Tahmima Anam, Nikesh Shukla and Benjamin Johncock are confirmed as the final mentors for this year’s Escalator Talent Development Scheme. They will join Yvvette Edwards and Cathy Rentzenbrink on the judging panel for entries and will also offer practical advice and creative feedback to selected writers over the nine-month mentoring period.
Find out more about the mentors below.
Tahmima is an anthropologist and novelist. Her debut novel, A GOLDEN AGE, was winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book. In 2013, she was named one of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists. She is a Contributing Opinion Writer for The New York Times and a judge for the 2016 Man Booker International Prize. Born in Dhaka, Bangladesh, she was educated at Mount Holyoke College and Harvard University and now lives in Hackney, East London. Twitter
Yvvette is a British Author of Montserratian origin, who grew up in Hackney and resides in East London. Her debut novel, A Cupboard Full of Coats, was nominated for a number of literary awards, including the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Man Booker Prize. Her second novel, The Mother, was published in 2016. Yvvette is currently a judge for the new Jhalak Prize for fiction, and is returning for a second year as a mentor on Escalator.
‘I can think of no greater resource for an emerging writer than access to a writer and mentor, someone interested in, focussed on, and invested in their development, happy to read their work and provide support, encouragement and advice, who has faced and overcome the obstacles to writing and finishing a piece of work, and is familiar with the struggle to remain motivated and focussed during what can be a long and solitary process. The Escalator talent development scheme is an incredible, free, validating, potentially life-changing opportunity for emerging writers, and it’s a pleasure and a privilege to be returning as a mentor.’
Benjamin Johncock was born in England in 1978. His debut novel, The Last Pilot, was published in 2015 in the US (Picador) and UK (Myriad). The Washington Post called it ‘Supercharged Hemingway at 70,000 feet’ and it won the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award, as well as being shortlisted for the East Anglian Book Of The Year Award and selected for Brave New Reads. His short fiction has been published widely and won awards. His journalism has appeared in the Guardian, The Spectator, and others. He lives in Norwich, England, with his wife, his daughter, and his son. Website
‘Escalator is about mentoring and mentoring is about relationships—it’s about development, encouragement, advice and practical help, both artistically and professionally. There’s no lonelier job than writing, and there’s no manual for being a writer—or becoming An Author. I wish I’d had a mentor when I was starting out—someone who’d been through the process; someone to say, you’re not crazy.’
Nikesh is the editor of Rife Magazine, an online magazine for young people and the author of the novels Coconut Unlimited (Quartet) which was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and Meatspace (Friday Project). He is the editor of the acclaimed collection of essays about race and immigration by 21 writers of colour, The Good Immigrant (Unbound), for which he was shortlisted for the Liberty Human Rights Arts Award and won the reader’s choice category at the Books Are My Bag Awards. Twitter | Website
Cathy was born in Cornwall, grew up in Yorkshire and now lives in London, where she works as a writer and journalist. She is the author of the Sunday Times bestselling memoir The Last Act of Love, which was shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize. Cathy’s new book, A Manual for Heartache, is published by Picador on 29 June 2017. Twitter
‘Last year I came and gave a talk to the Escalator programme and found it so enjoyable and stimulating that I didn’t want to leave. I’m delighted to be a mentor for this year. One of the things I really miss about having a proper job is taking an interest in other people’s development so I’m very excited to be working with writers on their books in progress.’
Cathy is also taking part in an event at Norfolk & Norwich Festival 2017 with Max Porter and Richard Beard.