Brighton Book Festival Speakers 2023
Nels Abbey is a British-Nigerian writer, media executive and satirist. Prior to moving into media, he was a banker.
Nels has been published in major newspapers and magazines and is a co-founder of the Black Writers Guild. His first book THINK LIKE A WHITE MAN (Canongate, 2019) is an eviscerating satire of modern racial discourse and politics in the corporate world and his second book THE HIP HOP MBA will be published in 2024.
Founded in 1993, Actors of Dionysus is an award-winning charity and national touring company that specializes in creating innovative versions of ancient Greek drama and new writing inspired by myth. We are unique in the UK in that we are the only company solely dedicated to exploring this rich canon of work through a rigorous approach that marries academic understanding with artistic vision.
Actors of Dionysus has performed nationally and internationally in both theatres, arts centres, festivals and outdoor spaces as well as schools.
AFLO. the poet s an award-winning Brighton-based spoken word artist, activist and academic who embraces creative expression to disrupt the status quo and inspire social change. AFLO. uses poetry as a vehicle to address hard-hitting topics, particularly racism and mental health, primarily speaking from her lived experiences.
AFLO. has performed at various protests, festivals and events, in addition to offering workshops to encourage others to engage in creative expression as a means of personal as well as societal healing.
AFLO. is one of Brighton Dome’s in-house artists for 23/24 and is a significant force directing change in Brighton’s creative scenes.
Ore Agbaje-Williams is a British-Nigerian writer from London who has written for gal-dem, Glamour and Wasafiri.
She is an editor and wrote the novel in NaNoWriMo during lockdown. It was originally submitted to editors under a pseudonym.
Abha is an experienced school teacher, researcher and training facilitator specialising in Global Citizenship Education and Anti-Racism in schools.
Abha’s MA research focussed on holistic and strategic anti-racist school approaches, and she currently works across the south east with schools, local authorities, academy trusts and university teacher training programmes.
Rosanna Amaka was born in the UK and is of African and Caribbean heritage. Her debut novel, THE BOOK OF ECHOES, was shortlisted for the Authors' Club First Novel Award, the RSL Christopher Bland Prize and the HWA Debut Crown Award. ROSE AND THE BURMA SKY is her second novel and was inspired by a conversation with her grandmother while they were watching a war film in which all the soldiers were white.
Rosanna lives in London.
Annemarie began writing for children after struggling to find books for her daughter that featured main characters who reflected the diversity of children in our world. A former primary school teacher, Annemarie’s love for storytelling led her to study acting at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London and recently featured in multi award-winning Ted Lasso on Apple TV.
Annemarie performed with Bukky Leo & Black Egypt as a backing vocalist for many years and continues to sing in projects from Opera på Skäret to Tal till Nationen with Parkman & Konstgruppen Ful. Annemarie also campaigns for better mental health, support and well-being in early years. A Londoner, born to Ghanaian parents, Annemarie now lives in the Swedish forest with her young daughter, husband and their two adopted cats.
Sussie Anie is a British-Ghanaian writer, born in London in 1994. Her writing has been published in Lolwe, and was shortlisted for the 2020 White Review Short Story Prize. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia, where she was the recipient of the 2018-19 Kowitz Scholarship.
To Fill A Yellow House is her debut novel and delves into the under-explored corners and politics of a city she knows intimately. These include local politics, clashes in culture and ideology, immigration, integration and regeneration. It’s a novel about the changing structure and purpose of our cities, about the challenges faced by our high streets and local businesses, the struggle to fit in and the struggle to survive – and how friendship and community can save us.
Joelle Avelino is a Congolese and Angolan Illustrator who grew up in the United Kingdom. She obtained a BA (Hons) in Illustration with Marketing from the University of Hertfordshire. She is particularly motivated by the need for people from all races and backgrounds to see themselves in the world around them.
Her most recent children’s book, written by best selling author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, ‘Mama’s Sleeping Scarf’, will be published in September 2023. It is a tender story that celebrates the simple joys of family life.
She has also worked on several other titles including Hey You! Written by Dapo Adeola, a 2022, British Book Awards winner. An empowering celebration of growing up black and she worked on the 25th anniversary edition of Baroness Floella Benjamins classic memoir Coming to England. Her animation project with the Malala Fund was featured as one of Design Week’s favourite International Women’s Day projects of 2020. Joelle is also a teacher, a personal chef, a cleaner, a nurse and a chauffeur...the list can go on... to her Seven year old daughter.
Alinah Azadeh is a writer, artist, performer and cultural activist of British Iranian heritage. She uses text, audio, and live practices to create poetic narratives that activate spaces, amplifying untold or overlooked stories. As well as commissions for major museums and galleries over the last 30 years, Azadeh has had stories, poetry and articles published, most recently in Glimpse, the first anthology of speculative fiction by Black British writers, published by Peepal Tree Press, edited by Leone Ross.
She is inaugural writer-in-residence at Seven Sisters Country Park / Sussex Heritage Coast, commissioned by the South Downs National Park Authority, and led the We See You Now (2019–22), a decolonial landscape and literature programme which has produced We Hear You Now, a new body of work by 9 writers of colour for audio tour across the coastal landscape from June 2023–2028. Both are funded by Arts Council England. Alinah also presents for broadcast, and has a podcast The Colour of Chalk. She is writing her artist memoir, which was longlisted for the SI Leeds Literary Prize 2020.
Laura Bates is the founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, an ever-increasing collection of over 200,000 testimonies of gender inequality, with branches in over 20 countries worldwide. She works closely with politicians, police forces, businesses, schools and organisations from the United Nations to the Council of Europe to tackle sexism and sexual violence. Her campaigning and advocacy work has seen Facebook change its policies on sexual violence, helped British Transport Police to transform its approach to sexual assaults, increasing both reports and detection of offenders dramatically, and contributed to putting consent and healthy relationships on the national curriculum in the UK.
She is Patron of Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse Support and contributor at Women Under Siege, a New York-based organisation working to end rape as a weapon of war in conflict zones worldwide. She is a bestselling author of many books, including Everyday Sexism, Men Who Hate Women and Fix the System Not the Women. She is on the board of Equimundo, a global non-profit engaging and supporting men and boys to tackle gender inequality. She writes regularly for the New York Times, Guardian, Telegraph and others. Laura is an honorary fellow at St John’s College Cambridge and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She has been awarded a British Empire Medal by the Queen for her services to Gender Equality and named a Woman of the Year by Cosmopolitan, The Sunday Times Magazine and Red Magazine.
Jendella Benson is a British-Nigerian author and editor. Her debut novel Hope & Glory was published in April 2022 and her short story Kindle was published in The Book of Birmingham collection.
She is Head of Editorial at Black Ballad the award-winning digital magazine and membership community for black women in Britain and beyond – and has written for The Sunday Times STYLE, The Independent and The Telegraph. Originally from Birmingham, she is now based in London and is working on her second novel.
Maame Blue is a Ghanaian-Londoner and author of the novel Bad Love, which won the 2021 Betty Trask award, and was shortlisted for the Betty Trask Prize. In 2020 she joined a scriptwriting team to remix a Venezuelan telenovela for African audiences, and her short stories have appeared in Not Quite Right For Us (Flipped Eye Publishing), New Australian Fiction 2020 (Kill Your Darlings), and Joyful, Joyful (Pan Macmillan). Maame is a
recipient of the 2022 Society of Authors Travelling Scholarship and was a 2022 POCC Artist-in-Residence.
Maame contributes regularly to Writers Mosaic and has written pieces for Refinery29, Black Ballad and Society of Authors Magazine. She regularly runs creative writing workshops and has partnered with organisations including Arvon, Spread the Word and Renaissance One.
Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff is an Award-winning freelance journalist, book editor, columnist, host, and creative with focuses on features and profiles on identity, culture, lifestyle, travel, media, and social politics.
She is the Managing Editor at Skin Deep, a former Senior Staff Editor at the New York Times and the former Editor-in-Chief at gal-dem magazine. She has written and edited for a variety of publications, including the Guardian and Observer, Dazed, and the Financial Times.
Editor of the books Black Joy (Penguin, 2021), a new anthology that explores what it means to be Black and British today, and Mother Country: Real Stories of the Windrush Children (Hachette, 2018), a leading exploration of the Windrush generation.
Experienced host, speaker and panellist on radio, TV and at events. Commercial clients include BAFTA, Exposure, Nike and Channel 4.
Scott Trust alumnus, and winner of the 2016 Georgina Henry Award for Innovation in Journalism.
Stephen Buoro was born and brought up in Nigeria where he gained a first class degree in Mathematics.
Awarded a Booker Prize Foundation Scholarship, he gained an MA and is now studying for a fully-funded PhD in Creative & Critical Writing at UEA.
Tanya Byrne was born in London where she spent forty years before moving to Brighton in 2017 with her dog, Frida. After eight years at BBC Radio, she left to write her debut young adult novel, HEART-SHAPED BRUISE, which was published by Headline in May 2012 and earned her a nomination for New Writer of the Year at the National Book Awards. Since then, she has written four other young adult novels and has contributed to several short story anthologies including A CHANGE IS GONNA COME, which was named Sunday Times Children's Book of the Week and was honoured with a Special Achievement Award by the YA Book Prize.
As a brown, queer, working class author, she is determined not to pull the ladder up after her so is passionate about encouraging authors from marginalised backgrounds to tell their own stories and making publishing more open to everyone.
Her latest novel, AFTERLOVE, is out now. She is currently working with Emma Reeves and Two Rivers Media to adapt it for television.
Hannah Eaton has written and illustrated two acclaimed graphic novels: Naming Monsters (Myriad Editions, 2013) was shortlisted for the First Graphic Novel Prize and the Ninth Art Award, and Blackwood (Myriad 2020), a folk horror murder mystery of middle England, was featured in the Guardian’s Books of the Year 2020. She is currently working on a graphic memoir and an anthology of contemporary ghost stories.
Her work has been published in Studies in Gender and Sexuality, Asylum, Doll Hospital and The Inking Woman, and she has worked with children and adults - including street sex workers, neurodivergent parents and children experiencing difficulties in the school system - for more than 20 years as an autism specialist, support worker, learning mentor and creative workshop facilitator.
She was born in London and lives in Brighton.
Diana Evans is the author of the novels 26a, The Wonder and Ordinary People. She has received nominations for the Whitbread First Novel, the Guardian First Book and the Commonwealth Best First Book awards and was the inaugural winner of the Orange Award for New Writers.
Ordinary People won the 2019 South Bank Sky Arts Award for Literature and was shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction, the Rathbones Folio Prize and the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction, and also received a nomination for the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction. Her journalism appears in Time magazine, the Guardian, Vogue and the Financial Times.
She lives in London. www.diana-evans.com
Naomi and Natalie Evans are a dynamic duo who are making a powerful impact on the fight against racism in the UK. In May 2020, a video of Natalie confronting two men racially abusing a ticket conductor went viral on Twitter, sparking a movement that would become @everydayracism_, an anti-racism platform on Instagram with over 200k followers. Through this platform, Naomi, and Natalie provide educational posts focused on how to be anti-racist. Naomi and Natalie are also the authors of the non-fiction book "The Mixed-Race Experience," published by Penguin, and "Everyday Action, Everyday Change," a children's book published by Hachette. Their work has been featured in various publications such as Red magazine, Grazia, and the I newspaper for their impactful anti-racism
They have also contributed essays to two YA books entitled "Teenage Armageddon” and "Allies," which has been selected as the World Book Day title for 2023. Through their writing, public speaking, and anti-racism work, Naomi and Natalie are inspiring a generation to stand up against racism and make a difference in their communities.
At the heart of their work is a commitment to empowering people to make a difference in the world. Naomi and Natalie are natural communicators who believe that education and action are the fundamental routes to stopping social injustice. Naomi and Natalie are dedicated to dismantling systemic racism by empowering individuals with the knowledge and skills to create positive change.
Jimi Famurewa is a British-Nigerian author, broadcaster and freelance journalist. His writing has appeared in the Guardian, Wired, GQ, Empire and Time Out London.
He is the chief restaurant critic for the Evening Standard, a regular guest judge on the BBC One series MasterChef and was also one of the judges on Channel 4’s The Great Cookbook Challenge with Jamie Oliver.
In 2021, he won Restaurant Writer of the Year at both the Fortnum & Mason Awards and the Guild of Food Writers Awards and as an interviewer he has profiled Black African Londoners including Idris Elba, John Boyega and Skepta. He lives in South-East London with his family.
Marchelle Farrell is a writer, medical psychotherapist, and amateur gardener, born in Trinidad and Tobago, but having spent over 20
years attempting to become hardy here in the UK.
She is deeply curious about the relationship between our external and internal landscapes, the patterns we reenact in relation to the land, and how they might be changed. When not neglecting it for the care of her children, Marchelle spends much of her time getting to know her country garden in Somerset, and writing about the things the garden teaches her about herself.
Her debut book, Uprooting, won the Nan Shepherd Prize for nature writing and will be published by Canongate in August 2023.
Indie has created a Holistic Wellbeing space offering a variety of healing modalities to help you feel your best. She shares her ancestral practices of Yoga, meditation and Ayurveda as a means to live well through the rhythms of nature whilst taking in your unique lived experience to create tailored treatments for you. Holistic facials are an opportunity to look after yourself through your skin and Indie only uses natural, cruelty free and skin friendly products to bring out your inner glow. Now the question is which journey do you want to take?
Indie guides Brighton's only Yoga class for Women of colour and is passionate about creating spaces for people of the global majority to be seen, heard and to rest. She believes self care and collective care are inherently linked and shares with this in mind.
Salena Godden is one of Britain’s foremost spoken word artists and poets whose electrifying live performances and BBC radio broadcasts have earned her a devoted following. She is the author of the collections, Under The Pier, Fishing in the Aftermath: Poems 1994-2014, and the literary memoir Springfield Road. Her live spoken word album LIVEwire was released with indie spoken word label Nymphs and Thugs and shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award for new work in poetry 2017.
A new hardback edition of her poetry Pessimism is for Lightweights - 30 Pieces of Courage and Resistance was published in February 2023 by Rough Trade Books. These are poems written for the women’s march, poems that salute peaceful protest, poems on sexism and racism, class discrimination, poverty and homelessness, immigration and identity. This new edition expands the collection to full book length and shows Godden at her inimitable best—deft technique and powerful emotional heft, with additional new poems reflecting on our fast- changing world with her trademark humour and resilience.
In November 2020, she was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Her debut novel Mrs Death Misses Death won The Indie Book Award for fiction and was the winner of The Peoples Book Prize 2022. It was also shortlisted for The British Book Awards; The Bad Form Magazine Book Of The Year shortlist and The Gordon Burn Prize. Film and TV rights to this unique debut novel have been taken by Idris Elba and Green Door Pictures.
Colin Grant is an author of six books. They include: Negro with a Hat: The Rise and Fall of Marcus Garvey; and a group biography of the Wailers, I&I, The Natural Mystics. His memoir, Bageye at the Wheel, was shortlisted for the Pen/Ackerley Prize, 2013. Grant’s history of epilepsy, A Smell of Burning, was a Sunday Times Book of the Year 2016.
As a producer for the BBC, Grant wrote and directed several radio drama documentaries including A Fountain of Tears: The Murder of Federico Garcia Lorca; and A History of the N Word.
Grant is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and Director of WritersMosaic, an innovative online platform for new writing and a division of the Royal Literary Fund. He also writes for a number of newspapers and journals including the Guardian, Observer, New Statesman, TLS, London Review of Books, Granta and New York Review of Books.
Grant’s Homecoming: Voices of the Windrush Generation, was a BBC radio 4 Book of the Week and a Daily Telegraph Book of the year 2019. His latest memoir, I’m Black So You Don’t Have to Be is published by Jonathan Cape on 26 January 2023.
Louise Hare is a London-based author. Her debut novel, This Lovely City, was published in the UK to wide acclaim, and was a Between the Covers Book Club Pick on BBC Two.
She has an MA in creative writing from the University of London. Her second novel Miss Aldridge Regrets is a brilliant Agatha Christie-esque murder mystery.
Marvyn Harrison is a visionary leader who has become renowned for his ability to deliver business goals and drive cultural change through sound strategy, communication, and people management. He is highly respected in his industry and is considered a credible source of knowledge on community strategy.
As the founder of Dope Black Dads and Dope Black Men, Marvyn has become a powerful voice for the Black community across the UK, US, and Africa. Through his work at BELOVD, a strategic consultancy focusing on cultural transformation, he has helped clients such as WPP, Footlocker, City Football Group, and News UK achieve tangible results across a range of projects and campaigns. By focusing on policies and procedures, talent acquisition, HR, and people strategy, Marvyn is able to effect real change and deliver meaningful results.
In addition to his impactful work, Marvyn is a regular contributor to Good Morning Britain, Steph’s Packed Lunch, The Kick Off, and BBC 5Live, lending his expertise to important discussions on a range of issues. He is also an accomplished author, having published two children's books with Pan Macmillan Kids: "I Love Me" and "The Best Me," and is soon to announce another book focused on helping men with personal transformation during these important times.
With his passion for leadership, community, and diversity, Marvyn is dedicated to making a significant impact in his industry and society. Through his work and contributions, Marvyn is helping to create a more equitable and just world for all.
Ty'rone Haughton is a Jamaican born poet, author and former looked after child. Ty'rone's poetry focuses on societal issues, identity and lived experiences. Ty’rone’s writing is distinct, it is gentle yet brutal in approach.
In 2022, Ty’rone founded a poetry organisation, Literati Arts - which offers high quality poetry projects. Literati Arts passionately works with looked after children and care leavers as well as the black community in Leicester. And in late 2022, Ty’rone’s debut poetry collection HOODS, was published by Verve Poetry Press.
Ty’rone is currently working on his Arts Council England DYCP project, where he is researching and exploring the identity of Jamaican poetry and the performance of it. And writing his first play, to bring to the stage in Spring 2024.
Farah Karim-Cooper is co-director of Education at Shakespeare’s Globe, where she has overseen
research, scholarship and higher education programmes for over 18 years and Professor of
Shakespeare Studies, King’s College London.
Farah has recently served as President of the
Shakespeare Association of America and is on the Advisory Council for the Warburg Institute. She led the architectural enquiries into early modern theatres at Shakespeare’s Globe, overseeing the
research into the design and construction of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, the Globe’s indoor
Jacobean theatre. She has published six books, having written two academic monographs published by Edinburgh University Press and Bloomsbury.
She has also published over 40 chapters in books, reviews and articles and is a General Editor for Arden’s Shakespeare in the Theatre series as well as co-General Editor for the Folger Shakespeare Editions.
Dorothy Koomson is an award-winning, global bestselling author of 18 novels, known as the ‘Queen of the Big Reveal’. Her emotional thrillers have connected with readers all over the world; her books are regularly Sunday Times bestsellers, have sold over 2.5 million copies in the UK alone and have been translated into more than 30 languages.
Dorothy featured on the 2021 Powerlist as one of the most influential Black people in Britain, appeared in GQ Style as a Black British trailblazer, and was a judge for the 2022 Women’s Prize for Fiction. 2023 marks Dorothy’s 20th anniversary as a published author. A special anniversary edition of her debut novel, The Cupid Effect, will be published by Headline in July 2023. Her new book, My Other Husband, is published in paperback on 13th April.
Patrice Lawrence MBE is the author of twelve books including Eight Pieces of Silva and Orangeboy. Her Tudor story Diver’s
Daughter was one of the launch titles for Scholastic’s widely acclaimed Voices series.
Lawrence’s work has won the Waterstones Prize
for Older Children’s Fiction, the Jhalak Prize for children’s and YA, and the YA Book Prize among other awards. In 2023 Lawrence was shortlisted for the YOTO Carnegie Medal for her novel Needle. Lawrence is an Ambassador for First Story, England’s leading creative
writing charity for young people.
Taio Lawson is a director raised between South London and St. Lucia.After a year working as Resident Direct on the London production of Hamilton, he was recently announced as the Young Vic's 2023 Genesis Fellow / Associate Director, a two-year programme for experienced directors and theatremakers to develop their craft in directing, programming and artistic planning.
The Young Vic was where Taio saw his first play, thanks to the work the outreach departments did, and continue to do, with local state primary schools. After studying at The Brit School, Taio followed in David Lan’s footsteps, studying Anthropology at University. His work is varied, but he is fundamentally interested in political stories and stories that exist to explore the inherent contradictions of modern life.
As a teenager, Taio made work for fringe festivals across the UK, taking some of that work internationally. He has been the Boris Karloff Assistant Director and Jerwood Assistant Director at the Young Vic, as well as RTYDS (Regional Theatre Young Directors Scheme) 18- Month Resident Director at Sheffield Theatres where he directed debbie tucker green's hang. He was also an Associate Director at Kiln Theatre, directing NW Trilogy for them.
Other credits include An Unfinished Man (The Yard Theatre), HOME 20 Digital installation (Young Vic Theatre online) and Home - Installation (Young Vic Theatre).
Liv is a writer of Jamaican and Guyanese descent via South London. Liv tells stories with heart about the people and places that matter to her. Her work spans journalism, audio, TV and curatorial projects for which she's received various accolades, including LGBTQI+ Broadcaster of The Year and Rising Star at Wow.
Her short story, 'The Sisters' was published in the critically-acclaimed HAG, a collection of forgotten folktales retold. She was a BBC writer in residence for 2021, in which she developed an original pilot for a queer conspiracy thriller. Liv is most at peace in nature, and she now lives by the sea. Rosewater is her debut novel.
Mikaela Loach is the bestselling author of It's Not That Radical: Climate Action To Transform Our World, a climate justice activist, co-host of The YIKES Podcast, writer and 4th year medical student based in Brighton.
In 2020, Forbes, Global Citizen and BBC Woman's Hour named Mikaela as one of the most influential women in the UK climate movement. In 2021, she was one of three claimants on the "Paid To Pollute" case who took the UK government to court over the huge public payments they give to fossil fuel companies every year.
Her work focuses on the intersections of the climate crisis with oppressive systems and making the climate movement a more accessible space. "It's Not That Radical: Climate Action To Transform Our World" is her first book.
Adriana Lord is a singer, songwriter, and actress with a background in medicine, contemporary dance, events production, Playback, and Spontaneous Theatre.
She has been a founder of several choirs and theatre groups and has many vocal credits including soundtracks, commercials, and albums.
Adriana has performed on radio and TV, including BBC1 and BBC 4, as well as theatres, festivals, and venues across the UK, France, Brazil, and Cuba. She is also the lead singer in Son Guarachando, a Brighton-based Latin band.
As a music leader Adriana currently works as a teacher of singing, theatre, and Spanish to young people, and also collaborates with the theatre groups Teatro por y para Niños, Banyan Tree Puppet Theatre, MOSAIC, Luna Playback Theatre, and Something From Nothing Theatre Company.
She has delivered singing workshops in festivals, prisons, schools, hospitals, and care homes as well as been involved in cultural projects in the battle against AIDS, homophobia and transphobia, racism, and other sorts of discrimination.
Roy McFarlane is a Poet, Playwright and former Youth & Community Worker born in Birmingham of Jamaican parentage, living in Brighton. He’s the National Canal Laureate and former Birmingham Poet Laureate, Starbucks Poet in Residence and is the co-editor of Celebrate Wha? Ten Black British Poets from the Midlands (Smokestack, 2011).
His debut collection, Beginning With Your Last Breath, (Nine Arches Press 2016) was followed by The Healing Next Time, (Nine Arches Press 2018) shortlisted for the Ted Hughes award and longlisted for the Jhalak Prize. And his greatly anticipated third collection Living by Troubled Waters is out now with Nine Arches Press.
Matthew Mackinnon and Ryan Payne are LGBTQIA+ creators who share their love, life and adventures across their online family of 7 million followers. They pride themselves on laughter and spreading love, working everyday to help normalise being a same sex couple and be a voice for those in the LGBTQIA+ community who need it. With both of their experiences being so different, they understand how everyone's journey is never the same and sometimes we all need a little help in hand. They have received countless questions over the years surrounding the topic of LGBTQIA+ and want to continue to create content and literature with depth and compassion that offers support as people navigate their own journeys through the rainbow. Follow them on Tik Tok @matthewandryanuk.
For the LGBTQIA+ community, Matthew and Ryan are not only the fun-loving faces of social media - they've become the online agony uncles for a new generation, receiving countless messages from their followers looking for answers to so many questions.
Matthew and Ryan know it can be an emotional rollercoaster, and they are here to support and guide you every step of the way. Packed with bite-size entries, tips and advice on everything from coming out to working through some of the confusing feelings you might have, looking after your mental health, finding your tribe and feeling confident in your own skin, Matthew and Ryan have created the ultimate guidebook they wish they'd been given when they were discovering who they were.
Maxine Mei-Fung Chung is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist, clinical supervisor and writer with over fifteen years of clinical experience.
She lectures on gender and sexuality, trauma and attachment theory at the Bowlby Centre and was presented with The Jafar Kareem Award for her work supporting people from ethnic minorities experiencing isolation and mental health problems. What Women Want is her first work of non-fiction.
Donna Noble is an Author, Wellbeing Coach, Educator and Founder of Curvesomeyoga.
She is widely known for her dedication to making yoga and wellbeing more accessible and inclusive. She is also a social justice and diversity and inclusion advocate. As well as an original co-creator of the UK's first Black wellbeing & fitness festival.
Her first book, “Teaching Body Positive Yoga” was published in August 2022 and she contributed to
the Anthology “Forgiveness is the Hardest Thing” in January 2021.
Donna is also a Writer, and her work has been featured in countless print and digital media, including HuffPost, Thrive Global, Stylist Magazine, The Metro, Om Yoga and Lifestyle Magazine and on BBC Radio London and Channel 4.
Okechukwu Nzelu is a Manchester-based writer. In 2015 he was the recipient of a Northern Writers' Award from New Writing North.
His debut novel, The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney (Dialogue Books), won a Betty Trask Award; it was also shortlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize and the Polari First Book Prize, and longlisted for the Portico Prize. In 2021, it was selected for the Kingston University Big Read. He is a regular contributor to Kinfolk magazine, and a Lecturer in Creative Writing at Lancaster University.
Kajal Odedra is an author and activist based in London and New York. Currently the Global Communications Director, Change.org, she has over 15 years experience in activism, supporting some of the biggest people powered campaigns in the UK and around the world.
She has an MA in Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths University where she was shortlisted for the Pat Kavanagh Award.
Her writing has appeared in the Guardian,
Independent, New Statesman and The Times. Her first book, DO SOMETHING, was published by Hodder in 2019. Her second book, HAIR/ POWER, is a collection of essays out now with Ink 404.
Irenosen Okojie is a Nigerian British author whose work pushes the boundaries of form, language, and ideas. Her novel Butterfly Fish, and short story collections, Speak Gigantular and Nudibranch, have won and been nominated for multiple awards.
Her journalism has been featured in The New York Times, The Observer, The Guardian and The Huffington Post. She is a Contributing Editor for The White Review. She co-presents the BBC's Turn Up For The Books podcast alongside Simon Savidge and Bastille frontman, Dan Smith.
Her work has been optioned for the screen. She has also judged various literary prizes including the Dylan Thomas Prize, The Gordon Burn Prize as well as the BBC National Short Story Award. She is a judge for the 2023 Women's Prize For Fiction. Vice Chair of the Royal Society of Literature, she was awarded an MBE For Services to Literature in 2021.
Kwame Owusu is a director and writer. He trained at the University of Manchester and Birkbeck, University of London. Kwame
Owusu was the Resident Assistant Director at the Lyric Hammersmith, 2021/2022 and is a Young Associate at the Gate Theatre.
Kwame Owusu’s work in theatre as a director includes The Bacchae at the Lyric Hammersmith; Othello at ArtsEd; stoning mary at Arts University Bournemouth; The Wolf from the Door at the John Thaw Studio; Rota at Antwerp Mansion; and Pomona at
Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the King’s Arms, Manchester. Work as a Staff Director includes Romeo and Julie at the National
Theatre and Sherman Theatre.
Work as an associate or assistant director includes Closer, Britannicus, Scandaltown, and Running With Lions at the Lyric Hammersmith; Bee at the Old Vic; and Utopolis at Manchester International Festival. His writing for theatre includes HORIZON for the Bush.
Nii Ayikwei Parkes is a Ghanaian-British writer, editor and publisher, who has won acclaim as a children's author, poet, broadcaster and novelist. He is the author of the poetry chapbooks: eyes of a boy, lips of a man (1999), his début; M is for Madrigal (2004), a selection of seven jazz poems; and Ballast (2009), an imagination of the slave trade by balloon. His poem, ‘Tin Roof’, was selected for the Poems on the Underground initiative in 2007, followed by the poem ‘Barter,’ chosen from his first full collection The Makings of You, published by Peepal Tree in 2010.
His novel, Tail of the Blue Bird (Jonathan Cape, 2009), hailed by the Financial Times as ‘a beautifully written fable… simple in form, but grappling with urgent issues,’ was lauded internationally, becoming a bestseller in Germany and notably winning France's two major prizes for translated fiction – Prix Baudelaire and Prix Laure Bataillon – in 2014. He is also the author of two books for children – The Parade and Tales from Africa – under the name K.P. Kojo.
Dr Ronx is a trans non-binary emergency medicine doctor by profession. They describe themself as a queer, black, androgynous intersectional feminist. They self-funded their way through Medical School after leaving home in their teenage years and graduated from Kings College Medical School in 2011.
Dr Ronx comes from a difficult upbringing and realised their unique story could help motivate and inspire young people. Dr Ronx is passionate about volunteering and has mentored young people in the local community and provided aid to Syrian refugees in Turkey.
Dr Ronx has appeared regularly on TV, presenting: ‘Operation Ouch’ on CBBC; ‘The Unshockable Dr Ronx’ for BBC 3; ‘The Truth About Boosting Your Immune System’ on BBC One; and highly acclaimed Channel 4 investigative documentary ‘Is Covid Racist?’. Their non-fiction book for 6 to 9 year olds 'Amazing Bodies' will be published in the Little Expert series in July 2023.
Their motto is “You cannot be, what you do not see”.
Nikesh Shukla is a novelist and screenwriter. He is the author of Coconut Unlimited (shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award), Meatspace and the critically acclaimed The One Who Wrote Destiny. Nikesh is the editor of the bestselling essay collection, The Good Immigrant, which won the reader's choice at the Books Are My Bag Awards. He co-edited The Good Immigrant USA with Chimene Suleyman. He is the author of two YA novels, Run, Riot (shortlisted for a National Book Award) and The Boxer (longlisted for the Carnegie Medal).
Nikesh was one of Time Magazine’s cultural leaders, Foreign Policy magazine's 100 Global Thinkers and The Bookseller's 100 most influential people in publishing in 2016 and in 2017. He is the co-founder of the literary journal, The Good Journal and The Good Literary Agency. Nikesh is a fellow of the Royal Society Of Literature and a member of the Folio Academy. Nikesh has written a memoir, Brown Baby: A Memoir Of Race, Family And Home and a book on writing called, Your Story Matters.
Sunny Singh is a writer, novelist, public intellectual, and a champion for decolonisation and inclusion across all aspects of society. She is the founder of the Jhalak Prize for Book of the Year by a Writer of Colour, the Jhalak Children’s and YA Prize, and the Jhalak Art
She is the author of three critically acclaimed novels – Nani’s Book of Suicides, With Krishna’s Eyes and Hotel Arcadia. Her first book of non-
fiction was Single in the City: The Independent Woman’s Handbook, a first-of-its-kind exploration of single women in contemporary India.
Her pioneering study of the Indian superstar Amitabh Bachchan was published in the BFI Bloomsbury Film Stars series. Her short stories are published in The Drawbridge, The Good Journal and World Literature Today, and her creative non-fiction and academic writing is published in international journals and anthologies.
She writes for English and Spanish newspapers and magazines around the world. Her next book - described as a 'love letter to Indian cinema' is titled Bollywood State of Mind and will be published by Footnote Press in October 2023.
Sunny lives in London where she is Professor of Creative Writing and Inclusion in the Arts at the London Metropolitan University.
Alice Slater spent six years working as a bookseller with Waterstones. She started as a Christmas temp in Manchester Deansgate and worked her way up to bookshop manager of Romford, then Gower Street's fiction section, and eventually Notting Hill Gate, lending a hand in 20 different branches across the UK on the way.
Now a London-based writer, she is a co-host of literary podcast "What Page Are You On?" and writes for Mslexia.
Yomi Ṣode is an award-winning Nigerian British writer. He is a recipient of the 2019 Jerwood
Compton Poetry Fellowship and was shortlisted for the Brunel International African Poetry Prize
His acclaimed one-man show COAT toured nationally to sold-out audiences, including at the
Brighton Festival, Roundhouse Camden and the Battersea Arts Centre.
In 2020 his libretto Remnants, written in collaboration with award winning composer James B. Wilson and performed with Chineke! Orchestra, premiered on BBC Radio 3. In 2021, his play, and breathe... premiered at the Almeida Theatre to rave reviews, and in 2022 the Southbank staged a sold-out adaptation of Manorism.
Vicky Spratt is a journalist whose work regularly shapes public policy. Her 2016 campaign 'Make Renting Fair' led to letting fees in England and Wales being banned, and she has spoken at political conferences, all-party parliamentary groups and panels across the country on the issue of housing.
She has appeared on BBC News, Newsnight, Woman's Hour, Radio 4 and NTS Radio. In 2020, she was nominated as Journalist of the Year at the Drum Awards for Online Media, and in 2021 her stories delving deep into Britain's housing emergency saw her shortlisted for a British Journalism award. She is currently the i Paper's Housing Correspondent and a writer and editor at Refinery29.
Greg Stobbs is an illustrator, street artist and associate lecturer from the South East
UK. He’s worked internationally on a range of creative projects, from installations to
interactive art pieces. With an interest in creative inspiration, Greg has given a TED X talk on listening to children in order to rediscover wonder.
Most recently he has been illustrating his debut picture book, Don’t Ask the Dragon by poet Lemn Sissay, which was published with Canongate Books in 2022. Using both traditional and digital techniques, Greg likes to develop magical stories and worlds that attempt to cross the boundaries between Fine Art, Street Art and Children’s book illustration.
Venessa J Taylor was born and raised in the heart of London, where she attended both primary and secondary schools in Hackney. She went onto study higher education in Brixton and Hackney Colleges before attending North London university and graduating with a Batchelor of Education with Honours.
Venessa a mother of three, went on to have a long and illustrious teaching career spanning over twenty years. She started her teaching career in Hackney then moved on to teach in Haringey before returning to Hackney to take up the role of Assistant Headteacher.
In 2016, Venessa was diagnosed with Leukaemia and was eventually medically retired in 2017. Venessa is an ambassador for several cancer charities including Leukaemiacare and ACLT, where she uses her experience of Leukaemia to spread awareness and encourage others to register as lifesaving stem cell donors.
On retirement with the support and encouragement from her family Venessa managed to carve out a new career as a writer, storyteller and author, with her debut book BallerBoys becoming a prize-winning number 1 best seller. Venessa is a loving grandmother to two football crazy boys who inspire her to write books that include characters that look like them. Her second book in the series is due for publication in May 2023 and she has just been commissioned to write a seven-book series about a girl’s football team;
In her spare time Venessa enjoys swimming and yoga.
Brandon Taylor is the author of Real Life, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, and named a New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice, and of the US bestseller Filthy Animals, for which he won The Story Prize and was shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize.
He holds graduate degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Iowa, where he was an Iowa Arts Fellow at the Iowa Writers' Workshop in fiction. He tweets at @blgtylr, where he has 90k followers.
Fats Timbo is a 26-year-old TikTok comedian and Podcaster with 3 million followers online, who rose to prominence for her snappy sketches, quick wit and disability-advocacy.
You can find her on TikTok and Instagram @fatstimbo.
Helen Trevorrow is a writer based in Brighton. She is a graduate of the Faber Academy.
Helen writes about women, work and ethics. Her first novel, In The Wake is a feminist crime thriller that explores sexuality, family and alcoholism. Her second novel, New Brighton is a speculative thriller set in a dystopian near-future. Both novels feature queer protagonists.
Helen loves 1980s sci-fi movies and nice stationery. She lives in Hove with her wife, daughter and dog.
Obioma Ugoala is an actor, writer and workshop facilitator in schools and institutions focusing on how organisations can move from token diversity to active anti-racist institutions.
Since graduating from Drama Centre London he has performed extensively with The Royal Shakespeare Company, touring with them to China and New York.
Most recently he has been in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s adaptation of Hamnet and previously starred in the original London companies of Frozen: The Musical as Kristoff, Hamilton as George Washington, and Motown: The Musical as Smokey Robinson, as well as spearheading a campaign of outreach to BAME students in the Greater London area.
Lerato Umah-Shaylor is an award winning author, broadcaster and chef, a leading voice in contemporary cooking especially in African cooking. Her debut cookbook Africana: Treasured recipes and stories from across the continent, was published in 2022.
A culinary expedition celebrating cooking from across the African continent Africana travels the continent showcasing its vibrant and varied cuisines that are rich in flavour, diverse in culture and steeped in tradition. Combining recipes passed down the generations with her own modern and inventive style, food writer and cook Lerato shares her own stories of Africa with a delectable sense of adventure. Discover iconic dishes from Nigeria to Madagascar, Morocco to South Africa.
There are over 100 recipes to delight and inspire, Spice Island Coconut Fish Curry, Harissa Leg of Lamb with Hibiscus, Senegalese Yassa, Tunisian Tagine, South African Malva Pudding, and the secret to the perfect Jollof. Bursting with flavour and offering a sense of wanderlust, Africana will bring the magic of the continent to your kitchen.
Varaidzo is a writer, editor and artist. She was previously the Digital Marketing, Communications and Content Producer at Open Eye Gallery, the Digital Editor at Wasafiri and the Arts & Culture Editor at gal-dem.
Her artwork has been featured in Metro and Vice UK. She is the creator of the Black British Figures archive, which has been exhibited in Theatre Peckham and featured on Great British Railway Journeys.
Varaidzo is a contributor to the romance anthology Who’s Loving You (Trapeze, 2021). Her short story ‘Bus Stop’ was shortlisted for the Guardian 4th Estate BAME Prize 2018. She is a contributor to the bestselling anthology The Good Immigrant which won the reader's choice at the Books Are My Bag Awards 2016.
Her essays and articles have been featured in The Guardian, New Statesman, and Dazed amongst other publications. She is a regular panel speaker and runs workshops with a focus on making media and creative industries more accessible to BAME and young people.
In her personal work, she has a particular interest in documenting stories of the African diaspora in the digital age, through film, art, audio and fiction.
Varaidzo is represented by Nicola Chang at David Higham Associates.
Catherine Joy White Cat is a gender advisor for the United Nations, writer, actor and filmmaker. She grew up between Northampton, Yorkshire and Wales before moving to Paris, Geneva and back to Paris again. She holds degrees in English & French from the University of Warwick and Women’s Studies from the University of Oxford. She was named in 2022 on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list.
She is currently based in Oxford and London where she juggles her time between providing advisory services as a gender expert for the United Nations, directing her company Kusini Productions — a platform dedicated to creating opportunities for Black women and girls — and working both in front of and behind the camera as an actor and filmmaker. After graduating from University of Oxford she attended Oxford School of Drama, graduating in 2018.
She can most recently be seen in the Swedish series Threesome which has just been bought by Channel 4 and renewed for a second season; she also starred in Amazon's Call My Agent UK. Cat also wrote, directed and played the leading role in short film Fifty-Four Days alongside Juliet Cowan and Celia Imrie.
Her debut screenplay, Fifty-Four Days, was released in Autumn 2022.
Cat's first book, This Thread of Gold, is forthcoming from Dialogue Books as their super lead non-fiction title in 2023.
Frances Mensah Williams CBE is a British-Ghanaian writer. Her debut novel, the romantic comedy From Pasta to Pigfoot, went straight in at no. 23 of WH Smith Travel’s Top 100 Summer Reads. It was followed by the sequel From Pasta to Pigfoot: Second Helpings. Integrating her African heritage into her writing, Frances’s novel Imperfect Arrangements and a novella series, the Marula Heights Romances, are set in Ghana.
In 2022, her novel, The Second Time We Met went straight to #1 on the Amazon Kindle bestseller list for Black and African American Romance. Her latest novel, the bestseller Strictly Friends, was published in March 2023.
Frances is also the author of two non-fiction books: Everyday Heroes – Learning from the Careers of Successful Black Professionals and I Want to Work in Africa – How to Move Your Career to the World’s Most Exciting Continent. She has contributed freelance articles to numerous print and online publications including The Voice, The Big Issue, and The Irish Times, as well as short stories for My Weekly, Hello! Magazine, and S (Daily Express) Magazine.
Alongside her writing, Frances is an entrepreneur, consultant, and Executive Coach. The founder of the international development organisation, Interims for Development, she has led international skills and business development projects in the UK and across Africa and is the founder/Managing Editor of ReConnect Africa.com, a careers portal for professionals of Africa heritage. Frances was awarded the CBE by HM Queen Elizabeth II in 2020 for services to the African community in the UK and Africa.
Twitter & Instagram: @francesmensahw
ReConnect Africa: www.ReConnectAfrica.com
Sarah Wordlaw is Headteacher working in South London, and is passionate about the power of representation and inclusivity within education.