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Countdown to Deadline: Midnight, Sunday, May 31st

With only six (6) days to go before final deadline for the inaugural Wild Atlantic Writing Awards hosted by ‘Ireland Writing Retreat’ for flash fiction and creative nonfiction, we wanted to announce the exciting line-up for our judging panel.

Top, clockwise: John DeDakis, Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin, Anthony J. Quinn, Danny Morrison, Anne F. O’Reilly and Bradley Harper

Nothing less than a dynamic powerhouse in terms of spreading the gospel about the importance of reading and writing in life, Vanessa wears many literary hats.

Founder and managing director of award-winning national writing resources website and publishing consultancy Inkwell Group, Vanessa is also a board member of the London-based Society of Authors, founder of Murder One, Ireland’s International Crime Writing Festival, and former chair of the Irish PEN.

Writing under the pseudonym, Sam Blake, this immensely energetic lady is also author of bestselling Cathy Connolly thrillers – ‘Little Bones,’ ‘Deep Water’ and ‘No Turning Back’ – all published by Bonnier in the UK. Her most recent book is 'Keep Your Eyes on Me,' published by Corvus in January, and her next stand-alone thriller, ‘The Dark Room,’ is scheduled for release early next year.  

Dublin-based poet, writer, creative facilitator, and keynote speaker, Anne uses poetry as a doorway into imagination, creativity, mindfulness and leadership. 

Anne has performed and led workshops at many venues including the International Festival of Arts & Ideas, Yale's Summer Institute in Bioethics, the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Training Magazine's Innovations in Training, South Kent School’s Center for Innovation, the International Centre for Creativity and Imagination, Dublin Holistic Centre and the Center for Talented Youth in Ireland Conference.

Anne is also the author of ‘Sacred Play: Soul-Journeys In Contemporary Irish Theatre;’ a print collection of poetry, ‘Singing From the Belly of the Whale;’ and a CD collection of poetry, ‘Breathsong.’

Proud author of nine (9) novels, Anthony is deeply involved in all aspect of creative writing, including teaching at Queens University in Belfast and being Writer-in-Residence in Cavan. He also designs writing courses for young children.

Anthony’s novels have garnered high praise from national newspapers such as The Guardian, The Sunday Times, Financial Times, Daily Telegraph and The Irish Times, which chose one of them, ‘The Listeners,’ as one of its Best Crime Novels of 2019.

His debut novel ‘Disappeared’ was shortlisted for a Strand Literary Award in the United States by the book critics of the San Francisco Chronicle, The LA Times, The Washington Post and other US newspapers. His next novel, ‘Turncoat,’ will be published in November. 

Former broadcast journalist and editor over several decades with leading media groups including CNN, John has already written four mystery-suspense novels, ‘Fast Track,’ ‘Bluff,’ ‘Troubled Water,’ ’Bullet In The Chamber’ and ‘Fake.’

Interestingly, John’s main protagonist is a young gutsy female reporter, Lark Chadwick, who faces some very tough challenges in the world of US journalism, with ethics and relationships being key recurrent themes.

Writing coach and manuscript editor, John is a popular speaker at workshops and festivals throughout the US, hosts a series of excellent two-minute writing tips online and is about to launch his very own radio station. Among the many well-known celebrities John has interviewed over the years, one outstanding figure was the master of mystery, Alfred Hitchcock.

A former political prisoner in Ireland, Danny has written in many genres including fiction, nonfiction, film scripts, plays, essays and short stories.

His work includes ‘West Belfast,’ ‘On the Back of the Swallow,’ written in prison, and ‘The Wrong Man,’ about an informer inside the IRA. His fourth novel, ‘Rudi – In the Shadow of Knulp,’ was inspired by ‘Knulp,’ a novel by Hermann Hesse.

Danny’s three works of non-fiction are: ‘Then The Walls Came Down,’ about his years in jail, ‘All The Dead Voices,’ a part-memoir; and ‘Rebel Columns,’ a collection of his political writings. He edited a book of essays, ‘Hunger Strike,’ published in 2006 by Brandon. Adapted for the stage, ‘The Wrong Man’ played to audiences in London, Edinburgh, Belfast and Dublin. Danny was also chairperson of Féile an Phobail, one of the most successful community festivals in Ireland. 

US-based author and public speaker, Brad Harper is a shining example of someone who has risen through the literary ranks without having a background in literature. Instead, Brad has enjoyed an illustrious career as a military US Army pathologist for 37 years.

Long-time admirer of Sherlock Holmes, Brad’s debut novel ‘A Knife In The Fog,’ in which Jack the Ripper meets Sherlock Holmes' creator, Arthur Conan Doyle, was finalist for the 2019 Edgar Award for Best First Novel and winner of the Silver Falchion Award at Killer Nashville for Best Mystery. The audiobook won Audiofile Magazine’s 2019 Earphone Award for Mystery and Suspense. It has since been released in Japan by Hayakawa Publishing.

His second novel, 'Queen’s Gambit,' released in September 2019, involves an assassin with Queen Victoria in his sights. Don’t be surprised to see Brad’s work transformed into a television series. Or even a movie, or two.

Journalist, editor, publisher, author, Sean from Belfast has worked in broadcast and print media in both the US and Europe, including stints as a medical and science reporter in the US and foreign correspondent in Europe. A former national chairperson of the US-based Fulbright Commission, Sean has authored fiction - contemporary novel 'Pretty Ugly,' and nonfiction - 'Digging For Dracula,' an amusing memoir about his search for the LongToothed One. Co-founder of the ‘Ireland Writing Retreat,’ Sean is an experienced public speaker in Ireland and abroad and recently chaired an international panel at the Seamus Heaney Homeplace in Derry where he also taught creative writing. Working with the Human Rights League, Sean also established the first journalism schools in post-Communist eastern Europe.

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