When Ruth Fitzgerald was six she wanted to be a writer but her teacher advised her to get a proper job. She followed that advice for many years but kept getting in trouble for giggling in management meetings. One day when Ruth was drinking a cup of tea (her favourite thing to do) a funny character called ‘Emily Sparkes’ popped into her head and started talking. Now Ruth writes books and stories instead of attending meetings and everyone is much happier, especially the managers. Ruth lives in Suffolk with her family, three chickens and a very tiny dog.
One day I was sitting, minding my own business when a girl popped into my head and started talking. She was fed up with her parents for being a bit useless and fed up with her friends for being, well, a bit rubbish at being friends. The more she told me, the funnier it got, so I started to write down what it was like to be Emily Sparkes. Now lots of people tell me they feel just like Emily, too.
Crime and Wine
with Isabelle Grey and Elly Griffiths
Isabelle Grey graduated from Cambridge and became a freelance journalist before focusing on screenwriting and fiction. She is the author of two standalone novels and an Essex-based crime series featuring DI Grace Fisher. She has written for film, radio and television, including episodes of such long-running series as Wycliffe, Midsomer Murders and The Bill.
Elly Griffiths read English at King’s College London, worked in a library, for a magazine, then became Editorial Director for children’s books at HarperCollins. Her bestselling series of Dr Ruth Galloway novels, featuring a forensic archaeologist, have won the CWA Dagger in the Library, and been shortlisted three times for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year.
Born in Nigeria then educated at Cambridge, Edward Stourton is perhaps best known as a presenter of BBC Radio Four programmes including The World at One and The World this Weekend and is a regular contributor to the Today programme where for ten years he was one of the main presenters. His last book Auntie’s War is a journey through WW2 with the BBC and his new book celebrates 150 years of Hodder & Stoughton.
The Philomena Dwyer Literary Lunch
with Susan Fletcher
Susan Fletcher was born in Birmingham, studied at York and then graduated from the UEA Creative Writing Course. Her first novel, Eve Green, won the 2004 Whitbread First Novel Award and became a Richard and Judy Summer Read in 2005. She has since written many other novels, such as Oystercatchers, Corrag, Witch Light, The Highland Witch and The Silver Dark Sea.
June 1914 and a young woman – Clara Waterfield – is summoned to a large stone house in Gloucestershire. Her task: to fill a greenhouse with exotic plants from Kew Gardens, to create a private paradise for the owner of Shadowbrook. Yet, on arrival, Clara hears rumours: something is wrong with this quiet, wisteria- covered house. The owner is mostly absent; the housekeeper and maids seem afraid. And soon, Clara understands their fear: for something – or someone – is walking through the house at night. Reminiscent of Daphne du Maurier, this is a wonderful, atmospheric Gothic page-turner. House of Glass is a compelling, wonderful historical gothic novel about lies, love and ghosts set against the backdrop of a Britain on the cusp of the First World War.
Tamsin Treverton Jones is a writer and poet. She studied French at Bristol University and went on to be Head of Press at the RSC, the Royal Court Theatre and Bath Literature Festival. She has produced and presented features for radio and programmed literary events for digital broadcast. Windblown is her first book.
The Great Storm of 1987 is etched firmly into the national memory. Everyone who was there that night remembers how hurricane force winds struck southern Britain without warning, claiming eighteen lives, uprooting more than fifteen million trees and reshaping the landscape for future generations. Thirty years on, the discovery of an old photograph inspires the author to make a journey into that landscape: weaving her own memories and personal experiences with those of fishermen and lighthouse keepers, rough sleepers and refugees, she creates a unique portrait of this extraordinary event and a moving exploration of legacy and loss. ‘This eloquently written account shows that the Great Storm was a wake-up call, providing a wealth of information that helps us manage our treescape today.’ Tony Kirkham, Head of the Kew Gardens Arboretum
SIMON BECKETT and ANTONIA HODGSON
“Creating heroes and crime scenarios across the centuries”
Simon Beckett taught English in Spain and played percussion with several bands before becoming a novelist and freelance journalist, writing for the likes of The Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Independent on Sunday, and the Observer. His latest crime novel, featuring his forensic hero David Hunter, The Restless Dead, is set in the Essex marshes.
Antonia Hodgson is the author of the bestselling Tom Hawkins historical crime series, set in the 1720s. The Devil in the Marshalsea won numerous awards and was selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club. Its sequel, The Last Confession of Thomas Hawkins, was chosen by Publishers Weekly as one of the top 10 mysteries of the year. The latest in the series, A Death at Fountains Abbey, cements Hawkins’ place as the most lovable rogue in historical fiction (The Express).