Escalator seeks ambitious new voices in fiction (novel or short story). If you feel your voice is under-represented and would benefit from a structured period of support, then we want to hear from you!
National Centre for Writing has been running the Escalator talent development programme since 2004. The programme has developed over the years to become what it is today: eight months of mentoring, training, guidance and networking for writers based in the East of England who are at the beginning of their careers.
To date Escalator has supported over 100 writers, many of whom have gone on to sign with agents, publish and win awards and critical recognition for their writing. Find out more about our alumni here.
We’re delighted that in 2021-22 we are able to run Escalator with a full cohort of ten writers, following a successful fundraising campaign and generous donations from the Amazon Literary Partnership, The Lady Hind Trust and the general public. This will also be the second year that we have run the programme in a ‘hybrid’ format, making the most of both online platforms and opportunities to meet up in person*.
The Escalator mentors for this year are: Megan Bradbury, Michael Donkor, Yvvette Edwards, Owen Nicholls and Kate Worsley. Find out more about the mentors and their work here.
Applications to the scheme open on 22 July 2021 and the deadline for applications is 10:00 BST on Monday 30 August 2021. The selected writers will need to be available to take part in the scheme between late November 2021 and July 2022.
*subject to Covid-19 pandemic restrictions.
Escalator is open to unpublished, early careers writers of fiction based in the East of England (Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk). The region is made up of a diverse society of many voices, and supporting writers who are under-represented on UK bookshelves has become a core objective of the project.
You are eligible to apply to Escalator if you write fiction, live in the East of England, and meet one or more of the following criteria:
Please note: you do not have to meet all of the criteria above to apply.
If you’re not sure whether you meet these criteria, we invite you to contact us on the email address and telephone number below for a confidential discussion before making your application.
If you don’t fit these entry requirements, we kindly request that you take a look at our other opportunities and resources for writers, as Escalator is specifically for under-represented writers of fiction in the East of England.
At the heart of the Escalator programme is a period of mentoring; a one-to-one exchange between writer and mentor, who interact regularly to review work, discuss challenges and set goals. The ten selected writers will also take part in a day retreat and a final showcase event at which they will have an opportunity to present their work to agents, editors and other publishing industry professionals.
Throughout the Escalator programme, the winning writers will also:
Applications for Escalator 21/22 have now closed.
Applications that are incomplete and/or reach us after 10:00 BST on Monday 30 August cannot be considered. If you require the application form in a different format (e.g. audio, large print, etc.) please don’t hesitate to contact us before the deadline.
We also kindly invite applicants to fill in this optional monitoring form to help us evaluate the Escalator programme and ensure it is reaching a wide and diverse range of writers in the East of England. The form is anonymous and there is a ‘Prefer not to say’ option for every question. It will only be used by NCW and Arts Council England in aggregate for monitoring and evaluative purposes.
If you have any questions about the Escalator programme please contact Flo Reynolds, Programme Manager, by email or telephone (01603 877177, Mon-Fri 09:30 – 17:00). All queries and discussions will be treated confidentially.