The Oxford Writers Group (OWG)

The OWG was founded in 1983 and has been active ever since. We have between fifteen and twenty members, writing both fiction and non-fiction.

We meet in members’ houses where we take turns to read extracts of our work-in-progress for constructive criticism. In addition, we support each other by sharing information about the rapidly changing world of publishing and celebrating our successes.

In 2005 we formed a publishing co-operative, OxPens, and have since published the four highly successful anthologies of ‘Oxford Stories’, details of which you will find on this website. OxPens has also published other books written by OWG members. You will find details of these books in the section Other OxPens Publications.

Biographies of OxPens Members

Chris Blount

chris-blountChris Blount is currently writing a series of short stories for children with a sports theme from the point of view of the equipment, including Gaspar the Goal, and Rug the Little Brown Rugby Ball. The next will be Nettie the Tennis Net and The Swimming Cap Sisters. He is a contributor to all the anthologies, and his story, Platform 3, from The Midnight Press, is a parody on the classic wartime epic, Brief Encounter. He is recently retired from 40 years as an investment manager and is Chairman of Oxford Homeless Pathways.

Mary Cavanagh

mary-cavanaghMary Cavanagh was born in Oxford and lives in Kennington. Her published work includes The Crowded Bed (Transita 2007), The Priest, His Lady and The Drowned Child (Thames River Press 2013) and Who Was Angela Zendalic (Thames River Press 2014). Calling All Authors, a comprehensive marketing and publicity guide for authors, was published by New Generation Publishing in autumn 2015. She describes her writing as strong contemporary fiction, born out of her observations and experiences of humankind, and man’s battle with close relationships.

Angela Cecil Reid

angela-reidAngela Cecil Reid is currently working on a biography of the Amherst and Mitford families. Her short story, Arthur’s Boy, was commended in the Sid Chaplin Short Story Competition, and the opening chapters of her novel for Young Adults, Nile Cat, reached the regional short list for Waterstone’s Wow Factor Competition. She was previously a teacher, working with dyslexic children, and now divides her time between writing and shepherding her rare-breed Cotswold sheep on her farm outside Oxford.

Sheila Costello

sheila-costelloSheila Costello has had two children’s novels published by Oxford University Press under the name Anne Lake. The Cats’-Eye Lighters (1991) and The Box That Joanne Found (1995). She is a contributor to the OxPens short story anthologies. Her interest in writing probably started at primary school where in her last year she regularly won the class prize of chocolate for the best story. Sheila lives in Oxford and used to work for a well known, local book company. Apart from writing, she enjoys music, dancing, walks in the country and reading.

Gina Claye

Gina Claye’s book for the bereaved, Don’t Let Them Tell You How To Grieve (OxPens) is used by Cruse Bereavement Care to help those who are grieving. She is editor of Compassion, the journal of The Compassionate Friends (an organisation of bereaved parents, siblings and grandparents supporting and caring for those similarly bereaved). She gives talks on bereavement to the Hospice Movement, CRUSE and other similar organizations. She has had children’s poems published in anthologies by Scholastic and Oxford University Press, and is currently working on a collection of fun children’s poems that help them to spell.

Jane Gordon-Cumming

jane-gordon-cummingJane Gordon-Cumming’s first novel A Proper Family Christmas was published by Transita 2006. This popular novel has been re-issued by Accent Press for Christmas 2015. She has also published numerous short stories, including ones in the first three OxPens anthologies, and a collection set on the Oxford Canal, The Haunted Bridge (OxPens). In 2011 she won the Biographer’s Clubs’ Tony Lothian Prize for the best proposal by an unpublished first time biographer, with her proposal for the history of her grandparents, The American Heiress and The Scottish Rake: The True Story of the Royal Baccarat Scandal. She has recently moved to Gloucestershire with her husband.

Liz Harris

liz-harrisLiz’s first six novels were published by the independent publisher, Choc Lit. The Road Back was a Coffee Time and Romance Book of the Year in the US, A Bargain Struck was shortlisted for the best Historical Novel RoNA, and they and Evie Undercover, The Art of Deception, A Western Heart and The Lost Girl, Liz’s latest historical novel, were all shortlisted by the Festival of Romantic Fiction in their respective categories.

Liz is an active member of the Romantic Novelists Association, having served on the committee, been a conference speaker and having run the Oxford Chapter for the past 12 years. She is also an active member of the Historical Novel Society, for which she’s given talks and workshops, and is an approved speaker for various other organisations, including the WI and U3A.

Alison Hoblyn

alison-hoblynAlison Hoblyn is a writer and artist. She has written magazine articles on gardens and their owners, and a book on using watercolour and pastels, Painting Flowers and Gardens. Her novel, The Scent of Water has a backdrop of Italy, featuring art and gardens. Green Flowers is an illustrated handbook of garden plants celebrating their colour. Alison exhibits plant-inspired artwork and undertakes commissions. Presently she is exploring the value of art as a therapy for emotional problems. She has lived in and enjoyed the visual and literary aspects of Oxfordshire and the city for more than 30 years.

John Kitchen

john-kitchenJohn Kitchen’s first book, Nicola’s Ghost (New Generation Press) won the New Generation Publishing Prize 2011 and ‘The Writer’s Digest Best Self-Published Young Adult Novel in the same year. His second Book, A Spectre in the Stones was published by Thames River Press in June 2013 and a third, for Young Adults, Jax’ House was published by Union Bridge Books in the Summer of 2015. He has also written a picture book, Kamazu’s Big Swing Band published by New Generation Press in 2014.  Born in Cornwall, he graduated in English and Education from London University, and taught in Cornwall, Worcestershire and Oxfordshire. As a teacher he wrote plays and musicals for children, but retired in 2001 to write full time, specialising in fiction for young people.

Linora Lawrence

linora-lawrenceLinora Lawrence has written for The Lady, The Oxford Times and, for over twenty years has written features for its monthly magazine, Oxfordshire Limited Edition. Most notably a bi-monthly series of articles entitled An A – Z of the Bodleian Library which ran for a year between March 2014 and 2015. She has lived in Oxford for over thirty years during which time she has worked at St Hilda’s and Trinity colleges, the Bodleian Library and Oxford University Press. She also worked for Williams Formula 1 where she experienced a totally different, but fascinating, other world. She now realises that many of the people she has met in Oxford over the past years have unknowingly contributed to the tales she tells, for which she thanks them wholeheartedly.

Radmila May

radmila-mayRadmila May has had articles published in the literary and political journal Contemporary Review on subjects including Barbara Pym, the Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal, and a survey of crime fiction set in Oxford (Murder Most Oxford). Recently she has been assisting in a new edition of her late husband Richard May’s book, Criminal Evidence. Her contribution to The Bodleian Murders was inspired by an Arvon Crime Writing course, while her contribution to The Midnight Press arose from an exercise for an Oxford University Department of Continuing Education writing class. She lived intermittently in Oxford since 1987 but now lives in Chiswick, London.  She reviews crime fiction for the crime e-zine Mystery People and is actively involved in the Crime Writers Association.

Ben McSeoin

ben-mcseionBen McSeoin (Mc-Shown) has been writing – in one way or another – for as long as he can remember. In 2011 he gained a Diploma in Literature and Creative Writing with The Open University. The Beast of Summertown – found in the OxPens anthology The Midnight Press and Other Oxford Stories – is his first short story. His interests include travelling, music, languages and foreign and art-house cinema.

Rosie Orr

rosie-orrRosie Orr lives in Oxford. Since winning the South Bank Show poetry competition she has had work published in several magazines and anthologies, including The Virago Book of Love Poetry, a PEN anthology and WOW! 366! She has a short story in each of OWG’s four anthologies, and has recently written and directed a short film, Let Nothing You Dismay (with Film Oxford). In July 2015 she signed a contract with Accent Press for two novels, Something Blue and Romantic Variations (on an Italian Theme), both Contemporary Women’s Fiction.

Margaret Pelling

margaret-pellingMargaret Pelling has lived in Oxford since she arrived in the city as a physics student in the nineteen-sixties. Her two published contemporary novels are A Diamond in the Sky (Honno) and Work For Four Hands (Starborn Books). She has recently finished another contemporary novel entitled The Man Who Walks by the Sea, and has begun an historical novel set during the aftermath of the battle of Trafalgar. She came back to her first love, writing fiction, along a roundabout route involving research astrophysics and then the Civil Service, but after she began a novel (just for the hell of it) ‘Yes, Minister’ became ‘Goodbye, Minister’ and she became a full time writer.

Ray Peirson

ray-piersonRay Peirson has written ten novels. All are now in e-book format and available from Kindle. They are mostly thrillers such as, The Remorseful Assassin, and the latest, The Girl Who Was Murdered Twice. He has also written two novels for older children/young adults called, Slip Sliding Away, and Scorched Earth.

Ray sadly passed away in November 2015. He was a valued contributor to previous anthologies and a dear friend. He and his wonderful sense of humour are greatly missed by us all.

Heather Rosser

heather-rosserHeather Rosser’s first novel, In the Line of Duty, is based on her grandfather’s experiences as a seaplane pilot in the First World War. It was published in 2014 and short-listed for the RNA Joan Hessayon award in 2015. Other publications include Social Studies books for African primary schools and over 70 articles in magazines and newspapers including weekly news items in the Botswana Guardian. Her memoir, Growing up in the Mandara Mountains of Nigeria will be published in 2018.

Jane Stemp

jane-stempJane Stemp had two young adult novels, Waterbound and Secret Songs, published with Hodder, while working as a librarian for the University of Oxford. She is now a rare books librarian for the Royal Naval Medical Service and, despite an 80-mile weekly commute, is still writing in what spare time she has. She can be contacted via her agent at David Higham Associates.

Sylvia Vetta


Author, speaker and community activist Sylvia Vetta is on her fourth career. After teaching, in 1998, while running a business she began freelance journalism writing for four magazines. She was awarded the Diploma in Creative Writing at Oxford which gave her the confidence to write fiction. Her first novel Brushstrokes in Time( Claret Press) was inspired by in depth interviews with the Stars artist Qu Leilei. Leilei’s father Qu Bo was a famous novelist and Madame Mao turned Tracks in the Snowy Forest into for one of her model operas. Qu Leilei is one of the 120 inspirational people Sylvia sent to her mythical island of Oxtopia. The castaway series was published by The Oxford Times over 10 years. The 120 life stories were reproduced in three books.

Her latest novel Sculpting the Elephant is set in Oxford and India and  is inspired by her own mixed marriage. To know why she wanted to write it watch

Contact Sylvia at: