Writers’ Centre Norwich is thrilled to reveal the 10 winners of this year’s Escalator Talent Development scheme - singled out from hundreds of entries as the most exciting short story and novel writers to emerge from the East of England this year.

The impressive list includes a Netflix screenwriter, cosmology graduate and former TV and film writer for NME, who each seek support and advice to help them take the next step on their professional writing journey.

In alphabetical order, the winners are:

  • Terri Armstrong (Norfolk)
  • Dane Buckley (Essex)
  • Sarah Courtauld (Suffolk)
  • Sally Craythorne (Norfolk)
  • Alex Ivey (Norfolk)
  • Ingrid Jendrzejewski (Cambridgeshire)
  • Ellie Khojinian (Norfolk)
  • Owen Nicholls (Norfolk)
  • Rebecca Sollom (Cambridgeshire)
  • Sunitha Webster (Suffolk)

Six further shortlisted writers were highly commended by the judging panel: Eva Cheek, Claire Wade, Sophie Sellars, Adam Keogh, Samantha Allen and Claudia Lambert.

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 award-winning, critically-acclaimed writers Tahmima Anam, Yvvette Edwards, Benjamin Johncock, Cathy Rentzenbrink and Nikesh Shukla.

The winners met their mentors, and each other, for the first time at the inaugural Escalator event hosted at Writers’ Centre Norwich, Dragon Hall, on Saturday 20 May.

Novelist Rebecca Sollom from Cambridgeshire said:

‘It was a great day in great company at Dragon Hall, which is spectacular. It’s hugely exciting that I’ll have one-on-one support from Tahmima Anam, my mentor, as I tackle this challenging project.’

For the past decade, Escalator has supported over 90 writers in their creative projects, with many going on to sign with agents, publish and receive awards for their writing.

Past winners include Megan Bradbury, author of the acclaimed novel Everyone is Watching; Guy Saville, author of international bestseller The Afrika Reich; Nicola Upson, Tim Clare, Susan Sellers, Kate Worsley, Ruth Dugdall and Padrika Tarrant.

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).

Chris Gribble, chief executive of WCN said:

‘The remarkable quality and scope of applications received for Escalator this year demonstrates once again that literature is really thriving in the East of England. We are very pleased to welcome our new Escalatees to the scheme, and to Norwich as a UNESCO City of Literature, and look forward to working with them over the coming year.’

The Escalator Talent Development Scheme is supported by Arts Council England and the Leverhulme Trust.

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