We are delighted to announce that the following speakers will be joining us for the 2020 Fishbourne Literary Festival –  John Burns, Claire Fuller, Phil Hewitt, Paul Kerensa, Deborah Moggach and Kate Mosse.

John Burns

It is the combination of John’s love of the outdoors with his passion for writing and performance that make him a uniquely powerful storyteller. In his writing, John tells tales of his travels in the mountains, in his performance he talks of the profound relationship between men and wild places.

John has taken his one man plays to the Edinburgh Fringe and toured them widely around theatres and mountain festivals in the UK. John ‘s first play, Aleister Crowley: A Passion for Evil attracted great audiences in the Edinburgh Fringe of 2010.

His second play, Mallory: Beyond Everest, is a re-telling of the life of the legendary Everest mountaineer. The play was first performed in the Edinburgh Fringe of 2014 and in John portrays a man torn between his love of his wife and his burning ambition to conquer the world’s highest mountain.

Despite the serious subjects he deals with, humour is always close to the surface in everything he does. In The Last Hillwalker John brings together over forty year’s experience in the mountains of the British Isles to stories from our hills with humour and compassion.

Originally from Merseyside, John moved to the capital of the Highlands, Inverness, over thirty years ago, to follow his passion for the hills. For over 40 years he has walked and climbed the hills of Scotland whilst also making occasional trips to more exotic location like the Alps, the Pyrenes and the Canadian Rockies.

An expert ice climber, he was also a member of the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team, and has taken part in numerous rescues in the Highlands. More recently he has rediscovered his love for remote bothies (isolated mountain shelters) and regularly visits the wilder places of his Scottish home.

John began writing almost 15 years ago, and at first found an outlet for his creativity as a performance poet. In 2002 he produced as collection of poetry, Wind Dancer, aimed at raising awareness of autism, a condition that affects one of John’s two children.

Claire Fuller

Claire Fuller is a novelist and short fiction writer. For her first degree she studied sculpture at Winchester School of Art. She began writing fiction at the age of 40, after many years working as a co-director of a marketing agency. She has a Masters (distinction) in Creative and Critical Writing from The University of Winchester. She lives in Winchester, England with her husband, and a cat called Alan, and she has two grown-up children.

Her three novels: Our Endless Numbered Days (winner of the 2015 Desmond Elliott Prize for debut fiction),  Swimming Lessons (shortlisted for the Encore prize for second novels, and Livre de Poche prize in France), and the critically acclaimed Bitter Orange, have all been published by Fig Tree / Penguin (UK), Tin House (US), and House of Anansi (Canada). They have been translated into more than 15 languages. 

Her short stories have been published in many literary journals and shortlisted in prizes. Baker, Emily and Me, won the 2014 BBC Opening Lines competition (read it here), and her story, A Quiet Tidy Man, won the Royal Academy and Pin Drop short story award 2016, (Listen to Juliet Stevenson reading it), and it has been included in the Pin Drop / Simon & Schuster anthology: A Short Affair.

Phil Hewitt

Sussex Newspapers group arts editor, Festival of Chichester chairman and marathon runner Phil Hewitt is beating back the demons with a new book which celebrates the massive mental health benefits of running.  He will be talking about the book, Outrunning The Demons (Bloomsbury, 2019), at the Fishbourne Literary Festival.

As Phil says: “Running can take us to fantastic places. Just as importantly, it can also bring us back from terrible ones. For people in times of crisis, trauma and physical or mental illness – when normality collapses – running can put things back together again.”

After watching a cricket match in Cape Town, South Africa, three years ago, Phil was mugged – stabbed, punched, kicked and effectively left for dead in a grim, desolate suburb.  Astonishingly, just as he could feel himself starting to drift away, he was scooped up and whisked to hospital by a passing pizza delivery driver. Two deep stab wounds, 15 stitches, three broken ribs, battered liver and stomach, bruised all over.

Phil resolved to put himself back together again by getting back to his first love, running…. And it proved a remarkable way to outrun the demons of PTSD and his blood-soaked pavement. Which is why it became the title of his new book – Outrunning The Demons.   In it, Phil tells of his own experiences and their aftermath – and also interviews 34 people from around the world who, as he says, have been to hell and discovered that the surest, safest, quickest way back was to run. 

He interviewed people caught up in 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombing; people who have lost loved ones to murder and natural causes; people who have suffered addiction, alcoholism, anxiety, depression, violent and sexual assault; sheer bad luck – and even a nose-diving jet. The result is a remarkable collection of stories about hope and survival – a genuinely uplifting celebration of the strength of the human spirit and all the good that is unleashed simply through running.

Paul Kerensa

Paul Kerensa was born in Cornwall in 1979, and once he’d learned to write, he started writing. Years later, he’s an award-winning writer of TV, radio, books and his own stand-up comedy, which he still performs twice or thrice a week. He’s part of the British Comedy Award-winning writing team for BBC’s Miranda, the Rose d-Or Award-winning writing team for BBC1’s Not Going Out, he’s written for cult shows like C4’s TFI Friday and BBC Radio 4’s The Now Show and Dead Ringers, as well as mainstream hits like BBC’s Top Gear, Buble at the BBC and the BBC Music Awards. In book form, Paul wrote the true-life memoir ‘So a Comedian Walks into a Church’ in 2013, which made The Independent’s top 7 comedy books for Christmas that year. He followed that up with ‘Genesis: The Bibluffer’s Guide’, based on his Edinburgh Festival show retelling tales of Adam & Eve, Noah and musicals about dreamcoats. His new books include 2017’s ‘Hark! The Biography of Christmas’ (an enlightening sleigh ride through festive history) and 2018’s children’s books ‘Noah’s Car Park Ark’ and ‘Moses & The Exodus Express’, beautifully illustrated by The Pope Twins. His podcast is The Heptagon Club, he tweets @paulkerensa, and is father to two amazing children, plus a few less good ones.

Deborah Moggach

Went to Bristol University, worked in publishing for a bit and then got married. In the mid-70s she went to live in Pakistan for two years. After an English upbringing this was incredibly liberating and it was here that she started writing – both articles for Pakistani newspapers and her first novel, “You Must Be Sisters”. This was a coming-of-age, autobiographical novel as was her next, “Close To Home”, which was the story of a mother with small children (by this time she had returned to London , to live in Camden Town, and had a son and daughter).

She began writing screenplays in the mid-eighties. She wrote a thriller about the movie business called “The Stand-In”, which she scripted as a Hollywood movie, and adapted “Pride And Prejudice” as a film starring Keira Knightley, for which she received a BAFTA nomination. She also adapted Nancy Mitford’s “Love In A Cold Climate” for the BBC and won a Writers Guild Award for her adaptation of Anne Fine’s “Goggle-eyes”. The most recent of her own novels to be adapted is “Final Demand”, starring Tamsin Outhwaite – a story of fraud, retribution and reptile-breeding. “These Foolish Things”, a novel about outsourcing elderly Brits to India, was released in 2012 as “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and became quite a hit; there’s even recently been a sequel.

Art, illusion, doomed love and a tulip bulb are the themes of her first historial novel, “Tulip Fever”. This was inspired by her love of 17th century Dutch painting – in particular, a painting she bought at an auction, a sub-Vermeer interior of a woman getting ready to go out, her servants poised with necklace and glass of wine. This novel was an extraordinary adventure to write and was finally filmed in 2015.

Her other historical novel, “In The Dark” is set in 1916, a story about war, meat and sex. This is adapted as a TV serial. She is  also adapting “Heartbreak Hotel”, her recent comic novel set in the Welsh Borders and featuring Buffy, the boozy old actor from “The Ex-Wives”.

Her most recent novel is called “Something To Hide” and was published in 2015. It’s set in Beijing, Texas, Pimlico and a fictitious African country, and deals with pharma-piracy, elephant poaching and the romantic disasters.

She also written two books of short stories, “Smile” and “Changing Babies”, and a stage play “Double-Take”, which was performed at Liverpool and Chichester.

She done quite a bit of journalism and also been Chairman of the Society of Authors and worked for PEN’s Executive Committee, as well as being a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Kate Mosse

Kate Mosse is the author of eight novels & short story collections, including the No 1 multimillion selling Languedoc Trilogy – Labyrinth, Sepulchre and Citadel – and No 1 bestselling Gothic fiction including The Winter Ghosts and The Taxidermist’s Daughter, which she is currently adapting for the stage. Her books have been translated into 38 languages and published in more than 40 countries. She has also written three works of non-fiction, four plays, contributed essays and introductions to classic novels and collections.

A champion of women’s creativity, Kate is the Founder Director of the Women’s Prize for Fiction – the largest annual celebration of women’s writing in the world – and sits on the Executive Committee of Women of the World. She was awarded an OBE in 2013 for services to literature and women and was named Woman of the Year for her service to the arts in the Everywoman Awards. She is a regular guest on book & arts shows on radio and television.

Kate hosts the pre & post performance interview series at Chichester Festival Theatre in Sussex, chairs Platform Events for the National Theatre in London, as well as interviewing writers, directors, campaigners and actors at literary and theatre festivals in the UK and beyond. Kate was awarded a Fellowship at the Writer’s House in Amsterdam in 2019. She is also Professor of Creative Writing & Contemporary Fiction at the University of Chichester.

Kate divides her time between Chichester in West Sussex and Carcassonne in the southwest of France. She is now working on the next novel in ‘The Burning Chambers’ series, The City of Tears – set in Paris, Amsterdam and London – for publication in May 2020.