Meet the ten writers selected for Escalator 2022.

Melody Bowles

Melody writes fantastical, speculative and romantic short stories (not all at once – usually!). She co-hosts The Short Story Workshop podcast which posts weekly episodes. Her story ‘Protector of the Throne’ appeared in Noctivagant Press. She has completed several courses on short story writing and is thinking about how to create a cohesive collection. She loves mythical creatures, particularly mermaids, and is fascinated by the mysteries of the sea. Her work is often inspired by fairy tales and legends. Also, sometimes robots.

Melody is mentored by Kate Worsley.


Ben Cartwright

Ben Cartwright grew up in a family where stories were told to join the present to a past across the sea. As a boy he wanted to be a singer-songwriter. Then he fell for poetry, and had poems published in magazines, including Areté. While studying for a PhD in archaeology, which included excavating on top of a coastal stack in Orkney, he began spending all his free time working on stories. An obsession that continued through his next jobs: bicycle courier, gardener, curator. In 2021, he completed the Open University free online Start Writing Fiction course, and the Faber & Faber Writing a Novel course. He lives in North Norfolk.

Ben is mentored by Kate Worsley.


Shirley Day

This is Shirley’s tenth application to Escalator, so she’s thrilled to have at last gotten through. Although she has written short stories for BBC Radio Four, and had them published in several anthologies, mastering the novel has proved problematic! This time, she’s determined to nail it. She teaches screenwriting and theatre studies to graduates and postgraduates and is embarking on a PhD this year in Graham Greene and adaptation at UEA.

Shirley is mentored by Owen Nicholls.


Isabelle Higgins

Isabelle Higgins is a writer based in Cambridge, UK. She holds a double first-class honours degree in Sociology and Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge, and a master’s degree in the Sociology of Marginality and Exclusion. Isabelle is currently working on her PhD in Sociology, exploring how intersectional inequalities differentially structure everyday lives. Isabelle engages with similar themes in her creative writing. She is particularly interested in notions of space, place, and family. These interests connect to her experiences growing up mixed-race in rural Derbyshire in the 1990s, as well as wider experiences of her Afro-Caribbean family and community. Isabelle began writing creatively while travelling solo across North America in her late teens. She continued to write while working in the charity and campaigns sector and throughout her academic studies, where she also pursued directing and writing for the stage. She is now working on her first novel.

Isabelle is mentored by Yvvette Edwards.


Adam Leeder

The letters were a bastard mix of capitals and lower case, curving down at the end of the single line. The postcard was unsigned, the deckchairs on the front at odds with the grim communiqué: Somebody shot Bramwell Crane. I’d travelled thousands of miles to reach the last place I wanted to be. Home. Show me a man with secrets and I’ll show you one with debts.

Adam lives in Ipswich and writes noir and hardboiled crime fiction about the dark side of the Suffolk coast. He was raised in Ipswich and returned after reading History at the University of Sheffield and living in London. Adam’s short fiction has been longlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association’s ‘Margery Allingham Short Mystery Prize (2021) and been published in the UK and US by Shotgun Honey, Mystery Weekly, Guilty Crime Magazine, and Punk Noir. Adam’s first attempt at a novel, Diaspora, a multi-perspective story about modern slavery in a Suffolk town, was shortlisted for the New Anglia Manuscript Prize. During the 2021 Escalator programme, Adam will be working on a new novel about a lifelong stowaway returning home to investigate the death of a man who alibied him for murder thirty years ago.

Adam is mentored by Owen Nicholls.


Joanna Miller

Joanna has an MA in English Literature from Oxford University. After graduating, she worked as a teacher and Literacy adviser before establishing an award-winning poetry gift business. One of her poems about teachers was made into a film by the BBC and in 2015 she won The Poetry Prize, a competition run by Bloomsbury Publishing. In 2019, she was a speaker at London Book Fair and worked on a project with National Poetry Day to encourage unpublished poets. During lockdown, Joanna completed Faber Academy’s Write Your Novel course. She is now editing the manuscript of her first novel, which is set at Oxford University in 1920, the ground-breaking year that women were first admitted as students.

Joanna is mentored by Michael Donkor.


Carrie Patten

Carrie writes short stories, poetry and radio plays. Her writing practice is informed by undergraduate and postgraduate study with the Open University. She also draws influence from previous study at Norwich University of the Arts, reflected in the way she creates story worlds. She was the commissioned writer for both British Art Show 8 (2016) and the exhibition Mind.Language.Matter (2017) curated by JMCAnderson. She was listed with Honours for the Cinnamon Literature Award and Cress was published in Lighthouse Literary Journal #7 (2015). Her poetry has featured in Ink, Sweat &Tears. As Writer in Residence for ‘A Room of One’s Own’ (NCW July 2021), she adapted a series of her own short stories into radio script. Carrie is refining thematic connections in her short story collection, Semaphore, where shifting tableaus explore human vulnerability against the complex bonds of kinship.

Carrie is mentored by Megan Bradbury.


Rick Roydes

Rick Roydes is a short story, playwright, scriptwriter, and novel writer. Rick won a TLC Free Read in 2016, and an extract of Shirley Bassey and The Flat Earth was performed on stage at the Madder Market Theatre in Norwich, Norfolk. Music is an overwhelming influence on his writing – from rock, blues, jazz to ambient – and he is inspired by the likes of Chinua Achebe, Margaret Atwood, J. M. Coetzee, and more. Rick has had a varied career, has travelled a little, and has a BSc in Development Studies. In his writing he aims to create a personal connection with readers.

Rick is mentored by Megan Bradbury.


Mark Stocker

Mark Stocker grew up in Kent, and now lives with his family in rural Suffolk. He has a degree in English & European Literature from the University of Essex. His day job is writing radio advertising campaigns. Away from writing, Mark’s passions include running and Arsenal Football Club, both of which cause him considerable pain. He is a writer with a working-class voice and has had flash and short fiction published by various journals, both online and in print. His stories have been longlisted and shortlisted in several competitions, and he was the winner of this year’s Flash 500 Short Story Competition. He is currently writing his first novel and is excited about the opportunity to work on it with support from a mentor during the Escalator programme.

Mark is mentored by Michael Donkor.

Bang Wang

Can’t you go back to China?

There is a new reality that I have to deal with, urgently, like a stowaway inside a wheel bay looking for a tiny patch to land before falling from a plane.

I have never thought I would watch the first snow in England in this way, in a dimly lit Victorian room painted with the delicate colour of holy lotus, glancing through half a window (the other half is shared with next door), whilst skimming my hands rhythmically onto a man’s half naked body.

Bang began her career as a journalist and has gone on to write fiction and non-fiction. She has published eight books in Chinese, including a collection of film reviews, several collections of short stories, a Manga entitled Ya San (published in French), and a film-script, The Dream Cages, which won the Best Feature Drama award 2011 at the NYIFF in New York. Her documentary film University City Savages has been shown at numerous international film festivals, and her short stories have been published in Chutzpah, Guggenheim Art Museum, Chinese Literature Today (University of Oklahoma Press), Words Without Borders, Hua Cheng Literary Magazine, HK Literature and The Best Selected Work of Chinese Literature of the Month. She lives in England where she writes as a freelance columnist on social & gender issues for HK01. Her current series of essays ‘observations of life in the UK’ was shortlisted by the Chinese Youth Writer Award 2019. Bang started to write in English during the Covid pandemic.

Bang is mentored by Yvvette Edwards.


Escalator is generously funded by Amazon Literary Partnership, The Lady Hind Trust and donors of the ‘Escalator Needs Your Help’ campaign.