Here's Jon Downes with more on the Weird Weekend speakers at this coming weekend's conference:
Richard Freeman is one of Britain's few professional cryptozoologists. His interest in unknown animals reaches back to his childhood and he has had a long and varied career working with exotic creatures. He was head curator of reptiles at Twycross zoo in the Midlands. In 1996 he took a degree in zoology at Leeds university and after graduation moved to Exeter to work full time as the Zoological Director of the Centre for Fortean Zoology, the UK`s only cryptozoological organization.
Matthew Williams is the one man who is legally entitled to call himself a `crop circle maker` after his conviction a few years back for doing just that, Matthew is making his third visit to the Weird Weekend. He is a film maker, lighting engineer and all round good egg, who as well as giving us a lecture on the links between mystery animals and crop circles, is also providing the AV services for the whole weekend.
Dr. Gail-Nina Anderson is an elderly Goth who has spent a lifetime carefully nurturing her natural streak of morbidity. Trained as an art historian and now based in Newcastle, she works as a free-lance arts lecturer and journalist, covering areas of literature, film studies and visual culture. Main employers are Sunderland University, Northumbria University Gallery, the Tyneside Cinema and assorted local papers, but this pattern tends to mutate on a regular if erratic basis. She is a long-time member of the Dracula Society and has lectured more often than she can remember on the literature, cinema, folklore and imagery of vampires. When this palls, she varies it with fairies, angels and dragons. Her academic specialism is the art of the Pre-Raphaelites, especially Rossetti, and she has organised and written the catalogues for two exhibitions of Victorian art. She also runs courses on the supernatural in film and literature and has had several short spooky stories published (one in Russian, though she's not sure why) plus the occasional poem. She is a regular contributor to the Fortean Times magazine and associated Unconventions, so has delved into the world of the weird and the ways we perceive and categorise it. Her hobbies are collecting mourning jewellery and drinking red wine.
Oll Lewis is the Ecological Director of the CFZ, and at 26 is both the youngest, and newest, member of the team. We know what to do with these young turks! We put them on a stage and get them to talk about lake monsters.
Michael Woodley has been an avid fan of Cryptozoology for as long as he can remember. He credits his early fascination with the discipline as being the catalyst for his life long love of Biology. He has published scientific articles on subjects ranging from Environmental Engineering to Physical Anthropology, and is the author of The Limits of Ecology: New Perspectives from a Theoretical Borderland - a book of essays on Theoretical Ecology, and In the wake of Bernard Heuvelmans - The history - and future - of sea-serpent classification. Michael holds a BSc degree from Columbia University, New York. He is currently studying for a PhD at the University of London, where he is investigating plant-bacteria interactions.