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Watch talks given by our guest speakers for the 2020 virtual bookfest

The videos are now live on the videos page.

Below you can learn a little more about the speakers and their work.

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Benjamin Lamb – ‘You’re Nicked’

With wit, humour and insight, the author of the first dedicated study of one of British 

television’s most popular genres conducts a forensic investigation of British television police        series from 1955 to the present. In just one-hour Ben Lamb’s analyses the genre, ranging from    Dixon of Dock Green to Happy Valley via The Sweeney, The Bill, and Cracker.

He outlines how this home-grown genre has evolved and how different production technologies have affected its thematic development. He also looks at how police series have commented on criminological issues and intervened in sociological debates concerning class and gender identities. Over the years British police series have borrowed elements from social realism, melodrama, the soap opera, sci-fi, and action series to probe the social disintegration of British society following the end of the Second World War. Ben explores how the representation of the police station, domestic scenes of criminals and the private lives of police officials can unearth the complex ideology underpinning each series and determine how the genre has developed alongside modern British society. His talk will appeal to scholars and students ofBritish history,

television, culture, sociology, and criminology. Mostly though, it will appeal to TV

crime-drama addicts and enthusiasts the world over.

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Dr Ben Lamb is Senior Lecturer in English Studies at Teesside University. 


Alexander Larman –  ‘ The Crown in Crisis: Countdown to the abdication of Edward VIII'

The definitive account of the Abdication Crisis of 1936.

It is anticipated that this will be one of the year’s most discussed titles, especially given the recent topical events involving the Royal Family. Alex will speak about the subject, sharing some of the previously unpublished material that he has discovered. He will go on to discuss how this year’s events are mirrored – or not – in the events of 1936.

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Using previously unpublished and rare archival material, and new interviews with those who knew Edward and Wallis, The Crown in Crisis is the conclusive exploration of how an unthinkable and unprecedented event tore the country apart, as its monarch prized his personal happiness above all else. This seismic event has been written about before but never with the ticking-clock suspense and pace of the thriller that it undoubtedly was for all of its participants.
The Crown in Crisis is the definitive book about the events of 1936. Painstakingly researched,

incisively written and entirely fresh in its approach, it will bring the events of that time to thrilling

life, and in the process appeal to an entirely new audience.

Signed copies of Alex's book will be available from Blackwell Books via this link 

Alex Larman is a historian and journalist. He is the author of three previous acclaimed books of historical and literary biography. He writes for the Times, Observer and Telegraph, as well as The Spectator and The Critic.


Anna Lawrence – ‘Ruby’s Spoon’ 

This is the tale of three women - one witch, one mermaid and one missing - and how Ruby was    caught up in between.
The Black Country town of Cradle Cross - home to buttonmakers, canal folk, and more than its      share of widows - is bounded by canals, grief and superstition. Caught within this web is            motherless thirteen-year-old Ruby, who dreams of escaping the soot and smoke of her home-        town for the clear air of the sea.

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When a mysterious stranger named Isa Fly appears on a quest to find her dying father's missing wife and daughter, Ruby is enchanted.But some of the townsfolk are instantly suspicious of the outsider and when Ruby introduces Isa to Truda Blick, the bluestocking graduate who has just inherited the town's button factory, the town is pushed to the brink of riot.

Only Ruby knows enough to save them. But first she must save herself.

Anna Lawrence was a graphic designer and trainee prison governor before committing to writing. Her novel, RUBY'S SPOON (Chatto & Windus, 2010) was published to critical acclaim in the UK and US. She has worked with students of all ages to help them find their voices in writing. She writes fiction, nonfiction and poetry, and lives in the West Midlands with her partner, four children and a griffon.

Romantic Novelists Panel

The following authors are members of this panel and have produced a joint video:

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Phillipa Ashley 

It’s been a year since Lottie’s fiancé walked out, leaving her heartbroken. But things start to look up when she lands her dream job at a beautiful Lake District estate, with a handsome groundskeeper for a neighbour.
 So when Lottie is asked to organise a last minute Christmas wedding at Firholme, she can’t wait to get started. Until she meets the couple, and discovers that Connor, the man who broke her

heart, is the groom-to-be. As snow falls on the hills, can Lottie put aside her past to organise the perfect winter wedding? And will there be any festive magic left to bring Lottie the perfect Christmas she deserves?

Phillipa Ashley is a popular author of numerous bestselling Amazon and Bookseller Heatseekers romantic novels. Before she became a full-time writer, she studied English at Oxford and worked as a copywriter and journalist.

She also writes rom coms as Ashley Croft and steamy romance as Pippa Croft.

She lives in a Staffordshire village with her husband and has a grown-up daughter.

Amazon Kindle UK link:

Paperback UK:

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She casts a long shadow - Madalyn Morgan

Madalyn Morgan

Preparing to expose the mole at MI5, Ena’s husband Henry is abducted by Special Branch and Ena is thrown into a murder case.

All the evidence points to Henry having killed the mole, leading Ena to conclude that Henry is being framed. Close to finding out the truth, Ena is suspended from her job at the Home Office and the investigation is blocked by Special Branch.

Only her sisters and her old friend Inspector Powell believe Henry is innocent.
Help comes from an untrustworthy character. A deal is agreed: A ticket to Austria in return for the names of the mole’s associates, evidence to solve two of Ena’s cold cases, and the proof that Henry is innocent of murder. The catch? Ena must accompany this character to Austria as insurance.

She casts a long shadow is book 8  of 8 in the Dudley Sisters saga.

I was bought up in a pub in the market town of Lutterworth. My dream was to be an actress. My mother wanted me to have a ‘proper’ job, so I became a hairdresser. Eight years later, aged twenty-four, I gave up a successful hairdressing salon and wig-hire business for a place at Drama College and a career as an actress.

In 2010, after living in London for thirty-six years, I moved back to Lutterworth. I am currently writing my ninth novel, as well as putting together a memoir of short stories, articles, poems - photographs and character breakdowns, written when I was acting - and I present radio.


Link - She Casts A Long Shadow:

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Bella Osborne

A big family. A whole lot of secrets. A Christmas to remember…
This year, Lottie is hosting one last big family Christmas at the home she grew up in – just like her  Nana would have wanted.
But when her relatives descend on the old manor house, Lottie gets more than she bargained for.  Every family has its secrets, but in this family, everybody has one!

So, between cooking a Christmas dinner, keeping tensions at bay and a stray dog out of mischief, she has plenty on her plate (and not just misshapen sausage rolls and a frozen turkey). And then her first love shows up – nine years after he walked out of her life.Can Lottie make their last family Christmas one to remember… for the right reasons?

Bella's stories are about friendship, love and coping with what life throws at you. She likes to find the humour in the darker moments of life and weaves these into her stories. Bella is a bestselling author and has been short listed three times for the RNA Contemporary Romance Novel of the Year Award.

She lives in Warwickshire with her lovely husband and wonderful daughter, who thankfully, both accept her as she is (with mad morning hair and a penchant for skipping). 

For more about Bella, visit her website at

Link -

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 Lindsay Woodward

Alice Bloom has shut herself away from the world for years. But all that changes when three men  come into her life. Firstly there's the rather disgusting Karl, who has the key to her problems but    turns her stomach. Then there's smooth and sexy Ethan, whom Alice falls head over heels for, but  she just can't seem to get time alone with him. And finally there's her lovely, supportive friend     

Dan, if only they could ever actually get to meet. Because the biggest problem of all is: Alice is invisible. The complications become more and more hilarious as Alice tries to steer her way through her conflicting emotions and find her way to happiness. Will she succeed or will life always get the better of her?

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Lindsay has had a lifelong passion for writing, starting off as a child when she used to write stories about the Fraggles of Fraggle Rock. Knowing there was nothing else she'd rather study, she did her degree in writing and has now turned her favourite hobby into a career. Lindsay writes loves stories with a twist, always leaving her readers guessing right until the end. She has 7 published novels available from online retailers in both paperback and e-book version.

You can find out more details and where to buy by visiting her website.

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Kit de Waal

Kit de Waal, author of 'My Name is Leon' and 'Trick to Time' and editor of 'Common People’


Kit de Waal was born in Birmingham. She worked for fifteen years in criminal and family law, was a magistrate for several years and sits on adoption panels. Her first novel 'My Name is Leon' was published in 2016 and was highly acclaimed. Kit writes from the heart, drawing on her life experiences.

Kit established a Creative Writing Fellowship to improve working class representation in the arts. Common People, edited by Kit , is an anthology of poems , essays and other writing from working class writers. 


Hugh Warwick

A book about my passionate affair with this wonderful animal in which I argue that they are the most important creature on the planet. Full of the madness of obsessives who make me seem quite normal, this is a funny look at a creature we all think we know - managing to sneak in a whole array of facts amidst the anarchy of hedgehog hospitals and the International Hedgehog Olympic Games.

I am an ecologist and writer with a particular fondness for hedgehogs. My first book, A Prickly Affair, remains unique for having accolades from both Jeanette Winterson and Ann Widdecombe on the cover. The Beauty in the Beast was published in May 2012 and was more fun than is reasonable as I travelled the country looking for people a bit like me. In April 2014 Reaktion Books published my monograph on the iconography of the hedgehog - niche, yes, but also full of fun and beautiful illustrations. My latest, Linescapes, is just launched (May 2017) and investigates the impact that the lines we make have on the capacity of wildlife to thrive.

In addition to writing I also do a lot of public speaking (from primary schools to postgraduate research groups via the WI and Wildlife Trusts). I run day-long courses on hedgehog conservation and also lecture about creative writing. I am the spokesperson for the British Hedgehog Preservation Society.

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Brian Pollitt 

Brian's passion is to breathe new life into books that are of personal value and have precious memories associated with them.

What books do you treasure? -Typically they are family bibles, granny's cook book, children's books, photo Albums;- they could be anything that have precious memories associated with them. 

Breathe new life into your treasured books - they could be those that have been well-loved, maybe from your childhood or passed down through the generations, but are now suffering from constant use (or misuse...) and are damaged or falling apart.

You may be afraid to use such books for fear of further damage, but worry not - most books can be returned to at least a functional condition and many can be restored to their former glory.

Brian will talk about the kind of damage that can be repaired, giving some examples and show a selection of techniques.

Brian is a book repairer and restorer who focuses on books of personal value, rather than

conservation of books with historical significance and high commercial value. This started off

as a hobby some years ago after having some old family books passed to him. Having worked

with a number of bookbinders to develop his skills, word of mouth has got around and now

has enough work coming in to keep him out of mischief.

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Southam Heritage Collection 

Southam's museum is based in the town centre and has published several books by    local authors on themes related to the town's history.  All the books are priced          under £10 and cover a wide range of fascinating subjects.  Their short film will        present both authors and volunteers talking about the books and other merchandise  available to buy from the museum.  All proceeds from book sales go to support the    work of this small heritage charity.

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Julia Tedd

Learning through stories age suitable: 0-7 years

Night-time Cat is a children’s book about a mischievous cat named Ginger who is awake and playful at night when everyone else is trying to sleep. Box Cat is a children's book about Tiger, a fun-loving cat who can make any box an adventure.

Learning to read is a crucial time in a child’s life; Julia’s research has shown that some children struggle to learn and understand slightly more advanced grammar structures, which can lead to confusion and misinterpretation in everyday life and in education (especially in subjects such as science, history and maths).

Night-time Cat, the first book in a planned series, subtly includes some slightly more advanced grammar structures – the conditional – to help expose children to these structures from an early age, in a fun and engaging way. Box Cat, the second book in the series, includes three-

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Julia Tedd lives in Leamington Spa but is a Researcher and Lecturer at the University of Oxford under the name Dr. Julia Badger. Julia is a Developmental Psychologist who has worked closely with children for over 15 years. Her work focuses on helping every child reach his/her potential at school.

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Graham Jones

Toby who lives in a little unremarkable village, and goes to a little unremarkable school, has a humongous secret, which is so incredibly cool - Toby has a secret Time Machine!

Journey back to 1805 and help Nelson defeat the French and Spanish navy in an exciting workshop, whilst learning about the Battle of Trafalgar, HMS Victory and how we won the battle.

Join children’s author, Graham Jones to  find out about  time travel and take part in interesting activities, including learning how to fire a flintlock musket and flag signal!

There's a link to buy the books on the website

Graham writes books in his spare time and travels around the country performing at festivals and visiting schools. He has appeared on Radio 5 live, local BBC radio and the ITN News at 10 and has a growing following. His books are fun and educational.

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Sam Langley-Swain

Did you know, a group of weasels is called a confusion?

All the weasels in Westburrow Wood are supposed to follow the rules and fit in.

So, imagine their confusion when they meet Wesley, a wacky weasel, who is obsessed with clothes!

As the other weasels plot and protest against Wesley, readers will be eager to find out what happens, in this heart-warming story about acceptance. 

I  hadn't always dreamed of being an author - originally I trained as an artist and then worked in brand strategy all over the world; but MY world changed in 2014 when I became a Dad through adoption. As I began to be inspired by my children and this new universe I'd entered into, I started writing stories inspired by the many challenges my children faced navigating this new world.. In 2017, I sold over 7,000 copies of my debut self-published title in the first 3 months. This enabled me to publish 'Don't Look in This Book' (designed to engage reluctant readers) and 'Elephants In The Custard' (designed to help younger children talk about worries and feelings) in 2018 and create new Children's Publishers Owlet Press. Now in 2010 we have ten books in the market and counting . . .​Myself and the other Owlet authors now focus on inclusive books that discuss social, emotional or envrionmental issues, packaging these big issues into accessible and fun stories for readers to digest and discuss with friends, families and schools.

We are a charity, run by volunteers, and the costs of putting on the festival come entirely from donations, sponsors and flash fiction entry fees, which also pays for the prizes.

If you enjoy what we are doing and would like to see it continue, please consider making a donation if you can, no matter how small.

If you would like to contribute, just click on the JustGiving logo here and you will be taken to our page.


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