Jo-Anne Richards – co-founder

Jo-Anne is an internationally published novelist with a PhD in Creative Writing from Wits University. Jo-Anne has published five novels: The Imagined Child, The Innocence of Roast ChickenMy Brother’s Book,  Touching the Lighthouse and Sad at the Edges.

Her first novel, The Innocence of Roast Chicken is being rereleased in 2019, as part of the Picador Africa Classics collection. When it first appeared, in 1996, it was nominated for the Impac International Dublin Literary Award and chosen as an “outstanding debut novel” by a British book chain.

Jo-Anne has published short stories in six collections and convened the judging panel for the Thomas Pringle Short Story Award in 2010.

Jo-Anne ran the Honours programme in Journalism & Media Studies at Wits University for fifteen years. She has supervised Creative Writing Masters students at Wits and UCT, and acted as examiner for both programmes.

Richard Beynon – co-founder 

Richard is a story consultant and an award-winning film and television scriptwriter with a long and accomplished career.

A former journalist  for the Rand Daily Mail, he has conceived, shaped and written scores of documentaries.

Richard has written for – or headed the writing teams of – many of country’s most popular soaps from Isidingo to Scandal and S’gudi S’naysi.

He managed the writing team at Isidingo for three years, as well as contributing over three hundred scripts to the series.

He is currently part of the writing team on the daily drama, Isibaya.

Richard has lectured on writing for film and television at Wits. He has won numerous awards for his work specifically in comedy, soap and children’s drama.

Fred de Vries  – travel and non-fiction specialist

Fred is a Dutch writer/journalist, who moved to South Africa in 2003 to do research for a biography of Johannesburg Beat poet Sinclair Beiels. Earlier he wrote Respect! (with Toine Heijmans), about hip-hop in Europe. In 2006 he published Club Risiko, a look at 80s underground music in six cities.

He wrote about his travels for The Sunday Times and Sunday Independent, and taught travel writing as a guest lecturer at Wits. He had an interview column for The Weekender, which were collected in The Fred de Vries Interviews; From Abdullah to Zille. In 2012 he wrote a book about the post-1994 fate of the Afrikaners, called Afrikaners, volk op drift, translated into Afrikaans as Rigtingbedonnerd. 

That same year he published Gehavende Stad with Erik Brus, an overview of 50 years of literature and music in Rotterdam. Afrikaners, volk op drift was nominated for Best Journalism Book and Best Travel Book in 2013.

De Vries was nomi­nated for Correspondent of the Year in 2014 and 2015.

Michele Rowe – screenwriting specialist

Michele, co-designer and facilitator of Screenwriting Crash Course and Kickstart Your Screenplay, is a South African scriptwriter who has worked primarily as a head writer and story originator for television and film.

Projects she has worked on have been nominated for or won various awards, including an Oscar documentary and International Emmy nomination. She has published two novels: What Hidden Lies and Hour of Darkness

She attended the National School of the Arts in Johannesburg, and has a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from the University of Cape Town.

Michele was a founder member of Free Film Makers, an anti-apartheid group of filmmakers, directors and actors who created acclaimed independent documentaries and dramas. From there she moved into documentary film chiefly as a researcher, scriptwriter and film archivist, before graduating to writing and directing drama.

At present she works as a script editor, teaches screenwriting and is completing her third novel for Penguin.

Who we are: The Team

All About Writing exists to promote and nurture writing talent.

Over 16 years, the company has remained deliberately small – specifically to give personal and hands-on help both to experienced and emerging writers.

The All About Writing duo of Richard Beynon and Dr Jo-Anne Richards offers every writer what they need: encouragement, motivation, inspiration, practical craft and skills, mentoring, and targeted solutions to writing problems.

Between them, they have gathered decades of writing, teaching and mentoring experience, academic study and research. They use it to help every writer develop and become the very best they can be.

Who we are: The Parts that make up the Whole

Richard Beynon, story-doctor, screenwriter of over 1000 scripts, story creator for over thirty years, ghost writer, writer of the popular ​Monday Writing Motivation​ blogs, and lover of children’s books and writing. He offers specialist skills in: 

  • Help with story creation – for screen or page
  • Identifying problems in story and structure and discovering solutions through creative discussion and analysis
  • Story doctoring
  • Collaborative and ghost writing of fiction and non-fiction
  • Mentoring writers – of scripts or for the page – through projects, offering advice on narrative, character, structure and story
  • Teaching practical creative writing skills.

Jo-Anne Richards, internationally published author of five novels, with a PhD in Creative Writer, has lectured in writing at university level and works with publishers in nurturing talented young writers. She offers specialist skills in:

  • Coaching and nurturing writers
  • Teaching the craft – providing practical skills and techniques
  • Providing developmental and structural edits to identify problems in manuscripts – both fiction and creative non-fiction.
  • Mentoring writers through projects, encouraging, and offering practical guidance on how to make every scene sing.

Together, we offer honest, but kind advice to develop manuscripts, scripts and screenplays to the best they can possibly be – while growing writers with practical craft solutions, inspiration, guidance and encouragement.

The team is joined in Venice by Fred de Vries, author of nine works of non-fiction, who offers analysis, mentoring and practical advice that writers can implement straight away. He specializes in:

  • Travel writing
  • Music writing
  • (Auto-)Biography
  • Long form features
  • Podcasts

Who we really are


When I was four my mother decided to read me Oscar Wilde’s The Nightingale and the Rose. I couldn’t let go of the vision of that little bird bleeding its life’s blood over a rose for the sake of a doomed love.

I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t stop weeping. I wrung my hands at the tragedy of life. From that moment on, I knew I wanted to be a writer.

My dream remained undented, despite my inauspicious start in school. A dyslexic, diagnosed only half a lifetime later, I was unable to read or write. (The headmistress suggested my mother place me in ‘a home’.)

I survived it all, thanks to my mother’s afternoon revision, fuelled by her fury at the school, and early morning swims with my dad, fuelled by his great love of the sea. But children can be cruel, and I hid most breaks in the school library, where I discovered you could escape the world by disappearing into others.

When I left school, my mother and I had the following ‘discussion’: ‘You want to be a what? Don’t be silly. Do something sensible.’

That’s how I came to study journalism. It’s something I’ve never regretted. It certainly influenced the way I’ve approached life and writing. Along the way, I married and divorced a talented, but rather drunken, poet – and learnt that you can’t become a writer by osmosis.

Five years later, I married a more sensible husband. The day my first daughter was born, two weeks early, I phoned in sick, and never went back. Partly, her health difficulties made it impossible. But, now that we understand these things, I realise I probably had a touch of PTSD – journalism in 1980s South Africa was not for sissies. (Not that I was out of the ordinary. There were many journalists much braver, and who faced much more, than I).

But I did cover violence, protests and bomb blasts, face up to State power, receive death threats, and live two years with a possible five-year jail term hanging over my head. We all face things in different ways, and they took their toll on me.

I gave birth to a second child and, alongside childcare, began a freelance career – and wrote my first book. The Innocence of Roast Chicken (Headline Review) was the book that changed my life, and made me the writer I’d always longed to be.

One minute I was tapping away in my converted garage, the next I received a phone call that catapulted me into a different existence, with a two-book deal in London.

The book shot to number one in South Africa in the week it was released, and remained there for fifteen weeks. My face was on television, my voice on radio. I launched at South Africa House in London’s Trafalgar Square, in Germany, in Johannesburg, in Cape Town and in my hometown of Port Elizabeth. I was invited to speak at Bayreuth University in Germany.

The book drew excellent reviews internationally and appeared as the ‘Dark Horse’ on a London bestseller list, alongside Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary, Graham Swift’s Last Orders and Hogfather by Terry Pratchett.

It was nominated for a prestigious international award, the International Impac Dublin Literary Award. It was chosen as an ‘outstanding debut novel’ by a British bookshop chain. In South Africa, it was short-listed for the M-Net Literary Award. It was overwhelming and, yes, of course, I loved it.

The movie option was sold to UK producers at Pinewood Studios. And that is how I first met Richard. I nonchalantly agreed to write the script – only to realise I had absolutely no idea how. Richard and I wrote the script together, over several drafts, for award-winning director, Ross Devenish. And it came so close … so close, but for that pesky funding business.

Since then, I’ve written and published (Headline Review; Pan Macmillan) four more books: Touching the Lighthouse, Sad at the Edges, My Brother’s Book, The Imagined Child, and been short-listed for the Sunday Times fiction award. In 2019, Innocence was rereleased as part of the Pan Macmillan’s prestigious Picador African Heritage collection.

On the personal front, I divorced the sensible husband (I never was very sensible) and, struggling for income, began a career in academia. I headed the Honours programme in the school of Journalism and & Media Studies at Wits University for 15 years and, for my sins, received a PhD in Creative Writing. (I swear the only reason I did it was to prove I wasn’t stupid: that intellectual insecurity has dogged me since I couldn’t sound out ‘cat’ or ‘the’.)

By this time, I was also chair of the Southern African Inherited Disorders Association, a parents’ organisation that, with Wits University’s Human Genetics Department, produced training material and trained trainers to extend primary genetic health into rural and underserved communities.

This was a different kind of writing, which required absolutely precision and clarity. It was voluntary work, and I was proud of the difference we made. On the strength of it, I was invited to speak at two prestigious health conferences for developing nations, in Lyon and Delhi: we provided an example, as a lay organisation that drove primary genetic health, where the government was unable to.

While I was at Wits, Richard, Trish and I had the bright idea to start All About Writing. We found we had a great deal to share. We like to say we teach everything we wish we’d known 20 years ago. We draw on our successes, our failures, our vulnerabilities – and the advice and example of some of the best writers the world has to offer.

In 17 years, we’ve built a caring community, from whom we draw as much inspiration and strength as I hope we give, along with skills and craft. We love the work we do and we hope it shows. That’s what makes us different, we believe. We’re not a faceless monolith. We care about every writer, and try to help them be the best they can be.

Along the way, I was fortunate finally to find a lasting love. I have now been with writer and journalist Fred de Vries, an associate of All About Writing, for 20 years. Who would have believed it.

Some years ago, I took early retirement from Wits. We now live in the seaside village of Simonstown, on the outskirts of Cape Town, where I can concentrate on All About Writing, my own writing, and my other pleasures, swimming, snorkelling and knitting.

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