Mentoring and development for early-career fiction writers in the East of England

Escalator is the National Centre for Writing’s flagship talent development scheme. We offer emerging writers from the East of England the chance to develop their work through an inspiring programme of professional mentoring, as well as creating opportunities for networking and industry skills sessions, to equip writers for the professional reality of a career as an author.

The region is made up of a diverse society of people, and supporting writers who are under-represented on UK bookshelves has become a core objective of the project. 

Escalator has been running since 2004 and to date has supported more than 130 writers, many of whom have gone on to sign with agents, publish and win awards and critical recognition for their novels and short stories.

Meet the writers

Discover the winners of the Escalator 2023/24 programme, who will be mentored by Michael Donkor, Yvvette Edwards, Ashley Hickson-Lovence and Kate Worsley over the next eight months.

Meet the writers

Meet the mentors

Meet the established writers who will be guiding our 2023/24 Escalator winners through eight months of mentoring.

Find out more

What do participating writers receive?

  • Eight months of mentoring; five one-to-one exchanges between writer and mentor, to review work, discuss challenges and set goals
  • A year’s membership to the Society of Authors
  • Group networking and support sessions from the NCW team and fellow Escalator writers
  • Subsidised places on NCW workshops, courses and masterclasses
  • Industry insights session exploring the practical and emotional aspects of publishing
  • An opportunity to showcase work to agents, publishers and industry professionals
  • A film and other materials to help showcase and promote writing in future
  • Paid travel expenses for the in-person Welcome Day and showcase events

Who can apply?

Escalator is open to writers of fiction at the beginning of their careers, who are unpublished and do not have an agent. You must be based in the East of England (Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk) to participate.

For 2022-23 we particularly welcomed applications from writers who identify as LGBTQI+ and/or whose ethnicity is under-represented on UK bookshelves. We offered at least 50% of places to writers who identify as such.

The Escalator scheme does essential work to support writers both practically and creatively at a critical point in their writing lives.

Sarah Perry FRSL, author and NCW Patron

Donate to Escalator: Support new writing talent

100% of your donation goes to Escalator. It will discover new voices and new stories.

Choose an amount: £0

Escalator: Discover the campaign

Receive a FREE literary screen print, handmade in Norwich, when you donate £5 or more to Escalator.

Four Escalator screenprints.

Applications will reopen in 2024

We will open applications for our 2024/25 programme in mid-July 2024. Please subscribe to the NCW newsletter and check back here for updates.

Details on how to apply

I applied for Escalator believing I had some ability, but not really knowing what to do with it. Through the workshops, networking, mentoring and opportunities to share my writing, I have grown into someone who feels so much more confident. I have felt part of a community of wonderfully creative people. And I feel happy, finally, to call myself a writer.

Escalator winner, 2021-22

Not from the region?

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

With thanks to

Escalator is generously funded by Arts Council England, Amazon Literary Partnership, Authors Licensing & Collecting Society, Garrick Charitable Trust, The Golsoncott Foundation, Laura Kinsella Foundation and donors of NCW’s Escalator fundraising campaign.

Having the forum and opportunity to talk to someone about my writing and writing intentions was invaluable. I felt I could draw on the insight and experience of my mentor whilst maintaining ownership of my writing; to build on self belief and strengthen my own judgement.

Escalator winner, 2021-22