About Our Authors

Our Authors – in their OWN words!

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From biopic blurbs and internal monologues to philosophical dilemmas and humorous anecdotal confessions – here we nom le plume (loosely – name the pen) and each pen writes a little about itself.  Humble, grandiose or just plain average – enjoy our words about ourselves as we have written them!


Frances Copping (1934-2020) (Founder and President)

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I was bought up and went to school in Hay.   For me there is no other place I would call home.   In 1983 Hay Writers’ Circle was formed and soon gave support to those who like me, are captivated by this town, the river Wye and the surrounding hills and feel inspired to write creatively about this lovely place.

(Frances sadly died earlier this year. Photo from a booklet of her work, published by Lynn Trowbridge, 2020.)


Mark Bayliss – Secretary

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is mark-bayliss.jpgMark’s parents dropped his first name Jonathan in favour of Mark almost immediately and he once forgot how to spell his Christian name several years ago – easily done, isn’t it? He is originally from the former Welsh mining town of Blaenavon. Someone once described it as, ‘dreary Blaenavon’, well, it was until they closed the colliery and flattened the slag heaps. Now it’s an amazing and famous World Heritage Site attraction and film set. “What a pity they hadn’t flattened the local secondary school at the same time before I attended it!” – Mark loved that school.

Starting as an aerospace engineer and then a technical author, he spent most of his career as a successful international key account manager. His short stories can be found in national magazines and websites. He achieved a ‘podium finish’ in the 2020 Frances Copping Memorial Prize for Fiction, then won 1st prize at the Henshaw Press International competition in December 2020. 

To relax he’s recently ridden Tour de France alpine cycling climbs, hiked the ‘Camino’ across Northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela, snowboarded Mont Blanc’s Vallée Blanche and once outran a herd of ‘rampaging’ cows across his local Welsh mountains. “Isn’t rampaging the same thing as grazing?”

Mark is secretary of the Hay Writers Circle. He is a dedicated yogi and occasional lucid dreamer; both are part of the inspiration for his debut novel ‘The Lucidity Programme’. He hopes to publish his second novel late 2021.

He and his wife live in Wales with similar views to the characters in his book. Their two grown-up children have just about fled the nest.

Writing as JM Bayliss, Mark’s novel has numerous 5 star reviews and gives a subtle nod to the recent ‘Behind Her Eyes’, Netflix series. Available on Amazon as Kindle e-book or paperback and can be found here: CLICK HERE


Michael Eisele

meI was born in 1943 in America, in a small town in Western New York State. Following an undistinguished University career I embarked on a peripatetic life as a visual artist, supporting myself by a wide variety of part time jobs, from apprentice goldsmith, librarian and banker mason to gardener, truck driver and short order cook. During this period I crossed the American continent several times; by train, bus and once by car. I   lived in many parts of the US and for brief periods in Germany and Hungary.

In  1987, newly married, my wife Gabrielle and I moved to Britain, eventually settling near the Brecon Beacons in Mid Wales with our two children and a growing population of animals. Always a voracious reader, it was there in the Land of Song that I began to write down stories of my own. I have had two collections of short stories published by Tartarus Press.

To find out more about Michael’s publications click the following links –
The Girl with the Peacock Harp‘ & ‘Treespirit and Other Strange Tales‘.

Click the following links for Michael’s latest writing.

Walter and the Nymph & the alien tree


Ange Grunsell (President)

dscf8169.jpgMe  I love words!  The music of words, the meanings of words, the partnership of thought and language so various  in different tongues.

I have always been driven to write stories and poems ever since I first learned to form letters and even the obligatory holiday diary writing set and copy edited by my father failed to put me off an urge to record things in words.  An English degree enraptured me but daunted me from attempting serious writing of my own for a very long time.

At work,I had the opportunity to  construct and publish activities and books for Primary school classrooms.  I wanted to bring the language of non- fiction as close to that of story as possible.

Academic writing for the distance learner,  presented other challenges…of evidence and precision…but still I have been concerned to spin a story and a relationship with my students.

In later life it is poetry..both reading and writing it that captivates  me most. I am excited by discovering more about the art and skill of others revealed through reading  and wonder what it is I have to say. Work in progress!

Click the following links for Ange Grunsell’s latest writing.

red coat & sunrise vietnam sea


Kerry Hodges

Okay; a piece about me for the Hay Writer’s Circle.

I should get on with it but the washing up needs doing and I’m sure J could do with another cuppa……..

My greatest enemy – procrastination.

I constantly put off till tomorrow what could be done today.

Don’t ask me why. Self-sabotage maybe? Sheer laziness? Fear?

The Oxford English Dictionary describes it as ‘’ often with the sense of deferring,” (much better than lazy), “through indecision, when early action would have been preferable,” or as “deferring action, especially without good reason.” Me to a tee!

Walking the dogs, washing my hair, biting my nails. I’ve even been known to do the ironing rather than get down to some serious writing!

However, my love for writing is deep seated and totally satisfying (when I get round to it).

As a little girl, one of my Christmas highlights was Boxing Day. Mum appeared with a big wrapped bundle. It contained beautiful books and I curled up in a corner, transported.

Thus began a love affair between a small child and reading, which, by extension set me to writing long pages of stories in school. I still have the one about marrying Andrew and having a farm and two children named Jane and Roy!

Now, having put off writing another page or two of my book to write this, I think I ought to get back to it.

Um; anyone fancy a cuppa?


Lily Rose King – Competitions Secretary

lily rose king pic 2021As a child, Lily spent all her pocket money on notebooks and all her free time filling them with stories. Since then, her passion for writing and innate curiosity has seeped into every aspect of her life whilst taking many different forms, including manifesting themselves in her journalism degree at Nottingham Trent University and more recently in her day job as a marketing & communications consultant, for which she primarily creates content and edits copy. 

Originally from Surrey, Lily moved to Brecon aged 11 and enjoyed her teenage years growing up here, although was always desperate to live in London. A fleeting relocation after graduating led her to realise the grass most definitely isn’t greener on the other side, and she’s content to call the Beacons home once again thanks to the joys of remote working!  

Lily hopes to develop her skills and venture into lesser-known territories such as poetry, with her biggest aspiration being to one day publish novels of her own. In the meantime, she gathers sparks of fictional inspiration, practices yoga, dreams of spending long summers dancing at music festivals covered in glitter, and fulfils her penchant for vintage & charity shop fashion. You can find her posting intermittent ramblings at lilyroseking.blog and sharing her adventures @lilyroseking_ on Instagram.

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Lennon Eira Watkins is currently the youngest member of Hay Writers’ circle, with a very curious and pondering attitude towards life. He loves listening to stories and is the inspiration of many pieces of writing (mainly his mother’s – Lily). Lennon has a cheeky, chilled out and affectionate nature, not to mention an incredibly stylish wardrobe. As long as he has plenty of milk he’s happy! 


Alan Oberman – Treasurer

Alan Oberman joined Hay Writers’ Circle in 2018. He finds writing is a lonely occupation and sharing with other authors a real pleasure, as well as a spur to complete the work in progress.

He is author of Prince Hal and his friend Jack Falstaff – a storybook retelling of Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part One. Sir Richard Eyre welcomed the book as “a real treat”, and That’s Books, when reviewing Prince Hal in 2016, declared “this book belongs on the shelves of every family in the Kingdom and also in every school in the land too!”

Alan Oberman, writing under the name Alan Keeping, is also the author of  Strange Capers – a collection of short stories of audacious women and men transgressing boundaries. Both books published by Cambria Books.

He is now engaged in writing a novel for young adults fusing a non-fiction history of humankind with a contemporary fictional story.

Click the following links for short pieces of Alan Oberman’s latest writing.

Ellie and Sapiens – an extract from Alan’s latest novel.

Picky-up Thingy– a childish tantrum from the point of view of the child.

A Little Local Difficulty – the non-fiction narrative of Alan Oberman’s 1995 expedition to the bottom of the Gouffre Berger cave – not without incident!


Jean O’Donoghue 


Jean likes writing short stories, and the occasional odd (very odd) poem. There is two thirds of a novel secreted in a drawer, but she doesn’t expect it to be completed, or see the light of day.


Naomi Parsons

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is naomi-parsons-pic.jpgFor the last twelve years I have worked as a makeup artist. I recently worked out that I have applied make up to nearly two thousand women. My clients have been diverse – brides, models, great grandmothers, trans women, teenagers – yet they have one thing in common: an element of suffering connected to their appearance. Over the years, I have noticed that more and more young women have their identities and their worth closely linked to the way they look. These women and the stories they have to tell, are what have inspired me to write about beauty.

I am committed to raising issues surrounding women and industrialised beauty. Through my writing I explore the legacy of beauty. I look at what beauty meant for women in the past – when it came from kitchens and traditions, not from laboratories. When it was about love and female bonding. In even earlier cultures beauty was an extension of religious ritual – it had nothing to do with appearance, it was a form of magic. I believe that reclaiming beauty in its original sacred form is one of the keys to changing the current beauty narrative of oppression.

I am writing a collection of short stories exploring the moments that beauty, shame and magic intersect. I started writing non fiction, but eventually shifted to writing short stories – I love compelling stories that leave a reader with a shift in perception. I am always on the look out for a great short story.

Here, in no particular order are the top ten stories that inspired a love for the form in me.

The Landlady by Roald Dahl, Holiday Group by E.M.Delafield, Cat Person by Kristen Roupenian, A Lovely Time by Dorothy Whipple, Death in the Woods by Sherwood Anderson, The Cloak by N. V. Gogol, The little Fir Tree by Alison Uttley , Jug of Silver by Truman Capote , The Erl King by Angela Carter, Girl by Jamaica Kincaid 

Naomi Emmanuelle Makeup  @naomiemmanuellemakeup

Michelle Pearce

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is michelle-pearce.jpgI have a deep love writing and my desk is held up by a life-long collection of journals, poetry, stories, scrap books, cook books and a few actual published books of which I have been privileged to be a part. 

Born and raised in Hong Kong I have recently moved to a smallholding in the brooding mountains of Mid-Wales where I am quietly connecting with a new voice and a new direction in my writing. 

I am currently editing the memoir I have written with a gentleman who grew up embedded in a rural landscape which he roamed from a young age, despite living in Doodlebug Alley during  the second world war.  

The stories which form I am glad I was born when I was have been collected over the delightful medium of coffee and cake, then knitted together in the quiet of my writing room, and will soon be ready for the light of day.

My writing is inspired by people and place, the beauty of nature and the histories we all carry, but most of all by the resonant music of words themselves when strung together well.

When I am not writing you will normally find me growing excessive quantities of veg or weaving a basket, unless of course I am lost in the fog on the hills.

Winner of the 2022 Hay Poetry Competition and Hay Poetry Cup. Joint Winner Pighog Press Short Story for Children Competition (2010), Feature Writer , Children’s Bookmakers – workshops for KS2.

Email – michellecpearce@live.co.uk


Helen Smith

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I have always made up stories in my head – and for many years, that’s where they stayed. My first love was animal behaviour, with a particular affinity for corvids, and this led to a degree in zoology. I then trained as a hypnotherapist, artist and mindful movement teacher, becoming interested in creative embodiment – bringing people back into their bodies and into the natural world, breaking down what separates mind from body, and body from earth. Similarly, my writing is influenced by fairy tale, mythology, and the deep and complex relationship between humans and nature.

I began my writing journey as a poet, but a solitary one – a hermit bard, perhaps. It was a return to the Welsh Marches after several years in Scotland, and joining a group of poets at the Brecon library, that encouraged me to begin to share my writing. Since then my poetry has been enjoyed at many a druid Eisteddfod, published in a range of journals, and my debut poetry collection, Revolution for Aphrodite, is available from camhanaichcrafts.etsy.com. I am now working on several book projects, including a non-fiction guide to the I Ching, and two YA fantasy series, one of which explores the little-known landscape of Finnish mythology.

When not writing, I may be found singing show tunes, making noise on instruments from flute to glockenspiel, painting mythic feminine archetypes, hiding out in the woods, or knitting small cats.


Katharine Stones – Chairperson

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_0856.jpgKaty lives by the Olchon Brook in the Black Mountains and writes adventure stories for children. Most at home outside and unfettered by hosiery, she jacked in her (perfectly decent) corporate career to begin her writing quest (rarely indecent).

Her love of writing stems from a childhood made wonderful by books where frequent visits to the town library were the perfect cover for spending time alone with her imagination and away from the distraction of her gorgeously garrulous friends and relatives.

Once she has written enough books Katy will move on to become an art thief operating across the wonderful cities of Europe to enjoy the architecture, stealthy black get-ups, climbing kit and solitude.

One day she hopes to have written something worth citing on the website. Until then however, and when she is not being followed by her formidable flock of chickens, or children, Katy enjoys the camaraderie, encouragement, and general cajoling of the circle.


Emma van Woerkom – Website and Social Media Manager

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is emma-van-woerkom-at-hay-festival-by-merv-newton-2.jpgEmma van Woerkom is by day a Community Services Officer in public Libraries, after dark she transforms into a Poet, Poetry Film Maker, a fully trained Shared Reading Facilitator.

Her poetry pamphlet FOUND ME: Blackout Poetry, published by Read Fox Books was shortlisted for the Saboteur Award Best Poetry Pamphlet 2017.

Emma’s work has been engraved in brass, published in the U.K. and worldwide in poetry magazines, anthologies and music albums, during February 2018 she was the Artist in Residence at Brisons Veor.

Her poetry films have be shown at Swindon Poetry Festival 2016 and she has performed her poetry at Bristol Festival of Nature and Bristol Poetry Can Openers, Words and Ears Festival (Bradford-on-Avon), Swindon Poetry Festival 2016 as part of the Ruth Stone House Party and for the last several years at Hay Festival as part of the Hay Writers.

In 2021 her poem, Water-Break-It’s-Neck, was the first of 12 poems set to film and released by National Trails, in a collaborative project with renowned Welsh Artist, Dan Llywelyn Hall. The poetry films formed part of a new exhibition with his commissioned paintings celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the opening of the Offa’s Dyke Trail.

Click Here to see the poetry film, Water-Break-It’s-Neck.

Emma is currently the longest serving member of Hay Writers’ Circle, joining the group in 2011 and immediately taking on the position of Secretary . Since 2014 she has been the group’s Online Co-ordinator and is responsible for this website. She is also the designer of the Hay Writers’ Circle logo.

Born on the Welsh Marches, Emma has never been able to sever ties with this area and spends her time shuttling between Weston-super-Mare and Hay-on-Wye – it-also-seems-she-can-only-live-in-towns-whose-name-contains-two-hyphens!

Click the following links to read Emma van Woerkom’s poems.

Water Break its Neck – Published in Poems from the Borders (Seren Books, 2019).

Craving Published in Watch the Birdie – poems highlighting the 67 U.K. birds on the R.S.P.B. red endangered list. (Beautiful Dragons Press, 2018).

Website – emmavanwoerkom.wordpress.com


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