Joanne Harris and the #Storytime Band
Joanne Harris’s #Storytime is a live event that combines original music, songs and stories as part of an exploration of different forms of narrative: think Jackanory, with drums. Together with her drummer husband and three friends, the best-selling author of Chocolat and other novels, short stories and cookery books has combined her love of music with stories that first saw the light of day on Twitter, using the hashtag #Storytime. So was born the #Storytime Band, expanding and setting these stories to music, bringing together storytelling with music, songs and images.
Myfanwy Alexander was brought up in the hills of Montgomeryshire where she returned, not unlike a salmon but without fins, to raise her six daughters in a thatched cottage near Llanfair Careinion. As a writer and broadcaster, she has numerous credits for comedy drama and factual programmes, winning a Sony Comedy Award for her long-running satire show, The LL Files. She is the author of darkly comic fiction written in her native language, also available in English translation, including the best-selling Bloody Eisteddfod. Myfanwy is also a Powys County Councillor and the Cabinet Member for Education.
Marcus Berkmann, author of Berkmann’s Cricketing Miscellany, is a regular contributor to Private Eye, the Oldie and the Daily Mail (where he reviews books). He wrote a pop column for The Spectator for 28 years before finally running out of ideas and retiring in 2014. He has written columns for the Independent magazine, TV reviews for the Daily Mail and sports columns for Punch, the Independent on Sunday and the Daily Express. He also writes and produces fiendish quizzes, and is a regular on BBC Radio 4’s Round Britain Quiz.
Edward (Eddie) Butler was born in Monmouthshire and still lives there. He played rugby for Pontypool, Cambridge University, Industrial Engineers of Madrid, Wales (16 caps 1980-84, six as captain) and (briefly) the Lions (1983 tour to NZ). He was the rugby correspondent of the Observer from 1991 to 2015 and has been a BBC co-commentator and commentator since 1990. He is the author of three novels, The Head of Gonzo Davies, Gonzo Davies, Caught in Possession and The Asparagus Thieves and the non-fiction books The Tangled Mane and The Greatest Welsh XV.
Jonathan Coe is the author of thirteen novels, which include the highly acclaimed bestsellers What a Carve Up!, The House of Sleep, The Rotters’ Club, Number 11 and Middle England, winner of the 2019 Costa Novel Award. He is also the author of a biography of B.S Johnson, Like a Fiery Elephant (winner of the 2004 Samuel Johnson Award), and The Broken Mirror, a children’s book. His work has been widely translated and he has won the Prix Médicis and been appointed Officier de l’ordre des arts et des lettres in France, and the the Premio Flaiano and the Premio Bauer-Ca’ Foscari in Italy.
Lowri Haf Cooke
Lowri Haf Cooke is an author, broadcaster, film, literature and restaurant critic, and the editor of Taste Blas magazine. Although Cardiff born and bred, some of Lowri’s fondest food memories are based in Montgomeryshire, at her grandparents’ home in Pant near Llanymynech. A familiar face and voice on TV and radio in Wales, Lowri was restaurant critic for Barn, Y Dinesydd and Red Handed and author of a popular blog before being appointed editor of Taste Blas magazine, which celebrates great food and drink in Wales. She’s the author of Canllaw Bach Caerdydd and Caffis Cymru, and the definitive guide to the 50 best restaurants in Wales: Bwytai Cymru.
Coral Dando is Professor of Forensic Psychology at the University of Westminster, a Chartered Psychologist and Chartered Scientist, and a Consultant Forensic Psychologist. Previously a London police officer, she has worked extensively with police, and security organisations worldwide, including the US Dept. of Homeland Security, the FBI, the International Criminal Court (The Hague) and the Romanian Intelligence Agency. Coral has written in excess of 50 peer reviewed international scientific journal articles and book chapters. She also regularly writes for newspapers and other media and advises television and film production companies on psychological and criminal behaviour.
Tom Davies grew up in Presteigne, developing a love for nature and the great outdoors. While at Bangor University, he joined the Mountain Walking Club and spent most weekends taking groups into Snowdonia. After graduating, he became a teacher. During this period, his grandparents were both afflicted with Alzheimer’s, and when Tom began fundraising for the Alzheimer’s Society, the idea of his challenge was born: to circumnavigate Wales carrying everything he needed on his back: 1,100 miles, a £1,100 sponsorship target and a blog that would become far bigger than he ever dreamed possible. The result was the book, A Welsh Wander: An Epic Trek Right Around Wales. Tom now combines his love for teaching and the great outdoors by working as an outdoor activities instructor.
Steve Doherty is founder and managing director of Giddy Goat Media, specialising in comedy production: broadcast, online and live. His personal TV credits include Have I Got News For You (for which he was nominated for a BAFTA) and Never Mind the Buzzcocks. Recent producer credits include Meet David Sedaris, Prepper (winner: WGGB Best Radio Comedy 2019) Between Ourselves with Marian Keyes, Woof and BrokenDreamCatcher (all for BBC Radio 4), Bravo Two Charlies for BBC Radio Wales and series of special concerts with the BBC Symphony Orchestra for BBC Radios 3 and 4. He is married to Vanessa and has two teenage children.
Julia Forster lives in Machynlleth and is the author of two books: What a Way to Go and Muses: Revealing the Nature of Inspiration. She works part time for the literary magazine New Welsh Review where she also coordinates the New Welsh Writing Awards. As a freelancer, she works in marketing/PR for independent publishers and authors, and as an associate for Ruth Killick Publicity. She was on the Literature Wales writers’ bursary panel for six years and is a reader and mentor for The Literary Consultancy, a writer development agency based in London, with whom she has recently been co-creating the Being a Writer programme.
Jon Gower has over thirty books to his name, in Welsh and English, including The Story of Wales which accompanied the landmark BBC series, An Island Called Smith which gained the John Morgan Travel Writing Award, and Y Storïwr which won the Wales Book of the Year award. He is a former BBC Wales arts and media correspondent and was for many years the presenter of Radio Wales’ arts’ programme First Hand. He lives in Cardiff with his wife Sarah and daughters Elena and Onwy. His next book will be a portrait of Benji Webbe, lead vocalist for the heavy metal band Skindred.
Van Griffiths loves nature, stories, diversity and art. She has been chief executive of the Ramblers; Assistant Director of National Trust Cymru; a Director at Groundwork; a senior civil servant and held leadership positions at the BBC, Mars UK and Business in the Community, the responsible business charity. Van is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a business leader of the Marketing Society, vice chair of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and a trustee of Mostyn, the foremost contemporary art gallery in Wales. She is married with two teenagers.
William Hague, the Rt Hon the Lord Hague of Richmond, was Member of Parliament for Richmond for 26 years, serving as Leader of the Conservative Party and as Foreign Secretary. He concluded his frontline political career as First Secretary of State and Leader of the House of Commons, before being appointed to the House of Lords as a Life Peer. He remains actively engaged with humanitarian work and is a passionate conservationist. Lord Hague is also an accomplished historian, author of bestselling biographies of William Wilberforce and William Pitt the Younger, winner of the UK’s History Book of the Year Award.
Carolyn is an award-winning journalist, author and broadcaster. She has presented programmes for BBC and ITV television, BBC Radio 4 and Radio Wales and is a Bafta-nominated producer. In 2012, she co-founded the all-woman production company Parasol Media, and now combines the producing/presenting day job with a freelance writing career. She has been a weekly columnist for The Western Mail for more than 25 years. Carolyn has a passion for rugby and is the author of Wales Play in Red and Welsh Rugby in the 1970s. She was the first woman Welsh Sports Hall of Fame Journalist of the Year and Welsh Sports Journalist of the Year.
Frieda Hughes is a painter and poet. She has written several children’s books, eight collections of poetry, articles for magazines and newspapers, and was The Times Poetry columnist from 2006 – 2008. She has judged numerous poetry competitions, including for the Forward Prizes for Poetry and for the National Poetry Competition. Her poems have appeared in many leading publications such as The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The London Magazine, The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Times, The Spectator, Tatler, Thumbscrew, and Agenda. Frieda’s selected poetry collection, Out of the Ashes, was published in 2018 by Bloodaxe Books. She resides in Wales with owls and motorbikes. www.friedahughes.com
Cynan Jones is the multi-award-winning author of five novels and numerous short stories. He has been published in over twenty countries and in numerous anthologies and magazines including Granta and The New Yorker. His most recent work, Stillicide, is a collection of twelve stories originally commissioned by BBC Radio 4 that aired over the summer of 2019. Jones has worked extensively as a tutor with the Arvon Foundation and Literature Wales, and in his role as RLF Fellow at Aberystwyth University advises students on writing technique. He also designed and presents Curtis Brown Creative’s highly acclaimed Writing Short Stories course.
Jo Lloyd won the BBC National Short Story Prize in 2019 with her story The Invisible. Her stories have appeared in Zoetrope: All Story, Ploughshares, Southern Review, Best British Short Stories and elsewhere, and have won awards including a 2018 O Henry Award for The Earth, Thy Great Exchequer, Ready Lies, originally published in Zoetrope. She grew up in South Wales and has recently returned to live there.
Claire Mahoney grew up in Cardiff where she began her career as a journalist at Cardiff Journalism School before moving to London. On her return to Cardiff in 2007 she set up a design and editorial agency, Dovetail Communications Ltd. Her work has been featured in The Independent, The Guardian and The Western Mail among others. She has been a regular contributor on BBC Radio Wales. She also blogs on 60s fashion and music. Welsh Mod: Our Story is her first book and documents the mod subculture in Wales from the 60s to the present day.
Ursula Martin, author of One Woman Walks Wales, never thought she would walk 3700 miles around Wales, but, following a cancer diagnosis, that’s exactly what she did, raising awareness and funds for ovarian cancer along the way. Her 17-month journey is captured eloquently in her book, which paints a unique portrait of the natural landscape of her country and its people. By the time of Monty Lit Fest this year, Ursula will recently have returned from a 5,000 mile walk across Europe, making her only appearance in the UK in 2020.
Val McDermid is one of the biggest names in crime writing. She has published 27 novels, short stories, non-fiction and a prize-winning children’s book. Her novels have been translated into 40 languages and sold over 16 million copies worldwide. Val comes from Kirkcaldy, Fife, and read English at St Hilda’s College, Oxford, where she is now an Honorary Fellow. Following graduation, she became a journalist, and worked briefly as a dramatist. Her first success as a novelist came in 1987 with the publication of Report for Murder, the first Lindsay Gordon Mystery. Among her many awards are the Portico Prize for Fiction, the LA Times Book Prize, the Lambda Literary Pioneer Award and the Cartier Diamond Dagger. She is a regular broadcaster for BBC radio and lives in Edinburgh.
Roger Morgan-Grenville is the author of four books, including two based on his exploits as the talentless, but passionate, captain of roving amateur cricket club, The White Hunters: Not Out First Ball and Unlimited Overs. After a career in the army, and at a small kitchenware company, Roger is now a full-time writer, based in West Sussex. His most recent books combine memoir with nature, with Liquid Gold: Bees and the Pursuit of Midlife Honey published in 2020 and Shearwater: A bird, an Ocean and a Long Way Home due to follow in 2021. He is also author of the acclaimed blog, Old Enough to Know Better.
Rhys Mwyn is a musician, music manager and publisher, writer and radio and TV presenter. He is a member of the Welsh language rock/punk band, Anhrefn, and founder, with his brother, Sion, of the influential record label, Anhrefn Records. Rhys is also an archaeologist, writes a regular column for Yr Herald Gymraeg on history, culture and archaeology, and is a qualified Blue Badger tour guide. He lives in Caernarfon, is a lecturer at WEA and an adult education lecturer at Bangor University, and a board member of the Welsh Music Foundation Board.
Alix Nathan was born in London and educated there and at York University. She has lived in Norwich, Munich, Philadelphia, Birkenhead and now in the Welsh Marches where, with her husband, she owns some ancient woodland. She has published three children’s books and written about Christina Rossetti and the 18th century writer and notorious beauty, Mary Robinson. Since 2006, she has written historical and contemporary fiction, her short stories appearing in Ambit, London Magazine, New Welsh Review and read on Radio 4. Her collection of short fiction, His Last Fire, was published 2014, followed by two novels: The Flight of Sarah Battle in 2015, and The Warlow Experiment in 2019.
Richard John Parfitt
Richard John Parfitt is a musician, writer and lecturer from Newport in south Wales. As a song writer he has worked with many artists, and as a founder member of the 60ft Dolls, was part of the ‘Cool Cymru’ brigade of the 1990s. In 2019 he was shortlisted for the New Welsh Review Rheidol Prize for writing Prose with a Welsh Theme or Setting. He has worked in Higher Education since 2008, and is currently Course Leader for BA Music at Hereford.
Mike Parker is author of the bestselling Map Addict and its critically-acclaimed follow-up, The Wild Rover, as well as Mapping the Roads, Coast to Coast, Neighbours From Hell?, Real Powys and The Greasy Poll: Diary of a Controversial Election. He was also the co-author of the first five editions of the Rough Guide to Wales. He has written and presented seven series of travelogues for ITV Wales, has worked on numerous other TV and radio programmes, and occasionally performs as a stand-up comedian and actor. His latest work, On the Red Hill, was described by Sir Simon Callow as “An extraordinary, ambitious, many-layered memoir.” Mike lives near Machynlleth and is this year celebrating 20 years as a Montgomeryshire resident.
Sioned Wiliam is a Welsh comedy producer and executive. Raised in Barry, South Wales, she is the author of the novels, Dal i Fynd, Chwynnu and Cicio’r Bar, published by Y Llolfa. Sioned began her television and radio career at the BBC, produced the Jonathan Ross Show for Channel 4 and worked for the independent production companies, Talkback and Hat Trick before becoming ITV’s controller of comedy. After a spell as a freelance independent producer, Sioned is now back at the BBC, where she is commissioning editor for comedy for Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra.
Iolo Williams is a Welsh naturalist, broadcaster, public speaker and writer who has worked in conservation for over 30 years. He is most widely known as a popular member of the Springwatch, Autumnwatch and Winterwatch presenting team and for presenting series such as Wild Wales, Rugged Wales and Great Welsh Parks for BBC 2. Iolo has written several books on wildlife in both English and Welsh, including Wild Places: Wales’ Top 40 Nature Sites and Wild Places UK: UK’s Top 40 Nature Sites. He is also a regular contributor to several magazines, including BBC Wildlife.