Literary Conference Speaker in 2014 - The Literary Consultancy

Speakers

We are proud to have hosted some of the most exciting names in the books, media and technology industries at the Literary Conference since its inception in 2012. Previous speakers include Kate Mosse, Audrey Niffenegger, Hari Kunzru, Cory Doctorow and Claire Armitstead, and a whole host of names from the publishing industry as well as representatives from a wide range of organisations working in literature, from top publishing houses and literary and talent agencies to digital platforms for readers and writers, some of whom have introduced their industry-changing models at the Literary Conference.

Rachel Abbott

Rachel launched her first novel Only the Innocent in November 2011. The book reached number 1 in the Kindle store three months later and held that position for four weeks. It also reached number 1 in the US Kindle store in August 2013 and is being translated into several foreign languages. Since then, Rachel released her second book, The Back Road, in 2013 and book three – Sleep Tight – is launched in February 2014. Rachel lives in the Channel Islands, on the small island of Alderney where she writes full time.
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Rebecca Abrams

Rebecca is an award-winning author and journalist. Her fiction debut, Touching Distance, was published to critical acclaim in 2008 and was shortlisted for the 2009 McKitterick Prize for Literature. She is also the author of several successful non-fiction titles, including The Playful Self and When Parents Die, an established classic in its field. Rebecca teaches creative writing at the University of Oxford, and is a former tutor for the Writing Programme at the University of Warwick. A columnist on the Daily Telegraph for a number of years, she is a recipient of an Amnesty International Press Award, and a regular contributor to the Financial Times, the Guardian and other publications.
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Piers Alexander

Piers’s debut novel, The Bitter Trade, is out as an ebook, and the paperback will be unveiled at the 2014 Writing in a Digital Age conference. He is also a serial media entrepreneur and a member of TLC’s Advisory group.
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Claire Armitstead

Claire is Literary Editor of the Guardian. She was previously Arts Editor, having worked as a theatre critic for the Ham & High, the Financial Times and the Guardian. As an author, she has contributed essays to New Performance and Women: A Cultural Review. She makes regular appearances on radio and television as a cultural commentator on literature and the arts.
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Dr Alison Baverstock

Alison is Course Leader for MA Publishing at Kingston University. She has researched and written widely about publishing and writing but of late her particular research interest has become self-publishing. She is the author of the seminal The Naked Author (Bloomsbury) and since publication has extended her research with further detailed explorations of those involved in self-publishing, whether in practice or in servicing the market. Self-publishers emerge as proficient, well resourced and perhaps most interestingly, very well satisfied by the process. She looks forward to sharing her latest findings.
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Sarah Baxter

The Society of Authors is a membership organisation  which has been serving the interests of professional writers since 1884. Today it has more than 9,000 Members and Associates across all areas of the writing profession. The SoA campaigns for improved terms and changes in legislation, and offers advice to its members on all aspects of writing, including contract-vetting. In addition, it administers awards for fiction, non-fiction and poetry, and offers grants to authors for works in progress. Sarah advises on contracts and publishing issues, and manages applications for emergency financial assistance from the Society’s charitable funds.
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Lorella Belli

Lorella worked for various publishers and literary agencies before setting up her own agency in 2002. Particularly interested in first-time authors, journalists, multi-cultural writing and books with international appeal and potential, she represents several award-winning and bestselling authors of both fiction (from literary to genre to YA) and non-fiction (current affairs, memoirs, biography, autobiography, popular music, popular science, popular history, business, lifestyle, general self-help, travel, sport, women’s issues, fashion, and cookery). LBLA also sells UK rights on behalf of a number of US co-agents and translation rights on behalf of British publishers, agents and successful self-published authors.
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Francis Bickmore

Francis has worked in publishing since 1998. He is Publishing Director at Canongate Books where he has edited and published, amongst others, Scarlett Thomas, Yann Martel, Carol Birch, Nick Cave, Geoff Dyer, David Byrne, Matt Haig, JJ Abrams, Philip Pullman and AS Byatt.
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Paul Blezard-Gymer

Paul is a broadcaster, writer and commentator on books and authors and has chaired events at literary festivals from Hay to Dubai. His debut novel Saving Grace, set during his time as the Literary Editor of The Lady magazine, is being published this year by crowd-funding publisher, Unbound. See www.unbound.co.uk for details on how to pledge.
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Steve Bohme

Steve joined Nielsen when Nielsen acquired the business intelligence and commerce solutions products from Bowker in 2013. Steve worked at Bowker Market Research (previously BML) since 1994, becoming Research Manager in 1996 and Research Director in 2001. Steve has managed the Books and Consumers survey since 1997, as well as a wide variety of other qualitative and quantitative research projects relating to the book market, and to reading and buying habits. Steve is a Member of the Market Research Society (MRS).
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Kelly Butler

Kelly Butler is a Technical Account Manager at Amazon UK. With past experience in both publishing and IT, she recently transitioned from three years with CreateSpace, located in Charleston, South Carolina, to KDP in London.
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Mike Carey

Mike writes comic books, novels, TV and movie screenplays.  He currently writes The Unwritten for DC Vertigo comics and Suicide Risk for BOOM Studios. As M.R. Carey he wrote The Girl With All the Gifts, a post-apocalyptic coming of age story which he is currently adapting into a movie with support from the BFI.  He also co-writes with his wife Linda and their daughter Louise. Their latest novel, House Of War and Witness, will be released by Gollancz in June 2014.
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Daniel Cooper

Daniel hails from Nottinghamshire and first worked with The Literary Consultancy while developing a literary travelogue following in the footsteps of D.H. Lawrence. He worked for Amazon for 10 years, mostly at its Seattle head office, finishing up as Head of Kindle Direct Publishing Europe. Under his pen name Daniel Pembrey, he writes psychological suspense stories. Susan Hill remarked: “Daniel Pembrey tells a cracking tale with verve and style.” His corporate thriller The Candidate became the number one thriller short story on Amazon.co.uk.  You can find him on his Amazon author page, Facebook and Twitter.
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Polly Courtney

Polly is the author of six novels as well as a regular commentator on TV and radio. She made her name in 2006 with Golden Handcuffs, a semi-autobiographical account of life in the Square Mile. Her subsequent page-turners have tackled sexism, racism, lads’ mags, fame culture and the wealth divide. In late 2011, on the publication of her fifth novel, Courtney famously walked out on her publisher, HarperCollins, frustrated by the ‘chick lit’ covers assigned to her books. She went on to self-publish Feral Youth, a compelling story set during the London riots and told from the perspective of a disenfranchised 15-year-old girl.
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Katy Darby

Katy’s stories have been read on BBC Radio 4, and appeared in magazines including Stand, Mslexia, Slice, The Lampeter Review, The Warwick Review and the Arvon and Fish anthologies. She has a BA in English from Oxford University and an MA in Creative Writing from UEA, where she won the David Higham Award. She teaches writing at City University, edited Litro short fiction magazine and co-runs Liars’ League, a short story reading night. Penguin published her debut novel The Unpierced Heart (previously The Whores’ Asylum) in 2012.
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Cory Doctorow

Cory is a science fiction author, activist, journalist and blogger — the co-editor of Boing Boing (boingboing.net) and the author of young adult novels like Homeland, Pirate Cinema and Little Brother and novels for adults like Rapture of the Nerds and Makers. He is the former European director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and co-founded the UK Open Rights Group. Born in Toronto, Canada, he now lives in London.
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Jörg Dörnemann

Jörg has been working at the intersection of “old” and “new” media for many years – first as a BCG strategy consultant, then as Director Strategy & Research at MTV Networks. In 2007 he joined the leadership team of Holtzbrinck Digital. Since 2010 Jörg is the CEO of epubli, a leading platform for Self-Publishing and Print-on-Demand.
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Joanna Ellis

Joanna is COO at The Literary Platform, an agency that works with publishers, developers, literary organisations and academic institutions on digital publishing projects. The Literary Platform also runs two projects for writers: The Writing Platform, a website and live events programme aimed at equipping – and inspiring  writers in the digital age; and the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize, which champions the best of British fiction writing.
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Bernardine Evaristo

Award-winning author Bernardine’s seven books of fiction and verse fiction include Mr Loverman (Penguin 2013) and Blonde Roots (Penguin 2008). Two of her novels have been adapted into BBC R4 plays since 2012. She is a literary critic, editor of anthologies and has judged many literary prizes. She has a PhD in Creative Writing from Goldsmiths and is Reader in Creative Writing at Brunel University London. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and the Royal Society of Arts, and she was made an MBE in 2009.
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Maggie Fergusson

Maggie is Director of the Royal Society of Literature (for which she has worked since 1992) and Literary Editor of the Economist bi-monthly magazine Intelligent Life. Her first book, George Mackay Brown: The Life, won the Saltire First Book Prize, the Marsh Biography Award and the Scottish Arts Council Biography Award, and was Yorkshire Post Non-Fiction Book of the Year. She has also written a biography of Michael Morpurgo, and worked for many years as a freelance journalist.w
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James Gill

Jim is a partner at United Agents. He began working in publishing in 1994 in the mail room of Bloomsbury Publishing before moving into editorial. He had his first job in a literary agency with A. M. Heath & Co., in 1997, and has worked in representation ever since. Jim joined Peters Fraser & Dunlop as an assistant in the summer of 1999 and was a founding member of United Agents at its inception in 2007. Jim acts for a broad range of authors of both fiction and non-fiction for the general-trade market. His clients include Chris Bryant, Justin Cartwright, Margaret Drabble, Patrick Hennessey, Ian Mortimer, Harry Sidebottom, and Joanna Trollope.
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Chris Gribble

Chris is the Chief Executive of Writers’ Centre Norwich where he’s leading the development of the National Centre for Writing – a new space for literature, innovation and international collaboration in England’s UNESCO City of Literature. After a PhD in German Poetry at Manchester University, Chris worked in publishing and was Director of Manchester Poetry Festival then Manchester Literature Festival. He’s a Trustee of the International Cities of Refuge Network, was Co-Chair of the National Association for Literature Development until 2012, and is an Editorial Board Member of The Letters Page, Jon McGregor’s University of Nottingham-based creative writing journal.
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Darren Hardy

Darren is the UK Manager for Kindle Direct Publishing. He has worked in the books industry for over 20 years in a variety of bookselling roles before joining the Kindle team in early 2014.
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Lynne Hatwell

Lynne established her blog ‘dovegreyreader scribbles’ in 2006 as a means of staying sane in the frantic world of the NHS by sharing with a wider audience her lifelong love of books and pleasure in reading. A warm, welcoming and friendly online community has grown, where news of a good book can spread around the world in minutes. The joy is not only in the subjective, emotionally engaged and very personal nature of the writing but also the immediate feedback enjoyed via reader comments. Life in the very beautiful and idyllic Tamar Valley has never been quite the same since the day Lynne first thought of writing it.
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Heather Holden-Brown

hhb agency ltd was founded in 2005 by Heather Holden-Brown, a publishing editor for 20 years with Waterstone’s, Harrap, BBC Books and Headline. The following year the agency became a member of the Association of Authors’ Agents. Heather is a member of Kingston University’s Publishers’ Advisory Board and in 2004 assessed the food and cookery books for the André Simon Memorial Fund’s annual awards.
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Sarah Juckes

Sarah is the Communications Manager for the unique publishing platform, CompletelyNovel. She uses her experience working in self-publishing and being a writer herself, to advise and create new, exciting opportunities for authors. Most recently, she pioneered a collaborative project with Greene & Heaton Literary agency, that will see top self-published books on CompletelyNovel sent to literary agents for consideration.
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Sam Leith

Sam is a former Literary Editor of the Daily Telegraph, and contributes regularly to the Financial Times, Evening Standard, Guardian, Wall Street Journal, Spectator and Prospect. He’s the author of three nonfiction books: Dead Pets, Sod’s Law and You Talkin’ To Me? Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama, and a novel,  The Coincidence Engine.
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Nico Macdonald

Nico consults on innovation, design and media with clients in publishing, broadcasting and telecommunications. He co-created the BBC Innovation Labs, and in 2008 founded and is co-director of Media Futures. The current Media Futures project, the Future of Publishing, has encompassed Publish! A Day of Innovation on the Future of the Book at the Watershed in Bristol, a Book Hackday in London, and Publish! New adventures in innovation in London in 2013. He is author of What is Web Design?, published by RotoVision, and writes for publications including the RSA Journal, the Guardian, Blueprint and Creative Review. Read on at Media Futures.
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Diego Marano

Diego is the Kobo Writing Life Manager in the UK. Joining Kobo after having worked in different roles across Waterstones.com, John Wiley & Sons (UK) and Elsevier (Italy), Diego brings to the table a combination of technical skills, market awareness and ‘author-centric’ approach. Besides being the main point of contact for Kobo Writing Life in the UK, Diego’s priority is to work within the author community to the end of elevating the presence and the success of authors published on Kobo, actively contributing to generating a positive synergy amongst authors, booksellers and publishers.
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John Mitchinson

John is a writer and publisher. He was Waterstones’s first marketing director before becoming MD at the Harvill Press and then Cassell & Co. In 2001 he joined TV producer John Lloyd to set up QI Ltd. They are currently producing the 11th series of the BBC TV show. John also writes a weekly QI column in the Saturday Telegraph and is a Vice-President of the Hay Festival. His latest venture is co-founding Unbound, the UKs first crowd-funded publishing house which won the 2011 Futurebook Innovation Award for Best Startup and has just been shortlisted as Independent Publisher of the Year at the 2014 Bookseller Awards.  
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Stephen Page

Stephen is CEO of Faber & Faber and began his career in bookselling before moving into publishing. In 1994 he joined Fourth Estate, becoming Managing Director in 2000. In 2001 he joined Faber as CEO and in 2006 Faber won Publisher of the Year.  He has been President of the Publishers’ Association and gave the keynote address for World Book Day in 2007.  Faber won Independent Publisher of Year in 2011.  He writes and speaks on the issue of independence in the industry and the effects of fast-moving technological developments on libraries, authors and publishing.
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Joanna Penn

J.F.Penn is the bestselling author of Desecration and the Arkane series of thrillers, as well as the #1 bestseller How to Market a Book and Career Change published under Joanna Penn. Joanna’s site for writers, TheCreativePenn.com has been voted one of the Top 10 sites for writers three years running. She is a professional speaker on creative entrepreneurship, digital publishing and internet marketing, and has been voted one of The Guardian Top 100 creative professionals 2013.
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Max Porter

Max trained as an art historian, specialising in contemporary art, psychoanalysis and feminism. He was a bookseller for the London independent Daunt Books. He opened two new branches and won the Young Bookseller of the Year Award. In 2012 he joined Granta Books as Commissioning Editor. He is now Senior Editor, and one of the first novels he edited was Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries, which won the Man Booker Prize. He acquires fiction and Non-fiction for both the Granta and Portobello imprints. He is a printed matter fetishist.
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Cherry Potts

Cherry is the author of two published collections of short stories, Mosaic of Air (Arachne Press) and Tales Told Before Cockcrow (OWP).  She has completed one fantasy novel and is currently working on three more: science fiction, young adult and historical. Cherry started editing and publishing anthologies of short stories in August 2012 as Arachne Press Limited and has released four so far, mainly in collaboration with Liars’ League. She runs writing workshops using Neuro Linguistic Programming and coaches and mentors writers.
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Alexandra Pringle

Alexandra is Group Editor-in-Chief of Bloomsbury. She began her career in publishing as Editorial Assistant on the art magazine Art Monthly and joined Virago Press in 1978 where she edited the Virago Modern Classics series. In 1984 she was made Editorial Director.  In 1990 she joined Hamish Hamilton as Editorial Director and four years later left publishing to become a literary agent. She joined Bloomsbury in 1999. Her list of authors includes Donna Tartt, Barbara Trapido, Richard Ford, Esther Freud, Margaret Atwood and Kamila Shamsie. She is a Patron of Index on Censorship and is organizer of literary events at the Chelsea Arts Club.
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Orna Ross

Orna is an author-publisher. She writes stories, poems and the Go Creative! books and has been named ‘one of the 100 most influential people in publishing’ (The Bookseller), for her work as Founder of The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi). A long-time teacher of creative and imaginative practice, Orna lives in London and writes, publishes and teaches around the globe. She has a dedicated belief in the power of the published word to transform and liberate. When she’s not writing, you’ll probably find her reading.
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Sophie Schmidt

Sophie has been working in the publishing industry since 2011. After finalizing her bachelor’s degree in Media Economy she joined the epubli team as a marketer and event manager. Currently she is studying Applied Literature Science in Berlin and supports epubli in the UK market.
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Gemma Seltzer

Gemma is a Relationship Manager for Literature at Arts Council England, where she has responsibility for supporting the development of the literature sector in London, working with publishers, magazines and arts organisations. She advises all kinds of individual writers at all stages of their careers, to develop funding proposals and realise projects. Championing equality and diversity in literature, Gemma is particularly keen to support artists less represented in the mainstream and exciting, innovative writer-led projects that find new ways to engage readers and audiences.
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Kamila Shamsie

Kamila is an author whose novels include Burnt Shadows, which has been translated into more than 20 languages and shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction. Her sixth novel, A God in Every Stone, was published by Bloomsbury in April 2014, to great acclaim. She grew up in Karachi, and now lives in London. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
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Richard Sheehan

Richard is a freelance copy-editor and proofreader. His clients include many trade publishers as well as an increasing number of self-publishers, and he is a member of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders. He has also written both fiction and non-fiction for a number of years and has edited the Philip Roth Society Newsletter since 2008.
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Hannah Sheppard

Hannah has worked in publishing for over a decade, starting her career at Macmillan Children’s Books before moving to Hachette to run the YA and Crossover list at Headline. In 2013 she moved to the DHH Literary Agency to build her client list – she has a particular focus on Children’s and YA but is lucky enough to have an open brief so she can take on any project she falls in love with. Hannah relishes the editorial process and is passionate about stories and helping writers to develop their ideas for commercial success.w
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Jon Slack

Jon has nine years of experience working in the book trade. A former SYP Chair (2009), he is involved in a number of projects in addition to co-producing The Literary Conference that include: co-directing the DSC South Asian Literature Festival and South Asian literature Reading Campaign; developing the membership and website of the Book Marketing Society; and founding the inaugural International New Publishing Network. He co-founded Canon Tales with Doug Wallace and co-produced the 2010 Author Blog Awards. He has sat on the advisory committee for the DIPNET Equalities Charter and has previously worked in sales, marketing and publicity roles at Taschen, Transworld and Aurum Press publishers, as well as Borders Adelaide prior to that.
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Claire Squires

Claire is Professor of Publishing Studies and Director of the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication at the University of Stirling. Her publications include Marketing Literature: the Making of Contemporary Writing in Britain and the forthcoming Cambridge History of the Book in Britain Volume 7: The Twentieth Century and Beyond. Her research includes the AHRC Digital Transformations R&D project ‘The Book Unbound: Disruption and Disintermediation in the Digital Age’ and the NESTA/AHRC/Creative Scotland-funded CReATeS (Consortium for Research into Arts and Technology in Scotland). She previously worked at Hodder Headline publishers.
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Rebecca Swift

Rebecca worked at Virago Press before co-founding The Literary Consultancy in 1996.
TLC is the most established editorial assessment service in the UK, providing in-depth critiques to writers; mentoring, and events at the Free Word Centre, of which TLC is a founding member. TLC is recommended by Arts Council England. Rebecca also works as a writer. She has published as editor two books with Chatto & Windus, poems in various anthologies, an opera libretto and Dickinson: Poetic Lives (Hesperus Press 2011).
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Mark Thwaite

Mark is the founder and managing editor of the UK-based literary website ReadySteadyBook, described by The Times newspaper as “one of the best places on the web for clever, wise, sparky book-related discussions and reviews”. Since, October 2010 Mark has been the Head of Online at the award-winning Quercus Books. Mark is also a non-executive Director with the poetry publisher Carcanet Press, described as “one of the outstanding independent literary publishers of our time”.
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Amy Tipper

Amy is the Kindle Relationship Manager at Amazon UK. She has worked in the book industry for 10 years, on both the retail and publishing sides, and has been on the Kindle team at Amazon since the first Kindle device was launched in the UK in August 2010.
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David Varela

David specialises in writing and sometimes producing interactive projects, bringing together games, theatre and video. David’s recent work includes writing the iOS game Sherlock: The Network, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman and a series of site-specific plays called The Seed for the 2012 Cultural Olympiad; script consultancy on chart-topping mobile game Zombies, Run! (nominated for a Writers’ Guild Award). David teaches residential courses for Arvon and speaks at film schools, universities, festivals and conferences around the world.
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Doug Wallace

Doug, co-founder of Canon Tales, started his publishing career as a ghostwriter but then became obsessed with graphic novels. He has worked for two award-winning independents: first as Marketing Director for SelfMadeHero then as Sales & Marketing Director for Nobrow Press & Flying Eye Books. He has also worked as a Comms Specialist and Literature Adviser for the British Council working across the Middle East and non-EU Europe. He works freelance as marketing consultant and re-locates to Cairo this September to establish a new international literary festival.
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Chris Wellbelove

Chris joined Greene & Heaton literary agency in 2010. He had gained experience working previously at Blake Friedmann, in editorial at Palgrave Macmillan, and at Old Street Publishing.  He represents writers of fiction and non-fiction, and has a particular interest in literary fiction, crime and thrillers, popular science and history, and sports books. Chris has close contact with television production companies and broadcasters, and a burgeoning list of presenter clients.
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Tom Witcomb

Tom joined the Blake Friedmann Literary Agency in 2009 as Book Department assistant, then assistant to Julian Friedmann and Isobel Dixon. He is now working as an agent and actively building his client list. Tom is looking in particular for Children’s and YA writing, fantasy and sci-fi, as well as adult genre and upmarket commercial fiction, and some non-fiction. His tastes are varied, but he’s always looking out for great storytelling, interesting characters, unique voices and great writing. He’s also a bit of a comic book nerd.
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