Meet the six writers selected for Escalator 2022-2023
Our writers were mentored by Michael Donkor, Yvvette Edwards and Kate Worsley.
Miriam Balanescu is a writer based in Cambridgeshire, who is interested in the borders between prose and poetry. She has had stories published in Stand, streetcake and The Airgonaut and has been longlisted for the Alpine Fellowship. Her current project, a novel made up of prose poems and exploring the work of Romanian authors of the 20th century whose work has been forgotten, has been shortlisted for the TLC Pen Factor Competition, the Jewish Book Week Emerging Writer Award and longlisted for the Moniack Mhor Emerging Writer Award. Aside from writing stories in her spare time, Miriam works as a culture journalist and has written for the likes of BBC Culture, the Economist and the Observer.
Siobhan Costello grew up in Dublin, Ireland and now lives with her husband in Cambridgeshire. She has an MA in Creative Writing from ARU. Siobhan was longlisted for the Retreat West First Chapter competition and also selected for a Date with an Agent as part of International Literary Festival Dublin, both in 2020. She has been shortlisted three times for Escalator and is now delighted to have been selected for the mentoring programme. Siobhan is now writing her third historical fiction novel.
Sibi Datta is a British-Indian woman who retired a few years ago from a full-time career in Science. Although she had always ‘scribbled’, retirement and the isolation imposed by the pandemic gifted her the time to nurture her desire to develop further as a writer.
She comes from a background of disruption of histories and of emigration and immigration. Her parents left the Subcontinent when India was partitioned and settled in Uganda, where she was born. The family became refugees again when they left Uganda to settle in Britain. To her this offers a rich ground for fictions, and she is aiming to write linked short stories, or perhaps a longer account, delving into lives and stories spanning three continents and very different cultures. She is thrilled to be offered the chance to work on this project with support from a mentor during the Escalator programme.
Ever since his student days at the London School of Economics, George Harrison has paid the rent with writing work. He cut his teeth as a feature writer at a national newspaper, but he quit the newsroom in 2019 to focus on longer-form projects as a ghost writer and editor. Since then, he has worked primarily with other people’s words, collaborating on memoirs with white-collar criminals, South African spies and professional golfers. Now, having drafted a bookshelf’s worth of novels and enough query letters to wallpaper Dragon Hall, George would like to see his own name on the cover of a book.
George’s fiction, like all fiction, is about love, isolation, and what it means to be alive today. He is particularly interested in exploring the contemporary working-class experience, and he admires writing with a strong sense of place. He is inspired by authors like Cormac McCarthy, Sylvia Plath, J. G. Ballard and Sally Rooney. A big Norwich City fan, when he is not reading in Bread Source or mooching around the Fine City, George can usually be found at Carrow Road.
Richard Queensborough has spent the past two decades educating primary aged children in Norwich (often squeezing into the timetable opportunities to tell his own original stories). Born in Birmingham and raised in the Handsworth area, he has traversed the country (via Shropshire and Bristol) before settling in Norfolk. Richard has written successful scripts for school stage productions, directed conceptual Shakespeare performances at the Playhouse Norwich and has also directed many short amateur films. As a reader, Richard is a fan of fantasy, science fiction and military history and weaves these elements into his own tales that often concern the lives of children growing up in impoverished urban communities.
Debbie Vince began writing in earnest in her fifties when she moved to Norwich. Over a period of eight years, she attended a wide range of courses and workshops to learn the craft of creative writing.
For her first novel, Debbie draws on her lived experience of marriage, business ownership, motherhood and divorce to weave a fictional narrative depicting the life struggles and mental fragility of a woman in crisis.
Debbie loves being around horses and finds that riding frees her mind. She values time with her family and her wide social circle. She also enjoys the stimulus of collaboration with fellow writers and hosts a regular forum for readings and exchange of ideas.
Watch the 2023 Showcase
Escalator 22-23 was generously funded by Amazon Literary Partnership and donors of the ‘Escalator Needs Your Help’ campaign.
I was so excited to be offered a place on the prestigious Escalator programme and to find myself in the company of such talented writers. I look forward to this unique opportunity to grow as a writer with the support of my mentor, and to familiarise myself with the industry in the hope of being published one day.