Anni Domingo is an actress, lecturer, director, and MA graduate of Anglia Ruskin Creative Writing. Her poems and short stories have been published in various anthologies. Her first novel, Breaking the Maafa Chain was shortlisted in the Lucy Cavendish College Fiction Prize and won Myriad Editions First Novel Competition; an extract of which is in their New Daughters of Africa Anthology. Breaking the Maafa Chain will be published by Jacaranda Publishers in 2021.
Anni was part of the 2018/19 cohort of the NCW Escalator Talent Development Scheme, where she received ten months of professional development and one-to-one mentoring from Booker-longlisted author Yvvette Edwards. Here, she reflects on the confidence she has gained since finishing the programme and the importance of focusing on writers who are underrepresented in the region.
How do you feel your selection for the Escalator programme has shaped your approach to writing and your writing process?
I have always enjoyed writing, but I was never confident about putting any of my pieces out there in public. My selection for the Escalator programme has shaped the way I think about my writing. I realise now, as I look at that time from a distance, that my whole attitude to the process of writing has changed. I am more organised and committed to getting the story down and then working on it confidently, editing and fine tuning it to publication readiness.
Why do you feel programmes like Escalator are important for early career writers? How did it help you at that stage in your career?
Early on in my career writer, I found writing a lonely way of life and became prone to doubts about my ability to write. This is when programmes like Escalator can be of great help. I got to meet like-minded people, become part of a community of writers, all of whom had the development of their writing at the forefront of their minds. Although we were all at different stages in our writing career it was great to have the support and understanding of fellow writers in a creative and sharing environment was honoured to be amongst my cohort of mentees, who have become good supportive friends.
The chance also to work closely with an experienced writer as my mentor, to know that my she had selected my work because she wanted to work with me was a great boost to my confidence. I felt extremely lucky to have been chosen by the Booker-longlisted author Yvvette Edwards. Her encouragement and confidence in me have been and still are a great help as I move forward with my writing, and vital to my development.
I am more organised and committed to getting the story down and then working on it confidently, editing and fine tuning it to publication readiness.
What stage are you at now with your writing? What are your plans for your work?
My first novel, Breaking the Maafa Chain is to be published by Jacaranda Publishers in 2021 and I am now working on my second novel Ominira, a sequel, which I started working on whilst I was part of Escalator.
Escalator supports early career writers from this region, often with a focus on underrepresented backgrounds – what are your thoughts around supporting writers away from London and whose voices are underrepresented?
As a Black writer from this region, I am so pleased that Escalator does have a focus on writers from underrepresented backgrounds. Often, they assume that writing is not ‘for them’. There are significant barriers to a professional writing career for some demographic groups who are insufficiently or inadequately represented. It is important that writers living outside of the capital be supported, helping to break down the barriers to accessing artistic development opportunities. The Escalator programme gives them the chance to develop their professional and artistic potential. It helps to create opportunities to kick-start careers, including gaining limited access to networks and industry knowledge. Writers from groups that are underrepresented, especially those outside of the capital, find that they have limited representation in existing published works, and opportunities appear inaccessible and exclusive. By focusing on writers who are underrepresented in this region Escalator gives us a chance to deal with themes not usually seen and voices not usually heard.
By focusing on writers who are underrepresented in this region Escalator gives us a chance to deal with themes not usually seen and voices not usually heard.