Alison Weir is a British writer of history books, and latterly history novels, mostly in the form of biographies about British royalty. Her first published work, 1989’s Britain’s Royal Families, was a genealogical overview of the British royal family.
She is the biggest selling female historian in the UK since records began. She has published 23 titles and sold more than 2.7 million books worldwide.
In her latest book, part of the Six Tudor Queens series, she pulls on new evidence to conjure a startling image of Anna (Anne of Cleves) as you’ve never seen her before. A charming, spirited woman, she was loved by all who knew her – and even, ultimately, by the King who rejected her.
Leah Hazard was born in the United States and studied English and American Literature and Language at Harvard University, before moving to the UK in 1999. She earned a Masters Degree in Directing and had a career in television at BBC Scotland until the birth of her first daughter in 2003 prompted her to change direction and pursue her lifelong interest in women’s health. Leah soon began working as a doula, supporting women in pregnancy and attending numerous births in homes and hospitals across Scotland. The birth of Leah’s second daughter in 2006 prompted Leah to make the leap into midwifery.
Training in one of the UK’s busiest maternity hospitals, Leah delivered 76 babies (and nearly gave up at least as many times) before qualifying as a registered midwife in 2013. Since then, she has worked in a variety of clinical areas within the NHS maternity services, from antenatal clinics and triage units to labour wards and beyond, catching hundreds more babies and handling the kinds of obstetric emergencies she thought she’d only ever see in textbooks. Leah remains an actively serving midwife and continues to write Hard Pushed in between shifts at a hospital that sees thousands of deliveries each year.
Catherine Isaac is a local girl who hails from Liverpool. She studied History at the University of Liverpool, then Journalism at Glasgow Caledonian University, before beginning her career as trainee reporter at the Liverpool Echo, where she worked until she was appointed Editor of the Liverpool Daily Post. She wrote her first book, Bridesmaids, while on maternity leave, under the pseudonym Jane Costello. Her nine subsequent novels were all best-sellers in the UK.
‘You Me Everything’ was her first book writing as Catherine Isaac. It was selected by the Richard & Judy Book Club, has been translated into more than 20 languages and a movie adaptation is currently in development by Lionsgate and Temple Hill. In March 2019 it won the RNA Popular Romantic Fiction Award, as voted for by booksellers, librarians and book bloggers. Catherine’s next novel, ‘Messy, Wonderful Us’ will be published in spring 2020. She lives in Liverpool with her husband Mark and three sons. In her spare time she is an active member of a running club, enjoys walking up mountains in the Lake District and reads a lot of books.
Dr Jon Copley
Dr Jonathon Copley is Associate Professor in Ocean Exploration & Public Engagement (part-time) within Ocean and Earth Sciences, National Oceanography Centre Southampton at the University of Southampton.
His research explores colonies of animals on the ocean floor to understand patterns of life in the deep sea that covers most of our world. By studying marine life in ‘island-like’ habitats such as hydrothermal vents, his work examines interactions between ecology (“who does what”), biogeography (” who lives where”), and evolution (“who is related to whom”) in the ocean depths.
He has more than twenty years of experience in exploring the deep ocean, including leading expeditions aboard research ships, using Human-Occupied Vehicles (HOVs) and Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs), and discovering new species of deep-sea animals.
In June 2013 Dr Jonathon Copley became the first British person to dive more than 5km deep in the ocean, taking part in the first dive by a HOV to the world’s deepest known hydrothermal vents.
December 2016 saw Dr Copley take part in the first dives by HOVs to 1km deep in the Antarctic during filming of the BBc’s Blue Planet II series.
JANE GODMAN is a 2019 Romantic Novelists’ Award winner and 2018 Daphne du Maurier Award finalist. She writes thrillers for Harlequin Romantic Suspense/Mills and Boon Heroes and paranormal romance for Harlequin Nocturne/Mills and Boon Supernatural and St. Martin’s Press Romance. She also self publishes her historical and gothic stories.
Jane was born in Scotland and, throughout her childhood, lived in Germany, Wales, Malta, South Africa, and England. The Wirral peninsula has been her home for all of her adult life. Although she still gets the urge to travel, these days she tends to head for a Spanish beach, or a European city that is steeped in history.
When she isn’t reading or writing romance, Jane enjoys cooking, spending time with her family, and enjoying the antics of her dogs, Gravy and Vera.
Jane is keen to promote the romance genre and to encourage new writers. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Romance Writers of America and believes that collaboration between writers is one of the best tools for self-improvement (and enjoyment).
Grace E. Smith
We caught up with Grace who told us a little bit about her writing journey…
‘My interest in becoming a writer was first sparked by one of my English teachers at school who praised a poem I had written, saying ‘I had a writer’s eye’. Even as a child I liked words, and used my imagination to visualise people and places, scribbling these musings down in an exercise book – one of those red ones with the tables of measurements on the back!
It was not until 2011, once I’d finished full-time work, that I took up the challenge of NaNoWriMo, (National Novel Writing Month), and I truly got stuck in to writing fiction. The challenge of NaNo is to write 50,000 words during the month of November. I did this, using those words as the springboard for my novel, ‘Secrets and Lies’. This was a story mixing historical fact with present day experience, which was published in 2015. My current work, due out in 2019, is written along similar lines.
I am never happier than when I’ve got a piece of paper, a pen, and an idea running around in my head. As a writer, you just never know where those three things will take you!’
Writing in the Dark Panel
Legendary horror author Ramsey Campbell and three fellow writers explore the exciting and increasingly divergent world of horror, fantasy and dark fiction.
Discussion panel plus Q & A
Described by the Oxford Companion to English Literature as ‘Britain’s most respected living horror writer’, Ramsey Campbell has achieved more awards than any other writer in the field, including the Grand Master Award of the World Horror Convention, the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Horror Writers’ Association and the World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2015, he was made an Honorary Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University. Among his many novels are Think Yourself Lucky, The Overnight, Ancient Images and the Three Births of Daoloth trilogy.
Two-time shortlistee for the British Fantasy Award, Simon Bestwick was raised in Manchester and studied at Salford University. He is the published author of several novels, including The Faceless, Hell’s Ditch and The Feast of All Souls. He has had several anthologies and collections of his short stories published including, recently, Singing Back The Dark – five tales of musical horror. Dark Musings described him as, ‘one of the best writers- of any genre- currently plying their trade…a perfect combination of style and substance.’
Dave McCluskey is a writer of novels, graphic novels and comics in diverse genres and sub-genres. His works include: Interesting Tymes – a collection of short horror written in rhyme for children and adults – the graphic novel Doppelganger. More recently, he has embarked on full length fiction for adults. His critically acclaimed debut horror novel – The Twelve – was released in 2017. This was followed by historical thriller In The Mood…For Murder and a dark psychological horror – CRACK. His latest novel is a romance/horror/comedy crossover called Z: A Love Story. He refuses to be pigeon-holed…
Cat first started writing when someone thrust a pencil into her hand. Unfortunately as she could neither read nor write properly at the time, none of her stories made much sense. Now, many years and several careers later, she is the critically acclaimed author of fifteen novels and novellas including The Haunting of Henderson Close, The Pendle Curse and the Nemesis of the Gods trilogy. Her style leans towards the Gothic, supernatural and ghostly, with a few witches and demons for good measure. She is also the contributor to a number of horror anthologies including the recent Gothic Haunted Are These Houses.