Alumni authors: J-L

Many of our alumni are published authors. If you have written a book and would like to appear on these pages, please let us know via alumnicommunications@contacts.bham.ac.uk

J

Ashok Kumar Jain (Development Administration, 1991)

Delhi Under Hammer - the crisis of Sealing and Demolition, Rupa & Co, 2010

When in 2006, the Supreme Court directed the Municipal Corporation of Delhi to demolish certain illegal properties in Delhi, no one imagined that this would snowball into a major human and political crisis. It rattled the masses, the businessmen, the Parliament and the Assembly. There were unprecedented confrontations between the people, the judiciary and the government.

Gareth Hywel Jones (BA Ancient History & Archaeology 1980)


Mametz Wood, 2014, Bretwalda Books

Three short stories themed around his Grandfather that very much reflect his welsh origin. Gwilym Jones fought at that famous battle; part of the first battle of he Somme and that story is the centrepiece of the three. The others are funny recollections recounted by his son, Dennis, and his grandson, the author.

Make Your Own Teepee, 2014, Bretwalda Books

The book is an amusing practical guide to doing just that. Gareth teaches a GCSE history course that includes a unit on Native Americans and he became curious about the process so, with help of good friends and a chainsaw, he gathered the materials and worked it out. The resulting illustrated guide tells you all you need to know. Every garden should have one! No grandchild should be without!

Travelling with Children, 2014, Bretwalda Books

This fascinating collection of tales, some humorous, many exciting and all entertaining, have resulted from 32 years of taking children on trips to places as far apart as Alaska, Peru and Borneo, to experience things as diverse as watching the launch of a space shuttle to being breathed on by a hump backed whale.

The European based stories take you to a range of intriguing destinations in the company of the children who made these journeys possible; Barcelona, Bucharest and Venice; Postojna, Opatija and Pisa among many others.

An enjoyable read as well as an introduction to a range of destinations that any traveller, with or without children, would be interested in adding to their list.

Georgina and The Dragon, 1994, Schoolplay Productions Ltd
Jason and the Argonauts, Schoolplay Productions Ltd

Comedies for children usually performed around Christmas. They work best with KS3 but I have seen successful KS2 shows. Casts around 30 but flexible and a running time of about 90 minutes

 

The Big Activity Book for KS3 Drama, ZigZag

A collection of my best lesson plans and schemes based on 20 (then) years of teaching. Provides a complete KS3 drama syllabus of engaging and stimulating activites that have underpinned outstanding performances at GCSE and A level

K

Martin Knox (BSc Chemical Engineering, 1967)

The Grass is Always Browner, Zeus 2011

Australia has four times more land area than neighbouring Bhakaria, with only one tenth of the population. The author stretches forward the raw elements of Australian civilisation - territory, climate and resources - to 250 years in the future, relating them to the populations of the two nations.  

The scene is set in Meannjin, an almost deserted and flooded Australian city.

Most of the population has dispersed to self-sufficient rural communes after a century of wars over coal and famine. They are governed locally with only a tiny national government, headed by an Aboriginal dynasty.

Abajoe is Australia's Prime Minister. He has a rare genetic mutation for sharing. His Messianic vision is of devolved and diversified lifestyles, in a nation where science has priority over religion and politics. He predicts Australia's relationship with Bhakaria by experimenting with a genetically modified animal, the rossit.

The political situation is tense, as Abajoe strives to renew a moribund political party from within. His ban on immigration is opposed by his lover in a tempestuous romance. His ban is also opposed by his political adversary, who gains government, outlaws his party and plans for free immigration. He leads a resistance movement against the government, which is aligned with Yamism, a religion, in an epic struggle with a dramatic climax.

 

Love Straddle, LoveofBooks, 2014

Selwyn is in love and vulnerable. He puts the girl he loves in a straddle with another girlfriend, to reduce his exposure...in theory... but it all goes tragically wrong.

Prolific writer M.P. Knox has released Love Straddle – a novel that captures the mood of the 1960s, the era of the Cold War, the youth revolution, hippies and women’s liberation. The author has created a unique, unusual hero with flaws, quirkiness and emotions he struggles to express. You can’t help but love Selwyn as he is driven by ambition, compulsion and love to find the rules for an uncommitted love life. The author has explored them with humour and insight, without being sexist. Selwyn lives by theories and over-thinking when others expect understanding, this sometimes makes him appear emotionally cold; at other times charming. Readers can diagnose Selwyn’s behaviour, decades before it is labelled as a mental disorder. His behaviour leads to the question: will he ever accept the terms of love with one woman?The ending is a surprise with a twist.

This novel is an insight into personality problems and the way we function in relationships. It takes the reader on an epic journey of thought and discovery. It is a story that will have you pondering long after you put the book down.

 

 

Dr Kwame Kwarteng (PhD Centre for West African Studies, 2008)

A History of the Elephant in Ghana in the Twentieth Century, 2011.  LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing.

The Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission of Ghana notes, 'the history of elephants in Ghana has yet to be written..' This admission does not mean that there are no studies of the elephant in Ghana. However, little of this has been historical in focus; almost all have been carried out from biological, wildlife, ecological, environmental, economic and anthropological perspectives.

This book therefore sets out to give a chronological historical account of the African elephant, highlighting the main factors that have been responsible for the decline of the elephant population in historical times.

Dr Dimitra Koutsantoni (PhD English, 2003)

Developing Academic Literacies: Understanding Disciplinary Communities' Culture and Rhetoric, 2007, Oxford, Peter Lang

This book combines a social constructionist view of academic writing with a pedagogical orientation seeking to explore the dialogic relationship between the culture of academic discourse communities and their rhetoric, and provide a comprehensive analysis of variation across disciplines, genres and national intellectual cultures.

L

Dr Roman Laskowski (BSc Physics, 1977)

The Ultimate Inferior Beings,  2012. Cogwheel Press. 

Published under the pseudonym Mark Roman.

When jixX is appointed spaceship captain for a dangerous space mission, he doesn’t regard it as a promotion. More like a computer error, given he’s a landscape architect. The error theory gains in strength when he meets the crew: a carpenter, a gynaecologist and a scientist trying to prove the existence of God.

To add to jixX’s woes, there’s a stowaway on board, one of his crew is a saboteur and the ship’s computer thinks it’s a comedian. And then they meet aliens. Not technologically advanced aliens - their civilisation is based on the invention of the brick - but jixX has a bad feeling about them anyway.

Among them are a religious bunch who believe in The Ultimate Inferior Beings - a species that are really, really bad at everything. According to an ancient prophecy this species will, perhaps inadvertently or absent-mindedly or through some tragic mishap, bring about the end of the universe. One alien becomes convinced that the humans are these incompetent beings. He realises he must be the Chosen One, and that it is his duty to wipe them out before they can trigger total annihilation.

So it comes down to jixX to save humankind ...

Professor Rona Laurie (BA English, 1938)

My War Years in London (Diary of An Actress)

This is the story of Rona Laurie as a young actress before and in particular during the Second World War. The many extracts from her diary provide intriguing glimpses of civilian and theatre life during that time. Which of us knew that when there was an air-raid warning, the audience would often be told 'if you feel you must go, depart quietly and without excitement'. She writes with humour and perception and pays tribiute to the giants of the theatre whom she saw on stage. Her vivacity is such that many readers will wish that the book extended to later years.

Sarah Leavesley (née James) (Cert HE Creative Writing, 2003) 

Into the Yell (poetry collection), 2010. Circaidy Gregory Press.

Kirsten Lees (BA English/French, 1986)

Let Go Of My Leg!  How to get the working life you want after children, 2006. Prentice Hall.

Whether you have been out of the workforce for one year or ten, Let go of my leg!is a unique, no-nonsense and extremely practical look at the transition from kitchen to office.

Let go of my leg! takes you through every stage of the decision making process. It will help you find answers to questions such as: is work the right decision for you and your family? Whether to go back to where you left off or set out in a new direction? To work from home or found a new business venture? It then takes you through the whole process of where to start looking for a job; putting together a convincing CV – career gap and all; how to get all  the help you need – and finally what to tell the children?

David Long (BSc Psychology, 1983)

The Animals' VC:Gallantry & Devotion

The Animals' VC: Gallantry & Devotionis the first authorised history of the PDSA Dickin Medal, a rare and prestigious award made just 64 times in the past 70 years. With a royalty from each sale going to save sick animals.

Dr Catherine Loomis (MA Shakespeare Studies, 1993)

The Death of Elizabeth I: Remembering and Reconstructing the Virgin Queen, 2010, Palgrave Macmillan. 

The book is a study of the literary response to the death of Queen Elizabeth I, and includes an unusual manuscript account of her death written by Elizabeth Southwell, a maid of honour to the Queen, who reports that, during Elizabeth's wake, the Queen's corpse exploded.

Dominic Luke (BA History, 1988)

Aunt Letitia, 2012. Robert Hale. 

‘I hated my father. Absolutely loathed him,’ said the old lady. The policeman wondered if the old dear was right in the head…

In the autumn of 1940, 91-year-old Letitia Warner is determined to take her secrets with her to the grave. All that matters to her now is her dearly loved great-nephew, Hugh. As the war progresses and London is ravaged by bombs, Hugh’s chance meeting with a girl he knew years before weakens Letitia’s efforts to subdue her own long repressed memories of her husband and hated father, the Bishop of Chanderton. Should she tell? Or keep silent and try to cling on long enough to see Hugh happy and settled before she dies?

Snake in the Grass, 2012.

Lydia Taylor’s dog is dead. A gift from her ex-boyfriend, Prize has been her companion for more years than she cares to think about. Now, nearing forty, in mourning and haunted by the ghost of her mother, Lydia finds herself acting in ways she never expected – not least when she seduces eighteen-year-old Dean Morley by the side of a country lane. In trying to extricate herself from this moment of madness, Lydia unwittingly gets involved in organizing an exhibition of village artwork. The exhibition takes on a life of its own, but to Lydia it is an imposition; to Imelda Darkley – lady of the manor and doyenne of the parish council – the exhibition is anathema; but to Dean’s mother Gwen it proves to be unexpectedly liberating.... With a cast of superbly drawn characters this witty and insightful story delves deep into village life and captures finely depicted personalities with all their strengths, desires and foibles.

Autumn Softly Fell, 2014

Dorothea looked out of the nursery window. Hours and hours had passed and her papa had not come. He was not going to come. Abandoned by her father and left in the care of an uncle she has never met before, eight-year-old Dorothea Ryan finds herself cast away in a big strange house in the middle of the countryside. No one seems to want her. Her one wish is to return to her old home in London. But as time passes and hopes of ever going back start to fade, Dorothea becomes more and more enmeshed in her new life at Clifton Park. She begins to wonder just where home really is...This beautifully written story of identity and loyalty pulls the reader deep into contemplation, leaving them emerging, triumphant, from a stupor of remarkable storytelling.

Nothing Undone Remained, 2014. Buried River Press.

Life has been kind to Roderick Brannan in his first fourteen years, and in the autumn of 1906 there is nothing he wants more than to make a sporting name for himself at school. But with the breeze of the shifting seasons comes an imperceptible breath of change, for England, and for Roderick, and when his father, a motorcar manufacturer, dies he must return to the family home. There follows a tumultuous summer, for Roderick and his young cousin, Dorothea. Swapping the strictures of boarding school for the cloistered quiet of a remote country house leads Roderick to reassess his goals, and awakens in him desires he had never considered possible. Nothing Undone Remained is a perceptive and potent glimpse of youth in Edwardian England, revelling in the naivety and bluster of a young boy, on the fledgling cusp of adulthood and responsibility.