Festival Organisers

Co-Chair, Alis Hawkins

CWA Historical Dagger short-listed author, Alis Hawkins grew up on a dairy farm in Cardiganshire. Her inner introvert thought it would be a good idea to become a shepherd but three years reading English at Corpus Christi College, Oxford revealed an extrovert streak and a fascination with communication which saw Alis train as a Speech and Language Therapist. She has spent the subsequent three decades variously bringing up two sons, working with children and young people on the autism spectrum and writing fiction, non-fiction and plays. She writes the kind of books she likes to read: character-driven historical crime and mystery fiction with what might be called literary production values.

As a historical writer, Alis takes her research very seriously which sometimes has unexpected consequences. Research into the techniques of medieval charcoal burning led to a fascination with the craft and she and her partner now run the team that keeps the earth burn charcoal-producing technique alive in the Forest of Dean.

Series: The Teifi Valley Coroner historical crime series, featuring Harry Probert Lloyd and John Davies, published by Canelo. #1 – None So Blind (2018),#2 – In Two Minds (2019), #3 – Those Who Know (2020), #4 Not One Of Us (Sept 2021)

Testament, a split time narrative set in fictitious university town Salster in both fourteenth and twenty-first centuries – published by Sapere Books.

The Black and The White, a historical psychological mystery set during the Black Death – published by Sapere Books.

More about Alis at www.AlisHawkins.co.uk, on Facebook – Alis Hawkins Author – and on Twitter: @Alis_Hawkins. 

Co-Chair, Matt Johnson

In 2018, after just two years as a published author, Matt Johnson was voted at #22 in the WH Smith list of all-time best crime writers.

Matt Johnson served as a UK soldier and Metropolitan Police officer for nearly twenty-five years. Blown off his feet at the London Baltic Exchange bombing in 1992, one of the first police officers on the scene of the 1982 Regent’s Park bombing, Matt was also at the Libyan People’s Bureau shooting in 1984 where he escorted his mortally wounded friend and colleague, Yvonne Fletcher, to hospital.

Hidden wounds took their toll. In 1999, Matt was discharged from the police with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Whilst undergoing treatment, he was encouraged by his counsellor to write about his career and his experience of murders, shootings and terrorism.

One evening, Matt sat at his computer and started to weave these notes into a work of fiction that he described as having a tremendously cathartic effect on his own condition. He has used his detailed knowledge and memory to create what has been described by many readers as a fast paced, exciting and authentic tale of modern day policing.

A keen biker, Matt rides a ’99 Harley Davidson Fatboy and is patron to the UK based ‘Forces On-line’ charity. He is represented by James Wills at Watson Little Ltd and by Andromeda Talent.

Matt’s first novel was the 2016 John Creasey CWA Dagger listed ‘Wicked Game’, also listed by Amazon UK as the highest-rated rising-star novel of 2016. Following on from the success of this novel, two further books in the series – Deadly Game and End Game – were released in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

More about Matt at www.mattjohnsonauthor.com or through Twitter @Matt_Johnson_UK. 

Co-Producer, Lyndy Cooke

Lyndy has worked in the literature and publishing sectors for more than 35 years, owning a chain of bookshops and being Managing Director of Hay Festival for 20 years. She is a highly experienced events producer, creator and curator for arts and cultural events.

Now working closely with organisations across the UK and worldwide such as the National Trust, British Council, Commonwealth Foundation, Queens Park Book Festival, York Festival of Ideas, Jaipur Literature Festival and Ubud Writers & Readers Festival. She is currently also working on a major research project for the Arts Council Wales and the National Museums Wales.

To keep her grounded, Lyndy also co-owns a small herd of faithful pack ponies, leading guests and their equipment across the Cambrian Mountains, enjoying their stunning scenery. Lyndy retains an honorary role with Hay Festival and is a Trustee of Hay Castle.



Treasurer, Mark Ellis

Mark is a thriller writer from Swansea and a former barrister and entrepreneur.

He is the creator of DCI Frank Merlin, an Anglo-Spanish police detective operating in World War 2 London. His books treat the reader to a vivid portrait of London during the war skilfully blended with gripping plots, political intrigue and a charismatic protagonist.

Mark grew up under the shadow of his parents’ experience of the Second World War. His father served in the wartime navy and died a young man. His mother told him stories of watching the heavy bombardment of Swansea from the safe vantage point of a hill in Llanelli, and of attending tea dances in wartime London under the bombs and doodlebugs.

In consequence Mark has always been fascinated by WW2 and in particular the Home Front and the fact that while the nation was engaged in a heroic endeavour, crime flourished. Murder, robbery, theft and rape were rife and the Blitz provided scope for widespread looting.

This was an intriguing, harsh and cruel world. This is the world of DCI Frank Merlin.

DCI Frank Merlin appears in four novels: ‘Princes Gate’, ‘Stalin’s Gold’, ‘Merlin at War’ and ‘A Death In Mayfair’. The fifth in the Frank Merlin series will be published by Headline Accent and Audible in 2021

Mark Ellis is a member of the Crime Writers Association. ‘Merlin At War’ was longlisted for the CWA Historical Dagger in 2018.

More about Mark at www.markellisauthor.com.

Media Liaison, Bev (B.E.) Jones

Beverley Jones is a former journalist and police press officer, now a novelist and general book obsessive.

Bev was born in a small village in the South Wales valleys, north of Cardiff. She started her journalism career with Trinity Mirror newspapers, writing stories for The Rhondda Leader and The Western Mail, before becoming a broadcast journalist with BBC Wales Today TV news, based in Cardiff.

She has worked on all aspects of crime reporting (as well as community news and features) producing stories and content for newspapers and live TV.

Most recently Bev worked as a press officer for South Wales Police, dealing with the media and participating in criminal investigations, security operations and emergency planning.

Perhaps unsurprisingly she channels these experiences of ‘true crime,’ and her insight into the murkier side of human nature, into her dark, psychological thrillers set in and around South Wales.

Her novels Where She Went, Halfway and Wilderness, are published by Little Brown under the name BE Jones.

Chat with Bev on Goodreads.co.uk under B E Jones or Beverley Jones and on Twitter; @bevjoneswriting

Bev is represented by The Ampersand Agency.

Social media, newsletter, solutioneer, logistics, promoter and all-round good egg, Nellie Williams

Embracing the next half century with open arms having given up sugar in August 2018, Nellie is a mother to 3 girls and having completed 10 years parenting teenagers only has another 3 years to go.

Nellie is fiercely passionate about Wales, small and independent businesses, drugs awareness and brain tumour symptom cards.

She is a Brecon Beacons Ambassador, Glanusk Estate Marketing, Welsh History & Culture Ambassador, St David’s World Host, Wales Week / Berkshire Organiser as well as being our professional Gwyl Crime Cymru Festival Organiser.

As well as being a literary interviewer, key note speaker, public speaker, organiser and networker, Nellie also writes a column in Wokingham Today and chats merrily on local radio.  She has been told many times that her enthusiasm is infectious, there is no known cure and she doesn’t want to find one!

More about Nellie at www.nelliewilliams.co.uk


Mentor and Advisor, Dr Jacky Collins

Dr Jacky Collins aka Dr Noir, formerly Senior Lecturer at Northumbria University in Literature, Film & TV and Spanish Language & Culture, is currently based at Stirling University. In 2014 Jacky established the International Crime Fiction Festival that is Newcastle Noir. More recently, she has been venturing into local radio, co-hosting a fortnightly crime fiction programme on SpiceFM, hosting on-line literary events with the Honey & Stag events team, and is part of the Corylus Books team, a new indie publisher of crime fiction in translation: from Romania, Iceland and beyond.

translator, Alison Layland

Crime Cymru member and festival website translator, Alison Layland was raised in Newark and Bradford. She lived in various parts of the UK, before moving to mid-Wales in 1997, where she lives with her husband and two teenage children.

Alison studied Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic and Modern & Medieval Languages at Cambridge University, and after a brief spell as a taxi driver worked for several years as a Chartered Surveyor before returning to her first love, languages, to become a freelance translator. Alison was Welsh Learner of the Year in 1999 and in 2002 won first place at the National Eisteddfod with a short story written in Welsh. She is a member of the ‘Gorsedd of the Bards’.

Alison translates for a number of publishers and agencies from German, French and Welsh – works of creative fiction and specialist information texts – and has been teaching herself Croatian as an indirect result of research for her first novel, Someone Else’s Conflict.

More about Alison at https://www.alayland.uk/