Leo Rawlings (1918-1990) was a private in the 137th Field Regiment Royal Artillery. A budding artist living in Blackpool, his life was changed forever by the war. Fighting from December 1941 to February 1942 as part of the headlong British retreat eventually leading to defeat in Singapore, he chronicled in pictures and words the campaign and the events that followed from 1941-1945. He drew what he witnessed around him, leading him to be unofficially commissioned to keep a visual record of the prisoners of war’s lives.
Clio Gray was born in Yorkshire, and, after a childhood spent first in Saltburn-by-the-Sea and then Devon, she went to London to study philosophy, then Leeds, where she completed a degree in the History of Art. Finally she took a Post Grad Dip Lib, and went into the public library service, where she remains now, after upping sticks to settle in the Highlands of Scotland.
In 2004, she won the Harry Bowling First Novel Award in 2004 and this led to the successful ‘Stroop’ series of crime novels set in the Napoleonic Wars and published by Headline.
She also won the Scotsman / Orange Award in 2006 for her short story: I Should Have Listened Harder and has maintained a keen interest in short stories ever since, both as a writer and as the founder of HISSAC: the Highlands and Islands Short Story Association. HISSAC organises an annual open short story competition and she is its Chair of Judges.
The Anatomist’s Dream is her first full-length literary novel.
A self-confessed cult TV buff, she lives with her family in Toronto, Canada and blogs at nikkistafford.blogspot.co.uk
Jeanne Gask was born in Calais, France, the youngest daughter of expats Tom and Nell Sarginson. After the Second World War she married and settled in Teddington, Middlesex where she brought up her own family. Nell and the Girls is her story of her family’s wartime experience while trapped in occupied France.
Brian O’Connell is an author, editor and journalist. He has worked throughout Europe, Africa, the Middle East, the United States and Australia and has published articles in over 30 newspapers including the Sunday Times, the Evening Standard, the Wall Street Journal, the Irish Independent and numerous other newspapers and magazines. He has worked as an editor on three magazines as well as editing numerous books and periodicals at Le Soir, Wolters Kluwer and Sdu Uitgevers. Brian has appeared on television and radio in the United States, England, Ireland and Belgium. He is also the author of six books. He is American by birth but has spent the vast majority of his adult life wandering the globe. In his personal time he is an avid sailor, an amateur historian, a fisherman, a beer connoisseur and an all around reprobate. He lives in Oxford and, to the best of his knowledge, has two children, both of whom deserved a much better father.
Norm Chung is an illustrator and former games artist who has worked for Ignition Entertainment, Rebellion and Awesome Play. He has worked on games such as Pool Paradise, Mercury, Aliens vs. Predator Requiem and Speedzone. He began freelancing in 2010 and has since produced a variety of work in both traditional and digital media. The Fat Boy with the Bomb will be his first published book. Norm was raised in a Chinese Takeaway in Derbyshire and although he still enjoys being in the kitchen, he demonstrated his chosen career path at an early age, by scribbling on the walls, furniture and appliances of his parents’ business. In his personal time he is a keen martial artist and, although he trains really, really hard, his 5-year-old daughter still walks all over him. He is based in Oxford and considers himself blessed for his wonderful family and his awesome friends.
Laura Purcell began writing from an early age, fuelled by her love of classic novels. At nine years old, she spent a summer reading Black Beauty and wrote a poem about a war horse. When her teacher read it and went into raptures, Laura knew what she wanted to do with her life.
An avid fan of Jane Austen TV adaptions, Hornblower, The Scarlet Pimpernel and Sharpe, Laura developed a fascination with the Georgian period. Her novels explore the lives of royal women during this era, who have largely been ignored by modern history.
Laura is married to a wonderful web-developer and lives in Colchester, Essex with many pet guinea pigs. She loves all animals and is passionate about charities for them, such as The Dogs Trust.
Laura is a member of the Historical Novel Society, The Society for Court Studies, The Society of Authors and Historic Royal Palaces.
For more information on Laura please visit her website here: www.laurapurcell.com
P. S. Duffy was born in China and grew up in the United States. She spent over thirty summers sailing in Nova Scotia, where her ancestors had settled in the 1750s and where the home front chapters of The Cartographer of No Man’s Land take place.
She has a degree in history and a doctorate in communication disorders and is the author of essays, flash fiction, an academic text, and a memoir of her family’s time in 1940s China. Retired from a clinical and research career in neurologically based communication disorders, she now combines creative writing with writing in the neurosciences for the Mayo Clinic. She lives in Rochester, Minnesota with her husband. The Cartographer of No Man’s Land is her first novel.
Photo © Karl Beighley
John Coast was born in Kent, England on October 30, 1916. As Britain entered World War II,he left a comfortable post in the City to serve in the Coldstream Guards and then as an officer in the Norfolks. He was one of the few survivors of that regiment when it was trying to defend Singapore against the Japanese.
As a prisoner-of- war, Coast was sent into Siam (Thailand) to build railways for the Japanese and the story of that time, Railroad of Death, became a best seller and was later to form the subject of Return to the River Kwai, a documentary made in 1969 for the BBC.
During his internment, Coast got an inkling of his future profession: he drew together musicians among his fellow prisoners and put together concert parties, which he stage managed.
After the war, Coast joined the press department of the Foreign Office in Bangkok and then became press attaché to President Sukarno during the Indonesian struggle for independence.
Back in London in the mid 1950s, Coast became a manager and an impressario to such artists as Mario Lanza, Luciano Pavarotti, José Carreras, Jon Vickers and Montserrat Caballé. He was the first man to present Bob Dylan in London and take Ravi Shankar to the West.
For more information on John please visit his website here: www.johncoast.org
Elizabeth Ashworth has been passionate about writing from the age of twelve, when she had an article published in Diana. Her first story was published in Pony Annual three years later. Her published books include Lancashire: Who Lies Beneath? (Countryside Books), Tales of Old Lancashire (Countryside Books) and Champion Lancastrians (Sigma Press). She is also a contributor to a wide range of magazines. She is now engaged in completing a companion novel to The de Lacy Inheritance entitled By Loyalty Bound, which is set during the Wars of the Roses.
For more information on Elizabeth please visit her website: www.elizabethashworth.com
Sebastian Beaumont is the author of Thirteen and The Juggler. He was born and raised in Scotland and graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University with a degree in Creative Arts, in which he majored in Creative Writing. He now lives in Brighton where he works in private practice as a psychotherapeutic counsellor. He received an Arts Council Bursary to write Thirteen, a tale of mystery and the human psyche. The Juggler is his second novel published by Myrmidon Books.