2020 writers

Paul Couch

Paul CouchPaul was born in South Wales and has lived all over the world before settling in Suffolk in 1986. He has been passionate about writing since an early age and worked as a journalist, playwright, in corporate communications, and as a performance poet. He says that his biggest hurdles as a writer are prevarication and having too many projects on the go, both of which he hopes the Escalator opportunity will help him overcome.

Paul is mentored by Michael Donkor.

Read an extract from ‘The Keeper’ by Paul Couch

John Down

John DownJohn grew up in Plymouth and graduated in American Studies from UEA. He has worked in Norwich and London in factories, theatre and, much to his surprise, fashion. John currently works for a mental health charity in Norwich. He has completed two courses with the Unthank School of Writing and his first short story, Roads, was published by Unthank Books last year. John has recently received funding from the Arts Council of England to support the writing of his first novel, British Teeth.

John is mentored by Kate Worsley.

Read an extract of ‘British Teeth’ byJohn Down

Sarah Gillett

Sara boothSarah was born in south London where her father was a GP. She qualified as a doctor and after working in many different specialities during training, became a consultant in palliative and supportive care both in hospice and hospital, as a clinician and researcher. Sarah is now very involved with campaigning to help those living with chronic illness to enjoy greater opportunities and have better health – using her dual experience as patient and doctor.

As well as writing, Sarah is a printmaker and textile artist who trained at the Curwen Studio, Linton, Gainsborough House in Sudbury and West Dean College, Sussex. She is married, has two adult children and lives in rural Essex with her husband and dog.

Sarah is mentored by Kate Worsley.

Read an extract from ‘The Dying Business’ by Sarah Gillett

Monique Guz

Monique GuzMonique Guz is a terrible millennial who grew up in a musical Eurasian household along the musical east coast of the United States. Her love of storytelling (poetry, prose, scriptwriting, screenwriting and journalism) and interests across the arts and humanities and natural and social sciences brought her overseas to London, where she met her Norwich illustrator husband. Having spent married life surviving a hostile environment all the way into citizenship, she is now concentrated on a pair of mixed-media novels about music, mental health, and identity in pre and post 9/11 America and pre and post Brexit Britain.

Monique is mentored by Megan Bradbury.

Read an extract of ‘Stray’ by Monique Guz

Steven Rayner

Steven RaynerBorn in Perth, Australia to two ‘Ten Pound Poms’, Steven’s parents decided that sunshine and natural beauty (or unforgiving heat and the deadliest everything) wasn’t for them and moved back to Derby when he was eight months old. He has yet to recover from such a pivotal ‘Sliding Doors’ moment.

After moving to Norwich in 1998 he has been variously a University Drop-out, Machine Operator and Postman. For the past 17 years, he’s been a full-time carer for his wife, Emma. He greatly enjoys strong coffee and too-hot baths but not the attendant headaches that follow.

Steven is mentored by Michael Donkor.

Read an extract of ‘The Sensitive’ by Steven Raynor

Jenny Twomey

Jenny TwomeyJenny Twomey lives in Norfolk with her partner and their two sons. Her short story ‘It Never Rains in Wycombe’ won 2nd Place in the Memoir category at the Winchester Writers’ Festival 2018. Her work has also been longlisted for the Mslexia Memoir Competition 2014, the Words and Women Prose Competition 2018 and the Fish Publishing Short Memoir Competition 2018. Jenny holds an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. She currently works for Suffolk Libraries.

Jenny is mentored by Megan Bradbury.

Read an extract from ‘Blurred Lines’ by Jenny Twomey

Shortlisted writers

Coco d’Hont, Jane Lomas, Nic Mira, Sam Reid and Peter Rose

Highly commended

Shirley Day and Sylvie Wheatley


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