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.

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. If you feel this opportunity is ‘not for you’, you may be just the writer we’re looking for! Working class voices remain critically under-represented in contemporary fiction and NCW seeks to address this through Escalator and its talent development programme more broadly.

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