthology New Writing Scotland for three years. Rachelle’s first short film screenplay Trifle was commissioned by the Scottish Film & Talent Network, appearing at BAFTA and Oscar qualifying film festivals, and in 2021 she was selected to participate in the Young Films Foundation Skye Residency Programme, developing her first feature-length screenplay with BBC Film.
Raheem Payne is the artistic genius behind Dosa Cat the Drag Queen.
With a double Masters in Contemporary Movement and trained in Kathak, Raheem is a choreographer and performer having done a TedEx Talk on Fluidity, Sexuality and Identity.
Raheem is a brilliant host, hilarious speaker and fabulous personality - breaking down gender norms and expectations in their natural presence, style and beauty. Raheem is also a professional stylist with a natural flare for fashion and beauty.
Dosa performs regularly while in residencies, in Soho or on Tours with her fellow drag queens; it’s Dosa’s magnetic personality and incredible showmanship within the industry that draw audiences back time and again.
Rebecca has written for Vogue, Elle, the Guardian and the Telegraph on relationships, singledom and womanhood. In 2019 she spoke at the House of Commons on behalf of the organisers of the Women's March London about gaslighting and the media.
As an actress, Rebecca has most recently appeared in Ten Percent (Amazon Prime), The Crown (Netflix) and Friday Night Dinner (Channel 4).
All of the above has happened following her public break up in 2018.
Richard Phoenix is an artist working in London and the South East whose practice involves painting, drawing, writing, music and learning about how these things support people to be together.
Recent projects include solo exhibitions at Flatland Projects and Colden’s Gallery, facilitating projects and giving talks at South London Gallery, Cubitt Gallery, Towner Gallery, Studio Voltaire, London College of Communication and Goldsmiths. He was an artist-in-residence within Tate’s Schools and Teachers department, was part of the Conditions Studio Programme in Croydon and published the pamphlet D.I.Y. as Privilege: A Manifesto with Rough Trade Books in 2020. He has worked with learning disability arts organisations and individual artists and musicians since 2006 as a facilitator, collaborator and project co-ordinator and has been Associate Artist for Heart n Soul since 2015. He has also been involved within the UK’s D.I.Y. music scene for many years being in the bands Sauna Youth, Monotony, Child’s Pose, The Steal and Captain Everything!, among others.
Robin Stevens was born in California but grew up in Oxford, directly opposite the house where Alice in Wonderland lived. A life-long fan of detective fiction she is best known as the author of the bestselling Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries, starring dynamic duo Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong. She is also the author of The Guggenheim Mystery and the Deepdean Mini-Mysteries.
Rowan Hisayo Buchanan
Rowan Hisayo Buchanan is the author of Harmless Like You and Starling Days. Her third novel, The Sleep Watcher, is forthcoming. She has won The Authors’ Club First Novel Award and a Betty Trask Award and has been shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award. Her work has been a New York Times Editors’ Choice, and an NPR Great Read.
Her short work has appeared in several places including Granta, Guernica, The Guardian, The Harvard Review, and NPR’s Selected Shorts. She is the editor of the Go Home! anthology and Dog-Hearted.
She has received residencies/fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, The Millay Colony, Hedgebrook, Gladstone’s Library, The Asian American Writers Workshop, and Kundiman.
Four-piece, female fronted band Rubber Rose combine the riff-driven force of 90s stoner rock, the powerful synths of goth/new wave and a driving jazz-inspired rhythm section, Rubber Rose create a unique sonic palette for lyrics tackling subjects ranging from mental health to decadence, offering an antidote to the chronic unfairness of prescribed societal roles. They released their third single 'Coconut Ice' in March which received Radio 1 airplay, leading to a packed out London headline at Blondies.
Born and raised in the island town of Enniskillen in Northern Ireland, Ryan is a NCTJ-qualified journalist. He was the first Showbiz Editor at Digital Spy and has written for publications including the Independent, the Telegraph, Attitude, Radio Times and Yahoo. After moving into music PR, Ryan worked on campaigns for global superstars including Britney Spears, Shakira, Usher, John Legend and OneRepublic. Ryan is passionate about mental health and enjoys speaking and writing about his own experiences. When he isn’t writing, Ryan can be found tweeting, watching – and playing – Countdown or enjoying cuddles with his golden retriever, Buddy. Arthur and Teddy Are Coming Out is his debut novel.
Sabeena Akhtar is a Writer/Editor and an Arts and Culture programmer working across a variety of literary festivals. She is the Festival Coordinator of Bare Lit, the UK’s principal festival celebrating remarkable writers in the diaspora, a co-founder of the Primadonna Festival which spotlights the work of women writers including through the Primadonna Prize for writing, and also co-founder of Bare Lit Kids, the UK’s first children’s festival showcasing the work of writers of colour. She is also Senior Programmer at the WOW Foundation, working on its London festival at the Southbank Centre and across its global programmes. A keen advocate for Partition commemoration, in 2017 she partook in the BBC’s coverage of the 70th anniversary of Indian independence and alongside her daughter, filmed a programme on the Partition of India for children. She has since been invited to discuss the subject on various media outlets. She has published a wide variety of work including editing Cut From The Same Cloth? an anthology by visibly Muslim women in Britain, Talking About Islamophobia published by Hachette, and is currently working on a novel. You can find Sabeena tweeting at @pocobookreader
Saima Mir is an award-winning journalist and writer. She has written for The Guardian, The Times, The Independent and The Daily Telegraph, and worked for the BBC.
Her work appeared in the anthology, It’s Not About the Burqa in 2019, and The Best Most Awful Job in 2020. Her novel The Khan is being published by Point Blank and is due on in January 2021. The Khan has been optioned by BBC Studios.
Saima is a recipient of The Commonwealth Broadcast Association World View Award, and The K Blundell Trust Award. Saima’s work has been longlisted for The SI Leeds Literary Prize, and The Bath Novel Award.
Her screenplay Ruby & Matt has been optioned by Rendition Films.
Sarah Thomas was born in Scotland, brought up in Kenya and lives in London. Her debut novel, Queen K, was published by Serpent's Tail in February 2023.
Sawad Hussain is a translator from Arabic whose work has been recognised by English PEN, the Anglo-Omani Society and the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation, among others. She is a judge for the Palestine Book Awards and the 2023 National Translation Award. She has run translation workshops under the auspices of Shadow Heroes, Africa Writes, Shubbak Festival, the Yiddish Book Center, the British Library and the National Centre for Writing. Her upcoming translations include Edo's Souls by the South Sudanese author, Stella Gaitano. Her website is: https://sawadhussain.com
Selina Flavius is author of the personal-finance Book Black Girl Finance -let's talk money and creator of the Event Black Girl Finance Festival. She is on a mission to make money conversations more inclusive and was a previous recipient of a British bank award for online financial influencer of the year 2021. In 2019 she founded the financial education, coaching and training company Black Girl Finance after deciding to pivot careers after 15-years in business development. She decided to follow her passion for finance and launch a safe space for Black women and women of colour to talk about money. She has also contributed to discussions in the UK media about financial inequality and worked as a contributor to the Money and Pension Service's 10-year financial well-being Strategy. She was previously part of ITV Lorraine's saver squad, brought together to help tackle the cost of living crisis, and is an ambassador for the charity surviving economic abuse and committee member at the sexual health and wellbeing charity brook.
Sheela Banerjee is a journalist and academic and worked for many years at the BBC and Channel 4, directing programmes which told powerful stories of individual lives. She has also worked as a radio reporter and BBC producer on current affairs and political programmes. She left TV to undertake a PhD on Virginia Woolf and T.S. Eliot. What’s in a Name? is her first book.
Sheena Patel is a writer and assistant director for film and TV who was born and raised in North West London. She is part of the 4 BROWN GIRLS WHO WRITE collective, has been published in a pamphlet collection, 4 BROWN GIRLS WHO WRITE (Rough Trade Books 2020), a poetry collection of the same name (FEM Press 2018) and has a poem published in the anthologies Slam! You’re Gonna Wanna Hear This chosen by Nikita Gill and She Will Soar edited by Ana Sampson (Pan Macmillan 2020.) In 2022 she was chosen as one of the Observer’s Top 10 best debut novelists. I’m A Fan (Rough Trade Books) is her first book.
Simon James Green
Simon James Green is an author and screenwriter.
His middle-grade books include Sleepover Takeover and Life of Riley: Beginner’s Luck, which was shortlisted for the Blue Peter Book Award and featured in BookTrust’s Great Books Guide 2021. He has also written two picture books - Llama Glamarama and Fabulous Frankie - both illustrated by Garry Parsons. His young adult novels include Noah Can’t Even (long listed for the Branford Boase and picked by WHSmith as one of the most important LGBT books of the last 50 years); Noah Could Never; Alex in Wonderland (nominated for the Carnegie medal and selected as one of the top 20 LGBT books of 2019 by Attitude); Heartbreak Boys, You’re the One That I Want (shortlisted for the YA Book Prize, Diverse Book Award, and winner of the Bristol Teen Book Award), and Gay Club! (nominated for the YOTO Carnegie Medal 2023).
Sioned Wiliam is an award-winning producer with over 30 years’ experience in comedy, drama and light entertainment and has been nominated for a BAFTA several times, winning a Children’s BAFTA as executive producer of RHESTR NADOLIG WIL (S4C/Boomerang). She won a Special Contribution award at the 2022 Radio Drama Awards. She is currently writing her fourth novel for Y Lolfa.
Shona Abhyankar is an award-winning book publicist and one of the Primadonna founding members. She is associate director at ed public relations, a PR agency who specialise in fiction and non-fiction book campaigns, as well as publishing awards and events. Shona’s former roles include Head of Publicity at Penguin Random House and PR Lead for Amazon Publishing UK. She is a mentor for the Publishers Publicity Circle (PPC) and has won PPC awards for her work. Shona’s previous authors include Arianna Huffington, Abi Morgan and Sheryl Sandberg. Find her on Twitter @PublicityShona and on Instagram @shonaandotherstories.
Dr Sofia Rehman is an independent scholar specialising in Islam and Gender, an author, and educator. When she is not reading books for research, she is reading them for pleasure. She is the founder of Leeds Lit Book Club which is now in its 8th year. During the global pandemic she launched the Islam and Gender read alongs in which she facilitates readings of academic texts penned by Muslim female scholars in conversation with a global virtual audience and has recently been featured by both Vogue Arabia and Refinery29. She is a contributor to Mapping Faith: Theologies of Migration edited by Lia Shimada and to Cut From the Same Cloth? Edited by Sabeena Akhtar. She has publications of her own due out with Oxford University Press and Kube Publications. She is a featured author in Tilted Axis’s forthcoming anthology Violent Phenomena: 21 Essays on Translation (edited by Dr Kavita Bhanot & Jeremy Tiang). You can connect with her on her Instagram @Sofia_reading where she talks about all things related to books, faith and academia.
Sonia Purnell is a journalist and bestselling author known for her lively writing style and meticulous research with a growing readership across the world. Her first book - the unauthorised biography of Boris Johnson called 'Just Boris: A Tale of Blond Ambition' - was long listed for the Orwell prize in 2011. Her second book, 'First Lady' in the UK and 'Clementine' in the US, (a finalist for the Plutarch prize) revealed for the first time the vital role played in Winston Churchill's career by his wife Clementine and has been optioned to be made into a Hollywood movie. Her new work, 'A Woman of No Importance', is the astonishing but true-life tale of a female spy in WWII, Virginia Hall, a young American socialite with a wooden leg, who helped fan the flames of French Resistance. It will be published in March in the UK and elsewhere in April and the rights have already been sold to Paramount for a major film starring Daisy Ridley.
Sope Soetan is a journalist, researcher, podcaster and music publicist. He has spearheaded award-winning PR campaigns for acts including Headie One, Ayra Starr and cktrl. He’s published editorial work as a writer with GRAMMY, Dazed, Complex UK, Mixmag, Okayplayer, CLASH Magazine and many others. Interviewing esteemed artists and figures like Mathew Knowles, Patrice Rushen, Jazmine Sullivan, JoJo, serpentwithfeet, Che Lingo and Dawn Richard. He is also 1/3 of music and pop-culture podcast Don’t Alert The Stans, which has been endorsed by The Independent, BeatsByDre, BuzzFeed and The Voice Newspaper.
Stephanie Haughton-Campbell began her music industry career as a ‘youth trainee’ press officer at East West Records and has experienced the inner workings of record labels, music publishing, artist management and digital music companies during a 20-year career.
Returning to ‘music’ in May 2022 as Director of Operations at UK Music - the collective voice of the UK’s world-leading music industry - Stephanie has the opportunity to collaborate with passionate female artists and executives across the industry, a highlight and privilege of the role.
Stephanie holds a MA in Music Business Management from the University of Westminster.
Suad Kamardeen is a British-Nigerian Muslim writer, Head of Editorial at Amaliah, fiction editor at Rowayat, proofreader, photographer, engineering graduate and a Creative Writing Masters student at the University of Oxford. She is interested in documenting histories and cultures through storytelling.
Her young adult novel, Never Enough, won the SI Leeds Literary Prize 2022 and was also selected as runner-up for FAB Prize 2021. Her adult novel was shortlisted for the Stylist Prize for Feminist Fiction 2021, and in 2017, she co-authored a short story collection, Soulful Stories: of Hope, Love and Light. Her writing has also appeared in Bad Form Review and Sapelo Square.
In 2022, Suad launched a writing community, Qalb Writers Collective, to support Black and Muslim women writers and share the knowledge she’s gaining through her writing journey.
She also co-hosts two podcasts with friends: Bookversations, where she has reflective conversations inspired by books she cares about, and Ọrẹ Meji: Yoruba ni ṣoki, a podcast centred on embracing her mother tongue, Yoruba, and reconnecting with her heritage.
London based multi-instrumentalist, artist, producer and songwriter Sylvie has quickly turned heads with their poignant lyricism, innovative production and effortlessly executed vocal gymnastics.
Tasneem Abdur-Rashid is a British Bengali writer born and raised in London. A mother of two, Tasneem has worked across media, PR and communications for over 15 years, in the UK and in the Middle East. She holds a BA and MA in Creative Writing, and her debut rom-com, Finding Mr Perfectly Fine, was published by Bonnier/Zaffre in July 2022 as part of a two-book publishing deal. She is also the co-host of the award-winning podcast, Not Another Mum Pod, which empowers women who feel voiceless a platform to share their stories. Tasneem was also the anonymous writer behind the Middle Eastern bestseller, Desperate in Dubai, published by Penguin Random House.
Throughout her childhood, teenage and young adult years, Tasneem struggled to find books that contained characters that she could relate to. As a visible Muslim growing up in North London, the otherness she experienced in day-to-day life followed her home and continued in the books she read.
Tasneem hopes to bring diversity to publishing by creating stories that explore underrepresented cultures with sensitivity. Through her writing, she hopes to help create a world where everyone – children and adults - can see themselves in the books that they read.
When not writing or visiting schools, Tia works in a busy library in south London and is finishing her master’s degree in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University. Her debut verse novel, Crossing the Line (Hot Key Books 2023) is about a boy who gets involved with a county lines drugs gang and is based on a real-life story. It has been hailed as a ‘powerful and important book that should be in every school library’ (LoveReading4Kids). It is currently listed for the Southern Schools Book Award and the Warwickshire Teen Book Award. Tia has published poems in The Rialto, and been long-listed for the Mslexia Children’s Novel Award.
Ipswich-based solo artist Tiah Jean started singing in choirs at a young age but decided to use song as a creative outlet to cope with the death of a friend. The result was the beautiful The Art of Loss, and further tracks that blend difficult concepts with happy beats. She takes inspiration from Erakyuh Badu and Willow Smith, and is definitely one to watch.
Tracey is Chief Executive of NHS Norfolk and Waveney ICB. Prior to this she was CEO of Hospice UK and Dying Matters for six years and has a wide career covering engineering, management consultancy, public health, policing and education. Tracey is also the Chair of Primadonna Festival and Prize CIO.
William Lee Adams
William Lee Adams is a Vietnamese-American journalist and broadcaster at the BBC World Service in London. A former staff writer at Time, he’s written for Billboard, Esquire, the Financial Times, The Guardian, Newsweek, and the New York Times, among others. He is best-known as the founder and face of Wiwibloggs, the world’s most-followed independent Eurovision blog and YouTube channel, for which he won Arts & Culture Blogger of the Year at the U.K. National Blog Awards. He regularly judges primetime selection shows in countries from Armenia to Finland to Spain, and had a cameo as himself in Will Ferrell's Netflix hit "Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga." He lives in Camberwell, South London with his husband and two cats.
Winnie m Li
Winnie M Li is an author and activist. Her debut novel, DARK CHAPTER won The Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize, was nominated for an Edgar Award, and translated into ten languages. She is currently adapting it for the screen. Her second novel Complicit explores #MeToo in the film industry and prompted an intense bidding war for US rights. It will be published in Summer 2022. A Harvard graduate, Winnie previously wrote for travel guide books, produced independent films, and programmed for film festivals. She has received grants from the Royal Society of Literature and the Arts Councils of England and Northern Ireland. Winnie is also Founder of Clear Lines, the UK’s first-ever festival addressing sexual assault and consent through the arts and discussion. Her PhD research at the London School of Economics explores media engagement by rape survivors as a form of activism. She has appeared on the BBC, Sky News, Channel 4, The Guardian, The Times, The Mail on Sunday, BBC Woman’s Hour, and TEDx London. Winnie has an honorary doctorate from the National University of Ireland in recognition of her writing and activism. She lives somewhere between London and Somerset, with her partner and toddler.
Yijia Tu is a singer-songwriter from China interested in exploring her cultural identity and diverse traditions through music-making. She began her career at the age of 16, winning the 16th CMA (Chinese Music Awards) for ‘Media’s Choice Album’ and the nomination for ‘Best New Chinese Female Artist’ for the Chinese Media Music Awards. Since coming to the UK, Yijia has started an East Asian folk fusion band project – The Sages – who have featured on BBC Radio 3, Victorious Festival, and Asia House’s ‘One Voice’ documentary series.