We're pleased to announce the first two mentors attached to this year's Escalator Talent Development Scheme, who will form part of the judging panel for entries and will also offer practical advice and creative feedback to selected writers over the nine-month period.

Yvvette Edwards

Yvvette is a British Author of Montserratian origin, who grew up in Hackney and resides in East London. Her debut novel, A Cupboard Full of Coats, was nominated for a number of literary awards, including the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Man Booker Prize.  Her second novel, The Mother, was published in 2016. Yvvette is currently a judge for the new Jhalak Prize for fiction, and is returning for a second year as a mentor on Escalator.

Yvvette says:

'I can think of no greater resource for an emerging writer than access to a writer and mentor, someone interested in, focussed on, and invested in their development, happy to read their work and provide support, encouragement and advice, who has faced and overcome the obstacles to writing and finishing a piece of work, and is familiar with the struggle to remain motivated and focussed during what can be a long and solitary process.  The Escalator talent development scheme is an incredible, free, validating, potentially life-changing opportunity for emerging writers, and it’s a pleasure and a privilege to be returning as a mentor.'

Cathy Rentzenbrink

Cathy was born in Cornwall, grew up in Yorkshire and now lives in London, where she works as a writer and journalist. She is the author of the Sunday Times bestselling memoir The Last Act of Love, which was shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize. Cathy's new book, A Manual for Heartache, is published by Picador on 29 June 2017. Twitter

Cathy says:

'Last year I came and gave a talk to the Escalator programme and found it so enjoyable and stimulating that I didn't want to leave. I'm delighted to be a mentor for this year. One of the things I really miss about having a proper job is taking an interest in other people's development so I'm very excited to be working with writers on their books in progress.'

Cathy is also taking part in an event at Norfolk & Norwich Festival 2017 with Max Porter and Richard Beard.

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