Who we are
THE PWA CORE TEAM
We’re experts in online learning and have taught in universities and further education colleges in the UK and abroad. We also have extensive experience of working in industry — from retail, hospitals and psychiatry, to education management, publishing, journalism and PR. We have been employers as well as students, practitioners as well as theorists. We are all professional communicators.
We have extensive experience in course development and teaching online, having set up the world’s first fully online postgraduate writing course at Falmouth University, and producing ground-breaking ebooks and apps. We’ve tried out, tested and tweaked our methods in recreational and academic situations; we developed Faber Academy’s first online writing courses and worked with former BBC Controller of Drama Production, John Yorke, to develop his bestselling book on storytelling into an online course. Our students are astoundingly satisfied!
As well as the core team we have a carefully selected network of experienced specialist writers across forms and genres who we know can be relied on to develop and deliver learning to our exceptionally high standard.
She has developed stories in many forms – as a journalist, book author, magazine editor, digital communications producer, online community builder – and nurse. She has also devised, produced and managed online and face-to-face university undergraduate and postgraduate courses as well as commercially-focused apps and ebooks.
Christina rode the dotcom boom with zeal and developed a (some would say) slightly unhealthy adoration of content management systems and their potential for building new kinds of education experiences, publishing models – and profitable businesses. Linkedin profile.
EDUCATION AND EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Susannah Marriott is an author, editor, ghostwriter and writing tutor. Specialising in spirituality, parenting and folklore, she has written 23 books translated into 17 languages as well as editing more than 60 titles for authors including BKS Iyengar, Mary Quant, Penelope Leach, Elizabeth Luard and Anna Pavord.
Her writing has appeared in The Guardian, The Times, The Telegraph, Daily Record, You, Marie Claire, She and Junior. She has broadcast on BBC Radio 4 with Mark Tully (Something Understood) and her work has been recommended on BBC Radio 4’s Open Book.
A graduate of the University of East Anglia, Susannah teaches writing and editing at masters level and has been teaching and mentoring writers online since 2008. Her non-fiction students have been published by Ebury, Bloomsbury, Icon Books, HarperCollins, Square Peg, How-to Books and John Blake Publishing. One student won the The Biographers’ Club Tony Lothian Prize (2010) and another was longlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year (2013). LinkedIn profile.
DIRECTOR OF FICTION Tom Bromley (Writing a Novel tutor and mentor) is an author, editor and ghostwriter. Tom writes crime fiction under the pseudonym Thomas Black. His first book, Dead on Arrival (2013), was described by Scott Griffin as ‘a darkly funny and twisted killer for the 21st century.’ His second, Hammerhead (2015), was described by Louise Voss as ‘A fast, funny, quirky read you won’t be able to put down. Foster is a memorable anti-hero — I absolutely loved it and can’t wait for the next one.’ Under his own name, Tom has published eight works of fiction and non-fiction, and as a ghostwriter has written a further ten books, including Sunday Times top ten bestsellers. He teaches novel and genre writing for the Faber Academy, as well as teaching and mentoring for the Professional Writing Academy, the Literary Consultancy and Falmouth University among others. Tom’s website. Video.
DIRECTOR OF LEARNING TECHNOLOGY Nic Drew is an Oxford Philosophy graduate who has worked in technology and web technologies since 1997 including as a director of the digital agency he founded. Nic is particularly interested in the use of technology to transform the way we learn and consume information, and has spent a good deal of his professional life building and integrating systems that help this transformation.
Nic has been with PWA from the outset and is responsible for the technical development of our virtual learning platform, from which we deliver our courses to students around the world. Nic has helped PWA position our platform at the forefront of community driven learning.
STUDENT EXPERIENCE CONSULTANT Helen Shipman (PWA Director) has been teaching writing for more than 25 years. She has written and delivered courses from evening classes for recreational writers to masters degrees in universities. She has also been devising and teaching online writing courses since the internet was invented — well, almost.
Her graduates are international prizewinners and have published adult, young adult (YA), children’s fiction and non-fiction, and have had screenplays produced. They cite her down-to-earth approach and clear instruction as key to their progress.
A fiction writer herself, Helen was finalist in the Independent on Sunday short story competition in 2005 and her novel A Place of Drowning is with her agent. She is currently working on her second novel The Engraver, a contemporary thriller about a child’s murder.
Sarah Farley (learning experience manager) used to run a diving school in the Caribbean, but gave it up to follow the dream: being a writer. She has an MA in Professional Writing and is an experienced business writer and editor.
Drawing on her years of experience in customer service and business, she’s written stories and developed digital content for major brands, and has helped develop and nurture online learning communities. She loves working on unusual creative projects and has a D&AD pencil for collaborative writing project, From Home to Home.
A technically minded content strategist, Sarah helps us to continually develop our online classroom and works alongside our tutors to create our courses. Inside the classroom, she moderates courses and facilitates discussions among students to help make your learning experience fun, interesting and engaging. LinkedIn profile.
Sophie Cowles (moderator) is a scriptwriter and expert in web design and online communities, who has worked in communications for 10 years. She runs a creative agency called Zammerchat. They specialise in graphic design and copywriting, producing creative digital and printed content for businesses and creating online brands and marketing campaigns. She teaches on university MA writing courses, helping new writers think about and create online brands.
Sophie is currently working on two web series and script edits for companies and individuals.
Fiona Egglestone (moderator) is a freelance writer and editor based in Cornwall. She regularly runs writing workshops for adults and children, often inspired by the natural world.
Much of her recent work is concerned with giving voice to places and objects, bringing their stories to life and blurring the boundaries between past and present. Words are at the heart of what she does, although they appear in different formats: her work has been published in books, online, turned into audio recordings, performed in front of live audiences and engraved on wood, Perspex and glass.
Fiona is working on a YA fantasy novel, The Dreamcatcher’s Apprentice, and developing an idea for a children’s picture book. She also enjoys writing short stories and poetry.
Course directors, tutors and mentors
All are published authors, literary editors, screenwriters and writing tutors with a track record in their industry, from TV drama to fantasy, travel writing to non-fiction. Importantly all are also experienced at teaching writing.
Peter Dale (Story for Factual TV advisor) Peter is founder of the independent production company Rare Day, which makes documentaries and drama-documentaries for the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five. Credits include Brain Hospital: Saving Lives for Five, Police Under Pressure and Barenboim on Beethoven for BBC Two, Murder Games for BBC Three, and One Mile Away for Channel 4. In 2011, Rare Day launched the US public service station, PBS, as a UK cable channel, and in 2012 he was asked to be the BBC’s Executive Producer on A Jubilee Tribute to the Queen by The Prince of Wales.
Peter is former Head of Documentaries at Channel 4, where he commissioned a string of BAFTA award-winning programmes – including The Trust, Feltham Sings, Jamie’s School Dinners, Molly Dineen’s Lie of the Land and Peter Kosminsky’s The Government Inspector. As well as commissioning numerous features by Nick Broomfield, Kim Longinotto, Penny Woolcock and Molly Dineen, Peter developed a strong C4 reputation for controversial factual dramas – including Death of a President, The Hamburg Cell, The Trial of Tony Blair and A Very Social Secretary. From his department, Channel 4 broke an entirely new wave of formats, including Faking It, Wife Swap and Supernanny. In 2005, he conceived and launched More4, Channel 4’s third digital channel, which he ran for 3 years.
Peter started life in television as a film editor in 1977, going on to direct his first documentary for the BBC Everyman strand in 1980. He produced and directed documentaries at the BBC for the next 18 years. His award-winning series The System (BBC Two) showed the inner workings of the Department for Social Security.
In 2008 Peter left Channel 4 to set up Rare Day and build on his reputation for high quality documentaries and drama. Peter’s website.
Nick Parker (Story for Business course leader) is a former creative director at language consultancy The Writer. His clients included BT, RBS, PwC, BBC and Spotify working at all levels – from CEOs and leadership teams to Heads of Brand, HR and Legal, to people in direct day-to-day contact with customers. Among many other things, Nick has written speeches for CEOs, trained government ministers, and helped develop the world’s largest tone-of-voice programme.
Nick believes that thinking about story is one of the most powerful processes businesses go through: “Every time I work with clients on their story, the process uncovers unexpected and exciting things. You’re never really just ‘telling the story’. You’re almost always breathing life into your strategy, sharpening up your brand, working out what your propositions should be… and a thousand other things.”
Kris Kenway (fiction subject leader) is a novelist, screenwriter, playwright and journalist. He’s written two novels and his short stories have appeared in the Barcelona Review, Arena, and Dazed & Confused. His plays Beirut Days and The Line were broadcast on BBC Radio 4. He teaches creative writing at Falmouth University and our Writing a Novel online course at the Faber Academy and has guest lectured at Al Akhawayn University in Morocco. LinkedIn profile.
Donald H Hewitt’s (script mentor) credits include the Oscar-winning animated film Spirited Away and the Oscar-nominated Howl’s Moving Castle. He’s completed feature film and TV drama projects at Pixar, Miramax, Working Title, Disney, New Line, Fox Animation and ABC Family. He teaches screenwriting at UCLA, the Singapore Media Academy and the Austin Film Festival.
Heidi Rice (Introduction to Writing Hot Romance course director) is a USA Today bestselling author of 24 romantic novels, novellas and short stories. She has sold over 2 million copies of her books worldwide, had her stories translated into 23 languages and has finaled three times in the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA awards which recognise excellence in romance writing. Her first women’s fiction novel, So Now You’re Back, was published in February 2016 by Harlequin Mira UK and described by one Amazon reviewer as ‘a sheer delight’.
Before becoming a published romance author ten years ago, Heidi worked for twenty years as a film journalist for, among others, Radio Times, What’s on TV and the Daily Mail. She has run numerous library workshops on writing romantic fiction including featuring in Islington Council’s Word Festival in 2013 and has previously worked as a reader for the Romantic Novelists Association’s New Writers Scheme.
Paul Kingsnorth (fiction and non-fiction mentor) is the author of two non-fiction books, One No, Many Yeses and Real England, and a collection of poetry, Kidland and other poems. A former Fleet Street journalist, Paul has written widely for newspapers, magazines and journals worldwide, has won awards for his poetry and essays, and has edited various publications, including The Ecologist magazine and the critically-acclaimed Dark Mountain series, of which he is co-founder. His first novel, The Wake, published in 2014, set a thousand years in the past and written in its own language, was described in The Guardian as ‘the most glorious experience I’ve had with a book in years’, and by the poet Heathcote Williams as ‘an astonishing feat of imagination.’ In 2014, The Wake was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Folio Prize and the Desmond Elliott Prize, shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize, and won the Gordon Burn Prize and The Bookseller Book of the Year Award. His second novel, Beast, is published by Faber and Faber. Paul’s website.
Emily Barr (fiction mentor) is an award-winning novelist and a former Guardian journalist. A trip around the world writing a newspaper travel column started her career in fiction, when she used the Asian backpackers’s trail as a setting for her first novel, Backpack. She has now written twelve full-length novels, most recently The Sleeper, and a novella, Blackout, for the Quick Reads series. Her first YA novel, The One Memory of Flora Banks, will be published by Penguin in 2016. Emily teaches writing for the Arvon Foundation and mentors postgraduate students at Falmouth University. Emily’s website.
Sarah Hilary (Writing Crime Basics guest tutor) is a prize-winning crime fiction author. has worked as a bookseller, and with the Royal Navy. Her debut novel, Someone Else’s Skin, won the Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year 2015. It was the Observer’s Book of the Month (“superbly disturbing”), a Richard & Judy Book Club bestseller, and has been published worldwide. No Other Darkness, the second in the series is out now. The Marnie Rome series is being developed for television. Sarah’s website.
Follow Sarah on Twitter at @Sarah_Hilary
He started out as a sub-editor and feature writer before spending time creating web content as the internet exploded in the late 90s. Then, mainly by chance, he moved sideways into marketing writing. He liked it immediately because of the mix of original ideas and analysis and straightforward communication combined with a particular tone of voice.
Over the years Piers has written for numerous businesses in all kinds of tones of voice including banks, building societies, internet service providers, car manufacturers, mobile phone networks, food makers, engineers, travel companies, fashion brands, charities, and Michelin-starred restaurants. Even pie makers. He’s created successful ads, websites, brochures, emails, direct mail, features, blog entries and much more. He’s devised ‘verbal identities’ and helped brands communicate better. He has made words work wherever they’re needed. Piers’ website. Video.