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Chairs

Meet the people chairing this year's author events and panels.

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Jenny Brown

Jenny Brown established her literary agency in 2002. She was previously Head of Literature at the Scottish Arts Council, presenter of book programmes for Scottish Television, and founder Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival (of which she is now a Board member). She is also a former Committee member of the Association of Authors’ Agents and was shortlisted in 2014 and 2020 for Agent of the Year Award. She is former Chair of the Bloody Scotland crime writing festival (2011–21). She was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2021.

She represents 50 writers and likes to work closely with her writers and for this reason, almost all the writers she represents are based in Scotland.

Jenny will be chairing our Secrets and Settings in Historical Fiction event
with Catherine Hokin and Sally Hinchcliffe.

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Fiona Gibson

Fiona Gibson was born in a youth hostel in Yorkshire. She started working on teen magazine Jackie at age 17, then went on to work on Just Seventeen and more!. Fiona has written 16 romantic comedy novels and lives in Glasgow with her husband. When she’s not writing, she loves to draw, paint and sit in cafes, dreaming up plot ideas.

Fiona's Book Recommendations:
THE BOOK I'VE READ OVER AND OVER 

Love, Nina by Nina Stibbe 

These are Nina’s true life letters to her sister, written when she was working as a nanny to a delightfully eccentric literary family in London in the 80s. Sharp, observant and hilarious. I have a copy on my desk at all times and am always dipping into it. 

 

THE BOOK THAT INSPIRES ME 

Us by David Nicholls 

I love David’s writing. He's so brilliant on human quirks and family dynamics. One Day was his big hitter but Us is my favourite. He so beautifully describes the strained relationship between scientist Douglas and his more free-thinking creative wife Connie, and their son Albie on a grand tour of European cities. 

 

THE BOOK THAT KICK-STARTED MY NOVEL WRITING CAREER 

On Writing by Stephen King 

The best book about writing I've ever read. It’s no nonsense and non-waffly, focusing as you’d expect on storytelling. It’s also a fascinating memoir. A must for fiction writers. 

Fiona will be chairing our Rom-Com panel event
with Niamh Hargan, Nina Kay and Lily Lindon.

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Mary Paulson-Ellis

Mary Paulson-Ellis writes across the boundaries of crime, literary and historical fiction. Her debut novel, The Other Mrs Walker was a Times bestseller and Waterstones Scottish Book of the Year. The Inheritance of Solomon Farthing was longlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for best Scottish crime novel and a Historical Writers Association Gold Crown. Mary has written for the Guardian and BBC Radio 4 and in 2019 Val McDermid named her one of ten exciting LGBTQ+ writers working today. Mary was recently appointed Dr Gavin Wallace Fellow by Edinburgh Unesco City of Literature. Emily Noble’s Disgrace is her third novel.

Mary's Book Recommendation:
The Womens Room by Marilyn French

"This feminist bestseller from the 70s fired me up when I was a young mother in the 90s and it fires me up still with its tale of female awakening and liberation now that I am middle-aged. Despite being very much a product of its era, it’s a must read for every new generation of women and girls navigating their way in the world. As Kate Mosse, founder of The Womens Prize, says ‘Essential reading… a page-turner that makes you think."

Mary will be chairing our 'Witcherature' event
with Anya Bergman and Stacey Thomas.

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Sara-Jade Virtue

Sara-Jade Virtue has worked in the book industry for 21 years. She joined Simon & Schuster UK in 2007 and spent 12 years as Special Sales Director and Brand Director for the S&S industry-first women’s fiction community, Books and the City. She moved into Editorial in 2019 as Brand Development Director, working across the commercial women’s fiction list identifying new talent and developing growth strategies for brand and emerging authors. She continues to run the Books and the City community, manages the #DigitalOriginals publishing programme and #OneDay open submission project, (which has launched the careers of many authors, including Heidi Swain and Jackie Fraser), leads the Jackie Collins reissue programme, and many collaborations and partnership projects with retailers, media, libraries and literary festivals. She’s also the founder of the #RespectRomFic movement, aiming to increase the profile of romantic novelists in the UK.

Sara-Jade's Book Recommendation: 

When I was 16, there was no such thing as What’s App, X, Insta or TikTok. We didn’t even have online shopping. But there was something more addictive and wonderfully pioneering than all those things put together. Her name was Jackie Collins and in 1986, when I was 16, I read Hollywood Husbands. It opens with the line ‘Jack Python walked through the lobby of the Beverly Hills Hotel with every eye upon him. He had money, charisma, a certain kind of power, razor-sharp wit, and fame. It all showed.’ I was hooked. Every Summer since then I’ve reread Hollywood Husbands and each time I fall madly back in love with Jack Python and Jackie herself. If you’ve never read one of The JC’s thrilling page-turners, I can’t begin to tell you what you’re missing. Grab one and find out for yourself. You won’t regret it!

Sara-Jade will be chairing our Feel-Good Fiction event

with Jackie Fraser, Milly Johnson and Eva Verde.

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