Programme from previous Croydon Literary Festivals


CLF 2017



Croydon has become a shorthand for everything awful. Jeremy and Mark from Peep Show had a dull flat here; Terry and June lived in Purley, where the wife who “went” in Monty Python’s Nudge, Nudge sketch was also from. “Eric Pode of Croydon” on Radio 4 comedy The Burkiss Way was the grotty, ridiculous character on the show.

The characters from The Good Life, Reginald Perrin and Charles Pooter from George Grossmith’s classic Diary of a Nobody are also classic suburban figures who are very much part of British culture.

So clearly suburbia is an inspiration for comedians and comedy writers. Comedy expert and author Louis Barfe explores, alongside writers Nev Fountain and Jim Bob Morton, what makes the land of semi-detacheds and housing estates so ripe for comedy.


Louis Barfe is a journalist and author. His books include Where Have All The Good Times Gone? The Rise and Fall of The Record Industry, Turned Out Nice Again: The Story of British Light Entertainment and The Trials and Triumphs Of Les Dawson. He is currently radio critic for The Lady magazine and has written for many other publications.
Website / Twitter @AlanKelloggs

Nev Fountain was worked as a comedy writer in TV and radio for 20 years.  He is chiefly known for being a head writer on the Dead Ringers sketch show.  It was the recipient of a Gold Sony, and a British Comedy Award.

He has also contributed to many radio and television programmes, including Have I Got News for You, Newzoids, The News Quiz, and 2DTV, and helped to devise and co-write the CBBC show Scoop.   His radio sitcom Elephants to Catch Eels ran for two series on Radio 4. He is a principal gag writer for satirical magazine Private Eye and contributes to every issue. He has written three humorous detective novels, collectively called The Mervyn Stone Mysteries, which were published in 2010,  and has completed his first ‘serious’ thriller, Painkiller, which is out this year.
Painkiller has been described by Sherlock creator Steven Moffat as “Terrific, engaging, brand new. The twist, which I didn’t see coming, is perfectly set up. In fact, it was forehead-smacking clever.”  The film and television rights have been bought by Hartswood.
Twitter @nevfountain

Jim Bob (AKA J.B. Morrison) was born in London in the swinging ’60s to two parents Frank and Jenny. As the singer of Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine Jim had 14 top 40 singles and a number one album, selling over a million records, touring the world and headlining Glastonbury. After initially splitting up in 1997, Carter reformed 10 years later for a series of huge sold-out shows until they called it a day in 2014. Outside of Carter, Jim Bob has had a long and varied solo career. He has released eight solo albums.

Jim’s autobiography Goodnight Jim Bob – On The Road With Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine was published by Cherry Red Books in 2004.

Jim Bob has written four novels: Storage Stories (Ten Forty Books); Driving Jarvis Ham (Harper Collins); The Extra Ordinary Life of Frank Derrick, Age 81 and Frank Derrick’s Holiday of a Lifetime (Pan Macmillan), published under the name J.B. Morrison and translated into French, Italian, German, Japanese, Turkish, Czech and Dutch.
Website / Twitter @mrjimbob


The stresses and strains of everyday life affect us all. Sometimes things get on top of us; one in four of us will, at some time, suffer from some kind of mental illness. Croydon is growing fast, and sometimes we can feel a bit isolated if we’ve moved somewhere new. But it needn’t get on top of us if we know how to find help.


Sunday Express editor Martin Townsend grew up in the suburbs of London, and his father suffered from bipolar disorder. Martin wrote a book about their relationship, The Father I Had, which talks about how the Townsend family coped with their situation. The book won Mind Book of the Year in 2008.
Website / Twitter @mtsundayexpress
Martin will be joined in conversation by actor Joe McGann, who recently appeared in the film Property Of The State; based on a true story of a young Irishman who endured a brutal childhood, with mistakes and lost opportunities by the authorities leading to tragic consequences.
Twitter @JosephMcGann


If you’re serious about writing, and would like to take your work to the next level, this is the place to find out what you could do to get your words out there. Successful authors will tell you how they’ve been published; top publishers and agents will tell you what they’re looking for.


Adam Croft is an independently published author with more than a million books sold to date, and is one of the most successful independently published authors in the world, and one of the biggest selling authors of the past year.

Following his 2015 worldwide bestseller Her Last Tomorrow, his psychological thrillers were bought by Thomas & Mercer, an imprint of Amazon Publishing. Prior to the Amazon deal, Her Last Tomorrow sold more than 150,000 copies across all platforms and became one of the bestselling books of the year, reaching the top 10 in the overall Amazon Kindle chart.

In February 2017, Only The Truth became a worldwide bestseller, reaching storewide number 1 at both Amazon US and Amazon UK, making it the bestselling book in the world at that moment in time. The same day, Amazon’s overall Author Rankings placed Adam as the mostly widely read author in the world.
Website: / Twitter @adamcroft

Liz Sheppard-Jones is a writer, editor and member of the Croydon Citizen team. A lover of sci-fi and Croydon, her first book will be published by Trinity Mirror in 2018.

Twitter @lizsheppardjone
Matthew Hamilton started his career at Bloomsbury, where he went on to become Publishing Director and a member of the PLC Board. He was also Editorial Director at 4th Estate. He is now a literary agent with Aitken Alexander Associates. He represents serious and popular non-fiction, with a particular interest in politics, music and sport, and has a select list of novelists.

Website  / Twitter @mwhamilton/@aitkenalexander

Scott Pack is associate editor at Unbound, the world’s first crowd-funding platform for books. He is also the co-founder of Abandoned Bookshop, a digital imprint that reissues out-of-print titles as ebooks. During his two book world decades, he has worked in retail, at Waterstones, and at several publishers, including a lengthy spell at HarperCollins.


Authors John Grindrod and Peter Watts, both raised in south-east London, discuss the pleasures of the much-maligned borough – the architecture, the countryside, the culture.


John Grindrod is the author of Concretopia: A Journey Around the Rebuilding of Postwar Britain, described by the Independent on Sunday as ‘a new way of looking at modern Britain’. He has written for The Guardian, Financial TimesBig Issue and The Modernist and has worked as a bookseller and publisher for over 25 years. His latest book is Outskirts, a history of the green belt and a memoir of growing up in New Addington on “the last street in London”.
Website  / Twitter @Grindrod
Peter Watts was born in Epsom, raised in Cheam, went to school in Wallington and spent his spare time in Croydon, dividing his time between Beano’s and The Ship. He has been a journalist since he was 17, when he covered sport for The Sunday Times and went on to work for Time Out before turning freelance and writing about London, music, culture, history and the arts for Uncut, The Guardian, Telegraph, Times, New Statesman and more. He has also written a book about the history of Battersea Power Station called Up In Smoke: The Failed Dreams Of Battersea Power Station.
Website / Twitter @peter_watts



Samantha Williams, founder of Croydon-based Book Love, will lead a session on the importance of  multicultural children’s books with a panel of readers, writers, illustrators and advocates. Topics under discussion will include why every child should be able to see themselves in a book, the importance of positive images in children’s literature, how self-publishing can give a voice to the voiceless, and how books can improve community relations, particularly in the classroom.


Samantha Williams – Founder of Book  Love
Book Love  is an exciting new initiative set up to source, sell, encourage, self-publish and promote beautiful British multicultural children’s books that celebrate diversity particularly children and families of Caribbean/African descent. Book Love houses work from an amazing new wave of local independent children’s writers who tell rich, authentic stories inspired by the multicultural communities we all live in. Samantha’s passion for the books she collects and sells is infectious and her time is spent traveling to schools, nurseries, fairs, markets and local children’s services running workshops, book clubs and storytellings   – all with one focus – to encourage teachers and parents/carers to read more interestingly diverse storybooks to children.
Instagram @thisisbooklove_
Twitter @thisisbooklove

Lynette Lisk – is a literary scout, editor and produced the Africa Writes festival. she is amazing, produced Africa Write and is a Literary scout  –
Instagram @azania_bookclub

Fikayo Adeola Co-founder of Kugali Media, a specialist in African comics.
Twitter @kugalimedia
Instagram – @kugalimedia

Rachel Beckles – Author of The Butterfly Princesses.
Instagram @rachelbeckles

Allison Babbs – A mother of three-year old twins and major supporter of Book Love. Makes sure all her children’s books have black characters

Steven Bryan– Author, Illustrator and graphic designer of the Santana’s World book series. He also has a colouring book to encourage a visual and creative understanding of identity, through art! He is a massive advocate of positive representation of children.
Twitter: santanasworld8

Instagram: santanasworld8


Bestselling authors Erin Kelly and Melanie McGrath are members of the pioneering Killer Women group of crime writers. They will be discussing their latest books, why female writers are so outrageously successful at writing crime and thrillers, and why the suburbs are such a fruitful location for murder and mystery.


Erin Kelly  is the author of six acclaimed psychological thrillers. Her latest, He/Said She Said, was a Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller. Her first book The Poison Tree was a Richard & Judy pick and an ITV drama, and in 2014 she was chosen to novelise the Bafta-award-winning Broadchurch. Erin also works as a journalist and a tutor of creative writing. She lives in North London with her husband and two daughters.

Melanie McGrath is an Essex girl, cofounder of Killer Women, and an award-winning writer of fiction and nonfiction. As MJ McGrath, she writes the acclaimed Edie Kiglatuk series of Arctic mysteries, White Heat, The Boy in the Snow and The Boneseeker, twice longlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger and picked as Times and Financial Times thrillers of the year. As Melanie McGrath she wrote the critically acclaimed and bestselling family memoir Silvertown. As Mel McGrath she is the author of the psychological thriller Give Me The Child.  She has been a documentary TV producer for Channel Four and presenter of Trailblazers for The Discovery Channel. She has written for The Guardian, The Observer, The Daily Telegraph, The Observer, The Mail on Sunday and The Wall Street Journal and has taught creative writing at Arvon and at UEA, Roehampton, City Universities in the UK and the University of North Carolina. She is a regular visitor to prisons and has run a reading and writing group for women over 45 in HMP Holloway.
Website  / Twitter @mcgrathmj

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The Croydon Literary Festival 2017 would not have been possible without the generous time given by all of the speakers and guests who made the event happen, and the volunteers who helped in the run-up and on the day.

We would also like to thank our sponsors, Alix Partners, who helped make this community project a reality; Croydon Council for their wonderful location; and The Croydon Citizen for helping us spread the word about the event.


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