In the Spotlight/Meet the Authors

Ali Bacon ( is the winner of the Evesham Festival of Words Short Story Competition 2017. She writes fiction and gives talks about her writing.  Her novel, In the Blink of an Eye, has been longlisted for The People’s Book Prize 2018.

Helen Barrell ( describes herself as a “writer and rummager”, favouring true crime writing.  Poison Panic, a true story of arsenic deaths in 1840s Essex, and Fatal Evidence, a biography of leading 19th century forensic scientist, Alfred Swaine Taylor.

Elizabeth Beacon (, although she started writing late in life, has become a prolific writer of regency romance for Harlequin Mills & Boon – “regency romance combined with historic heat”.

Susanna Beard is fascinated by human relationships. She can be found people-watching wherever she goes, finding material for her writing. Despite the writer’s life, she has an adventurous streak and has swum with whale sharks in Australia, fallen down a crevasse in the French Alps, and walked through the sewers of Brighton – not in that order. Her passions include animals — particularly her dogs — walking in the countryside and tennis, which clears her brain of pretty much everything. Susanna’s debut novel, Dare to Remember, was published in February 2017, and her second, The Truth Waits, launched on 1 November 2018. Both are published by Legend Press. She aims to keep writing, and never to get old.

Kevin Brooke is a Worcester poet, short story writer and novelist. Kevin works with young writers, encouraging them to express their creativity.  His novel, Jimmy Cricket, is aimed at teenagers – and Kevin certainly knows how to write for this audience, but the book is equally likely to be enjoyed by adults.

Stan Brotherton is Evesham born-and-bred, a keen local historian and Treasurer of Evesham Festival of Words.  Stan has published a number of local histories including Evesham Through Time and Evesham’s Military Heritage.

Tracey Bryant is the author of The Dog Poo Fairy, a comical tale for children, but with an important message about caring for our environment, something Tracey feels passionate about.  Illustrated by Ian D Johnstone.

Tom Bryson ( is a crime and thriller writer whose stories feature DCI Matt Proctor. He has also written an international political thriller, Sarcophagus.

Alice Castle ( was a national newspaper journalist before becoming a novelist and turning to a life of crime. Her first and second books in the bestselling London Murder Mystery series, Death in Dulwich and The Girl in the Gallery, have topped Amazon’s satire detective fiction chart.

Andrea Darby ( is a former journalist (writer and sub-editor), whose debut novel, The Husband Who Refused to Die, is described as “a story about love and loss that will pull at your heartstrings.”

Alex Lee Davis is a Birmingham-based author. Her debut novel Kingdom of Sanguel – Secret Mission is the first in a trilogy. She is in the process of completing her first adult fiction novel – a mystery crime thriller.

Sara Downing ( is the author of five multi-genre novels (including romantic comedies and a historical novel). She has been writing since 2009.  Her most recent novel, The Lost Boy, is her first foray into the supernatural.

Ann Evans ( loves writing – mystery, adventure, thrillers. Her audience is children and reluctant teens, with plenty on offer for both. Ann regularly goes into schools and has been judge for the Junior Category of our Festival Short Story Competition.

Lynn Forth ( quit the day job before she drowned in paperwork to concentrate on full-time writing.  So far she has written three novels and an amazing 24 children’s books.  Her first novel, Love in La La Land, combines Lynn’s love of films and books/words.

Kathy Gee’s career is in heritage and leadership coaching. Widely published online and on paper, her first poetry collection Book of Bones was published by V. Press. She has also written the spoken word elements for a contemporary choral piece  Suite for the Fallen. Another pamphlet, Checkout, is due out in 2019.

Janet Gover ( was born in Australia but now lives in London. Her first short story appeared in 2002, and her first novel, The Farmer Needs a Wife, in 2003.  Set in her native Australia, this is the first of the Coorah Creek Series.  Writing with Alison May, as Juliet Bell, their first novel, The Heights, a modern adaptation of the classic story by Emily Bronte, was published early 2018.

Morton S Gray ( is a writer of romantic suspense novels in the Borteen Secrets Series for ChocLit Publishing, Morton has been reading and writing fiction for as long as she can remember.  Winning a Short Story Competition in 2006 reignited the writing spark.

Diane Harrison ( has long been a fan of westerns and has written a large number.  She also writes horror and supernatural books, and is now moving into other genres.

Dennis Hodgkins is a local author and war historian. Dennis’ first book, Lest We Forget, charts the wartime tales of six local lads who fought with the Worcestershire Regiment in WW2.

Sarah James ( also writes as S.A. Leavesley. She is a prize-winning poet, fiction writer, journalist and photographer. She is the author of seven poetry titles, two novellas and a touring poetry-play. She’s been published in the Guardian, Financial Times and the Blackpool Illuminations. Sarah runs The Poetry Society’s Worcestershire Stanza and V. Press poetry and flash fiction imprint ( Her 2018 books include Always Another Twist (Mantle Lane Press) and How to Grow Matches (Against The Grain Press).

Sue Johnson is a poet, short story writer and novelist. She also creates books aimed at helping other writers. Sue is a Writing Magazine Home Study Tutor and also runs her own brand of workshops. Further details of her work can be found at Sue is a Festival of Words Steering Group member.

Marisa Knight is the author of The Continuing Adventures of Montgomery and Dartington, two cats who take great pride in their explorations in London.  A perfect book for children and adults alike.



Alison May  ( is a writer, tutor, editor and blogger, Alison writes short stories, novels and novellas.  Her sixth novel, All That Was Lost, is out Autumn 2018.  Alison is also half the writing team (along with Janet Gover) that makes up Juliet Bell.  Their first joint novel, The Heights, is a modern adaptation of the classic story by Emily Bronte.

Colin Pitts ( is a singer/songwriter who has been performing since his folk club days of the 1960s.  Many of his songs are set in, or inspired, by Evesham and surrounding area.  CDs include: Where the River Bends; March Monday Morning and Looking for England.  Colin’s latest work is a CD combining music and poetry – A Town Like Evesham – produced with poets Sue Johnson and Bob Woodroofe.

Janice Preston ( write ‘Romance in a Regency world’.  She has been writing “emotional and sensual” historical romances for Harlequin Mills & Boon Historical since 2014.

Michael Purton is an author and journalist and is currently the editor of the Evesham Journal, Worcester News and Malvern Gazette. His debut novel, the crime drama Flickering Lights, was released in September 2018. 

Amanda Reynolds (, after a succession of jobs, started teaching creative writing courses, before deciding to take up writing full-time.  The result – two psychological thrillers, Close to Me and Lying to You.

Jo Rowe’s first book is the story of a Spanish rescue dog, William, coming to live in the UK.  Designed to be read in 6 minutes, Woof of the Woo, is an ideal read for primary school children.  Jo’s second book, Woof of the Woo and the Riverside Walk, tells of the dog’s walk along a riverside and some of the creatures he meets.  Delightfully illustrated by Ali Rice.

David Simson ( always had the ambition to write a book.  Eventually he made it and has now completed two novels in his Harder than Blood trilogy – Jewel Agenda and Jewel Intentions.

Ellie Stevenson ( is a writing coach, and the author of three novels and a collection of surreal short stories. Her third novel, The Floozy in the Park, is a partly historical mystery set in an Edwardian retail empire. Think Mr Selfridge with a dark side!  Ellie is a member of the Society of Authors and ALLi. She is currently editing her fourth novel.

Joy Thomas, after retiring, rekindled her love of music and writing.  Her first book of poetry, Slipped through the Net, was inspired by her son, Phillip, who has a learning disability and Asperger’s Syndrome.  Silent Voices, a collaboration with Jo Allmond, is a selection of poems written by those not always heard.

Michael W. Thomas’ latest novel is Pilgrims at the White Horizon and his latest publication is The Portswick Imp: Collected Stories, 2001-2016 (Black Pear Press).  His poetry collections include Batman’s Hill, South Staffs (Flipped Eye) and Come to Pass (Oversteps).  His work has appeared in The Antioch Review, Critical Survey, The London Magazine and the TLS. His novella, ‘Esp’, was recently shortlisted for the UK Novella Award.  He is poet-in-residence at the annual Robert Frost Festival, Key West, Florida.  Please visit


Paige Elizabeth Turner (the pseudonym of Nigel Barnard) has put Evesham firmly on the crime map with his first novel, Beyond All Doubt, which saw a number of murders take place in the town.  Whisper of Death and Clock Face of Ills followed on – not set in Evesham!

Richard Vaughan-Davies retired to the Cotswolds in 2010, after running a retail business in North Wales and Chester for many years. Richard read English and Italian at Liverpool University, and wrote weekly columns for Men’s Wear magazine and the Liverpool Daily Post. His inaugural novel In the Shadow of Hitler is currently being rebranded and relaunched with the new title of Shadow.

Suz Winspear is a performance poet, writes Gothic fiction, lives in a disused church, and has a day job in the local museum!

Bob Woodroofe is Evesham born and bred, and Evesham is the inspiration for many of Bob’s poems.

Helen Yendall ( is a short story writer, poet, would-be novelist and creative writing tutor, not to mention a member of the Festival Steering Group.

Debbie Young ( is a founder of the one-day Hawkesbury Upton Literary Festival. She is also the author of, among other things, the Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries – a delightful series of cosy murder mysteries, set in a Cotswold village, with plenty of murders for amateur sleuth, Sophie, to solve.


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