Author Profiles

Denise Leppard


For many years I was a magazine writer contributing to most of the women’s and teenage magazines published in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Basically self taught, I learned a great deal from the editors of those magazines, some of whom in those days, actively encouraged promising new writers.

They gave me good simple advice – study the magazine, and give an editor what he wants.  It all starts from there. As I began to get published, commissions followed rapidly. I wrote for womens’and teenage magazines, Woman’s Own, Woman’s Weekly, Mzz and Just Seventeen come to mind, as well as the D. C. Thomson stable of publications – Annabel, Jackie, Patches, Blue Jeans. Nearly all long gone now. I wrote novelettes, serials and photo stories, articles, features.  Jos Diary, the weekly diary of a teenage girl, was published in Jackie magazine over the best part of 2 years. I also wrote for equestrian magazines, which led to commissions for children’s and girls’ photo stories, and a series of stories involving famous equestrian personalities of the day.

Soon, I got my first Agent (not easy for a short story writer, now as then) and he began to sell my work abroad. Many of my stories, first published in the UK,  sold three or four times over on the continent and in Scandinavia, South Africa and Australia. Later Jackie Deevoy, a freelance editor and agent, used my stories in paperback collections and fiction specials.

My life changed when I was widowed; by then I had been writing for more than 25 years and I needed to move on to other things. Any writer will tell you that, however successful they are, it is a solitary business hunched over a typewriter or computer every day.  But the writing bug never goes away, and I am never far from a notebook in which to jot down ideas. I do write the occasional story, or a play or article for our showcases, and have written several articles for photographic journals. But most of my inspiration these days goes into winkling great ideas out of my own stable of Higham writers.

Five years ago, when I started the group, I thought that as I had already been there, seen it, done it, made all the mistakes, and discovered some of the ways to fix them – I might just have something to offer new writers. We are still going strong – so maybe I do.

Marion Twyman


I was born in 1943 and lived in Letchworth, Herts until I married Brian in 1964.

We have lived in Higham since 1966. We have two daughters, Kerry and Wendy, and two grandsons, Callum who is 9 and Drew who is 6.

I retired in 2003 from my job as a Credit Control Supervisor, and Brian retired the same year.

We enjoy travelling and have been to some wonderful countries – last year we visited Vietnam and Cambodia and later this year we will be revisiting Canada. We also enjoy the cinema and line and couples western dancing.

Brian enjoys golf, but my hobbies are more relaxing. They include knitting, reading, and of course, writing. I have been a member of Higham Writers since it started, and look forward eagerly to our weekly meetings and home assignments. I am also Treasurer of Higham Memorial Hall.

I have written dozens of short stories and articles and several short plays but have only been lucky enough to have one item accepted for publication. It’s a hard world out there ! The piece I had accepted was printed in ‘Best of British’ magazine, and was an account of how I danced with Mr. Pastry when I was 12 ! A similar account was published in the ‘Yours’ Yearbook for 2009. I also write the band reviews for the Country and Western Club we belong to, and these are printed monthly in the ‘Southern Country’ magazine.

I intend to keep writing, and submitting pieces for publication or into competitions. Who knows, one day one may be accepted, or win a prize!








I was born on the 2nd of September 1934, and I am five feet tall.

I used to be a very good ballroom dancer, and taught dancing at the Court School of Dancing, Chatham, from 1960 to 1980. And won the all England Quickstep Competition in about 1963. But had to give it up due to an operation on my knee.

Gardening I delight in. But although the plants regenerate each year, I do not, so they tend to get the upper hand these days.

Needle work, I am currently working on a (long standing,) patchwork quilt or two. Knitting is a longstanding pastime that I enjoy, from learning, with two wooden skewers and some black wool, when I was about four years old, to the present day.

Reading is another pleasure, I was able to read when I started school, thanks to my parents. They were very encouraging.

Writing, of course is another interest. Way back to infant school, with chalk and slate, I was happy. Later on in “Big” school, it was called composition, I still strive to write. And thanks to Higham Writers, have been lucky enough to have some poetry published.

Thomas Parr

I started serious writing soon after leaving the Royal navy in 1962.

My colourful description of a sailor’s life in the 1950s caught the attention of a publisher. Unfortunately he went bankrupt and sank without trace before a contract could be signed.

A wife and son occupied my attention for a few years after that, and my writing was confined to notes in a diary for future use.

My wife died, my son married, and suddenly I had all the time in the world to carry on writing. I joined a local writing group. It was the best thing I could have done. I received an unending amount of encouragement and help with my efforts to establish myself as a writer.

Thirty eight rejection slips later ‘My Weekly’ magazine accepted one of my articles. That encouraged me, and since then I have enjoyed seeing my work in print in ‘People’s Friend’, ‘Best of British’ magazine and ‘Writer’s News.’ A dozen or so of my stories, mostly with a ghostly or sci-fi theme, have met with success in various magazines. I also enter any writing competition that happens to catch my eye, and on rare occasions the judges get it right and shower me with prizes.

Twenty years have passed since I first knocked on the door of that writers group, and I still enjoy their regular meetings, and being able to pass on to new members some of the good advice and constructive criticism that I have received over the years.

I have a notice stuck on my printer. “If an editor sends me a rejection slip, he is missing a golden opportunity.” And I know I am right.







John had some small success as a creative writer as a young man, but then marriage, family and a career took centre stage in his life, leaving no time to pursue fiction writing in any serious way.
In his career, John was involved in logistics, working for various commodity trading companies based in The City. A bonus of this was the chance to travel extensively around Europe and Scandinavia and to locations as far-flung as Shanghai, New Orleans, Dar Es Salaam, Casablanca, St Petersburg and Ukraine.
John and his family spent most of their holidays in France and John studied French with the

Open University – which was a great help when asking for baguettes at the boulangerie.

Now 65 and semi-retired, John is back in harness and rediscovering the joys and challenges of fiction



It’s a Monday morning, and as usual Class 2 are told to write in their diaries “What I did at the Weekend”. Most of the children draw a picture of mum, dad, and themselves out at a farm or visiting grandma and then fill in the three lines beneath with: “I went to the farm with Mum and Dad and then went to see Grandma.” One child, however, doesn’t draw a picture. He prefers “The Approach of A Thousand Words”. Three hours and a whole Maths lesson, that boy is finally told to put down his pencil and get on with the rest of his work.
That was the first, but by no means the last, time Dominic McCarthy spent his time writing more than necessary. Rather than go out and enjoy the summer of 1996, he sat at the keyboard of a 486 and wrote his first novel. Unfortunately, due to the relentless march of technology and the destructive force of a Trojan virus, this seminal opus is now lost to us. Thankfully, the internet has provided us with a more permanent repository for this man’s work.
After graduating from the illustrious University of Kent in 2008, Dominic completed his second novel “The Other Kingdom”, and a year later, he discovered the Higham Writers Group. Ever since the first class, Dominic’s writing has grown in leaps and bounds scaling new heights of excellence. His favourite topics are crime, sci-fi, dark fiction, and horror. Hopefully you’ll enjoy reading the stories as much as he enjoys writing them.
He currently chairs a Vampire: The Masquerade game where he lords it over his fellow geeks, and is putting the finishing touches to his third novel where he lords it over his characters.

Ray Abinett

Ray 3

I was born in Kilburn, London in 1938. Due to the war and the fact that my parents didn’t want me and my sister to be evacuated my father, who was a baker by trade found a job as manager of a Bakers shop in Royston, Hertfordshire. We moved back after a short time to live in Kensal Rise, NW London. I was educated from the age of 5 at Chamberlayne Wood Road School and left there when I was 15.

I became interested in engineering, due to having a very good technical drawing teacher at school, and when I left school my first job was at Biro Swan pen factory in Park Royal as a trainee draughtsman. I stayed in Engineering Design and after several changes of company such as Massey Ferguson, Ford Motors and Lucas; I became Chief Designer at Hobourn Aero, Strood in Kent. I taught engineering design part time for several years at Horsted College in Chatham and was co-author of two engineering technical books. I took early retirement in 2000 and then worked part time for Business Link, Kent as a business adviser and mentor helping to set up small businesses and improve their performance.

I had always had an interest in books and story writing and when I retired I started to write a novel. I soon discovered it wasn’t as easy as I had thought. Since joining the Higham Writing Group I have learnt a considerable amount about the method of writing and about the many do’s and don’ts involved in producing an interesting storyline and hope one day to have a story published.


I was born in Silvertown in the East End of London in 1931, I then moved with my family to Greenwich where I stayed for some years before going back to Silvertown in 1940 to live with my eldest sister.

After the Blitz on London, and the East End, began on the 7th September 1940 and, I was taken on 8th September, to Petts Wood in Kent where I stayed for approx.20 months before once again returning to Silvertown in early March 1942 I was then 11 and due to start senior school.

Attended Stratford Grammar School in Stratford before becoming an apprentice Fitter &Turner at the Tate & Lyle Sugar Company, this was followed by 2 Years National Service in the Corp of Royal Engineers, and during leave, married my wife Audrey on January 8th 1954 before completing service in October 1954. For a while we rented a flat in Hampstead before returning to Silvertown to live with Audrey’s Mother.

I had returned to work at Tate & Lyle as a fitter doing jobs throughout the refinery, but after two years I Joined the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation as a general draughtsman. By this time had moved to a bungalow in St Johns Road in Higham in 1958 and got a job with a Paper company in Northfleet in1959, our only son was born in 1962 in St John’s Road before we moved to Crutches Lane, Higham in 1968. I was promoted within the company and retired in 1994 after 34 years service.

My memoirs “The Baby of the Family” are written primarily for my family.

1 Response to Author Profiles

  1. marisworld says:

    Hi Denise,

    I live locally and I’d love to be part of your writer’s group. Where can I find more information please?

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