Room 204 Participants 2012/13

Here are the writers who were part of our Room 204 Writer Development Programme 2012/13.

Fiona JosephFiona Joseph
Fiona was born and raised in Birmingham. She is a former university lecturer and textbook writer, who now runs an EFL website, Flo-Joe.

She is a recent graduate of the Diploma in Writing at Birmingham City University (BCU) previously run in partnership with the National Academy of Writing (NAW). Fiona has had a number of short stories published in anthologies, including The Hills And The Fortune, which won a prize in the Happenstance International Short Story competition judged by Janice Galloway. A non-fiction memoir essay, Hair Wars: Growing Up Frizzy In The 1970s, appeared in the Hair Power Skin Revolution collection. She also won the BCU/NAW Prize for Fiction.

Her latest book is a full-length biography of Beatrice Cadbury. Beatrice: The Cadbury Heir Who Gave Away Her Fortune tells the rollercoaster tale of how the youngest daughter of the chocolate empire boldly denounced the capitalism that had made her rich. She is currently looking to adapt it for a TV drama.

Fiona also writes graded readers (aka language learner fiction) for EFL learners. Her first Story, Oscar’s Journey, is published by Heinle/Cengage, who will publish her second book, Let The Band Play On, due out in 2013.

She’s a member of the Society of Authors, Tindal Street Fiction Group (TSFG) and the Biographers’ Club, and speaks regularly at libraries, clubs and societies on writing-related topics.


Garrie FletcherGarrie Fletcher
Garrie Fletcher was born to the gasoline rumble of distant adventure in 1969. He studied Art in Bradford, wrote for a music magazine in Northampton, travelled across America, worked as a carer and then trained as a teacher in 1998. He writes and performs in Birmingham and has appeared on many occasions at City Voices in Wolverhampton, Poetry Bites in Birmingham and Fruits of the Heaven Tree in Coventry. His work has been published both online and in print including The Canon’s Mouth, the Birmingham Post and 3a.m. Magazine, he has the starting poem on the Polesworth Poetry Trail and has often been broadcast on Radio Wildfire. An early collection of writing entitled Notown is available from Blackheath Books.

Garrie writes about the gaps between lives, the pauses between stations, the static hiss of the city and the dark knuckles of the earth in an honest and moving way. He specialises in modern fiction and poetry but is interested in all forms of writing.


Julie FultonJulie Fulton
After a music degree, Julie gained a PGCE (specialising in reading and writing for middle school children) and worked first as a primary teacher, then Head of Music in secondary schools.

She now teaches music privately at home, which has given her the time to return to her love of writing.

She belongs to two writing groups, one of which is led by poet Kathy Whittaker, and attends workshops and events run by the SCBWI of which she is a member. She also belongs to two critique groups within this organisation. She writes mainly for children and had her first picture book published last year by Maverick Books – Mrs MacCready Was Ever So Greedy. They have requested a series from her to follow this up.

She has other picture book ideas on the go and is also writing a book for middle grade readers. She also writes poetry (for children and adults) and occasionally monologues too.

Julie loves to visit schools and works with children on the craft of writing and this year took part in the Stratford-on-Avon Literary Festival as part of their schools’ events programme.


Richard LakinRichard Lakin
Richard Lakin is married with two sons and lives in Staffordshire.

He writes short stories, but also enjoys travel writing and planning a novel. His work has been published by The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph and in 2009 he won the £1000 Daily Telegraph Just Back travel-writing prize.

He has had short stories published by Oxford University’s Oxonian Review, the University of Dundee, University of Chester, Writers’ Abroad and several crime-writing anthologies.

He has been highly commended in the Yeovil Prize 2011, longlisted in the Bradt/Independent on Sunday 2011 travel-writing competition and runner-up in the Oxfam/Daily Telegraph Ox-Travels travel-writing competition 2011.

After years in journalism and PR Richard works best with noise and distraction and can often be found hammering his laptop keys in coffee shops and trains. He has been a salesman, policeman and journalist and has reported at ringside from numerous world title fights. He’s happy to give readings and work with groups.

Jan EdwardsJan Edwards

­­­Jan Edwards lives in the Staffordshire Moorlands, on the very edge of the Peak District National Park, with her husband, Peter, three cats and a selection of chickens.

Jan was short-listed for the 2011 BFS Award for Best Short Story; nominated for the same award in 2012; and has won the Winchester Writers’ Festival ‘Slim Volume’ prize. To date she has had more than thirty short stories published in various anthologies and magazines, both in print and digitally, most of these are inspired by her passion for folklore and mythology. Other work includes scriptwriting for TV spin-offs, reviews, interviews, poetry and articles. She is also an editor with the award-winning Alchemy Press,  

Jan ran a creative writing group for the local branch of the Rethink for some years. She is co-founder and organiser of the Renegade Writers’ group ( in Stoke on Trent. Jan has a BA (Hons.) Lit. (with Creative Writing).

Over the past twenty years and more she has been involved with the literary society, the BFS, (for readers and writers of science fiction, fantasy and horror fiction) in various ways, and has organised the BFS’s annual conference, FantasyCon. (


Deborah AlmaDeborah Alma
Deborah has recently achieved a BA (Hons) First Class, in English & Creative Writing & is now studying for an MA in Creative Writing at Keele University.

She is employed by The Courtyard Theatre in Hereford as part of a three year project using poetry in working with people with dementia, in care homes and day care centres in the region. She has worked for Writing West Midlands as lead writer of the Write On! Young Writers’ group in Ludlow and Shrewsbury, teaching creative writing to young people.

She has worked as part of an Arts Council Funded project Well Versed (2011) which trained poets to teach poetry in primary schools.

She runs the Emergency Poet project (, which was piloted successfully at the April 2012 Wenlock Poetry Festival.

She also has many years experience of working as a sales representative for Random House publishers for many years, (Chatto, Cape, Virago, Vintage division)

She now works part-time in a small rural primary school as a teaching assistant where my particular skills and interest are within literacy and special needs. She has had poetry published widely in literary magazines and online publications and has twice been shortlisted for the Roy Fisher Poetry Pamphlet prize (2010 & 2011).

Stephanie RidingsStephanie Ridings

Stephanie has been writing for theatre since 2004. Her first major script Me, Mum & Dusty Springfield enjoyed a sell out Edinburgh Festival and went on to be supported by The Lowry (Salford) and tour nationally. She has been Artists in Residence at Contact Theatre (Manchester) during which time she wrote The National Express, which went on to be selected for Re:Play at The Library Theatre (Manchester), a festival which celebrates the best of the regions theatre. She had a short residency at artists Michael Mayhew’s studio where she responded to the unique gallery space and wrote site specific piece, Space (is like a fruitcake).

She has written several short plays for a range of writing festivals including, It’s Not What it Looks Like, Afternoon Tea and One day Music will Play. As well as writing scripts Stephanie has written and developed text for devised performances including, Obstacles to Coming Home, 360 Degrees (and Falling), I’ve never been to the moon and Angel Club (north). In addition Stephanie regularly works with a range of young people and adults developing both scripted and devised plays for performance.

“Stephanie’s writing delivers humour and pathos in abundance.” Porl Cooper – Theatre Programmer, The Lowry.


Lindsay Stanberry-FlynnLindsay Stanberry-Flynn
Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn left a career in further and higher education teaching English to take an MA in creative writing at Bath Spa University and focus on her writing. After completing the MA, she published her novel Unravelling in 2010. It has since won two awards, The Wishing Shelf Independent Book Award and Chapter One Promotions Book Award and come second in the 2011 International Rubery Book Award. Lindsay’s second novel The Piano Player’s Son will be published by Cinnamon Press in 2013. Her short stories have also been published, including the title story and two others in the anthology Feeding the Cat.

Lindsay teaches creative writing in adult education and has run courses and workshops, mainly on the novel and short story. She is involved with the Worcestershire Literary Festival, judging a flash fiction competition and organising a flash event for the 2012 festival.

Lindsay lives in Worcestershire and welcomes opportunities to meet other writers and readers. She has given talks on the experience of writing a novel and visited book groups who have read Unravelling.

Stewart DerryStewart Derry

 Stewart’s outstanding record over the last 20 years has seen him provide hundreds of residencies, workshops, performances and projects, with particular expertise in community and educational settings. Client partners include: Creative Partnerships, The Hippodrome Theatre ,Birmingham (work which was nominated for the prestigious Life Long Learning Awards), The Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum and Alfred Music Publishers. Stuart’s committed work as a writer began post 2008 in poetry, playwriting and short stories. Recent examples are: publishing his first poetry collection – Poems In Neon, two large-scale public projects he created/delivered, funded by Arts Council England, a series of short narrative films for the BBC and creating live events and performances.

Lorna FrenchLorna French
Lorna specialises in writing for the stage. In 2011 Lorna graduated from the MPhil(B) in Playwriting at the University of Birmingham. She has presented work at Birmingham Rep Theatre, Young Vic and Soho Theatre. In 2009 she jointly authored the play These Four Streets for the Birmingham Rep. She was the 2008-9 Pearson Writer-in-residence at New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich. She has undertaken an attachment to the Royal Court Theatre and has written for the BBC Asian Network radio drama serial Silverstreet. In 2006 Lorna won the Alfred Fagon Award for her play Safe House and her play Positive was also shortlisted for this award in 2011. Currently Lorna has received an Arts Council England development grant to workshop and write the play City Melodies, which explores the experience of non-native English speakers in London.

Lorna also undertook Almeida Theatre’s 9 month long Trainee Workshop Leader course from 2009-10. She has recently begun facilitating drama workshops for young people and writing for youth theatre stage plays. She volunteers with The Belgrade Theatre’s Black Youth Theatre.

She is the lead writer of the Rugby Write On! Young Writers’ group and has also worked as the Assistant Writer at the Birmingham Young Writers’ group.

Lisa Carey Lisa Carey

Lisa Carey was born in Yorkshire and trained as a classical musician and visual artist before finding her creative home in words. She is interested in nature and landscape and is working on a collection of poetry and short prose evoked by wild places. Wild swimming, hill walking in winter, and glider flight have been some of her inspirations. She studied creative writing at the Open University and is writing a book of connected stories exploring human and animal nature. Contemporary landscape writing is the focus of her blog at, and she is also developing some writing workshops based around experience of place. She lives on a windy hill in Shropshire. @wintertrees2

Martin SmithMartin Smith
Martin Smith began his writing career as a performance poet, and went on to work in television comedy, including Birds of a Feather and a number of comedy sketch shows.  Martin has also worked in radio, with several broadcast credits on Radio Four. He has written two full-length novels for children – Olaf the Viking (2008) and The Pig who would be King (2010).

He has also written and adapted many plays for children, and adults. He is currently working on a play, Arthur Conan Doyle and the Case of the Seven Spheres for a showcase at the Blue Orange Theatre, Birmingham, and was a recent contributor to the Capital Theatre Festival at the MAC.

Martin has done a good deal of work with children, including several major educational projects.  He studied playwriting on David Edgar’s MA course at Birmingham University, and he also works as an actor and performer.

Jenny HopeJenny Hope

Jenny Hope is a writer and poet.  Her collection, Petrolhead was published in January 2010 by Oversteps Books, Devon. She regularly reads on the local Open-Mic circuit and co-hosts and co-manages The Word and Sound, with Amanda Bonnick, which is a quarterly acoustic music and spoken word event in Worcester. 

Jenny has also run poetry workshops for festivals, communities and schools.  Recent workshops include a music and poetry song-writing workshop with Deborah Rose. 

Jenny collaborates with other writers to create poetic and spoken word events.  Jenny will soon be performing as one of The Vaginellas as part of the Worcestershire Literary Festival.

Jenny also collaborates with other artists to create new work from poetry, and new poetry from art.  A recent collaboration was with Cheryl Howard, who illustrated six poems from Petrolhead.  Details will soon be posted to Jenny’s website under the collaboration tab.

Anna Lawrence PietroniAnna Lawrence-Pietroni

Anna Lawrence Pietroni is a novelist and creative writing tutor. Her first novel, Ruby’s Spoon, set in a fictional Black Country town in 1933, was published by Chatto & Windus in 2010 to critical acclaim in both the UK and the US. (Susan Hill said Ruby’s Spoon is ‘One of the best first novels I’ve ever read’) Anna read English at University College, Oxford and worked her way through a variety of jobs (including graphic designer and trainee prison governor) before committing to writing fiction.

She writes poetry and critical essays and is working on two further novels. She is passionate about enabling others to write authentically and has worked with postgraduate scientists, primary school children and high school students to increase confidence and develop craft by using playful and mindful techniques. She has participated in literary events (eg the Edinburgh Book Festival), careers talks and library readings and is an experienced public speaker. Anna runs a writing group that uses the ‘writing practice’ techniques of Natalie Goldberg (Writing down the Bones) and is investigating the effect of mindfulness techniques on the writing process.

Rochi RampalRochi Rampal
Rochi writes scripts for theatre, radio, screen. Her play The Warrior Goddess was performed at TYP TAP, a children’s theatre festival at mac, Birmingham. She has worked with Foursight Theatre and Black Country Touring on scripting The Corner Shop, a new site specific performance.

She is currently working once again with Black Country Touring on their co-production with Birmingham Rep, and she will be developing the script for their new production, Eat!  She has also co-devised and scripted a number of new pieces of theatre for other Midlands based theatre organisations, through her work as an actor.  Her work in schools has included creative writing projects for Primary age, and developing texts for performance with teenagers.
Rochi studied at the University of Salford where she obtained a 1st class BA in Media & Performance and an MA Scriptwriting for TV & Radio.


Maeve ClarkeMaeve Clarke
Maeve was born in Birmingham. As a teen, she decided to live in Spain, Italy and Brazil. After living in Spain and Italy for several years, she returned to Birmingham in 2005. She is a published novelist and short story writer, and in addition has published readers for the English as a Foreign Language market and children’s fiction for reluctant readers. She also writes for stage and radio.

Playing Beethoven (radio) was recorded in 2007. Retribution (stage) was performed as a work in progress rehearsed reading at the Capital Theatre Festival in 2012.

She was writer in residence for BVSC – The Centre for Voluntary Action (2006/7), and for St Chad’s Sanctuary, Birmingham (2011/12). At the latter, she worked with refugees and asylum seekers as part of English PEN’s ‘Big Writing for a Small World’. A book of the work produced was published in 2012.

She leads the Walsall Write On! Writing Squad for young people aged 8-11, and runs creative writing workshops in schools throughout the region.

Maeve is currently collaborating on a short, 2012 Olympics inspired film as part of Reel2Relay, in association with Reel Access.

She may yet still make it to Brazil!


Sam KennySam Hatton
Sam has worked as a writer and broadcaster for the BBC and independent radio, newspapers, magazines and online. She began her writing career as a commercial copywriter specialising in radio advertising and has since written commercial scripts for radio and television. She has written plays for radio and the stage, having a play produced at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and is currently writing a series of short stories and a novel. She gained an MA in Creative Writing from Manchester University and teaches Creative Writing for Shropshire Council’s Adult and Community Education Department and Walford and North Shropshire College. 

Mary WilliamsMary Williams

Mary, who writes under the name of Valentine Williams, is a poet and novelist presently living in Shropshire. Born in Aldershot, she escaped to London just in time to catch the tail-end of the Sixties. She left her first job as a bank clerk before they could sack her, became a teacher in Hackney but gave up eventually on the crowd control aspects, though she liked the kids a lot, moved to Lancashire with her husband and eventually embarked on an alternative career in psychotherapy, working in the NHS and for Relate, and later became a University staff counsellor and trainer, writing in her spare time.

After obtaining an M.A. in Creative Writing at Edge Hill she was commissioned to write two self-help books for Sheldon (SPCK. Following this, she had numerous short stories and poems published and she and her husband moved to Shropshire, where she started the Drayton Writers’ group.

In the last two years Mary has published two dark fiction novels, The Poison Garden of Dorelia Jones, a disturbing psychological portrait, and The Marsh People, a dystopian fantasy, with Immanion Press.  She has also published some erotica with Black Lace and more poetry and stories, winning several prizes including the Ware Poetry Prize in 2011. She is a member of the Keele Poets’ Group at Silverdale. She has also self-published as an e-book Child With No Name, a true story about a very young child orphaned in the Boxing Day Tsunami.

A third novella, Losing It, will be published with Tirgearr Publishing is due out in May 2013.  Losing It gives a voice to a woman detained in a secure psychiatric hospital for killing her children, and yet finding in the hospital the security and care she has never known outside. She is currently working on a crime fiction novel set in Italy, about the ‘Ndrangheda Mafia.