Sufiya Ahmed

Sufiya Ahmed. We're delighted to have Sufiya join us for the festival and the unique perspective she brings from her experience of being Muslim and British. Born in India but raised in the UK from a being a baby, she grew up in Bolton, before moving to London where she now lives. Having worked in advertising and in the House of Commons, Sufiya is now a full-time author and in 2010 set up the BIBI Foundation, a non-profit organisation, to arrange visits to the Houses of Parliament for diverse and underprivileged school children. Sufiya's award winning book deals with the experiences of young British Asians and forced marriage. She discusses this contentious issue in terms of culture, not religion, and gives a balanced outlook on the experience of being Muslim and British. Age range: Y9-Y11, groups of 30 to 200.

Tom Avery

Tom is a Londoner born and bred, an author of children's books, a teacher, quite tall, partial to a good cup of tea and a slice of cake. Tom's a cyclist and a runner, he's not keen on pets, but fond of cooking and eating, he wears slippers and lives in North London with his illustrator wife and two sons. Tom's first book Too Much Trouble won the Diverse Voices Award and was long-listed for the Waterstone's Children's Book Prize.

Martyn Beford

Martyn Bedford. Award winners don't come more gong- laden than Martyn, who is a creative writing tutor at Leeds University. Flip, his first novel for teenagers, was short-listed for the Costa Children's Book Award, long-listed for the Carnegie Medal and named as a Red House Children's Book Awards Pick of the Year title, as well as winning four regional prizes: the Calderdale Book of the Year Award, the Sheffield Children's Book Award, the Bay Book Award and the Immanuel College Book Award. Age range: KS3/4 "Martyn Bedford is the genuine article, a writer of unmistakable flair and accomplishment." - The New York Times

Henrietta Bond

Henrietta Bond. Henri is a passionate believer in creating resilience and self esteem. Her books explore the world of Holly, an 18 year old care leaver, who is learning to live her own life. Her writing is sincere and ultra convincing - Henri has worked in the care system for many years as well being a journalist and writer. 'It was refreshing to read about social care in a positive light and see the children who are moving on from foster care as capable young people. The story could easily have felt preachy in tone... however it is extremely entertaining and thought provoking without being contrived.' School Librarian , 59-1 Spring 2011. Henrietta will also appear at the Grand Finale at the University of Huddersfield running a Creative Writing session for young people. Age range: Y8-Y12

Craig Bradley

Craig Bradley. It's a tough job but someone's got to do it! Craig is a full time poet on a serious mission to make children and young people laugh by enjoying language and playing with words. "Simply sensational and hilarious!, Craig had children, parents and teachers roaring with laughter! The whole theatre was literally mesmerised by his wit and humour at our school Book Awards. Craig had the whole crowd of 200 on their feet; singing, dancing, joining in rhymes, interacting with jokes and word play. The response from children following the event was fantastic they can't wait for next year and we all now do the 'Craig Bradley Clap!' A great way to celebrate the magic, fun and excitement of reading and writing. A night to remember!" Kate Noble : Literacy Co ordinator, All Saints' C of E Primary, Marple, Stockport Age range: KS2, KS3, KS4

Melvin Burgess

From trainee journalist to the Godfather of modern young people's fiction, Melvin Burgess's journey to literary notoriety came when his novel The Cry of the Wolf was short-listed for the Carnegie medal. Armed with a back catalogue of radio drama, short stories and hard-hitting children's fiction Melvin holds no punches when it comes to telling a tale or two that will stick with you long after his briefcase is firmly shut. We're lucky to have this star of the literary Mafiosi with us for the festival - so don't miss him. Or else! Age range : KS3/4 (but has also written for KS2).

Donavan Christopher

Donovan Christopher. Mix poetry with rapping and add a generous dose of social activism and you have the unique voice and mind of Donovan Christopher who works with all year groups to motivate and inspire. His school visits are renowned for being fun and thought-provoking while inspiring inspire young people to become more socially responsible. He focuses on the power of the spoken and written word and his workshops are participatory. Highly regarded and popular as an author visit. Age range: Reception - KS4

Paul Cookson

Paul Cookson. With a massive output of work and currently Poet in Residence at the National Football Museum, Paul has over sixty titles to his name, and has sold well over three quarters of a million books since he began work as a poet in 1989. As if that wasn't enough his poems appear in over two hundred other books. Paul is the official Poet in Residence for the National Football Museum and winner of the National Reading Hero Award. His work has taken him all over the world - including visits to Argentina, Uganda, Malaysia, Singapore and Beijing and featured on Match of The Day, Radio 5 Live, Radio 2, The World Service, and CBBC. Age range: KS2 and KS3

Fiona Cummings

Fiona Cummings. Back on home ground and joining us for the festival is local author who has returned to Calderdale after many years of living in London. Her main work is for children aged 6-9 years but she is currently writing a novel for teenagers in the Louise Rennison vein. Fiona is funny and warm and engages easily with children getting them to enjoy their own creative writing: "really inspirational". Age range: Y3 - Y6.

Paul Dowsell

Paul Dowswell. The history man. No one quite does history like Paul Dowsell who has collected a rich seam of awards in many, many categories. Paul is a very accomplished writer and an engaging speaker. Focusing predominantly on historical themes his work is largely aimed at teenagers but has also written a series of novels for the 9+ audience range. Paul also runs creative writing workshops and speaks knowledgably on various historical subjects. "Paul Dowswell is a British writer of non-fiction and fiction, writing mainly for children and young adults. He has written over 60 books, mostly with history as the subject, but also about geography, natural history, and science." Wikipedia Age range: KS3/4

Jonny Duddle

Jonny spent his childhood in the wet and windy hills of North Wales, exploring forests, riding his bike for miles and miles, scrumping apples and building tree-houses. And when he wasn't outside he was drawing and busily creating worlds, sprawled across his bedroom floor, with paper everywhere. When he realized he had to grow up and get a job, he went to college to study illustration and then got himself a proper job on a pirate ship. As a landlubber, he enjoyed stints as an encyclopedia salesman, a children's entertainer in Majorca, a gallery warden, and an art teacher in Kang, a small village in the middle of the Kalahari Desert. Jonny eventually ended up designing characters for computer games. Whilst working as a freelance games artist, he wrote a picture book about a sea monster called 'The Pirate Cruncher'. Then he helped design the characters for Aardman's stop-motion movie 'The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!'. A second picture book 'The Pirates Next Door' followed (which won the 2012 Waterstones Children's Book Prize), and then Jonny went a bit sci-fi with 'The King of Space' picture book. His latest book is all about dinosaurs and is called 'Gigantosaurus!'.

Sam Gayton

Sam Gayton - Author, playwright, livewire and comic. The unstoppable, incredible adventures of Sam Gayton come alive in his inventive writing which stimulates young minds, making them challenge the world around them. If you're not inspired to embark on an incredible adventure after listening to Sam, we'll eat our hats. Catch this very young, energetic, funny and interesting writer while you can. Runner up of the 2013 Primary Award for Calderdale Children's Book of the Year for The Snow Merchant. Sam is clearly a man in demand with bookings by several schools for follow up visits. Age range: KS2

Chrissie Gittins

Chrissie Gittins' award winning poetry for children is rich and varied in both form and subject; her collections are bursting with everything from limericks to list poems, shape-poems to songs, and manage to be silly, scary, funny, sad and exciting all at the same time, often within the same poem. The poems play with language, exploring the way we speak and shout, sing and write, and how the world all around is translated through words. Invoking the magic of new and unknown words her poems have been animated for Cbeebies TV and are widely anthologized.

Steve Hartley

Steve Hartley. Discovered and now delighting children everywhere. Winner of the inaugural SCBWI-BI's 2008 'Undiscovered Voices' competition, and now a fully published author Steve uses comedy to engage children in his writing. The Danny Baker Record Breaker books are four books, each with two tightly-plotted stories of around 6,000 - 7,000 words. They have sub-plots, character development, and an arc across the eight stories, and deal with themes such as friendship, family, jealousy and striving. Humour courses through Steve's work and he loves meeting his readers. Age range: primary KS2

Cas Lester

Cas spent many years having a fabulous time, and a great deal of fun, working in children's television drama with CBBC. She developed and executive produced lots of programmes including JACKANORY, MUDDLE EARTH, THE MAGICIAN OF SAMARKAND, BIG KIDS and THE STORY OF TRACY BEAKER. Now she's having a fabulous time, and a great deal of fun, writing books for children, helping out in a primary school library and mucking about with her family. She has four children, three chickens and a daft dog called Bramble. She would absolutely love to go into space. Age range: 8-11 years.

Kate Maryon

Kate Maryon. Kate survived a traumatic childhood with a violent father and is passionate to share her experiences positively with young people. "Life was hard when I was small. I was born into a very troubled family. My Dad was an angry man. He used to shout and get really violent. He'd break stuff and do mean things. My lovely mum, my brother, my sister and I used to sit and tremble with fear. I quickly learnt to be as quiet as a mouse. I even learnt to cry without making a sound. When I was 10 years old and my dad left we all breathed a huge sigh of relief. And although life became more peaceful it took us years to get over the shock of living with him". Her characters stay with you long after the end of the book - Kate gives kids hope and a positive role model for a bright future. Not to be missed! Kate will also appear at the Grand Finale at the University of Huddersfield.

Susanna Meese

There was once a girl who loved to talk, pull funny faces and tug at people's heart strings, so she became a storyteller, bringing stories to life, in her red shoes! Susanna Meese is an actor and storyteller who has performed at theatres and festivals all over the world. Shortlisted two years running in the British Awards for Storytelling Excellence, she has an undeniable commitment and passion for storytelling with a style that is engaging, open and elegant.

Andrew Newbound

Andrew Newbound. Word Wizardry from a master of the dark arts of word-smithery. If you like wizards, and let's face it who doesn't, then children's author Andrew Newbound will cast a hypnotic spell with his collection of weird and wacky words such as Huggermugger, Boondoggle and Scuttlebutt. He's also promising to reveal World's Most DANGEROUS Word which he thinks, once you know it, might make your nose bleed, your ears explode, or if you're really unlucky, turn you into a pig. And he's being very honest about its side effects. So come along to discover why words are much more powerful than you thought. Age range: KS2

Tom Palmer

Tom Palmer. If you're a reluctant reader then Tom is living proof that reading changes lives, not least of all his own. An award winning author who had his own problems with reading and literacy as a child and young person, Tom is a tireless champion of children's reading and a prominent activist in several campaigns to get children motivated to read. His books are highly readable and highly regarded by librarians and teachers "Tom Palmer is a champion for reluctant readers and works tirelessly to attract children - and particularly boys - to pick up a book" - Marilyn Brocklehurst, Norfolk Children's Book Centre. Age range: KS2/

Helena Pielichaty

Helena Pielichaty. Grasping the issues that matter for children, Helena is not only the UK's first Patron of Reading, but has written around thirty books for both the 8-11 year age range and young adults. Often compared to Jacqueline Wilson, Helena 'tackles real issues that worry real kids with both sympathy and humour and finds the extraordinary in the very ordinary.' (The Guardian) "I never planned to become a writer. I failed English Literature at G.C.E. so I thought I wasn't good enough to do anything in that line. As a teacher, I used to devise my own worksheets for lessons. I always tried to make interesting and quirky, so maybe the seeds of creativity were sown then. It was not until I was much older - in my early thirties - I couldn't suppress this niggling in my brain to have a go at creative writing properly and I joined a creative writing group. I think writing found me, in the end". Age range: KS2 and 3

Annabel Pitcher

Annabel is a new, local author with a string of awards and nominations to her name - Red House Children's Book Award, Galaxy Children's Book of the Year, 2012 Carnegie Medal Shortlist, 2011 Dylan Thomas Prize, Royal Society of Authors Betty Trask Award, Hull Children's Book of the Year, 2012 Waterstone's Children's Book Prize and 2012's Branford Boase Award for the most outstanding debut novel. Phew!

Martin Rothery

"If you've taken the time to write something, then it's only fair that people get the opportunity to read it." That is the personal mantra of Martin Rothery and the inspiration behind his publishing firm Fishcake Publications. As an author, Martin knows how difficult it is to get any work accepted (or even critiqued) and wants to give as many people as possible the opportunity to have work published; something that has become more possible in the digital age. This resulted in his first title COWS! being launched as Fishcake Publication's first title. When not working as a Student Achievement Leader in English at Royds Hall High School, Martin is writing children's and horror books, is an active member of the Holmfirth Writers' Group and runs workshops for children promoting both reading and writing. His latest venture, in collaboration with Kirklees Libraries, saw the launch of Fishcakes' first children's project 'World of Darkness' by The Story Killers where kids became published in a free online available ebook. Martin's ambition is get as many children as possible interested in reading and creative writing through all the new medias available and sees publishing as a means to do that.

Steve Smallman

Steve Smallman. Every picture tells a story and not least of all with award winning illustrator and author Steve whose engaging illustration workshops help children draw facial expressions in interactive sessions that really draw (pun intended) the hidden creative talents in us all. Steve has been visiting schools for about 8 years, all over the UK and in Europe, working with children from nursery up to key stage 2. But also covers things like shading, scale, movement, texture and figure drawing to whichever level is age appropriate. In his writing workshops he helps children to develop their own story ideas. Steve also works with secondary schools and special schools where he applies his skills as an illustrator and writer to bring alive a whole range of stories and images. If you ever wanted to illustrate your own stories and ideas, make a point of visiting Steve.He's also happy to work in special schools Age range: nursery - KS3.

Gez Walsh

Gez Walsh. Thought you were a poet but didn't know it? Then Gez is the man to help you find your inner poet by inspiring you to read and make up your own poetry by enjoying the sheer fun of using words and language creatively. Gez says "I don't really write poetry in the conventional sense, I tend to write comedy in rhyme. I don't try to teach young people how to write sonnets, I try to help them to love words and language, I want to help them to communicate with the world around them. My work is now used not only here in the UK but around the world to encourage young people to pick up a book and read." Age range: KS2 and 3.

Mark Wright

Mark Wright. Mark is definitely the Who's Who of all things Dr Who and Sci Fi, having written many audiobooks, short stories, comic strips and novels for world-famous characters such as Doctor Who, The Sarah Jane Adventures, the Power Rangers and Blake's 7. He is the co-author (along with Cavan Scott) of the Sunday Times top ten bestselling miscellany, Who-ology, a fact-packed journey through all 50 years of Doctor Who's adventures. Mark's latest book for reluctant teen readers, The Corridor, is now available from Badger Learning, and he is also a regular contributor to the pages of Doctor Who Magazine. Inclusive, interactive and immersive, Mark's sessions helps everyone share their own perspective on Dr Who. Everyone knows about Dr Who and everyone has their own Doctor, so sharing is very much at the heart of many of Mark's sessions. Age range: KS2 and 3