At the age of 19, Ana was taken hostage by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) when visiting Iran. She was falsely accused of espionage for MI6, CIA, and Mossad, and spent over 200 days in solitary confinement. Initially sentenced to death, she was subjected to numerous human rights violations throughout her detention, such as a mock execution and a forced virginity test. Since her release and return, she has been a vocal human rights advocate and a political commentator, particularly on matters concerning the West-Middle-East relations.
In September 2019, Ana co-founded an initiative that seeks to end state-sponsored hostage-taking practices. The initiative was launched on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, with the presence of journalists from news outlets such as the Washington Post and the NBC News.
To reflect on her journey, Ana participated in a New Writer's Competition organised by Penguin Random House imprint #Merky Books. Out of 1,200 submissions, she was one of four to be short-listed under the Non-Fiction category. She is currently working on her memoir about the lessons of exile and reconciliation, the reality of living and surviving death row in Iran, and the power of perseverance.
Mark was originally born in Cologne, Germany but grew up in many locations abroad with his hotelier parents. He has always had a strong passion for martial arts. Boxing was his first love in combat which led to him working at BOXRAW, a leading boxing sportswear brand, rising to Head of Paid Media before pursuing an MBA in Barcelona. He is a jiu-jitsu practitioner and his passion for martial arts and writing led to him founding his own blog that explores hidden and untold stories of the martial arts world. Initially created as “The Fight Mind”, it now exists as a Sub Stack account simply called “Fight Culture”.
Mark's first book will explore the origin and mysticism of wrestling in one of its cradles, Sudan. His aim? For the book to become the Born to Run of wrestling.
Nemat Sadat is the author of The Carpet Weaver, developmentally and creative copy-edited by the JQ Agency, before being published by Penguin Random House where it became a bestseller. He is a prominent activist and journalist currently based in Washington D.C. He is the first native from Afghanistan to have publicly come out as gay and campaign for LGBTQIA rights in Muslim communities worldwide. While teaching at the American University of Afghanistan, he secretly mobilized a gay movement off campus but was then persecuted by the Afghan authorities and deemed a national security threat for allegedly subverting Islam.
Sadat has been featured in Vogue, Grazia and major newspapers and magazines, and has previously worked at ABC News's Nightline, CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS and the UN Chronicle. He has earned six university degrees, including graduate degrees from Harvard, Columbia, and Oxford. The Carpet Weaver is his first novel. He is currently at work on his second novel and his memoir.
Elika Ansari is a writer, refugee youth worker, performer, and yoga instructor. While she has lived in 10 countries throughout her life, Elika is currently based in London, where she dedicates her time to writing books and working with children and young people from diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds.
Elika's debut middle-grade fantasy novel about the effects of climate change on small animals, ‘Seacity Rising: A Tale of Unwatery Adventures’ was published on 6 June 2019 by Black Rose Writing. The book was taught in school curriculums in the U.K. and was a finalist in the Indies Today Award 2019. From 2017 - 2022, Elika moved through different refugee camps in Greece, working with international organisations such as Doctors Without Borders, the Danish Refugee Council, Medical Volunteers International, and the International Rescue Committee, among others. She founded her own project in 2021, Little Lotus Learning Centre, which was devoted to promoting psychosocial and integration support by bringing play and the performing arts to children from refugee and Roma backgrounds, including Unaccompanied Minors. Elika's second book, 'The Five Stages of Moria: 'The Worst Refugee Camp on Earth' is a work of fiction based on true stories she encountered during her time spent working in one of the most infamous refugee camps in Europe, and it will be published on 30th September 2022 by Arkbound. Elika has now just signed with JQ Literary agency for her most recent children's book, 'The Caterbury Tails: The Magicats+1', which she is currently working on.
Rob Wetton is a South African/Australian/Swiss awarded Copywriter, Creative Director, creative judge, human rights activist and awarded poet.
After completing his Law degree, Rob worked as a Copywriter and later Creative Director for leading advertising agencies, including Saatchi & Saatchi and Leo Burnett. His work has helped advance a wide range of global organisations including the International Olympic Committee, The International Trade Centre, Apple, Kinder, BMW, Hilton, Deutsche Telekom, Jacobs coffee and other brands and NGOs.
Aside from writing and brand building, Rob has always been passionate about human rights and advancing the community. He worked at the Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts of Cambodia where he helped increase the scope of reparations for victims at the trials. He also started an Australian charity that launched libraries in Immigration Detention Centres and conducted educational programmes with schools. He continues to consult with NGOs and United Nations associations in a creative capacity.
Rob currently resides in the Swiss Alps with his partner and his inner child.