In 2022, in addition to our extraordinary Authors XI speakers, we are delighted to welcome the following guest presenters
Mandy Baggot is an international bestselling and award-winning romance writer and is best-known for her laugh-out-loud romantic comedies featuring strong heroines, gorgeous heroes and always that happy-ever-after! The winner of the Innovation in Romantic Fiction award at the UK's Festival of Romance, her novel, One Wish in Manhattan, was also shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists' Association Romantic Comedy Novel of the Year award in 2016. Mandy's books have so far been translated into Bulgarian, Czech, German, Hungarian and Italian. Mandy loves the Greek island of Corfu, wine, cheese, Netflix, country music and handbags. Also a singer, she has taken part in ITV1's Who Dares Sings and The X-Factor. Most recently, Mandy took part in BBC1's Ready Steady Cook with Greek celebrity chef, Akis Petretzikis. Mandy is a member of the Society of Authors and lives near Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK with her husband and two children.
Isabelle Broom is a novelist who writes stories about love, life, and everything in between. She is the author of nine books and is published across 14 different countries. In 2015, she won The Great British Write Off with her short story, The Wedding Speech, which was later adapted into a prize-winning short film. Her fifth book, One Thousand Stars and You, was awarded Contemporary Romance Novel of the Year at the 2019 RNAs. Isabelle’s most recent novel, The Summer Trip, about three sisters who reunite on the Greek island of Corfu, is out now in the UK and US with Hodder & Stoughton. Formerly the Book Reviews Editor at heat magazine and Woman & Home, Isabelle now fits her writing around a busy freelance career and spends a good portion of the year travelling all over the world researching settings for her escapist novels. She is currently based in Suffolk, where she lives with two dogs, mountains of books, and a Mini Cooper that should have been condemned many years ago.
Jane Coyle is Welsh, lives in Northern Ireland, has had a base in France for over thirty years and is an award-winning writer, arts journalist and critic. A fluent French speaker, she studied at the Sorbonne and is a graduate of the University of Leicester. She began her professional career at Faber & Faber in London, where she worked in an editorial capacity on the novels of Lawrence Durrell and other distinguished writers. She has been a critic and feature writer for The Stage and The Irish Times and is a member of the judging panel for the UK Theatre Awards. She set up and ran the film & drama development unit for leading Irish independent Waddell Media and worked for the company in a freelance capacity for almost 20 years. As well has scripting countless television and radio programmes, Jane has written three feature-length screenplays, the monologue Farm Girl , a children’s radio drama and six stage plays - The Lantern Man, The Suitcase, Both Sides, Brexit: A Tragicomedy, And Then Again Begin (co-writer), After Melissa. She has co-written the libretto for an opera adaptation of The Suitcase (whose European stage premiere will take place in Vienna in February 2023), taught at Queen’s University Belfast and regularly takes workshops on review writing. She is a former vice-chair of the Riverside Theatre, Coleraine, co-founder and former board member of Replay Productions, former board member of Belfast's Crescent Arts Centre and was, for nine years, chair of DU Dance (NI). She is co-founder and creative director of Powerstone Entertainment - www.powerstonefilms.com
Sarah Churchwell is Professor in American Literature and Chair of Public Understanding of the Humanities at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, where she is Director of the UK’s national festival of the humanities, the Being Human Festival. She is the author of Careless People: Murder, Mayhem and The Invention of The Great Gatsby, The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe, and most recently, Behold, America: A History of America First and the American Dream. She has written for the New York Review of Books, Prospect, Guardian, New Statesman, Financial Times, Times Literary Supplement, and New York Times Book Review, among many others, and comments regularly on arts, culture, and politics for television, radio, and film documentaries. She has judged many literary prizes, including the 2014 Man Booker Prize and the 2017 Baillie Gifford Prize for nonfiction, and was a co-winner of the 2015 Eccles British Library Writer’s Award. Named by Prospect magazine one of the world’s Top Fifty Thinkers in 2019, she is currently working on a short project about Gone with the Wind, and a long project about Henry James.
Amanda Craig was born in South Africa and grew up in Italy, Often called a State of the Nation novelist, and compared to Trollope, Balzac and EM Forster, her contemporary stories combine strong plots, romance, crime, social satire and a recurring cast of characters who depict the way we live now. Both The Lie of the Land and The Golden Rule were chosen by all the British national newspapers as their Books of the Year. The Golden Rule was long-listed for the Women's Prize in 2021 and praised by writers as diverse as Jonathan Coe, Rose Tremain, Penelope Lively, Louis de Bernieres and Bernadine Evaristo. Her ninth novel, The Three Graces, is about three elderly women living in Tuscany who get involved in people trafficking from Africa to Europe. It will be published next June.
Sally Emerson in the award winning author of six novels that include the bestsellers Fire Child and Heat. She was editor of the literary magazine Books and Bookmen. She began her career there as an editorial assistant in a rat-infested basement in London's Victoria Street interviewing people like William Gerhardie, Olivia Manning and Borges. At Oxford she edited Isis and continued her reviewing work and wrote for The Times. Sally's compelling first collection of short stories Perfect has been heralded for its twisty originality and panache.
Matt Haig is an author for children and adults. His memoir Reasons to Stay Alive was a number one bestseller, staying in the British top ten for 46 weeks. His children’s book A Boy Called Christmas was a runaway hit and is translated in over 40 languages, The Guardian calling it an ‘instant classic’. His novels for adults include the award-winning How To Stop Time, The Radleys, The Humans and the number one bestseller The Midnight Library. Matt's latest publication, The Comfort Book, is a collection of consolations learned in hard times and suggestions for making the bad days better. Drawing on memoir and the inspirational lives of others, these meditations celebrate the ever-changing wonder of living and is for when we need the wisdom of a friend or a reminder we can always nurture inner strength and hope, even in our busy world. Matt has sold over three million books worldwide.
Natalie Haynes is a writer and broadcaster and – according to the Washington Post – a rock star mythologist. Her first novel, The Amber Fury, was published to great acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic, as was The Ancient Guide to Modern Life, her previous book. Her second novel, The Children of Jocasta, was published in 2017. Her retelling of the Trojan War, A Thousand Ships, was published in 2019. It was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2020. It has been translated into multiple languages. Her non-fiction book, Pandora’s Jar: Women in the Greek Myth was published in Oct 2020, and Margaret Atwood liked it. Her latest novel, Stone Blind, is due to be published in September 2022. She has spoken on the modern relevance of the classical world on three continents, from Cambridge to Chicago to Auckland. She writes for the Guardian and is a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4: reviewing for Front Row and Saturday Review, appearing as a team captain on three seasons of Wordaholics. Six series of her show, Natalie Haynes Stands Up for the Classics, have been broadcast on Radio 4: all series are available now on BBC Sounds.
Melanie Hewitt After deciding she wanted to be a book illustrator, at 18, Melanie went to Art College. Halfway through the year, she changed her mind and secured a place at Swansea University to study English. After 18 months, she left, moved home and started looking for work as a nanny in London. A local job advert for a reporter changed her life and career. She took up the post at the Doncaster Advertiser, later became Editor and then worked in PR. She now works in education as Communications Lead for the XP Schools Trust based in Yorkshire and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. After a life long love of the Durrell family and their writing, her debut novel Looking for the Durrells was published by Harper Collins in August this year. Married with two grown up children and adoptive mother to the latest Hewitt family member, Ernie the kitten, Melanie is now working on her second book.
Matthew Hisbent writes: A book sits upon my bookshelf, forever unread but forever tantalising. It contains the words which I believe sum up me, my life, and life still to come. “The main travelled road…is hot and dusty in summer and desolate and drear with mud in fall and spring and in winter the winds sweep the snow across it; but it does sometimes cross a rich meadow where the songs of the larks and bobolinks and blackbirds are tangled. Follow it far enough, it may lead past a bend in the river where the water laughs eternally over its shallows.” Two years on from the blessed release from full time University life which retirement gifted me, in 2020 my main travelled road to Corfu brought me to the meadow where the Corfu Literary Festival lay waiting. Where amateur writing sometimes published found a new purpose and where a love of the island was given new substance. To be called a Philhellene is a dream; to be able to share the island with friends beyond a dream. I have not yet reached the end of the main travelled road. Discovery beckons. (Quote. Hamlin Garland. Main Travelled Roads. 1962)
Julian Hoffman is a writer and naturalist, and is the author of Irreplaceable, The Small Heart of Things and Notes from Near and Far, his blog on the nature of place. Born in northeast England, he grew up in Ontario and moved with his wife in 2000 to a mountain village beside the Prespa Lakes in northwestern Greece, a trans-boundary Balkan park whose lake basin is shared with Albania and North Macedonia. Home to a remarkably rich range of people, birds, wild flowers, languages, mammals and habitats, including the world's largest colony of Dalmatian pelicans, Prespa is a place that has taught Julian a great deal about our complex yet indelible connections to landscape and the natural world. Irreplaceable: The Fight to Save Our Wild Places, celebrates those imperilled places that are increasingly vanishing from the world, exploring treasured woodlands, prairies, marshlands, urban allotments and coral reefs, along with the many species under threat in them. Just as importantly though, it’s a book about resistance to loss and the countless stories of local communities and conservationists as they set about to protect and preserve what is not only of crucial importance to the fabric of human life but irreplaceable as well. Irreplaceable was a Royal Geographical Society Book of the Year and the Highly Commended Finalist for the 2020 Wainwright Prize for Writing on Global Conservation.
Professor Bettany Hughes is an award-winning historian, author and broadcaster, who has devoted the last 25 years to the vibrant communication of the past. Her speciality is ancient and mediaeval history and culture and she has taught at Oxford and Cambridge Universities and lectured at Cornell, Bristol, UCL, Maastricht, Utrecht, Manchester and Swansea. She has written and presented over 50 TV and radio documentaries for the BBC, Channel 4, Netflix, Discovery, PBS, The History Channel, National Geographic, BBC World and ITV and her programmes, including 2020's A Greek Odyssey, have now been seen by over 250 million worldwide. Bettany has long drawn attention to women’s position in society both past and present and she is also an honorary, founding patron of Classics For All - a national campaign to get classical languages and the study of classical civilisations back into state schools. In 2019 Bettany became Chair of the Man Booker International Prize for Fiction and was awarded an OBE for services to history. Her books, Helen of Troy, The Hemlock Cup, Istanbul - A Tale of Three Cities and, most recently, Venus and Aphrodite have been bestsellers and translated into several languages.
Stavros Katsios is Professor of International Economic Relations and International Economic Crime at the Ionian University, Corfu, Greece and Director of the Laboratory for Geocultural Analyses (Geolab), Chair Holder of the UNESCO Chair on Threats to Cultural Heritage and Cultural Heritage-related Activities at the Ionian University Coordinator of the Yellow Tourism Research Consortium and Deputy Head of the Department of Foreign Languages Translation and Interpreting. He has studied law at the “Albertus Magnus” University, Cologne, at Georgetown University, Washington D.C. (scholarship for attending courses in International Law and Policy) and at the Aristotle University, Thessaloniki, Greece.
Helena Lee is the features director of Harper’s Bazaar, responsible for the magazine’s art and culture content, and co-edits the annual magazine Bazaar Art, which celebrates women in the art world. In February 2020, she founded the platform East Side Voices to raise the visibility of British East and Southeast Asian talent, and her book of the same name was published last January by Sceptre. She is a Platform Presents Playwright judge, a founding member of the Ginsburg Health Board, and a visiting lecturer at City University.
Louise Nicholson is an art historian, journalist and book writer living in the glorious South Cotswolds. She has written regularly for Apollo art magazine and Country Life since 2004 - she has written about Greek Byzantine art and remembers moments of joy learning classical Greek at school. Louise loves sharing her passion for and expertise in the cultures of India (begun when cataloguing Indian art at Christie's). 2022 marks the 37th year of leading her own legendary tours to India, for individuals, groups and institutions - from the Guggenheim to Washington's National Museum of Asian Art (Freer Sackler). Since 1985 Louise has written 26 books (mostly about India or London). She founded Save a Child charity to transform deprived Indian children's lives (1986), and was was Executive Producer on Ecosse Films' The Great Moghuls (Channel 4, 1987-90). Her awards include Woman of the Year (2011, International Association of Women) and Ramakrishna Vivekananda Award for Services to Society (2018, the first non-Indian to receive it); she was elected to the Crafts Council of West Bengal (2019, the first non-Indian member). Louise is currently completing a book celebrating the Cotswold canals' restoration. The high point of her career, so far, was working with senior Buddhist clergy to take a group to attend His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s teachings in Karnataka. But hanging out with the Mumbai cricket team at the Corfu lit fest might be almost as cool.
Craig Pomranz is an internationally known singer/song-stylist, actor and author. He is Vice Presidant and on the Board of the non-profit the American Songbook Association where he presents the Pomranz Performance Grant every year. It is their intention to help performers start their process to rehearse, appear live, or record music of the Great American Songbook. His popular CDs “More Than a Seasonal Thing” and “My Heart Don’t Skip A Beat” are heard on radio stations around the world and available on his website
www.CraigPomranz.com. His children’s book Made By Raffi is published in 8 languages and 12 countries to date by UK publishers Quarto and their imprint, Frances Lincoln and due for release in India fall 2022. Inspired by Made by Raffi composers Amanda McBroom (Bette Midler’s award-winning song “The Rose”) and Michele Brourman have written the song "Different". You can find it on Craig’s YouTube channel. Craig lives in New York City and travels the world performing in nightclubs and theatres. Among his awards are New York’s MAC Award for Best Male Vocalist and the TOR Award for best actor in a musical venue. Editor's Note: Craig makes the BEST cakes imaginable.
Joy Skye lives on the seductive island of Corfu with her four dogs and an embarrassing number of cats. Her many years working in the tourist industry on this sunny isle and her love of all things literary inspired her first novel Corfu Capers which recently hit the #1 spot in Parenting and Family humour much to her delight. Other titles include Clueless in Croatia, Falling in Florence and Summer in San Sebastian. She loves to cook, dance and drink wine, usually at the same time, and is currently working on her next book, due to be released later this year. She also loves to travel, absolutely anywhere, and is looking forward to jumping on a plane!
Francesca Stavrakopoulou is Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Religion at the University of Exeter, UK. Her academic career began at the University of Oxford, where she studied Theology and went on to earn her doctorate. Having spent three further years teaching at Oxford, she joined the University of Exeter, and was appointed to a personal chair in 2011. The author of a number of books, her most recent, God: An Anatomy, was serialized on BBC Radio 4 and shortlisted for the prestigious Wolfson History Prize. Francesca has also worked in television and radio, making various programmes on the archaeology and history of the Bible for the BBC, Channel 4, and the History Channel, and presenting the BBC TV documentary series Bible’s Buried Secrets.
Michael Vatikiotis is a writer, journalist and private diplomat working in Southeast Asia since 1987. He was formerly editor of the Far Eastern Economic Review. Currently he is Senior Advisor at the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, working on resolving conflicts across Asia, Africa and the Middle East. He has written two novels set in Indonesia and three books on the politics of Southeast Asia, including Blood and Silk: Power and Conflict in modern Southeast Asia, published in 2017. His latest book Lives Between The Lines: A Journey in Search of the Lost Levant was published in August 2021 and explores the Levantine roots of his Greek and Italian family from the Middle East.
Sofka Zinovieff was born in London, has Russian ancestry and is deeply attached to Greece. She studied social anthropology at Cambridge, did research for her PhD in the Peloponnese and worked as a freelance journalist in Moscow and Rome. Her latest book is Putney, an explosive and thought-provoking novel about the far-reaching repercussions of an illicit relationship between a young girl and a much older man. She is also the author of a memoir, Eurydice Street: A Place in Athens and a novel set in Greece, The House on Paradise Street. Other books include Red Princess: A Revolutionary Life and The Mad Boy, Lord Berners, My Grandmother and Me and the timely and powerful Putney. She is married, has two daughters and lives between Athens and London.