Some of the members of Ampthill Writers’ Group.
Rob Baker is a pianist and music teacher who spent eight years living in West Africa. During most of that time, he blogged about his adventures (on his website), which then led him into writing a full scale book. “Adventures in Music and Culture” recounts Rob’s musical travels through Togo and Benin in a somewhat unreliable Land Rover. He currently teaches music in Bedfordshire and is working on further books.
Alanna Collen is a full-time science writer whose first popular science book, 10% Human, about the role of the human body’s trillions of microbes in maintaining health and happiness, was published in April 2015 by HarperCollins. Alanna’s career has alternated between writing and scientific research, including a PhD in evolutionary biology and a stint writing for the wildlife website ARKive, as well as the odd article for the Sunday Times Magazine. She is currently working on her second book about the science of weight gain, and the role of environmental chemicals known as obesogens in disrupting our appetites and metabolisms.
Dr John Emsley was at King’s College London for 22 years and produced over 100 original research papers. He was also chemistry consultant and writer for New Scientist. In 1990 he moved to Imperial College to become their Science Writer in Residence and also wrote a column for The Independent newspaper for 7 years. He subsequently moved to a similar position at the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge. His first popular science book was The Consumer’s Good Chemical Guide which won the Science Book Prize of 1995. Since then he has written another 12 books, most of which have been translated into other languages.
Richard Farquharson has published two books: Musings from Maulden and More Musings from Maulden. Inspired by the sublime and the ordinary, these combined diaries, travelogues and personal jotters include descriptions which never disappoint. Richard also opens in these a door on the world of Monasteries and Convents, allowing us to journey alongside him as he enters into these otherwise largely hidden places. He has also written a number of short stories and other works which can be viewed on his website. In March 2016 one of Richard’s haiku compositions was selected for inclusion and discussion in the Good Friday 2016 broadcast from Things Unseen and in April 2016 one of his poems Miracles Beyond was chosen for inclusion in a book of religious poetry to be published by United Press called Aspects of Faith.
Diana Jackson is a writer of historical fiction who also dabbles in memoirs and murders. She has two novels in her Riduna series published; Riduna, set on the island of Alderney in the late 19th Century, and Ancasta Guide me Swiftly Home which takes the series to the Southampton area, through the Great War to 1920. There is a third in the pipeline.
Diana has also compiled two memoirs, The Life and Demise of Norman Campbell and The Healing Paths of Fife, a personal fantasy memoir. Her murder mystery, MURDER, Now and Then is set in the heart of mid-Bedfordshire in 1919 and 2019. Another novel in her mystery series will follow this year. Diana’s first novel was published by Pegasus Elliot MacKenzie, but she now publishes through her own Indie Press cooperative, www.eventispress.co.uk, through which she is also helping other local writers to realise their dream of bringing their manuscripts into print.
Although Diana has now moved to Fife she likes to keep in touch and remains an honorary member of the Ampthill Writers, having been a founding author.
To find Diana on the web: author page on Amazon, @Riduna on Twitter and her website
Brian Kerr has lived in Bedfordshire for around 25 years following a career working overseas, mostly in Africa. Trained as a soil scientist, he has applied his knowledge of the environment to unravelling the landscape history of Bedfordshire and in his book, An Assuming County: The Making of the Bedfordshire Countryside, (2014), he traces the history of one English county in a way which is accessible to the non-scientist. His book is a readable account of the geology and landscape for walkers, those interested in nature conservation, planners, and the general public with an interest in the countryside. He continues to work on soil and agricultural applications and has recently been engaged in projects in the UK, Ireland, Rwanda, and Tanzania. He presently holds a post as a Visiting Fellow at Cranfield University in Bedfordshire.
Peter Laws is an author, journalist, film critic and public speaker, and he’s the creator of the acclaimed Matt Hunter thriller series Purged and Unleashed. He’s currently working on a third Matt Hunter novel for Allison and Busby. His first non-fiction book The Frighteners was published by Icon in March, 2018. The book follows his globe-trotting quest to understand why humans have a morbid streak. He writes a monthly column for the print magazine The Fortean Times and hosts the popular podcast and YouTube show The Flicks That Church Forgot. He’s also an ordained minister in the UK Baptist denomination with a fascination for the macabre and regularly speaks at churches, conferences and events. He has appeared on TV and radio and his literary agent is Joanna Swainson of Hardman and Swainson. His website is peterlaws.co.uk
Rachel Lewis started blogging in 2006 but has been writing fiction since 2010 when she had a go at NaNoWriMo and fell in love with creating stories. Since then she’s continued to write blogs and dabbled in journalism and FanFiction, before getting down to work on her first original novel, which will be released soon. Rachel has been involved with the Ampthill LitFest organising committee and works part-time as an Administrator. You can catch up with Rachel on Twitter @Rachel_J_Lewis or find out more about her via her website.
Dr John Lockley is now a medical informatician, having been a GP in Ampthill until his retirement in 2017. He has also been a professional writer since 1986, on a wide variety of subjects, though much of his recent work was for the medical press — he has penned no fewer than six regular columns. He writes on a wide variety of subjects, especially medicine and IT, and has eight books to his credit, including A practical workbook for the depressed Christian and Headaches (Bloomsbury Press). He is currently Chair of the Society of Medical Writers.
In Ampthill he is best known as the author of the three novels in the After the Fire series, which relate how a plague devastates the land: a handful of survivors collect together in Ampthill and set up a new community there, and it’s what they learn in the process that’s at the heart of the story.
Lesley Lodge is currently working on a historical thriller Wayland’s Revenge, set during the English Civil War’s vicious Siege of Colchester, and coming out in 2018. Lesley took her MA in Colchester. She has worked on regeneration projects and as a journalist and now lives on a smallholding bafflingly close to Luton. Her other publications include Luton Literary Prize-winning Blues to Orange and Lights! Camera! Gallop! The Story of the Horse in Film. Find out more about Lesley via her website
Alison Morgan was born and bred in mid-Bedfordshire. She worked as a Registered Mental Health Nurse and clinical manager here for nearly thirty years before taking up writing — as she says, to maintain her own sanity when a physical health challenge curtailed her previously active lifestyle. She is now the author of several crime thrillers, the first of which, A Justifiable Madness, was published in 2017, rapidly followed by Divine Poison later that year. With two more crime novels published since, The Camera Lies and Stench, Alison is a prolific full-time writer, whose books have proven popular, especially with readers who look for an unusual storyline away from the standard police procedural or private detective genre. Find out more at www.abmorgan.co.uk
Liam O’Dell is a writer, blogger and poet. Since 2012, Liam has been writing about a variety of topics, including his life, on his blog: The Life of a Thinker. As well as blogging, Liam is working on his first novel and is also a presenter on Siren FM in Lincoln where as a student he recently got a First in Journalism. You can get more information about Liam and his writing on Twitter, @lifeofathinker, and on his blog
Jeremy Ramsden mostly writes research papers and reviews in scientific journals but has also authored a number of textbooks, including Bioinformatics (3rd edition in preparation), Applied Nanotechnology (now in its 2nd edition) and Nanotechnology: An Introduction. He has also edited (and contributed a significant proportion of) Spiritual Motivation: New Thinking for Business and Management and Complexity and Security. His most recent venture is a series of books for young children: Folktales from Different Lands, on which he is working together with illustrator Mariam Margishvili. Vol. 3, recently released, is Tiidu the Piper.
Emma Riddell completed an MA in Creative Writing in 2013 and is aiming to maintain that momentum as she writes her first adult novel, The Other Daughter. In this gothic tale the Frankenstein myth is appropriated into contemporary family life amid concerns about infertility and human cloning. Previously, Emma has commissioned, edited and written articles on business and finance, but is currently working part-time to concentrate on her fiction writing. Emma’s aspirations, aside from getting her novel published, involve sitting on a sofa, dunking digestives, and discussing writing with Sarah Waters. Find her tweeting on reading, writing and all things furry/feathery @EmmaERiddell
Philip Whiteley is an author with ten published books in management and business. The self-published title Meet the New Boss was shortlisted for the 2010/2011 Management Book of the Year Award. He writes fiction under the name PJ Whiteley, and his first novel Close of Play appeared in April 2015. Departing radically from the work-related themes of his non-fiction, he has penned a romantic comedy described by the publisher Urbane Publications as ‘a thoughtful, honest story of love and manners, of missed opportunities and a chance at redemption’. He works full-time as professional author, undertaking many projects as a ghostwriter. He speaks Spanish, plays five-a-side football and supports Leeds United – a commitment requiring rather more reserves of heroic optimism than writing a book, he says. He tweets sporadically at @Felipewh, and blogs about serious stuff here: http://felipewh.wordpress.com/