Kevin Sheehan is the Learning Centre Manager at Offerton High School, where he has been for five years. He studied Information and Library Management at Manchester Metropolitan Library, and is currently completing work for a MA in Information Literacy at the University of Sheffield. In 2010 he was announced the School Librarian of the Year by the School Library Association.
Kate Lister is Customer Service Librarian at Market Harborough Library, and has been working in her current role since graduating from Loughborough University in 2005 with an MA in Library and Information Management. Kate is passionate about literature for children and young people, and has been active on the CILIP East Midlands Youth Libraries Group committee, which she chaired for three years. Through this work, she was a National Judge for the CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway medal for 2010 and 2011.
Mina B Muhammad is a sixteen-year-old Year Eleven student at Sarah Bonnell School. She won the Best 14-16 Short Story award at the Young Muslim Writers Awards 2010. This year she published her first novel, See Red (which was based on her winning entry), penned at the age of fourteen and published at fifteen. See Red was published by Urbantopia Books, a publishing house dedicated to culturally diverse books, particularly written by ethnic minority writers. She was shortlisted for the Asian Woman of Achievement Awards in 2011.
Jonathan Ruppin is the Web Editor of Foyles bookshop and has twelve years’ experience in book retailing, including nine years on the shopfloor. He has run a variety of departments, for both Foyles and previously Dillons, but specialises in fiction. He has also worked for two literary agents and one publisher. He has been a judge for the Costa Novel Award, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize and the British Book Design and Production awards. For three years, he wrote The Bookseller’s annual Paperback Preview, selecting the paperback titles most likely to be of interest to booksellers across the market for the forthcoming year. He is also a member of the Editorial Committee of the journal, New Books in German, and a member of the Advisory Board of Arts Council-funded publisher, And Other Stories. He reviews and blogs regularly for a number of print and online publications.
Sameer Rahim studied English at Pembroke College, Cambridge before working as a teacher both abroad and in the UK. He has worked in literary journalism for five years reviewing both fiction and non-fiction. The publications he has worked for include the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement and the New Statesman. He currently works on the Books Desk of The Daily Telegraph. He is also a judge for this year’s Forward Prize for poetry.
Diane Banks founded Diane Banks Associates, a literary agency based in central London representing commercial fiction and personality-led, media or current affairs based non-fiction in the UK, US and foreign language markets, in 2006 following 9 years in London’s trade publishing houses including Penguin and Hodder & Stoughton.
Anna Perera was born in London to an Irish mother and Sri Lankan father. She worked as an English teacher in secondary schools in London before becoming responsible for a unit for excluded boys. She gained an MA in Writing for Children at Winchester University and has since had six children’s books published, including the critically acclaimed Guantanamo Boy which was shortlisted for the Costa Children’s Book Award and nominated for the Carnegie Medal. She learned about the plight of children held at Guantanamo Bay at a benefit event held by the human rights charity, Reprieve. Brollyproctions.com are adapting a play from the book, Guantanamo Boy which will open in Stratford Circus, February 2012. Her recent Young Adult novel, The Glass Collector, is set in Cairo.
Nadim Sawalha is a veteran Jordanian-born actor whose career spans across TV, film, radio and theatre. His recent works include Captain Abu Raed, which won ‘The Audience Award’ at The Sundance Festival, The Hour for BBC One, West is West, and Coming Home at The Arcola Theatre.
His TV work includes Murphy Law, New Tricks, Dangerfield, Inspector Morse, Close and True, and ‘Mohamed Al Fayed’ in the BBC’s Justice in the Wonderland.
He has performed at some of London’s most iconic theatres, including Turning Over and Monsieur Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Qur’an at Bush Theatre, Jenkins Ear and East is East at Royal Court, White Cameleon at The Royal National Theatre, A Dream of People at the Royal Shakespeare Company, and Waiting for Godot at Lyric Studio, Hammersmith.
Nadim’s film credits include Syriana, A Touch of Class, The Spy Who Loved Me, The Living Daylights, Cleopatra, Arabian Nights, The Avengers, Nativity, Whatever Lola Wants, Diana: Last Days of a Princess.
As an actor Chris has worked at theatres including The National, The Royal Court, The Traverse, The West Yorkshire Playhouse, The Birmingham Rep, The Gate and English Touring Theatre. Directors have included Howard Davies, Sir Richard Eyre, Sir Peter Hall, Richard Wilson, William Gaskill, Erica Whyman, Stephen Daldry, Ian Brown and Annie Castledine.
He has translated plays by Philippe Minyana, David Lescot, Rémi de Vos, Adeline Picault, Frédéric Blanchette, Catherine-Anne Toupin and Fabrice Roger-Lacan for The National, The Almeida, The Donmar, The Traverse and The Young Vic among others.
Chris was Deputy Literary Manager of the National Theatre for six years and is currently Literary Manager of the Royal Court.
Farah Abushwesha is a writer, producer, and the founder of Rocliffe, now held at BAFTA and renamed the BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum. Her first live action film was the B3/UK Film Council backed Chicken Soup, which was selected for LA International Film Festival, BFI Times London Film Festival, amongst others. No Deposit, No Return was awarded Best Pitch in Cannes 2003 by The Times and was awarded UKFC funding. She has also directed and produced the documentary Sir Alan Sugar Challenge with Griff Rhys Jones. Her other work includes BBC Drama Micro Men, The Scouting Book for Boys (winner at London Film Festival), and London River (winner at Berlin International Film Festival.) Farah is a guest lecturer at Pulse College Dublin and has worked in film education at the London Film Academy. She has participated, organised and chaired panels and events for BAFTA, LFA, Curzon Cinemas and at various international festivals.
Catherine Pellegrino is a literary agent, specialising in children’s literature. After four years working for the wonderful Rogers, Coleridge & White Ltd, she decided to set up on her own and launched Catherine Pellegrino and Associates in July 2011. She has a small but growing list of talented writers who she is immensely proud of. Her writing tastes are pretty eclectic which is reflected in the writers she represents and she is very keen on diversity issues which is why she became involved with Penguin and Commonword in Manchester to set up The Commonword Children’s Diversity Prize, to encourage underrepresented sections of the communities that make up the culturally diverse landscape of the UK.
She has always worked in publishing, mainly in house, working in Foreign Rights departments for publishers: Victor Gollancz, Penguin and Bloomsbury where she had the pleasure of attending the editorial meeting, where all those present, having read three chapters of a debut children’s book, agreed that a modest advance should be offered to an unknown writer, J.K Rowling.
Becoming an agent though, was she discovered, the most satisfying job she ever had and the buzz of discovering a new writer is totally addictive and has her completely hooked.
Shannon Park was born in New Zealand and moved to London in 1999, where she is now Editorial Director, Fiction for Puffin Books. She previously worked on the Primary Literacy list at Collins Education and at Random House Children’s Books as a Commissioning Editor. In 2008 she was co-chair of the Children’s Book Circle, a London-based discussion forum for people involved in the children’s publishing industry. She has worked with a diverse range of authors, including Sufiya Ahmed, Jeremy Strong, Anna Perera, Lucy and Stephen Hawking, Alex Scarrow and Anthony McGowan. Shannon is on the Penguin Diversity Board where she has coordinated relationships with Mosaic and co-created the Commonword Children’s Diversity Writing Prize. She passionately believes that children from all backgrounds should be able to find characters they identify with in the books they read.
Following a degree in English and Education at Cambridge, Tamara spent a number of years teaching, specialising in reading development. After becoming disillusioned with approaches to reading in education and the move away from the inherent incentive offered by real books towards a focus on isolated mechanics, Tamara decided to open a children’s bookshop and reading consultancy.
Tales on Moon Lane Children’s Bookshop opened in 2003 went on to be shortlisted for Children’s Bookshop of the Year for its first three years, won Children’s Bookshop of the year in 2008 and 2011, and was named one of Time Out’s top five London bookshops in 2007.
Tamara has been a judge on the Costa and UKLA children’s book awards and has reviewed widely for the Bookseller and other magazines. Her first children’s book, Amazing Esme, the first of a three-part series, was published by Hodder in September 2011.
Sufiya Ahmed is a new Puffin author whose novel Secrets of the Henna Girl will be published in March 2012. The book is about a British teenager’s ordeal when faced with a forced marriage.
Sufiya is also the author of the Zahra series: Zahra’s First Term at the Khadija Academy, Zahra’s Great Debate, Zahra’s Trip to Misr and the eagerly awaited Zahra’s Second Year at the Khadija Academy. The series, published by BIBI Publishing, follows the life of British Muslim teenager Zahra Khan and her friends at a boarding school. A fun and mischievous read for 8–12 year olds, the books are peppered with successful and powerful female figures from Islamic history.
Sufiya previously worked in the Houses of Parliament but now spends her time visiting schools all over the country. She loves to perform book readings and also delivers creative writing workshops to budding young authors.
In 2010 she set up the BIBI Foundation, a non-profit organisation, to arrange visits to the Houses of Parliament for diverse and deprived school children.
Simon Prosser is Publishing Director of Hamish Hamilton & Penguin Books, where his list of authors includes Zadie Smith, Mohsin Hamid, Ali Smith, Jamil Ahmad, Vikram Seth, Jonathan Safran Foer, Arundhati Roy, Kiran Desai, John Updike, David Foster Wallace, Paul Murray, Javier Marias, W.G. Sebald, Noam Chomsky and Susan Sontag.
Simon is a founder and Co-Director of the annual Port Eliot Festival, and the publisher of the literary magazine Five Dials. He is also a Trustee of the Civil Liberties Trust.
Kavita Bhanot grew up in London and lived in Birmingham before moving to Delhi to direct an Indian-British literary festival and then to work as an editor for India’s first literary agency. She spent two years running a small guest house in the Kangra Valley of Himachal Pradesh and now lives in Manchester. She has had several stories published in anthologies and magazines and is editor of the anthology Too Asian, Not Asian Enough, Tindal Street Press 2011.
Vivian Archer was born in London, trained at Central School as an actor and worked on TV and stage before switching to bookselling. She has been a bookseller for over 35 years and the last 22 at Newham Bookshop in East London.
The shop reflects the diversity of the area, and she has been proud to host many literary events with established and emerging writers. She particularly welcomes new writers from the Asian sub-continent. Some of the authors the Newham Bookshop have hosted are Benazir Bhutto, Kieran Desai, Kamila Shamsie, Jamil Ahmad, Ali Sethi, Tariq Ali and forthcoming Imran Khan.
Arifa Akbar is the deputy literary editor and arts writer at The Independent. She has written across the paper including author profiles, book reviews, arts features, TV columns. She was the newspaper’s arts correspondent for four years. She joined The Independent in October 2001 as a news reporter and has written extensively on Britain’s Muslim community and the war on terror. She led the reporting team during the 7/7 London bombings (the coverage for which was short-listed for the Press Gazette ‘team’ award in 2006). Her foreign assignments include the Kashmir earthquake in Pakistan and the Hajj (pilgrimage) in Saudi Arabia. She has featured as a columnist on the (former) BBC Radio Four show, Home Truths, and won the BT Feature Writer of the Year award in 2000. Before joining The Independent, she wrote features for The Sun, India Weekly and numerous regional papers. She has an English Literature degree from Edinburgh University and a Masters in Gender studies.
Shadab Zeest Hashmi’s book Baker of Tarifa won the 2011 San Diego Book Award for poetry. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her work has appeared in Poetry International, Nimrod, The Bitter Oleander, Journal of Postcolonial Writings, The Cortland Review and other places. Her second collection Kohl and Chalk is due out in 2012.
An HBO Def Poet, a Mexican and a Muslim, Mark Gonzales lives in the centre of intersection. Living a line break of borders that resembles Khalil Gibran and Pablo Neruda in a lyrical breakdance cypher, he is respected internationally for his creative approaches to suicide prevention, human rights and human development via performance, photojournalism, and narrative therapy.
With a Master’s in Education from the University of California, Los Angeles, Mark is at the forefront of curriculum development, relationship building, and healing strategy sharing between historically traumatized communities. He is the first poet of the Hip Hop generation from the States to perform in Syria, and was an invited performer at TEDxRamallah, the first TEDx talks held in Palestine. He is currently serving as visiting professor and artist in residence for the Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford University.
Charlie has presented speech and music programmes on national and local stations including Radio 1, Radio 2, LBC, BBC London, Heart FM, Capital FM and BRMB. A former Birmingham Poet Laureate, she now mixes broadcasting with writing and performing poetry and working in schools. An ‘Artist in Residence’ at W.B.A. Football club for the ‘My Place or Yours’ project, she performed the resulting work at The Big Chill festival proudly wearing the striped club shirt. An experienced spoken word artist, she’s performed at numerous arts festivals, headlined the P.O.W. Litfest. Her one woman show ‘Buddhism and Ben & Jerrys’ previewed at the Bristol Old Vic for the Litup festival, and she’s currently working with the Decadent Divas writers who’ve performed a new show at Mac arts centre in Birmingham.
Charlie is passionate about working in schools and community settings using performance poetry to lift words off the page and encourage young people to find their voices and tell their own stories. She works with pupils in rural and inner city settings, in prisons and PRU’s, and is excited when pupils who struggle with literacy gain confidence in the spoken and written word. She is part of the new Midlands writers’ collective ‘Write Down Speak Up’, and is currently working on a children’s book.
Di Speirs worked in theatre and for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation before joining the BBC in 1991. She edited the Woman’s Hour serial for three years and produced the first ever Book of the Week. She is now Editor of the BBC London Readings Unit, responsible for her team’s output on Radio 4, 4extra and Radio 3. She has been instrumental in the BBC National Short Story Award since its inception six years ago and is the regular judge on the panel. She was also a judge of the 2008 Asham Award and Chair of the Orange Award for New Writing 2010.
Maarya Rehman was born in London and studied Social and Political Sciences at the University of Cambridge. Her love for reading began at an early age when she was a daily visitor at her local library, in East London. She has worked in libraries since graduating in 2003. Currently Maarya manages the adult stock and services for Newham libraries in London.
Renowned for his four collections of lyrical short stories – most recently Insomnia – Aamer Hussein has also published two critically acclaimed novels: The Cloud Messenger (2011) and Another Gulmohar Tree (shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize 2010). Aamer is Professor of Creative Writing at Southampton University, a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of English (University of London) and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2004.
Sumayya Lee is the author of The Story of Maha (shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book – Africa) and Maha, Ever After. She was born in South Africa and has worked as an Islamic Studies teacher, Montessori directress and taught English as a Foreign Language. She now lives, writes and counts the sunny days in London with her husband, two children and their cat. Sumayya loves reading and eating (preferably on a Durban beach) and hates injustice, Islamophobia, misogyny and February in England. For more about Sumayya, visit www.sumayyalee.com.
John has worked as a producer and director for the BBC; Channel Four and many ITV companies over thirty years, and has over two hundred broadcast credits to his name. They range from short films to longer docudramas. His programmes range from short form to investigations to World in Actions to dramas. He has significant experience of ‘Big Event’ programming, having worked as a producer or director on every BBC General Election since 1979, as well as BBC Event Days, several world leader summits and more.
He has been media adviser to two past presidents of Guyana, as well as the current president. At Coventry University John invented the ‘Coventry Conversations’ which weekly have brought two hundred and fifty movers and shakers in the media world to the University and which have generated much press interest. These include many household media names such as Trevor Phillips, Mark Thompson, Baroness Amos, Jon Snow, Kirsty Wark and Jeremy Vine. The Conversations have been called ‘the best speaker programme in any British University’ by Professor Richard Keeble.
John teaches broadcast journalism at all levels and encourages much interaction with the contemporary broadcast industry at local, national and international level. He has set up the Coventry News Forum for the local media to exchange views.
David Hayward is head of the BBC College of Journalism’s events programme, a series of conferences, master classes, debates and discussions on all issues surrounding journalism. David has been a journalist at the BBC for 17 years. He began his career at Radio Leicester and has since worked across the BBC, as a reporter, producer and editor in network radio, TV and for the BBC World Service Trust in Eastern Europe. Before taking up his current post, he was the TV Editor at BBC South Today in Oxford and ran the BBC local TV pilot in the West Midlands. He lectures and writes about the changing nature of journalism and the importance of journalistic ethics, regularly speaking at conferences both in the UK and internationally.
Asad can be seen presenting BBC London News on BBC1 but his career has undergone several changes in direction over the years. At the age of 18, he worked as a Foreign Exchange Dealer in the City of London. He then studied Physiology and Pharmacology at King’s College London, after which he worked at the House of Lords, examining some of the country’s oldest and most historical documents. Asad then went on to read Law in Bristol during which time he decided to try his hand at journalism. He won a place on the BBC’s News Trainee Scheme and within months he was a Political Reporter for the BBC in the Midlands and also a newsreader. Eighteen months later, he was the BBC’s Scotland Correspondent and the first Muslim newsreader on the BBC1 National News. Asad joined BBC London TV News a decade ago and he says “it’s like working with my best friends every day”. He has won a Royal Television Society Reporter of the Year Award for his BBC reports in London, Pakistan and Darfur and Asad has also been part of award winning teams on several other news programmes. After a near fatal motorcycle accident in 2008, Asad has significantly reduced his commitments outside work, spending most of his time with his family.