Past speakers have included:
Lin Anderson, best-selling creator of Rhona MacLeod. Lin is particularly interested in discussing the ‘shadowland’ of a character – “the dark and light in us all” – as well as exploring the structure and pace of the thriller. For more information about Lin, her books, and her many accomplishments, visit her website.
Steve Bowman spent nearly 28 years with the Ventura Police Department, retiring as Assistant Police Chief. During his career he coordinated and investigated Internal Affairs complaints, officer involved shootings, narcotics enforcement, and vice investigation. Steve has instructed at San Jose State University, Ventura College, the Ventura County Police & Sheriff’s Training Academy, California Department of Justice, and the County of Ventura presenting classes in Supervision, Ethics, Vice Investigation, Report Writing, and other related subjects. He graduated from California Lutheran University with a degree in Administration of Justice. Bowman also holds a Juris Doctorate Degree from the Ventura College of Law and is a licensed attorney in the State of California. As a private investigator, he has handled employment law issues including background investigations and hostile work environment issues. He has also dealt with family law, elder abuse and probate investigations, coordinated extensive surveillances, and located a large number of witnesses and beneficiaries for various law firms.
Dr Belinda Brooks-Gordon, C Psychol, BSc (Mddx), MPhil, PhD (Cantab) Reader in Psychology and Social Policy, Birkbeck, University of London. To find out more about Dr Brooks-Gordon, please click here.
Catherine Clarke, literary agent
Catherine Clarke was Publishing Director of the Trade Books Department at the Oxford University Press for several years before she joined Felicity Bryan Associates as an agent in 2001. She represents a broad range of writers of serious non-fiction, including biography, philosophy, and history. She also represents a number of bestselling and prizewinning writers for children and young adults.
Chantal Cooke is an award-winning journalist, broadcaster, and communications guru. She co-founded the highly regarded PASSION for the PLANET group of radio stations, and is Managing Director of The Book Booster – a communications consultancy that specialises in helping authors market their books and reach millions of potential readers.
Chantal is author of PR Demystified and also writes for several national newspapers and magazines.
Charles Cumming was born in Scotland in 1971. He was educated at Ludgrove School (1979-1984), Eton College (1985-1989), and the University of Edinburgh (1990-1994), where he graduated with 1st Class Honours in English Literature. In 1995, Charles was approached for recruitment by the United Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Service (MI6). A Spy By Nature, a novel partly based on his experiences with MI6, was published in the UK in June 2001. The novel’s hero, Alec Milius, is a flawed loner in his early 20s who is recruited by MI5 to sell doctored research data on oil exploration in the Caspian Sea to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). In August 2001, Charles moved to Madrid. His second novel, The Hidden Man (2003), tells the story of two brothers investigating the murder of their father, a former SIS officer, at the hands of the Russian mafia. The Hidden Man also examines the clandestine role played by SIS and the CIA during the Soviet war in Afghanistan. Charles Cumming’s third novel, The Spanish Game (2006), marks the return of Alec Milius, who becomes involved in a plot by the paramilitary Basque nationalist organization ETA to bring down the Spanish government. The Spanish Game was described by The Times as one of the six finest spy novels of all time, alongside Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Funeral in Berlin, and The Scarlet Pimpernel. Typhoon, published in the UK in 2008, is a political thriller about a CIA plot to destabilise China on the eve of the Beijing Olympics. The story spans the decade from the transfer of the sovereignty of Hong Kong in 1997 to present-day Shanghai. Typhoon was listed by The New York Times as one of the 100 Notable Books of 2009. The Trinity Six, a thriller about the discovery of a sixth member of the Cambridge spy ring, was published in 2011. A Foreign Country, which concerns the disappearance of the first female head of MI6, was published in the UK in March 2012 and in the US in August 2012.
Conor Fitzgerald has lived in Ireland, the UK, the United States, and Italy. He has worked as an arts editor, produced a current affairs journal for foreign embassies based in Rome, and founded a successful translation company. The Dogs of Rome, first published by Bloomsbury in August 2010, is an engrossing novel of murder, organised crime, and politics in contemporary Italy—the first in a series of Italian crime novels featuring Alec Blume. The Fatal Touch is the second in the series. To find out more about Conor Fitzgerald and his work, click here.
Patty McCormac is a news veteran of thirty years. She is an award-winning journalist in three states, having worked in newsrooms as a reporter or editor in California, Oregon, and Arizona. In Arizona she was a volunteer crisis intervention counselor with the Phoenix Fire Department. She has also taken advanced training in news coverage for on-scene, breaking news with the fire and police departments.
Patty left the newsroom about four years ago and is now a freelance journalist. She said the best part of working from home is setting her own schedule and sleeping until she awakes naturally in the morning. In her off hours, she likes spending time with her family and friends and has recently taken up golf
Dr Nicholas Marquez-Grant, forensic anthropologist
Nicholas is a Specialist Forensic Practitioner in Anthropology and Archaeology at Cellmark Forensic Services, Abingdon, UK. He is also a Research Associate of the Institute of Human Sciences, University of Oxford. Having worked as a specialist in human skeletal remains from archaeological sites for over ten years, he has considerable experience in the excavation and study of cremated and unburnt bone from prehistoric sites to the present date, and from a variety of geographical areas in particular Britain, Spain, Portugal, and France. He has taught biological anthropology since 2001 at the University of Oxford, where he was awarded his doctoral degree in archaeology and physical anthropology in 2006. He has worked in commercial archaeology and anthropology for several years, directing archaeological sites and analysing large skeletal assemblages to reconstruct living conditions and funerary rites in the past. Due to his experience, Nicholas was LGC Forensic’s field representative in the World War I project of identifying victims from the battle of Fromelles (19 July 1916), France. He has published numerous papers on archaeology and anthropology and is currently editing a large volume on physical anthropology in Europe.
David Martin-Sperry was called to the Bar in 1971. A renowned independent-minded defence barrister in high profile criminal cases, his enthusiasm for his work is undiminished by four decades of experience, as demonstrated by his recent hectic, but successful, case schedule. He speaks French, German, and Italian.
Widely known as a fearless advocate, David Martin-Sperry is committed to the practice he has built up over an illustrious career. His successes have been built on his finely honed skills as an advocate and factual analyst and on his appreciation of human psychology. His practice extends across the full range of Crown Court cases including successful leading defence briefs in fraud, murder, rape, corruption, and international drugs conspiracy cases. He has established himself as one of the leading figures at the Bar in ‘miscarriage of justice’ cases.
His diverse career has led him as far as Tanzania (International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, appearing for the Chief of Military Operations at the time of the Genocide ) and Cairo. He is experienced in cases requiring a close understanding of cultural influences from all parts of the globe. This includes the successful defence of an attempted murder trial involving the potential influence of witchcraft.
His case list features famous cases: he was instrumental in discrediting the now-disbanded West Midlands Serious Crime Squad, quashing convictions in all twenty-three of the cases in which he was instructed. Other notable achievements have been the quashing on appeal of murder convictions in thirteen separate cases where he was not counsel at first instance. He is currently working on a further four. In the course of his cases he has built up a close working relationship with a number of leading experts in such fields as Pathology, Psychiatry, Anthropology, DNA and Blood Distribution, Telephony, Accident Reconstruction, Computer Analysis, and Accounting.
Ed Nordskog is an active arson/bomb detective with a major West Coast police agency. He has been a detective since 1990, working specifically in the arson and explosives world since 1997. He has conducted over 1,600 fire investigations and as of this writing has personally arrested and interviewed over 250 persons who were convicted of fire setting and related crimes. He has testified in court as a recognized expert in this field on over fifty-five occasions. He has been consulted by prosecuting attorneys on death penalty cases involving arson and murder on three occasions. He has been personally involved in over twenty serial arson investigations. Ed has a master’s degree in emergency services management and is certified as a fire investigator by the California State Fire Marshal and the California Conference of Arson Investigators. He is a graduate of the National Fire Academy Arson Investigation Course, the ATF Advanced Arson Investigation Course, the Forensic Fire Death Investigation Course, and numerous other arson investigation courses. He is involved in course development and teaches fire scene investigation, major arson case investigation, serial arson investigation, and arson murder/fire death investigation. He is a course developer and instructor for the state of California’s Arson and Explosives Investigation Course. He is an instructor for the state of California’s Homicide Investigator’s Course. In 2004, Ed was named Arson Investigator of the Year by the International Association of Arson Investigators, and Law Enforcement Officer of the Year by the International Association of Special Investigations Units; both of these awards are for his work as the lead investigator on a massive arson for hire scheme, involving fifty-five burned properties. He has received over eighty-five commendations, awards, and medals throughout his law enforcement career related to successful criminal investigations. Ed is also a published author, of the highly acclaimed Torchered Minds.
S.J. Parris, journalist, critic and author of historical crime fiction
S. J. Parris is the pseudonym of author and journalist Stephanie Merritt.
It was as a student at Cambridge researching a paper on the period that Stephanie first became fascinated by the rich history of Tudor England and Renaissance Europe. Since then, her interest has grown and led her to create this series of historical thrillers featuring Giordano Bruno.
Stephanie has worked as a critic and feature writer for a variety of newspapers and magazines, as well as radio and television. She currently writes for the Observer and the Guardian, and is the author of six books and one son.