Escalator is our annual talent development scheme open to early career fiction writers (novel or short story) living in the Eastern Region (Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk). It has been running for 15 years and has supported over 100 writers at the beginning of their careers, many of whom have gone on to sign with agents, publish and win awards and critical recognition for their writing.

Watch the 2020 showcase, broadcast on 12 November 2020:

At its heart is a period of mentoring; a one-to-one exchange between writer and mentor, whom interact regularly to review work, discuss challenges and set goals. The six selected applicants will also take part in a residential retreat at NCW’s Dragon Hall campus in Norwich and a final showcase event at which mentees have an opportunity to present their work and network with agents, editors and other publishing industry professionals.

Escalator 2020 seeks ambitious new voices in fiction with a focus on writers who self-identify as from a working class background and those who haven’t undertaken any formal creative writing qualifications.

Years of austerity and the Covid-19 crisis have made funding for Escalator through traditional means increasingly difficult.

Escalator normally mentors ten writers each year but in 2020 we have only able to fund six mentee places. For Escalator 2021 we are asking for your help to ensure we are able to increase this number back up to ten mentees and continue providing essential support and mentoring to underrepresented writers from the region.

We are therefore aiming to raise £8,800 to secure four more places on the 2021 Escalator programme.

Donate to Escalator now


This year, our mentors are: Megan Bradbury, Michael Donkor and Kate Worsley – all former alumni of the Escalator programme who have gone on to publish prize-winning and critically acclaimed novels.

Escalator is funded by Arts Council England, with support from The Garrick Club Charitable Trust.

Arts Council England logo  The Garrick Club Charitable Trust


The National Centre for Writing also offers a mentorship programme for emerging translators.


Not from the region?

Regional Literature Development Agencies across England are offering exciting opportunities for writers in their region:

Literature Works (South West)
New Writing North
New Writing South (South East)
Spread the Word (London)
Writing East Midlands
Writing West Midlands