For as long as she can remember, Lucy has always been in love with books – stories of adventure, of weird and wonderful places, and seeing the world through someone else’s eyes. She always dreamed of writing, but there were other things to do first.
She studied languages and philosophy at Oxford and joined the Foreign Office straight out of university in search of adventure and new people and places. She quickly moved across to the Department for International Development (DFID), where she spent time in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, China and Sierra Leone. She left Sierra Leone to join her now husband in Jordan, taking the long way there across the Sahara, Europe, the Balkans, Turkey and Syria in a much-beloved Land Rover. In Jordan, she worked for Her Majesty Queen Rania while spending much time bumping around the phenomenal Jordanian desert.
After Jordan, she spent several years in a jungle camp in Gabon surrounded by elephants and humpback whales, which is where the Sarah Black books began. They took life as a way to record all the best bits of people she had met and places she had been, with a plot to make them much more exciting. Lucy has always plausibly denied being a spy – but the books were written to show what that life might have been like.
She spent three years in Brisbane, Australia, and another two experiencing deep culture-shock in the Netherlands during the weirdness of the pandemic, and is now enjoying the freedom of living at the end of the world in Lüderitz, Namibia, crafting stories and making films about the adventure of growing giant kelp.
She also wastes a considerable amount of time on Twitter @HooftLucy
Neil Robinson was born in Gateshead and grew up in Newcastle upon Tyne obsessed with books and sport. After studying in Hull and Sweden, he spent six years with the Home Office in London before quitting and setting off to walk across Europe in the footsteps of Patrick Leigh Fermor and in the spirit of vagabond poets.
He returned to the UK with very sore feet and the understanding that he needed a new career. After retraining as a librarian, he took a job at Lord’s Cricket Ground where he has remained for the last 15 years. As MCC’s Head of Heritage & Collections, his job involves, among other things, looking after the Ashes Urn.
He has written widely about cricket and sporting heritage for a variety of publications and in 2015 published Long Shot Summer, a book about one of the most humiliating years in English cricket history. His fiction writing covers very different ground. A lifelong lover of spy novels, he takes inspiration from thriller writers like Len Deighton and John Buchan and seeks to create novels with a sense of place and character.
Neil lives in south east London, where he spends his free time writing, cooking, hiking, enjoying the odd pint of real ale and following his beloved Gateshead Football Club.
Mike Wardle draws inspiration from the many places he has called home. Starting his schooling in the Torres Strait Islands, located between Australia and Papua New Guinea, Mike developed a keen sense of adventure and an appreciation for cultural diversity early on in his life.
For a number of years Mike’s family called Indonesia home, where they lived the expat life in North Sumatra. Mike has trekked through the jungles of Sumatra, climbed the stairs of amazing temples such as Borobudur in Java, and walked through the seemingly endless marketplaces of Southeast Asia.
Spending most of the rest of his life in rural Australia, he came to realise his love of adventure and historical fiction books. After the tragic loss of a friend, he decided life was too short not to do what he loved and so he began to write his first story.
Equally at home on a tropical island, in the jungles of Asia or in the Australian bush, Mike has an inherent love of travel, history and exotic landscapes.
He now lives on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia.
Phil’s career in TV and radio saw him doing everything from tracking down criminals in Spain and going on high-octane police chases, to interviewing pop stars, politicians and celebrities. He’s met the rich and powerful and the most needy and humble, and his writing reflects this. As he told us: “I love fast moving action thrillers which offer escapism, entertainment and excitement. My stories are for rainy days and lonely nights, sunny beaches and poolside bars. They’re for anyone who enjoys great locations and gripping tales, with jeopardy, tension and a fight for justice, love, hopes and dreams. ”
After leaving University Phil joined the BBC and enjoyed various roles from presenting a local radio breakfast show to being a TV Newsreader, Reporter and Producer for both BBC East and ITV Anglia. He also worked on BBC Breakfast Time in London, and wrote scripts for a BBC TV comedy show. He even found himself playing football against Radio 1 in a premier league stadium! Phil produced and presented documentaries and feature programmes, as well as being the face and voice of Crimestoppers in the eastern region for many years. He also created the successful TV series: “999 Frontline”.
Phil wrote The Little Blue Boat children’s books set on the Norfolk Broads, which were produced as a play. He lives with his wife Fiona, a former nurse turned silversmith, near Norwich, and has three grown up children. Phil loves music, travelling, walking, and sailing, which he’s written about for numerous magazines; but his passion is writing, and bringing exciting new characters with amazing stories to the page.
Matthew Ross was born and raised in the Medway Towns, England. He still lives in Kent with his Kiwi wife, his children, a very old cat and an extremely bouncy puppy.
Several years ago he ticked off a lifelong ambition and tried his hand at stand-up comedy. He enjoyed the writing more than the performing and got approached by a leading stand-up comedian to provide material for their nationwide theatre tours, Edinburgh Fringe shows and their appearances on shows such as ‘Mock The Week’, ‘Have I Got News For You’ and ‘The News Quiz’. Unfortunately, his writing ambitions got put on hold “temporarily”, something he regrets because of the momentum gathering behind him. However a grown-up proper job, losing his father, and having his babies got in the way – what was a temporary postponement in time became a total derailment. But the itch wouldn’t go away and he wanted to write again. So, he joined the Faber Academy 6-month Novel Writing course in 2016 under Richard Skinner’s tutelage and it changed his life.
Matthew has been immersed in the building industry from a very early age helping out on his father’s sites during school holidays before launching into his own career at 17. He’s worked on projects ranging from the smallest domestic repair to £billion+ infrastructure, and probably everything in between. He drew influence from his experiences and the people he’s met over the years when writing his darkly comic crime novels, “Death Of A Painter” and “The Red Admiral’s Secret” featuring the misadventures of beleaguered builder Mark Poynter and his crew of idlers, slackers and gossips.
Matthew enjoys reading all manner of books – especially crime and mystery; 80s music; and travelling, and can’t wait for the next trip to New Zealand to spend time with family and friends.
Born in the late sixties and a confirmed petrolhead, James Marx started his working life as a motor vehicle engineer before making a curious switch into the soul-destroying world of IT and systems analysis where he wasted a couple of decades. Redundancy came as a merciful release, after which James joined a good friend in running a small videography and photography studio.
What the IT career did allow was the chance for James and his wife to enjoy some interesting holidays and experiences, such as holding crocodiles in Egypt, sailing a tall ship off New Zealand, almost driving a 4×4 off a Greek mountainside, walking with wolves and dancing on an active volcano.
Since pre-teen years James has revelled in the escapism of action and adventure novels, enjoys various collaborative storytelling role-playing games (like Dungeons and Dragons), and loves spending time writing.
James currently lives in suburban Worcestershire with his wife Anna and a couple of much loved but murderous tortie cats.
During the Cold War John Fullerton was, for a time, a “contract labourer” for the British Secret Intelligence Service, in the role of head agent on the Afghan-Pakistan frontier. This experience forms the basis of his latest novel, provisionally entitled Spy Game, to be published in March 2021 by Burning Chair.
All told, he’s lived or worked in 40 countries as a journalist and covered a dozen wars. For 20 years he was employed by Reuters as a correspondent and editor with postings in Hong Kong, Delhi, Beirut, Nicosia, Cairo, and London.
His home is in Scotland.
You can check out his website at: https://johnfullertonauthor.scot
And follow him on Twitter: @fictionarrative
Patricia Ayling was born in the early 1950s so, in her words, a latecomer; that is, for fiction anyway. Patricia has published four health related textbooks while she was an examiner/verifier for the awarding body Edexcel.
After leaving school and working in libraries, she emigrated to Canada, but returned to study nursing at St. Mary’s Hospital in Paddington. Following many years as a neurosurgical nurse, she turned to teaching and writing, then running her own training business.
She and husband Len have five children, nine grandchildren and one Labrador. After nine years living part time in Cyprus, they are back in England permanently. Patricia’s first novel ‘The Curse of Becton Manor’ was inspired by her grandmother’s haunted house in Wiltshire and her interest in the Elizabethan era, particularly the religious strife and persecution for Catholics and ‘witches’.
She is currently penning book 2, part of a trilogy.
Andrew Neil MacLeod
Andrew Neil MacLeod is a Scottish writer and musician with a deep and abiding love for British history and Celtic myth and culture. In the noughties, Andrew’s band was signed to Warner Brothers, giving Keith Richards a run for his money while he toured the length and breadth of Britain with bands such as The Libertines.
Andrew has since taken up the pen as a means of artistic expression. For the last seven years he lived and worked in places as diverse as Malta, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and best of all, Le Marais, Paris, while he worked on his first two novels. Andrew has recently bought a holiday home on a remote Scottish island, which he will be renovating with his adored wife Amber and little Shi Tzu Alex. He looks forward to long walks on the beach, fish and chips by the pier, and cozy nights in before the log fire with a wee dram, while he works on his third novel. He also makes a great Cullen Skink.
Andrew’s next novel, ‘The Casebook of Johnson and Boswell Vol. I: The Fall of the House of Thomas Weir’ will be published by Burning Chair in 2021.
Trish has spent her whole life living on the Wirral, a small peninsula that sticks out into the Irish Sea between North Wales and Liverpool. She has always had an overactive imagination and enjoyed writing and reading, sometimes to the detriment of her schoolwork.
She first met her husband, Paul, in the charge office of a police station: where they both were serving as police officers. She has three grown up children and currently spends her time wrangling grandchildren and writing.
Gene Kendall has lived many places, but is usually surrounded by more deer than people. His work explores drama, music, and pop culture with wit and no small amount of sympathy for the losers and also-rans. He’s drawn to protagonists that say the wrong thing, actively resist their character arc, and possibly save the day by accident.
Richard was born in Northumberland, too many years ago now to remember. He has had a variety of jobs including roofer, milkman and factory worker. Tiring of this, Richard studied for a degree with the Open University and now teaches History for a living.
At an impressionable age he fell in love with new wave Heavy Metal and rock music and at about the same time read his first James Herbert novel. The combination of these two magnificent things led him to write his first novel, Minstrel’s Bargain, a tale of music and horror. He now lives in Newcastle upon Tyne where he continues to write whenever he can. When not writing, or putting children on detention, he can be found pottering around the Northumberland landscape on his motorcycle, Tanya.
N. R. Baker
Niki Baker is an explorer. She doesn’t have Sherpas or a frozen moustache, she’s just got incurable wanderlust. Whether it’s the mountains of Albania, the islands of Indonesia or the jungles of Guatemala, she has always been happiest when she’s far off the beaten track.
Niki also loves exploring the power of words and spent much of her childhood up a tree in Somerset with her head in a book, either lost in the worlds created by authors like C.S. Lewis, or writing truly awful tales of her own.
Since then she has earned recognition for her travel writing, poetry, lyrics, flash fiction and short stories. She now lives in rural France with her soulmate, who is also a writer. Niki’s first full-length novel, 10:59, is out now.
Born in England in 1962, Richard grew up in a small market town in rural Herefordshire before joining the Royal Navy. After 22 years in the submarine service and having travelled extensively, Richard now lives and writes in rural Worcestershire.
In addition to a novel, bizarre poetry and several short stories, Richard has also written songs, sleeve notes and album reviews for indie musicians. In 2018, a chance conversation with Hull musician, Andrew McLatchie (aka Half Deaf Clatch) resulted in the Beelzebub Jones trilogy of supernatural spaghetti-western concept albums, each featuring a short story written by Richard.
Richard’s stories reflect his life-long fascination with the dark underbelly of American culture; be it tales of the Wild West, or the simmering menace of the Deep South, or the poetry of Charles Bukowski, the writing of Langston Hughes or Andrew Vachss, or the music of Charley Patton, Son House, Johnny Cash, or Tom Waits.
A self-confessed Delta Blues music anorak, Richard embarked on a road trip from Memphis to New Orleans, during which a bizarre encounter in Clarksdale, Mississippi inspired him to write his début novel, Fat Man Blues.
Please visit www.richardwall.org to find out more…
For many years Fi Phillips worked in an office environment until the arrival of her two children robbed her of her short term memory and sent her hurtling down a new, bumpy, creative path. She finds that getting the words down on paper is the best way to keep the creative muse out of her shower.
Fi lives in the wilds of North Wales with her family, earning a living as a copywriter, playwright and fantasy novelist. Writing about magical possibilities is her passion.
To find out more about Fi, please go to:
Neil Lancaster was born in Liverpool in the 1960s. He recently left the Metropolitan Police where he served for over twenty-five years, predominantly as a detective, leading and conducting investigations into some of the most serious criminals across the UK and beyond.
Neil acted as a surveillance and covert policing specialist, using all types of techniques to arrest and prosecute drug dealers, human traffickers, fraudsters, and murderers. During his career, he successfully prosecuted several wealthy and corrupt members of the legal profession who were involved in organised immigration crime. These prosecutions led to jail sentences, multi-million pound asset confiscations and disbarments.
Since retiring from the Metropolitan Police, Neil has relocated to the Scottish Highlands with his wife and son, where he mixes freelance investigations with writing.
Going Dark, Neil’s first novel, introduced the world to Tom Novak, a character described by none other than Tony Parsons as making “Jason Bourne look like a vegan Pilates killer. The follow-up novels, Going Rogue and Going Back, are also out now.
Georgia Springate is an exciting new writer in the final year of her English Literature degree at The Open University – she’s looking forward to wearing a big gown and one of those funny hats come June. She lives in a crazy house in Bedfordshire, crammed full of eight members of her family, three dogs, a lizard and a tortoise!
When she’s not hunched over a laptop writing, Georgia can be found with her nose in a book reading everything from Cecilia Ahern to Voltaire, with a particular fondness for JK Rowling – because, let’s be honest, where would any of us be without JK Rowling?
As well as studying, working, reading and generally cramming her schedule with way too many boring things to list here, Georgia’s debut novel, Beyond, is proudly published by Burning Chair.
Having been writing for as long as he can remember, Pete is the published author of: the four book Infernal Aether series (The Infernal Aether, A Christmas Aether, The Demon Inside and Beyond the Aether), the prequel series The Old Lady of the Skies, and a number of other serials and short stories. He has also written and published the non-fiction book: The Wedding Speech Manual.
An avid reader with eclectic tastes and an overflowing set of bookcases, Pete loves anything with compelling characters, gripping storylines and endings that stick with you long after you’ve finished.
Passionate about helping people achieve their potential, Pete co-founded Burning Chair to get great stories out to the world – and have fun doing it.