Speakers and Performers

Our Line Up So Far

Adam Simcox

Adam is a London-based filmmaker who has shot commercials for brands such as McLaren, Primark and Vice, and music videos for Britpop veterans as well as fresh on the scene alt-country stars. He began his film career by writing and directing three features: the first sold to Netflix before Netflix was Netflix; the second and third won awards and critical acclaim at festivals worldwide, and so didn’t sell at all. When he’s not making films he indulges the masochistic pain that is being a Spurs fan, and keeps up his unhealthy vinyl collecting habit. He lives in London with his wife (a fellow writer) and their two young sons. The Dying Squad is his debut novel. back to list

Alan Snow

Alan has been illustrating, writing, and animation for more than 30 years and during this time has worked with publishers and animation houses internationally. He started drawing when very young and hasn’t stopped. During this career he has embellished text book covers, desk tops, and over 200 children’s books. back to list

Annabelle Sami

Annabelle Sami is a writer, performer and arts producer. She grew up next to the sea on the south coast of the UK and then moved to London, where she now lives. She studied English Literature and Drama and undertook an MA in English Literature at Queen Mary University. When she isn’t writing she enjoys playing saxophone, playing with her dog Rupert and swimming in the sea. back to list

Beth K Crane

Beth K Crane is a writer, artist, maker and performer, best known for her award-winning podcast We Fix Space Junk. She also designs and makes laser cut jewellery; her collection for the Old Operating Theatre is particularly well-known! back to list

Brian Frederick

Brian was born just outside Belfast at the start of the “Troubles” in 1969 and has always believed in peace and tolerance and understanding.

It’s why he became a lawyer and then a mediator and now it’s why he writes books for children.

Brian wants to bring as much kindness and joy into the word as he can with his books, and he wants to help young people to grow up to be the gentlest, most compassionate version of themselves.

Brian says: “I don’t know if stories for children can change the world, but I hope they can make it a little better – certainly for my readers.

I hope I can bring a little more joy into the world, and a little more truth and kindness.

I do care that these and other important things are often in short supply when they needn’t be. Maybe we can change that together…” back to list

Caitlin Davies

Caitlin Davies is a novelist, non-fiction writer and journalist. She’s the author of 13 books, many of which have a criminal theme. Bad Girls: the Rebels and Renegades of Holloway Prison was the first comprehensive history of Europe’s most infamous female jail, and was nominated for the Orwell Prize for Political Writing. Her latest book is Queens of the Underworld; a journey into the lives of female crooks from the 17th century to today. I do care that these and other important things are often in short supply when they needn’t be. Maybe we can change that together…” back to list

Chloe Mashiter

Chloe (she/they) is a game- and theatre-maker who specialises in interactive and game-based performance. Their work spans both live and digital work, as a game-designer, narrative designer, facilitator and performer. They also publish original tabletop role-playing games and live-action role-playing games as Roll/Flip/Draw.

Their work focuses on creating spaces in which people can collaborate in telling stories together, whether in a theatre, around a table, on a video call or as part of a livestream. From immersive live shows, to text-adventures, to month-long events with hundreds of people contributing to one story, meaningful interaction and player/audience input is at the core of Chloe’s work both in theatre and in gaming.

They are an artistic associate at playful adventure makers Coney, and regularly collaborate with interactive specialists Parabolic Theatre and Upstart Theatre.

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Daniel Smith

Daniel Smith was born in London in 1976 and studied English and History at Cardiff University. He began a career in publishing shortly after graduating, which included a stint working in Kolkata, India. He has been a contributor to The Statesman’s Yearbook, a geo-political guide to the world published annually since 1854, for twenty years.

He wrote his first book, The Sherlock Holmes Companion: An Elementary Guide, in 2009 and has subsequently written over 30 non-fiction titles, for both adults and children. He is the author of the best-selling How to Think Like… biographical series for Michael O’Mara, which has been translated into some 20 languages. 

In 2010 he wrote The Spade as Mighty as the Sword, a history of the Second World War Dig for Victory campaign (‘as much a preparation for the future as a hymn to the past’—John Carey). His most recent narrative non-fiction book is The Ardlamont Mystery: The Real-Life Story Behind the Creation of Sherlock Holmes (‘Fascinating and expertly written’—Andrew Lycett).

A member of the Society of Authors and the Crime Writers’ Association, he lives in East London with his wife and two children.

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David Robson

David Robson is an award-winning science writer specialising in the extremes of the human brain, body and behaviour. After graduating with a degree in mathematics from Cambridge University, he worked as a features editor at New Scientist for five years, before moving to BBC Future as a senior journalist. He is now a full-time freelance writer, with by-lines in the Guardian, the Atlantic, Aeon, Men’s Health and many more outlets. In 2021, David received awards from the Association of British Science Writers and the UK Medical Journalists’ Association for his writing on misinformation and risk communication during the COVID pandemic.

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Françoise Hélène

Françoise Hélène is a Poet and a Forest School Educator who loves unlocking imaginations by bringing stories to life and teaching in the most creative ways. Winner of the Canada Book Awards and the White Label Prize, Francoise Helene weaves magic and creates space for growth for adults and children alike.

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Hedley Knights

Hedley Knights is a sound designer and performer known for his work on the award-winning scifi comedy drama podcast We Fix Space Junk. He has also worked on independent films “Bodies” and “Wrens”, as a sound designer for Audible and as a theme composer for multiple podcasts.

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Helen Coffey

Helen Coffey is travel editor for The Independent, focusing on sustainable, flight-free and accessible travel. 

Part climate-change investigation, part travel memoir, Zero Altitude follows Helen as she journeys as far as she can in the course of her job as a top travel journalist – all without getting on a single flight. Between trips by train, car, boat, and bike, she meets climate experts and activists at the forefront of the burgeoning flight-free movement.

Over the course of her travels, she discovers that keeping both feet on the ground is not only possible but that it can be an exhilarating opportunity for adventure. Her talk – and her book – are brimming with tips and ideas for swapping the middle seat for the open road.

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J M Briscoe

J M (Jenny) Briscoe is the author of Amazon Bestseller THE GIRL WITH THE GREEN EYES, published by Bad Press iNK in 2021 and long-listed for The Bridport Prize: Peggy Chapman-Andrews First Novel Award in 2020. It is part one of a soft sci-fi trilogy called TAKE HER BACK. Jenny lives in Berkshire, UK, with her husband, three children and two fairly indifferent cats. She writes a light-hearted parenting blog called Insert Future Here.

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Jean Buchanan

Jean Buchanan created the children’s sitcoms ‘The Wild House’ (CBBC) and ‘Welcome to Orty-Fou’ (CITV) and wrote many of the scripts. She has also written for puppets. She dramatised David Dodge’s novel ‘To Catch a Thief’ (the book behind the iconic Hitchcock film) for Radio 4 , and researched, wrote and presented the R4 tie-in arts feature ‘In Search of the Villa Noel Fleuri’ about locating the small villa in the South of France where Dodge wrote the novel in 1950.

She wrote a Kindle Single about the book and the film: ‘Mr Dodge, Mr Hitchcock, and the French Riviera’. Her CV includes reading English at Oxford, lexicography, organising academic conferences, making fingermice, selling gents’ ties in the poshest department store in Wales, and failing Grade I Piano twice. She is currently writing a sitcom about a deeply untalented trainee wizard who is still on Grade 1 Magic.

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Jeevani Charika

Jeevani Charika (“For the record, it’s pronounced Jeev-uh-nee.”) writes women’s fiction, usually featuring heroines of colour. “A Conveniet Marriage” was shortlisted for the RNA Contemporary Romance Novel in 2020.

She also writes contemporary romantic comedy with a hint of British cynicism under the pen name Rhoda Baxter. Jeevani writes insightful guides on writing and publishing including “How to Write Romantic Comedy” (with Jane Lovering) and “Getting Published is Just the Begining.”

Jeevani describes herself as “a former scientist, a fan of Lego, an embarrassing mum, a part time geek (see ’embarrassing mum’) and a very short person.”

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Keith Kahn-Harris

Keith Kahn-Harris is a sociologist and writer. He combines freelance writing with an academic teaching and research career. The Babel Message: A Love Letter to Language is his seventh book but his first on the warning messages inside Kinder Surprise Eggs. His website is kahn-harris.org. He lives in London.

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Kev F Sutherland

Kev F Sutherland has been writing and drawing comics since he was at school, working for everyone from Beano to Marvel comics, via Viz, Oink, Doctor Who, Red Dwarf and many more. He is currently busy publishing graphic novels based on Shakespeare, including Hamlet Prince Of Denmark Street, Findlay Macbeth, and The Midsummer Night’s Dream Team.

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Kirsty Eyre

Kirsty Eyre is an author and playwright. She is the winner of the inaugural Comedy Women in Print award (2019). Her debut novel, Cow Girl came out in Summer 2020. She recently signed a two book deal with Bonnier Zaffre and her next romantic comedy – published under pen name Ginger Jones – will be published in spring 2022. Her writing credits include several comedy stage plays receiving great acclaim at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

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Lara Thompson

Lara Thompson grew up in Cornwall between the moors and the sea. Fascinated by visual and written storytelling from a young age, a few years ago she enrolled on a creative writing course and realised she enjoyed crafting her own worlds in which to escape as much as immersing herself in the fiction of others.

When not writing in her shed or teaching film at Middlesex University, Lara dreams of sitting in darkened film auditoriums and swimming in the sea with her friends and family. In reality she is looking for lost things and wondering how to avoid cooking dinner.

Lara beat hundreds of applicants to win the Virago/The Pool New Crime Writer Award with the manuscript of her first novel, One Night, New York, published by Virago in January 2021.

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Lizzie Damilola Blackburn

Lizzie Damilola Blackburn is a British-Nigerian writer, born in Peckham, who wants to tell the stories that she and her friends have longed for but never seen – romcoms ‘where Cinderella is Black and no one bats an eyelid’.

In 2019 she won the Literary Consultancy Pen Factor Writing Competition with the early draft of Yinka, Where is your Huzband?, which she had been writing alongside juggling her job at Carers UK. 

Since its release in March, Yinka, Where is your Huzband? has been compared to Bridget Jones, is a Times bestseller and Marie Claire book of 2022. She has been at the receiving end of the question in the title of her novel many times, and now lives with her husband in Milton Keynes..

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Mitch Johnson

Mitch Johnson is an award-winning writer of children’s books. His debut novel, Kick, was endorsed by Amnesty International UK for its portrayal of children’s rights and has been translated into multiple languages. In 2018, Kick won the Branford Boase Award, a prize given to the most promising children’s book by a debut author. Mitch’s second novel, Pop!, was published in May 2021 by Orion Children’s Books, and Spark is due to be published in February 2022.

Mitch’s novels infuse stories of social injustice with warmth and humour; Kick focuses on child labour and exploitation within the garment industry, Pop! tackles corporate greed and plastic pollution, and Spark is set in a world decimated by climate change.

Mitch lives in Norfolk with his family.

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Nadine Matheson

Nadine Matheson has always been passionate about writing and storytelling. She was born and lives in London and is a Criminal Solicitor.

In 2016, she won the City University Crime Writing Competition and completed the Creative Writing (Crime/Thriller Novels) MA at City University of London with Distinction in 2018.

Her crime novel, The Jigsaw Man is out now.

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Nicola Penfold

Nicola Penfold was born in Billinge and grew up in Doncaster. She studied English Literature at Cambridge University. Nicola has worked in a reference library and for a health charity, but being a writer was always the job she wanted most. Nicola’s debut novel Where the World Turns Wild was chosen as a Future Classic for the BookTrust School Library Pack, and shortlisted for several regional awards. It won the Redhill Academy Trust Book Award. Her latest book Between Sea and Sky has been shortlisted for the Teach Primary Book Awards 2021.

Nicola writes in the coffee shops and green spaces of North London, where she lives with her husband, four children and two cats, and escapes when she can to wilder corners of the UK for adventures.

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Paul Kenny

Biographer Paul Kenny is proof that non-fiction is full of engrossing stories. His first book – described by Jay Leno as “one of..if not the automobile book of the year” – tells the life story of automotive, aeronautic and astronautic engineer and society portrait painter, Amherst Villiers. He now turns his pen to another polymath, Whitney Straight, who was a racing driver, fighter pilot and industrialist.

Paul talks with authority and gusto about these extraordinary innovators, bringing their place in history to life.

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RP Geeks

The RPGeeks are bringing their nerdy combination of science and storytelling to the Wild Words Festival! Think tabletop role-playing games like ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ but with extra fun, chaos and audience interaction! Featuring special guest comedian Kev F Sutherland!

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Sheila Crighton

Sheila used to write news and now she writes fiction as Daisy Tate and Annie O’Neil. Her fiction journey began with Mills & Boon Medical Romances and now includes a jolly holiday book and two women’s fiction books. She also raises cows and bees.

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Sophie Hannah

Sophie Hannah is a Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling writer of crime fiction. Her books have sold millions of copies worldwide. Since 2014, with the blessing of Agatha Christie’s family, Sophie has published four new bestselling Poirot novels. In 2013, Sophie’s novel The Carrier won the Crime Thriller of the Year Award at the Specsavers National Book Awards. She is also the founder of the Dream Author Coaching programme for writers.

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Stephen Fitzsimmons

From early childhood Stephen learnt the art of telling fibs. At first, they were just innocent little ones that were easily proven false, like “I didn’t do it”. Then they became harder to challenge, such as the time he explained that a garackle-fargen from Xink had eaten his Geography Homework. Finally, Stephen went on to the University of WhoppingLies and managed to achieve a 2:1 in Pre-Watershed Falsification.

Having displayed such a natural talent in all things fabricated, Stephen went (of course) into teaching. Suddenly, one day, he got hit by a bad case of the zoogles and decided he needed a change. He took up writing. He joined a writing group and began telling stories. So now Stephen spends his time between teaching and telling GREAT BIG FIBS in books. He also offers advice to children on their writing via his website and podcast.

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Susannah Stapleton

Susannah Stapleton, described by The Times as “a frank and funny writer,” is a real-life sleuth. She is a historical researcher and writer with over twenty years’ experience unravelling mysteries for museums, organizations and private individuals. Her non-fiction debut, The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective, won her rave reviews.

Tom is a director and theatremaker and Artistic Director of Upstart Theatre.

Tom Mansfield/Upstart Theatre

His work includes Beneath the City, Republic, Phone Home, Silent Planet (“remarkable” 4 STARS The Guardian), The Situation Room (4 STARS “Immersive theatre at its very best… highly original” WhatsOnStage) and The Falling Sickness. He launched a balloon into space as part of the Andover Space Programme, and co-created The Chorus podcast with citizen artists in Birmingham and sound artist Duncan Grimley.

He created the viral immigration game BritQuest which was played by over 70,000 people in its launch week, and the political thriller, Red Planet: Revolution. Tom is also a Connections Mentor Director for the National Theatre, and a visiting practitioner at the University of Birmingham. He has previously worked as Youth Theatre Director at Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Assistant Director at Opera North, and as Resident Assistant Director at West Yorkshire Playhouse (now Leeds Playhouse).

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Vanessa Nicholson

Vanessa Nicolson is half English and half Italian. She was brought up in London and Florence and worked as an art historian, curator and journalist. Her publications include The Sculpture of Maurice Lambert, commissioned by the Henry Moore Foundation and two memoirs, Have You Been Good? (Granta, 2015) and The Truth Game (Quartet, 2017). Her first novel, Angels of Mud, is set in post war Clerkenwell and Florence in 1966. it was published in 2021.
She lives in Sissinghurst, Kent.

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Vaseem Khan

Vaseem Khan is the author of two crime series set in India, the Baby Ganesh Agency series set in modern Mumbai, and the Malabar House historical crime novels set in 1950s Bombay. His first book, The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra, was a Times bestseller, now translated into 15 languages. The second in the series won the Shamus Award in the US. In 2018, he was awarded the Eastern Eye Arts, Culture and Theatre Award for Literature. Vaseem was born in England, but spent a decade working in India. In 2021, the first in his Malabar House series, Midnight at Malabar House won the Crime Writers Association Historical Dagger, the world’s premier award for historical crime fiction.

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