Welcome to Dorking’s local writers group

Phoenix Writers are a diverse, friendly - and supportive - group who come together because of a shared love of writing. Ranging from beginners to experienced (and published) writers, we write novels, poetry, short stories, plays, articles and memoirs. We are interested in all forms of writing and experimenting in different fields. If you love writing, come and try us out for an evening, and see what you think. See you soon!

We are delighted to be members of the National Association of Writers and Groups (NAWG).

Monthly Meetings

We usually meet at the Stepping Stones pub, Westhumble Street, Westhumble, Dorking RH5 6BS on the last Wednesday of every month starting at 7pm.  We continue to following Covid19 procedures where possible. This sometimes means that we take the meeting to Zoom or MS Teams.

Venue:  Lincoln Arms, Dorking, Surrey RH4 1TF.  Last Wednesday of each month @ 7.30 pm.

Dates for 2022

26th January
23rd February
30th March
27th April
25th May
29th June
27th July
31st August
28th September
26th October
30th November
December - TBC
Contact us to find out more!


Justine John

After thirty years in corporate life in London, half of which was running a successful events company, Justine John decided to take a chance to write the novel that was ‘in her’ since she was a child. Gilding the Lily is the result of this and is a gripping domestic noir story. Justine is also Chairperson of the group

Visit Justine’s website

Portrait of Justine John, author

Alison Allen

Alison Allen joined Phoenix two years ago, impressed by the supportive atmosphere of the group and the talent of its writers. Having completed an MA in Creative Writing at Roehampton University last year, Alison is currently working on a novel for children. She also writes short stories and poetry: a recent success was first prize in Writing Magazine’s Open Poetry Competition for her poem ‘Not a Prayer’.

Margaret Graham

Margaret Graham, previously best known for her writing on ‘chair’ yoga, (Keep Moving, Keep Young: Gentle Yoga Exercises for the Elderly) is now a successful playwright for amateur theatre.

In 2014 and 2016 Ifield Barn Theatre’s productions of her 1960’s sell-out comedy/dramas - Miniskirts & Revelations; then sequel Flowery Shirts & Strange Relations - received NODA awards. Thought-provoking Benches followed in 2017 and farce Rita’s Revenge in October 2019. (Margaret’s script-books available through Amazon.).

A selection of publications by Author Margaret Graham

Hugh Timothy

Hugh Timothy has been a member of Phoenix Writers’ for nearly 17 years and ran the group as Chairman for 12. This year sees the publication of two collections of his poetry ‘Stepping Into Verse’ which is in fact a reprint of an earlier publication with added poems including published winners of national competitions.  His other collections include ‘Shapes’, ‘Shades’ and ‘Words in Edgeways’.

Richard Howard

Richard Howard’s latest book of short stories Tales of the Lost brings us face to face with some very strange encounters and some unexpected twists along the way. Each story has its own unique world and is told in a very direct style. As the author says in his introduction, the themes for these later stories are darker in mood than his earlier works. The longest of them, Flora’s Return, was inspired by what the author regards as ‘the finest ghost story ever written’, The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. Richard has also published ‘Strange Tales’ which focuses on ghosts, vampires and forces of nature.

Visit Richard’s website.

Lena Walton

Lena Walton holds down two jobs yet still finds time somehow to write. Her first novel Jewish Days Arab Nights was self published on Amazon in 2014. She is preparing the sequel Not Quite Gaza for publication this year. And her latest endeavour is a dark psychological thriller called The Dark Side of the Hill which she is  luckily being represented by a Literary Agent for.

Jewish Days Arab Nights - Available on Amazon.

Jess Newton

Jess fell into writing as a teenager, tempted by the dark world of fanfiction. She dabbles in science fiction, fantasy and romance, always with queer characters at the centre of the action. Her stories are the ones she wished she could have read as a teenager, when she often struggled to find characters she could identify with.

Visit Jess’s website

Tom Langdale

After spending his working life in engineering, Tom discovered writing as a hobby, taking creative writing classes, writing short stories and developing skills required to complete a novel. After leaving his engineering business, he turned his love of writing into a fully engrossing pastime.

Following on from the publication of his first book A Young Man’s Guide, Tom was spurred on to complete his first novel ‘One Man’s Poison’. He held several book signings and used networking to promote his story. Its sequel, ‘Poisoned Legacy, published in 2021.

Visit Tom’s website.


BBC Radio Surrey interview

Nicholas Mackey was interviewed live on BBC Radio Surrey in October 2021 about our anthology Out of the Ashes.  Click below to listen.

Screen grab of radio interview

Posterity - Jess Newton

Jess’s debut novel Posterity is now published by Gurt Dog Press and available from her website.  Fifty years ago, Captain Nina Brooke hand-picked a crew from across the world to accompany her on the mission of a lifetime. Today, they’re all waking up. The Posterity is making her final approach to their new home planet, and the work is about to begin. Humanity wasn’t an endangered species when they set off on this mission, but it’s a darn sight closer to being one now.

Book cover for Posterity by Jess Newton

Out of the Ashes

In 2021 we published an anthology.  Out of the Ashes showcases some of our best work to date. We launched the book in October our annual event for Mole Valley Arts Alive Festival, which is one of the largest community events of its kind in the UK. 

Out of the Ashes invites you to relax and lose yourself in imaginary places and wonderful settings; explore the depths of truth and fiction, travel into the future, and the past; be transported to exotic foreign destinations and return to your own with a renewed love for reading. You can buy a copy of Out of the Ashes online.

Book cover for Out of the Ashes from the Phoenix Writers‘ Circle

Gilding The Lilly - Justine John

Justine John’s novel has been acclaimed as a ‘stunningly disturbing debut thriller’. It’s a gripping mystery of jealousy, murder and lies. An invitation to her estranged, wealthy father’s surprise 75th birthday party in New York sees Amelia and her husband, Jack, set off across the pond to meet a whole new world of family politics. One reader wrote: ‘This story kept me reading and couldn't wait to turn the page, and likewise can't wait for Justine John's next book. If you like mystery touched with realism, then you must become a fan’. See more visit Justine's website.

Book cover for Gilding the Lilly, by Justine John


February 2022 meeting

In February we will welcome Siobhán O’Brien Holmes, a developmental editor of middle grade and YA genre fiction.  She will talk us through the editing process or writing science fiction, fantasy and horror for kids and teenagers, also touching on other genres. You can read more about Siobhán online.

portrait of Siobhán O’Brien Holmes

April 2021 meeting

In April 2021 we welcomed Kate Hardy to our online meeting. Kate has written several books and self-published some, but now has a traditional publishing contract with an independent UK  publishing house called Tartarus Press.

She has been a full-time writer for many years, lives in France and has two rescue greyhound dogs.  Her latest novel is called Londonia and is a dystopian fiction novel set in 2072. Read more on publishers website.

Book jacket cover of Londonia by Kate Hardy

May 2019 meeting

Our May 2019 meeting saw a visit from successful author A D Flint who published The Burning Hill earlier this year - available from Amazon.  A D Flint read from his book and talked to us about the benefits of self-publishing via crowd funding.

The Burning Hill book cover

November 2019 meeting

Our November 2019 meeting will see a visit from Wendy Yorke - an author coach who provides professional book manuscript editing services and works in association with the Susan Mears Literary Agency, as a professional literary agent, helping people to navigate and journey through the mainstream publication process.  We are looking forward to welcoming her. Visit Wendy’s website.

portrait of Wendy Yorke, seaside backdrop

Join Us

Here are just a few reasons to join Phoenix Writers Circle:

We’re a like-minded group of people – sometimes writing can be lonely and we can help encourage and support your own aims and ideas.

We help you overcome blocks and challenges in your writing.

We provide objective viewpoints and critique work in progress.

We help you be critical of your own work and encourage you in your genre.

We sometimes arrange visits from authors and other writing professionals to inspire and teach us.

We love getting together and discussing our work, among other things!


Get in touch

If you are interested in joining, you are welcome to come along for an evening to meet the group and get a sense of how we work

You can send us an email by clicking the link below. Or email secretary@phoenixwriterscircle.co.uk or chairman@phoenixwriterscircle.co.uk

Make contact by email
vintage typewriter in a graphic style