The National Centre for Writing in Norwich is relaunching its Escalator Talent Development Scheme seeing under-represented voices in fiction from the East of England with a special focus this year on writers from working class backgrounds.
Now entering its 15th year, the writing programme is supported by the Arts Councils and has worked with almost 100 writers, helping launch the careers of Michael Donkor (published by 4th Estate), Megan Bradbury (Picador), Miranda Doyle (Faber), Guinevere Glasfurd-Brown (Hodder) and Kate Worsley (Bloomsbury)
The 2020 scheme is keen to receive applications from early career writers who self-identify as from a working class background, or writers who wouldn’t ordinarily have the opportunity to benefit from this kind of support, the National Centre for Writing (NCW) said. “Working class voices remain critically under-represented in contemporary fiction and NCW seeks to address this through Escalator and its talent development programme more broadly,” the Centre added. The Bookseller’s investigation into class earlier this year revealed that around 80% of people in the publishing industry who identify as working class their career has been adversely affected by their background.
Six successful applicants will receive a ten-month package of support including five sessions of one-to-one mentoring with an experienced writer; a retreat based at the NCE, Dragon Hall in Norwich as well as workshops and development sessions; and a showcase event with an audience of invited guests and industry professionals.
This year’s mentors are Megan Bradbury, Michael Donkor and Kate Worsley – all former alumni of the Escalator programme who have gone on to publish prize-winning novels.
Donkor, author of the Desmond Elliott-shortlisted debut Hold (4th Estate), was mentored by Daniel Hahn in 2015. He said: “I’m delighted to return to Escalator as a mentor and to have this chance to collaborate, share, learn with and learn from writers at this important stage in their careers. The Escalator scheme challenged and encouraged me to think about storytelling in radically new ways and I hope I can offer similarly energising and exciting ideas to my mentees.”
Peggy Hughes, programme director at NCW said: “Escalator offers talented new writers a series of opportunities to work with professional writers, meet people in the industry and spend time focusing on their work in a supported and creative way.
“This year we’re focusing on writers from working class backgrounds or backgrounds where access to the world of books and writers might otherwise be limited. We’re really excited to discover who will emerge from our region in the coming months.”
On Thursday evening (14th November), NCW showcased its cohort of writers on the 2019 Escalator scheme to an audience of agents and publishers, including reps from AM Heath, Blake Friedmann and Hodder & Stoughton. It took place at the Free Word Centre in London with the writers including: Mike Allen, Anni Domingo, Sam Hacking, Daniel Hickey, Rob Perry, Jon Ransom, Hannah Redding, Kellee Rich, Emily Slade and Tony Warner.
God’s Own Country author Ross Raisin said of his experience of mentoring on the scheme: “The Escalator scheme has been a very enjoyable experience for me. Observing my two writers, Rob and Emily, commit to and progress with their novels, energises my own practice and has given me the opportunity to get to know two lovely people, two ambitious writers, who should be proud of their achievements so far.”
The deadline for applications is 10th January 2020. For more details visit the National Centre for Writing website.
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