Meet the Escalator mentors

The Escalator Talent Development Scheme offers emerging writers from the East of England the chance to develop their work through an inspiring programme of professional mentoring.

Meet the mentors for this year’s cohort, who will form part of the judging panel for entries and will also offer practical advice and creative feedback to selected writers over the eight-month period.

Michael Donkor

Michael Donkor studied English at Wadham College, Oxford, undertook a Masters in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway and now teaches English Literature at St Paul’s Girls’ School in London. The Observer named him as one of 2018’s best debut authors for his first novel Hold (4th Estate). This year he was longlisted for the International Dylan Thomas Prize and shortlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize. Twitter

Image © David Yiu

Yvvette Edwards

Yvvette Edwards is a British East Londoner of Montserratian origin and author of two novels, A Cupboard Full of Coats and The Mother. Her short stories have been published in anthologies and broadcast on radio. Her work has been nominated for a number of literary awards including the Booker Prize. She is particularly interested in writing that challenges the single narrative, giving voice to characters who are absent or under-represented in contemporary fiction. Yvvette was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2020.

Ashley Hickson-Lovence

Ashley Hickson-Lovence is a novelist, poet, lecturer in English and Creative Writing and researcher. His debut novel The 392 was published with OWN IT! in April 2019 and his second novel Your Show was released with Faber in April 2022 and was longlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize and shortlisted for the East Anglian Book Awards. His third book, a young adult novel-in-verse called Wild East, is to be released with Penguin in 2024. He is currently completing a new novel called About to Fall Apart.

Since completing his PGCE at UCL Institute of Education in 2014, Ashley has taught English in secondary schools at Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5. He completed his MA in Creative Writing and Publishing with a Distinction from City, University of London in 2017 and in October 2018 started his AHRC CHASE-funded PhD in Creative and Critical Writing at the University of East Anglia.

Image © Peter Arkley-Bloxham

Kate Worsley

Born in Preston, Lancashire, Kate Worsley studied English at University College London and has a Creative Writing MA from City, University of London. Her first novel She Rises (Bloomsbury) won the HWA Debut Crown and the New Angle Prize for Literature and was shortlisted for the Lambda Literary Prize for Lesbian Fiction in the US. After winning an Escalator Literature Award in 2012, she received a Grant for the Arts towards her second novel Foxash (Tinder Press, Headline, April 2023). She has worked at the University of Essex as RLF Writing Fellow and at City, University of London as a lecturer in creative writing.

Image © Rick Pushinsky

Past Escalator mentors

Megan Bradbury, Owen Nicholls, Diran Adebayo, Tahmina Anam, Sally Cline, Natasha Cooper, Jill Dawson, Yvvette Edwards, Bernardine Evaristo, Midge Gillies, Danny Hahn, Shelley Harris, Tobias Hill, Joanna Hines, Kerry Hudson, Benjamin Johncock, Anjali Joseph, Gillian McClure, Katherine McMahon, Courttia Newland, Alex Preston, Kate Pullinger, David Rain, Ross Raisin, Cathy Rentzenbrink, Amy Sackville, Guy Saville, Nikesh Shukla, Michelle Spring, Cathi Unsworth, Hayley Webster.