This Year's Authors
As usual, the Morpeth Book Festival has attracted some amazing, well-known authors. We are delighted to, once again, see the writing talent from the North of England and the Scottish Borders well represented.
Multi-award winning, bestselling author/screenwriter Mari Hannah is the creator of the Kate Daniels thrillers, the Ryan & O’Neil and the Stone & Oliver series. She lives in a small Northumberland village with her partner, a former murder detective.
Mari’s career as a Probation Officer was cut short following an assault on duty. It was then that the idea that she might one day become a writer began to form in her head.
Fast forward a few years and she was named Programming Chair for Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival 2019, the biggest of its type in the world.
Alistair Moffat was born in Kelso, Scotland in 1950.
He is an award-winning writer, historian and Director of Programmes at Scottish Television, former Director of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and former Rector of the University of St Andrews.
He is the founder of Borders Book Festival and Co-Chairman of The Great Tapestry of Scotland.
Alastair is the author of The Secret History of Here: A Year in the Valley, The Hidden Ways: Scotland’s Forgotten Roads and To the Island of Tides: A Journey to Lindisfarne.
Kjartan has spent the last 20 years touring the country and appearing on TV and Radio demonstrating mathematical tricks and curiosities from his books.
His “Murderous Maths” series has been translated into over 30 languages and his other books include five historical stage musicals, plus books on Isaac Newton, Houdini, mazes, codes, magic, puzzles, and over twenty funny novels including the “Agatha Parrot” series. Recently his award-winning “Runaway Pea” picture books were selected for the BookTrust “Time to Read” scheme and were distributed to over 800,000 school-starters across the UK.
Jo Lyons is the bestselling author of three romantic comedy novels and was recently shortlisted for the
prestigious Comedy Women in Print Awards.
She spent years working in Turkey as a holiday rep, in the Alps at a ski resort, in the south of France at a vineyard trying not to drink them out of business, before eventually ending up in Spain as a teacher. She thought she’d put her global skills of ‘getting on with people’ to good use, but on her way to The Hague, she became terribly distracted by a DJ and motherhood. Twenty of her best, frozen-foreheaded years flew by before she suddenly remembered her previous ambition for world peace and politics… oh yes, and to write a book.
Bridget Gubbins is an explorer, mother, writer and photographer. She is launching her new
book, Hit the Road, Gals, at our festival. Her book tells how she and her friends at their all-
girls college learned to hitchhike along the roads of 1960s Britain; to France where they
were entranced by singing garçons; to North Africa where they danced with a caliph in the
desert; and along the musical roads of Ireland. All this was under the nose of the stern
college principal whose task was to preserve their reputations, and who will be attending
our launch event in person.
Bridget is well-known in Morpeth for her series of local history books. Her new book is part of The Hay Girls Trilogy, all written under her youthful name Bridget Ashton. Cold War, Warm Hearts was launched in Morpeth library in 2023, and Hay Before the Bookshops or the Beeman’s Family in the first Morpeth Festival 2022.
I am a disabled writer, activist and creative practitioner based in Darlington in North -East England. I
work with words in all their forms, solo and with collaborators, via publishing, lyrical essays, film,
poetry, making books, spoken word, middle grade novels, in galleries, in theatres and in the
community. Some people say I’m a word -artist – I say I do stuff with words.
Phaedra Patrick studied art and marketing and has worked as a stained glass artist, film festival
organiser and communications manager. An award-winning short story writer, she now writes full
time in Saddleworth where she lives with her family. Her debut novel, “The Curious Charms of
Arthur Pepper”, was translated into over twenty languages worldwide and has been optioned by a
major Hollywood film studio. Her second novel, “Rise and Shine, Benedict Stone”(originally titled
Wishes Under the Willow Tree in the UK), was made into a Hallmark Movie in 2021.
Marrisse Whittaker has been creating characters for all of her working life, first as a TV and Film
Make-Up Artist, where she might have been called upon to construct a corpse, age an actor by a
hundred years, or make a real-life drug-raddled rock star look desirable. Next as a TV Scriptwriter,
creating stories for popular series such as CBBC’S Byker Grove, BBC’s Doctors and Channel 4
Hollyoaks. As a novelist, writing crime fiction, having been runner – up to The Lindisfarne Prize for Debut Crime Fiction in 2020 after which she was offered a book deal with publisher Bloodhound Books.
When father Kurt died in 2017, she felt compelled to resolve her mixed feelings about him, and to solve the mysteries he had left behind. Kurt Schindler was an impossible man.
His daughter Meriel spent her adult life trying to keep him at bay. Kurt had made extravagant claims
about their family history. Were they really related to Franz Kafka and Oscar Schindler, of Schindler’s List fame?
Starting with a tower of photos and papers found in Kurt’s isolated cottage, Meriel embarked on an
epic journey of discovery that took her to Austria, Italy and the USA. She reconnected family
members scattered by feuding and war. She pieced together a unique story taking in two centuries.
Multi-award-winning author M.W. Craven was born in Carlisle but grew up in Newcastle. He
joined the army at sixteen, leaving ten years later to complete a social work degree. Seventeen years after taking up a probation officer role in Cumbria, at the rank of assistant chief officer, he became a full-time author. He is an instant Sunday Times bestseller and, for his Cumbria-set Washington Poe series, a recipient of the 2019 Crime
Write Association Gold Dagger, the 2022 Ian Fleming Steel Dagger and the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2023. The series has now been translated into twenty-seven languages.
You’re a literary genius, but the publishing industry doesn’t want to know, so
you’ve decided to try self-publishing. And why not? From hardcopy editions to e-books, putting your work in front of an audience has never been easier. Interested?
Then let Stephen Hawley, a self-published author, tell you how to do it. Stephen is also a copyright expert with the Business and Intellectual Property Centre and can tell you how to protect your work from plagiarism.
Sarah Elliot was born in Newcastle and raised in Northumberland. She was diagnosed
with dyslexia at the age of ten, and turned to writing her own stories as a way of keeping up her skills. She has never looked back since.
She graduated from Swansea University in 2009 with a Masters in Creative and Media Writing, and works as an outdoor activity leader during the day and fits in writing around the general craziness of that. Occassionally found at various Conventions around the UK to sell signed books and enjoys writing, reading, colouring and relaxing when time permits.
Colin Youngman was born within sound of the tugboats on the River Tyne which, to a Geordie, has the same
resonance as Bow Bells to a Londoner.
He was first published at the age of nine when a letter he submitted to a children’s comic was
featured as Contribution of the Week, earning him the rich rewards of a postal order
(there is a clue to his age) and a transistor radio which he kept in working order for over twenty
years. Since then, he has had work published in national newspapers, travel reviews, and sports
magazines before turning his hand to fiction where his heart has always lain.
Poet, editor and academic, John Challis, shares poems from his acclaimed debut, The Resurrectionists (Bloodaxe, 2021), as well as his latest pamphlet, Hallsong (New Writing North, 2022). Written
while he was writer-in-residence at the National Trust’s Seaton Delaval Hall, Hallsong celebrates the voices of past and present workers while tapping into the region's rich history. The recipient of a Northern Writers’
Award, a Pushcart Prize, and an Author’s Foundation Grant from the Society of Authors, John’s work has
appeared in the Guardian, Poetry London, The Poetry Review, and elsewhere. He is an editor for Poetry
Salzburg Review and teaches at York St John University.
Barbara Slade is an American born T.V. writer, creator, and exec. producer. Now based in England, she travels extensively, writing and developing shows for the international market.
Barbara began her screenwriting career in London when her first show “Brown Bear’s Wedding” starring Helena Bonham Carter, Joss Ackland and Hugh Laurie aired on ITV, Christmas day. It sold to most major territories and was nominated for five Emmy awards including ‘Best Writer’. Barbara returned to America, where she continued her career, writing and developing series for Nickelodeon, Disney, ABC, Fox and many other networks worldwide. She has written features for Working Title and Disney and has received numerous awards including a ‘Humanitas’ for one of her episodes of the much-loved series ‘Rugrats’.