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We all know that authors have to overcome challenges to get where they are today. The first draft, second draft, ninth draft ; rewrites, rejections, finding a publisher, an agent, the nintey second draft... But what about those authors whose challenge begins before they even write their first word? What if the challenge was the words themselves? Jane Elson, Jennie Finch and Fleur Hitchcock discuss how living with dyslexia has affected, enhanced or contributed to their lives and writing careers with Ashley Dyer whose previous work as a dyslexia specialist gives her a unique insight into the subject. Join us and discover that not all challenges are there to be overcome - some are there to be embraced.

Ashley Dyer

Ashley Dyer is the penname of novelist, Margaret Murphy, working in consultation with forensics expert and Vera and Shetland adviser, Helen Pepper. Splinter in the Blood is their debut novel as a writing duo.

 

After a career as a science teacher and dyslexia specialist, Margaret wrote twelve novels under her own name, and as A.D. Garrett, before morphing into Ashley Dyer. The founder of Murder Squad, she is a past Chair of the Crime Writers Association, has been shortlisted for the ‘First Blood’ critics award and CWA Dagger in the Library, and is a Short Story Dagger winner.

Jane Elson

After performing as an actress and comedy improviser for many years, Jane fell into writing stories and plays. A dyslexic herself, Jane's debut play, about dyslexia and Young Offenders, Leonardo Stole My Crayon, was the winner of the Kings Cross Award For New Writing. Passionate about rescue animals, she adopted Griffid,  a blind, ginger cat, with wobbly legs, from Cats Protection. Jane felt he would make a great character in a children's book, so enrolled in a writing for children's course at City Lit and the rest is history. Her books have won many awards including the Shrewsbury, Calderdale, Leeds, Hillingdon and Weald Book Awards as well as winning Peters Book Of The Year two years running.

 

Her debut novel, A Room Full of Chocolate was  longlisted for the Branford Boase and she has twice been nominated for the Carnegie Medal. Jane's latest book Will You Catch Me? About a little girl whose mother is an alcoholic is endorsed  by the charity Nacoa The National Association For children Of Alcoholics.When she is not writing Jane spends her time running creative writing and comedy improvisation workshops for children with special educational needs.

Jennie Finch

Fleur Hitchcock

Jennie grew up in Essex but now lives in the north-east of England.  She has worked backstage in theatre, as a technician at the Tate Gallery and teaching students with learning difficulties. It was whilst studying for a degree in psychology with the Open University that she uncovered the roots of her own struggle with learning and discovered she is dyslexic, dyspraxic and has pragmatic language syndrome.  Despite this she has always tried to tell stories and loves reading.  Ten years ago she studied for an MA in Creative Writing at Teesside University and after graduating with distinction began to write full-time.  In 2010 she was runner up in the Lit Award of the Ruhr with a short story, “Light Years from Home” and short listed in the Impress Prize for her first novel, “Death of the Elver Man”. 

She has now published four novels in the “Alex Hastings” crime series with Impress and is currently editing the next book and experimenting with a new genre.

Born in Chobham and raised outside Winchester, Fleur grew up as the youngest child of three. She spent her smallest years reading Tintin and Batman, and searching for King Alfred's treasure. She grew up a little, went away to school near Farnham, studied English in Wales, and, for the next twenty years, sold Applied Art in the city of Bath. When her younger child was seven, she embarked on the Writing for Young People MA at Bath Spa and graduated with a distinction. Now living outside Bath, between parenting, writing and bookselling at Waterstones Bath, Fleur works with her husband, a toymaker, looks after other people's gardens and tries to grow vegetables. 

To check out some of these authors' books, visit our Recommended Reading page!