Announcing the ten writers selected for Escalator 2022
‘They are united in the singularity of their talent and the warm authority with which they invite their reader to dive into their stories’

We are thrilled to reveal the ten winners of this year’s Escalator Talent Development scheme – a programme for East Anglian writers whose voices are under-represented on UK bookshelves.

Now in its sixteenth year, the year-long scheme is open to unpublished fiction writers living in the Eastern region (Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk).

Ben Cartwright, from a rural village in North Norfolk, is one of the successful writers on this year’s programme. He said:

‘I’m really looking forward to being part of a group of writers, and a community at the National Centre for Writing. As an outsider, the publishing industry can seem really overwhelming. I know that the resources that Escalator and the National Centre for Writing offers will not only help me to be the best writer I can be, but they will also help me to navigate the world of agents, publishers and the nitty gritty of turning the dream of being a published fiction writer, into a possibility.’

Another successful writer is Isabelle Higgins, from Cambridge. She said:

‘I am absolutely delighted to have been awarded a place on this year’s Escalator mentee scheme and am so grateful to all involved in the programme. I am really looking forward to meeting the other mentees and working with my mentor, Yvvette Edwards, over the coming months.’

In alphabetical order, the 2021/22 winners are:

  • Melody Bowles
  • Ben Cartwright
  • Shirley Day
  • Isabelle Higgins
  • Adam Leeder
  • Joanna Miller
  • Carrie Patten
  • Rick Roydes
  • Mark Stocker
  • Bang Wang

Read more about each writer here →

A further five writers were highly commended: Celeste Goschen, Donna McCluskie, Kate Scotland, Nigel Tuck, Kaveri Ann Woodward.

Flo Reynolds, Programme Manager at the National Centre for Writing said:

‘The quality of entries to this year’s Escalator programme was exceptionally high, and I’d like to thank all the writers who entered for sharing their artistry and ambition with us. Their contributions made the judging as rewarding as it was challenging.

‘After reading, rereading, and deliberating our mentors arrived at their chosen winners. In their samples of writing, the winners took us from modern-day LA to 1920s Oxford via post-revolution China, and through experimental stream-of-consciousness to feel-good fiction with a dash of fantasy. Though their styles and concerns as writers are various, they are united in the singularity of their talent and the warm authority with which they invite their reader to dive into their stories. I’m hugely looking forward to working with them all as they take this next step in their writing careers.’

Over the next 10 months, each writer will receive a package of support including one-to-one mentoring from established writers, a residential retreat with tailored development workshops, peer support and a final showcase to agents and publishers.

This year’s mentors are Megan Bradbury, Michael Donkor, Yvvette Edwards, Owen Nicholls and Kate Worsley – nearly all of whom are former alumni of the Escalator programme who have gone on to publish prize-winning and critically acclaimed novels.

The winners met their mentors, and each other, for the first time at the inaugural Escalator event hosted at the National Centre for Writing, Dragon Hall, on Saturday 27 November 2021.

Escalator is one of NCW’s longest-running programmes. For the past 16 years it has supported over 100 writers in their creative projects, with many going on to sign with agents, publish and receive awards for their writing. It is a unique opportunity offered exclusively to short story and novel writers living in the Eastern region of England (Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk).

Following a successful fundraising campaign and generous donations from the Amazon Literary Partnership, The Lady Hind Trust and the public, this year’s Escalator scheme is able to run with a full cohort of ten writers. This will also be the second year that we have run the programme in a ‘hybrid’ format, making the most of both online platforms and opportunities to meet up in person.

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