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As Good As It Gets? A Guest Blog from Kate Worsley
Kate Worsley, 2011/12 Escalator Literature Competition winner, blogs about her road to publication. Her debut novel, She Rises, is published on the 14th March. (Congratulations, Kate!)
'Now, listen to me,' said my neighbour, a mature and wise novelist, when I'd stopped hugging him with glee at having finally, finally, properly and conclusively finished my first novel. 'This is as good as it gets, trust me. This feeling. Whatever success you may or may not have, nothing feels quite as good as this moment.'
I was happy with that.
I'd written the bulk of my historical romp She Rises while on City University's Creative Writing MA (Novels) 2008-2010, just as the recession hit. Visiting literary agents could not have been more downbeat. 'If someone says they've slashed their list by 30% they mean 60%.' 'I offered an advance of £300 recently.' Etc, etc.
The one positive lesson I took away was knowing that She Rises had to be the very best it could be before I sent it out, even to the two agents who had expressed interest after the course showcase. Getting it to that point took another seven or so months, during which both the patience of everyone around me,– and my funds – were finally running out. In February 2011, I hugged my neighbour hard, and sent it to agent no. 1.
She got back to me three months later with an apology for taking so long. And a no. On my birthday. But she was kind enough to explain her reasons, and so I set about revising She Rises again. A friend convinced me to send it next to an agent he knew: 'It's just her sort of thing.' I sent it off in July and tried to get on with the next book.
I heard from her in late September. 'The subject matter of the novel doesn’t particularly interest me, therefore I wouldn’t be the best agent for you.' Not much revising to be done on the basis of that feedback.
The next day I sent She Rises to the other agent who had expressed interest well over a year ago. A week later she emailed: 'I thought this was amazing. It is so accomplished and pretty much unputdownable. I LOVED it and I would love to represent you.'
She sent it out that same week – Frankfurt was looming – to 18 editors. 'Just about everyone,' she said cheerfully. I felt like I'd bet all my chips at once.
Over the course of the next six weeks every single editor said no. In November, in an effort to move on – and access the Arts Council grant I'd failed so miserably to apply for on my own – I applied for Escalator to work on book two. Just before Christmas, I met one editor who wanted me to write an new beginning, cut 40k words, and he might consider it. I began revisions and started selling books and clothes on ebay.
Then, in January 2012 I was accepted onto Escalator. And in February Bloomsbury acquired She Rises for the UK and US.
My Escalator mentor, Tobias Hill, could not have done a better job of initially reboosting my confidence, and later of guiding me through what has been a sometimes overwhelming experience and into book two. The support of my fellow Escalatees has been invaluable, really.
Of course getting published is very 'validating'. It's great being told your work is great, and has found a loving home (and not having to sell the entire contents of your house on ebay).
But my neighbour was right.
More About Kate
I applied to 2011's Escalator programme by submitting an extract from my first novel She Rises, which I had written while on the City University Creative Writing MA 2008-10. I had already picked up an agent, Veronique Baxter at David Higham Associates, who had sent She Rises to 18 publishers, all of whom had rejected it. But then, in the space of a few weeks, not only did Bloomsbury come back with an offer for She Rises but I was also offered a place on Escalator. This could not have come at a better time. My mentor Tobias Hill was a font of wisdom on how to deal with being published for the first time, and the tricky 'second-book syndrome'. Thanks to Escalator, I'm now well launched on my second book, while Bloomsbury is publishing She Rises in the UK on 14 March and the US on 18 June 2013. David Higham has also sold audio-book rights.
Follow Kate on Twitter @KHWorsley
Find out more about She Rises.
Take a look at the Escalator winners from 2012/13 and 2011/12.
Story and Sugar- A Guest Blog from Escalator Winner James Ferron Anderson
James Ferron Anderson won a place on our 2006-2007 Escalator Literature Scheme and a TLC Free Read in 2011. His novel, The River and the Sea, was published by Rethink Press last year, after winning the Rethink Press New Novel Award.
Of course: we live by story. I want bread… and there’s a story there of me having the desire for bread, having no bread, planning to get bread. Not the most complex story. It goes on. What kind of bread? Will the shop have bread? Will this story have a happy ending? Well, it’s got a few layers. I tell myself stories of my hopes, fears, loves, hatreds, miseries, pleasures, and then buy into them.
This is the platitude that we…I, rather… understand and misunderstand our worlds through story. That realization came early, and that to explore these stories and the motivation behind them would be to understand the world better, and Jesus knows I needed that, sharpish.
But there was another level to which it could be taken: stories constructed with no illusion that what was being made had reality, that nebulous thing. The intentionally-made story, about people who never existed, doing things I usually had no experience of in places I probably had never been. An amalgam of the experienced and the read about. And unlike the story of the bread, and the few thousand other stories I’d tell myself every day, these I might choose to exhibit.
One of the first short stories I sent off anywhere, The Bog Menagerie, won the Bryan McMahon Short Story Award in Listowel, County Kerry and 2000 euro. When the letter came I phoned up a friend and read it to him. Is this a hoax? Think about those words in the letter… really carefully… I’ll read it again… Is this a fraud of some kind? I was shaking. I was shaking because if it was real somebody else had valued my plaything, my toy, my tool for trying to figure out what the hell was going on around me.
I never knew affirmation mattered until I got it.
I had a novel underway. It had been underway for four or five years. A novel is a heavy-duty JCB-tooled project in the world of story-telling construction. I submitted it for an Escalator Award. I got it. I remember being asked by Leila Telford to write a few words about how it felt. I said the affirmation mattered, the money mattered, the mentor mattered, the class on 'Reading in Public' mattered, the sometime company of the other winners mattered, the kudos for applying to an agent mattered. What part of it didn’t matter?
Yet I didn’t need Escalator to keep me working with words, incidents, relationships, consequences: the making-up of stuff. I wrote because the act of writing, even when frustrating, was always better than not writing. But what this award did was a magnified version of the Listowel and other awards: it took me out of the back room and kept the idea of making connections with readers via the page and its contents foregrounded. Of course writers benefit from sugar lumps that in various ways keep the pony trotting. My Escalator Award was more than a sugar lump (or a loaf of bread) in keeping me on the road that linked my images to the minds of others and not galloping off across the bogs and mires of solipsism. We can only thrive, if that is the word, for so long on neglect. We can only thrive so long in isolation. When I did take a slump in motivation a couple of years later a TLC Free Read Award shoved me back up onto my particular road.
I went on to write The River and The Sea
. It won the Rethink Press New Novels Award, and was published in November 2012. It’s a wonderful book, and I’m very pleased. I’m currently working on the provisionally titled Terminal City
, a rather noir love story set in Vancouver in 1940 and 1959. It’s going slowly but it’s going. Long may the pony trot.
More About James'
I was born in Northern Ireland where I worked as a weaver, glassblower and soldier. I moved to Norwich, partly to study but mostly to get my children away from the violence that was Northern Ireland in those years. I began to write in different forms, including poetry, short stories, plays and, more recently, novels. One of my first short stories, The Bog Menagerie
, won the Bryan MacMahon Short Story Award and 2000 euro in my native Ireland. All The Whole Wide World
, another short story, was broadcast on Short Story Radio. The River and The Sea
won the Rethink Press New Novels Award in 2012, and was published soon after.
Visit James' website.
Vampires, Ghosts, and Pickpockets- Congratulations to the 2012/13 Escalator Winners!
In 2012 we asked genre writers to submit their best writing to our Escalator Literature Competition. We were on the look-out for high quality genre writing, including interesting mash-ups, and were overwhelmed by the response and calibre of the entries.
After much deliberation, our esteemed panel of judges managed to whittle down the submissions and chose ten deserving winners and three commended writers. So, with no further ado, here are our winners.
The Escalator Winners are:
Find out more about the winning writers, and read an extract from their work.
The Commended Writers are:
Read their biographies and an extract of their writing.
So What Do They Win?
The Escalator winners will each receive a year’s worth of professional development, giving them the opportunity to grow as a writer. The prize includes a mentorship with an established professional writer- this year the Escalator mentors are Tobias Hill, Natasha Cooper, Cathi Unsworth, David Rain and Michelle Spring. The winners will also benefit from a series of professional development workshops, peer support, advice on applying for an Arts Council England grant and will finish their year of mentorship with a showcase event in London.
Our past Escalator winners include Guy Saville
, Nicola Upson
, and Kate Worsley,
so we can’t wait to see what this year’s winners achieve!
Find out more about Escalator.
Find out more about the winning writers, and read an extract from their work.
Why Enter Our Escalator Literature Writing Competition?
More to the point, why wouldn’t you enter Escalator? Escalator isn’t your ordinary writing competition- it offers so much more than prize money or a one-off publication. Escalator helps you develop as a writer, and it offers you the tools to carve out a writing career. Open to genre writers living in the East of England, Escalator is looking for high-quality entries.
If you are one of our ten Escalator winners (that gives you pretty good odds by the way) then you get a years mentorship with an established professional writer. This year’s judges and mentors are Natasha Cooper, Tobias Hill, David Rain Michelle Spring and Cathi Unsworth. (Read their biographies)
You will also receive a series of professional development workshops, which will help you improve your writing, and navigate the tricky route towards publication. Of course, your fellow Escalatees will also provide peer support, and feedback, meaning that you always have your fellow winners to depend on.
Wait, there’s more!
Writers’ Centre Norwich will give you advice on how to apply for Arts Council grants, and coach you through the process as well as helping you with the always intimidating form-filling. Your work will also benefit from exposure to agents and publishers.
And after you’ve completed your year’s mentorship, you get to celebrate. Last years winners commemorated their achievement at Foyles, in the company of agents, publishers and of course, WCN staff. There are some lovely pictures from the launch, and an account of the evening on our latest news page.
Still not sure whether or not to enter?
Three of our past Escalator winners have very kindly each written us a blog which combined, are sure to convince you. Hayley Webster writes about how Escalator helped her discover her writing style, and made her realise that she didn’t have to conform to others expectations of her writing. Belona Greenwood blogged about how winning Escalator meant she could make her living from words, and Emma Sweeney’s piece is a moving exploration of her writing motivation.
This year we’re looking for entries from genre writers living in the East of England (that’s Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk).
Whether you’ve completed your novel or just begun it, we’re looking to see your entries! Send in your best piece of work by Wednesday 28th November 5pm.
And remember, we’re looking for genre writing, so crime, thriller, horror, fantasy, science-fiction, romance, historical fiction, genre mash-ups and a whole host of other genres are all welcome.
Visit our Escalator homepage to find out more.
Past Escalator Winner Hayley Webster Blogs About Finding Her Writing Style
Hayley Webster, Escalator winner in 2005, has kindly written us a blog about her writing experiences:
I remember how I felt when I found out I'd won an Escalator award. Jubilant, excited, and a bit scared. Maybe a bit smug too, although I wouldn't have admitted that. I had about ten pages of Jar Baby written and no plan of where it was going. I like to write without planning, to surprise myself, but being backed by a prize felt very serious. Which, it turned out, was a good thing.
I'd already been writing for a long time when I got the award. I had been a magazine journalist and completed my MA in Creative Writing at UEA the year before. The best thing about Escalator was the time it gave me to dedicate to writing nearly the whole book, and also the chance I had to meet some really inspiring and interesting other writers. It also gave me an extra boost to be 'taken seriously'. Filling in the grant forms was hellish – but being an Escalator winner meant we had help with that. Which, for me who can barely read a train timetable, was invaluable.
Having 6 months to do nothing but write was wonderful, challenging and, in the end a struggle for me – which was another benefit of Escalator – it helped me find the sort of writer I am, and helped me get into a rhythm that suited me.
I think, the best advice a published writer can give an unpublished one is that there are no exact rules or ways of getting published. You have to be honest with yourself about the sort of person and sort of writer you are. We met various agents and publishers through my MA and Escalator but I met my publisher, Robert Hastings of Dexter Haven, at a reading I was doing, unrelated to Escalator. We signed a three book deal. I am lucky to have found a publisher who champions and 'gets' the work. This is invaluable too.
You hear the advice 'write 1000 words a day, without fail, if you are serious about writing'. I've never done that. During Escalator I discovered I like to write nothing for two months. Then 10,000 words in three days. Then some serious editing. Then maybe nothing for four months. Then another 10,000 words. I'm happy with that. At least I will be when I've finished the next one...
Hayley Webster was born in 1977 and grew up in Burghclere, Hampshire and Thatcham, Berkshire. She is a graduate of the prestigious MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, where she was awarded a distinction. She was given an Escalator Award for Literature in 2005 and the writing of Jar Baby was backed by Arts Council East, who gave her a grant in 2006 to help in its completion. She has worked in women’s magazines, and now lives in Norfolk with her family. Jar Baby was released on the 25th October of this year.
Follow Hayley on Twitter.
Find out more about Escalator Literature Competition, currently open for entries. (Closing date 28th November)
Agents, Authors and Canapes: Escalator 2012 Showcase
On Thursday the 18th of October Writers’ Centre Norwich held our launch party for the Escalator 2011/12 winners. All of our Escalator winners attended, and read a short extract from their work. The 11/12 Escalator winners are all writers of high quality literary novels.
This year’s Escalator Launch was our most popular yet- we even had to get extra chairs out for impromptu arrivals! Michelle Spring
, chair of the Escalator selection panel, introduced Keith Packer
(or KJ Packer) and Armando Celayo
. Over the year Keith has been working on a novel called Ringmaster
, set in a Victorian travelling fair. Armando read an extract from his piece For the Recovery of Lost Things
which explores loss and love through the immigrant experience.
introduced Erin Soros
, who read from Hook Tender
, a novel set in an logging camp during the Second World War. Katherine then presented Guinevere Glasfurd-Brown
read from her novel XYZ
, transporting the audience to 17th Century Holland.
and Teresa Rogers
were introduced glowingly by Joanna Hines.
Elaine, a former journalist, read from Between the Lies
, a novel which explores the vicious nature of tabloid journalism through one woman’s plight. Teresa Rogers’ reading was lively, and full of expression, bringing her novel in progress, A Present from Shypden
, into the room with us.
The break brought chit-chat, mingling, canapés and prosecco. The Escalator Showcase gave the Escalatees the opportunity to show off their writing to their friends and family as well to present their work to the agents and publishers in attendance. The room was so full that it was difficult to navigate from one side to the other- never a bad thing at an event.
After the break, Tobias Hill
introduced BTI Larsson
and Kate Worsley.
BTI read from the woods
, a chilling story of a murdered child, which slips easily into the Scandinavian crime genre while redefining it. Kate Worsley read from her novel She Rises
, which has already been acquired by Bloomsbury and is due to be published in March of next year.
Bernadine Evaristo introduced our last two readers of the evening. Shereen Tadros’ novel, This Broken Reed, is set in 1950’s Alexandria, a time now known as the first Egyptian Revolution. This has particular resonance for Shereen, due to her Egyptian heritage. Rebecca Atkinson is currently working on her debut novel Collecting Faces, which is partially based on her former Guardian Weekend column.
Applause followed the readings. Chris Gribble, CEO of Writers’ Centre Norwich, took to the stage next to congratulate the winners of Escalator 2011/12, thank the mentors for all of their hard work and advice, and thank Arts Council, East for funding, supporting and promoting the Escalator Literature Programme.
The rest of the evening was dedicated to photo-taking, writing-talk, dissecting plot-holes and brokering book deals- so we’re looking forward to hearing about everything that our Escalator winners achieve.
A big thank you to everyone who attended, and huge congratulations to our Escalatees!
Thanks also to all of those who tweeted about the Foyles event. You can find us on @WritersCentre
if you'd like to get in touch via twitter.
Up the Escalator: Two Years On
Belona Greenwood has very kindly written us a blog about her experience of being an Escalator winner and how it changed her writing career:
I don’t know if it is a writer thing but I find it very uncomfortable when I tot up the passage of time. I have always managed to smudge the edges of dates, forget the anniversaries of things, lose my way in any calculation of when and where so it comes as a shock to realise that two years have passed since my year of mentoring on the Escalator scheme.
My still-ongoing book is a creative non-fiction book, Shadow Madonnas, an Exploration of the Map of Spite; a history of unmarried mothers. My Escalator year was invaluable but nipped past at quite a rate. The danger is that research flowers into procrastination. Personally too, in those two years I struggled with writing my own narrative as a single mother as the spine on which to hang the histories of others. I have now turned the book on its head and I am writing it as a lively account of the lives of others. I watch very carefully the new months that pass and impose new deadlines on myself. It is a relief that although some books do get written very quickly with knife-sharp focus, some take years to complete. It is a relief that I am not alone in having to answer the question, ‘is it finished yet?’ and say almost sheepishly, ‘No, not yet, ‘I’m still writing it.’ After a while nobody asks anymore and in a perverse kind of way there is a freedom in that sideline state and the only pressure on its long walk to the final full stop is my own.
For those of us of an impatient nature, I think it takes a particular ability not to panic but to hold back and keep faith with a long project. It is easy to feel scared as those years creep past and a book is still not ready to slip into the current of words streaming into publication. Sometimes, I do panic, other times I add up everything else I am doing and don’t give myself such a hard time.
Since my Escalator year I have been lucky to earn my living with words in one form or another. I have written a non-fiction How To Write A Play book, thousands of words on features, plays and a children’s novel for 9-12 year olds, The Circus of Miracles, finally edited and broken into chapters. Writing features for the excellent, independent Norwich Magazine and for a less excellent lifestyle magazine plus a monthly column with an Italian Magazine, has been like a flexing of writing muscle, a daily workout. Writing plays is a passion and my world is happily full of words. The trick I am still trying to work out is how to make sure it is also full of the time I need for the diet of writing that has a deadline measured in years rather than weeks or days.
The Writers’ Centre is a great support for emerging writers because it doesn’t measure your work only on short timescales. What a relief! It keeps faith in all the chrysalids it has seen start the transformative process into professional writers.
Our new Escalator Literature Writing Competition will be opening soon. Keep an eye on the Escalator homepage and sign up for our e-newsletter to be the first in the know.
Escalator Fiction: Meet our Ten Winning Writers
At last we have our ten winning writers!View biogs and read extracts of their writing.
Before I introduce you, let’s begin with a quick rundown on how they got here, and what they have to look forward to.
In October 2011 we once again put the call out to talented, unpublished novelists from the East of England, asking them to submit their writing for the Escalator Fiction Competition. Rather than the usual cash prize normally associated with literary competitions, the winners enjoy a year’s worth of development from professional writers including one-to-one mentoring and professional development workshops, culminating in a showcase event in London in September 2012. Not bad, eh?
It’s a unique offer, so we were absolutely delighted to receive the highest number of Escalator applications yet, and not only that, the quality across the board was outstanding.
Escalator winners have a satisfying habit of impressing agents and publishers (previous winners include Guy Saville, Helen Ivory, Ruth Dugdall, Susan Sellers and Nicola Upson) and our judges/mentors and all here at WCN have no doubt this year’s winners will follow in their tracks.
Enough of the context, let’s meet our winners.
Our Ten 2011/12 Escalator Literature Novel Writing Competition Winners Are:
K J Packer
Commended Writers Are:
Mary Jane Riley
We’ll be keeping you up-to-date with their progress throughout the year and beyond. If you have any questions about our winners or the Escalator scheme, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
More Good News: Catching Up With Escalator Writer Liz Ferretti
"I would never have even thought about writing without Escalator!"
One of the nicest parts of my job is the constant flow of updates that ping into the WCN inbox from past Escalator graduates as to their progress.
The writers update us on their literary developments which makes for gratifying reading, and quite perks one up (especially if what you're working on is Access Database related).
This news is just in from Elizabeth Ferretti, who went through the Escalator Literature programme in 2007. Rather than paraphrase her news, here it is direct from Liz herself:
"Having 'finished' Archipelago at the end of this summer I started sending it out into the big wide world. Last week, I found out that the novel has been longlisted for the Mslexia Novel Competition. I was doubly pleased when Guy Saville told me that 100 books had been longlisted out of 1800 entries! I have also been shortlisted for a competition run by Words With Jam. The extract I sent in will be published in the December issue I think.
The book is currently with an agent who I am waiting to hear from...
I always think with great gratitude of the work you all did for me through Escalator...I would never have even thought about writing without Escalator!"
Ahhhh. Warm glow.
If you're someone who'd like to join the long list of Escalator Alumni who continue to perk us all up with their good news, then it's not too late to get on board the 20011/12 Escalator Fiction Competition.
Deadline November 29th. Come on - what are you waiting for?
The Escalator Literature Fiction Competition is Open!
Deadline: Tuesday 29th November
Yes, that’s right, Escalator Literature is back. A year of delicious literary development could be yours and this time we’re looking at you, fiction writers!
If you’re resident in the East region, write high quality long-form fiction and think that a period of structured support would enable you to develop artistically then read on – we look forward to hearing from you.
Enter the Escalator Literature Fiction Competition
"Thank you for all the wonderful events and opportunities to learn along the way. These were terrific days, greatly appreciated, always inspirational, and insightfully chosen.”
Martin Ungless, Winner 2009/10
Are You A Novelist Ready To Get Professional?
The Escalator Literature is a unique writing competition which offers you much more than the usual cash prize.
About the Competition
Open now, the Escalator Literature Competition 2011 is for you if you are a novelist from the East of England who wants to get professional. Enter now if you think you would benefit from:
• One-To-One Mentoring
A year’s worth of support from professional writers (Tobias Hill, Joanna Hines, Bernardine Evaristo, Katharine McMahon and Michelle Spring) – invaluable. Read their biogs here.
• Supported Applications For Grant
You will be coached through an application for an Arts Council England Grant for the Arts award.
• Professional Development Workshops
A tailored range of workshops designed to give you the information you need to get ahead in the writing world.
• Introductions To Agents and Publishers
Your work will be introduced to agents, publishers and other industry professionals and you will take part in a special London reception at the end of the year promoting you and your work.
• Peer Support
Across 2012, ten winning fiction writers will be supported through Escalator Literature. Many of our Escalator graduates are still in touch with their group and find it of invaluable benefit to go through the year talking to each other.
The Escalator Literature Fiction Competition is open now. Submissions must reach us by Tuesday 29th November.
Escalator Literature is an Arts Council funded initiative and has been running for six years. Many Escalator Literature prize winners have gone on to find agents and get published: Guy Saville, Helen Ivory, Susan Sellers and Nicola Upson are all graduates of the scheme.
Case Study: Guy Saville
“So, four years on from winning Escalator, things couldn’t be going better. Now all I need to do is finish book two...”
“Afrika Reich did really well in hardback, selling more than 10,000 copies which makes me the 11th best selling debut of 2011. It also reached number three in Spain’s charts (no doubt helped by a week long publicity tour of Madrid and Barcelona) and the paperback has also got off to a flying start. All in all, not bad for a book which the majority of publishers in this country said had no commercial appeal!...I’ve also just had some more good news... The book has now sold to America in a major two-book deal with Henry Holt, part of Macmillan. It will be published next year in the US.”
Who Can Apply?
We welcome applications from writers of ambitious, high quality long-form fiction, which may include genre or teen novels but not children’s or non-fiction. Escalator Literature is open to writers currently resident in the East of England, who think that a period of structured support would enable them to develop artistically. Successful applicants will demonstrate considerable creative talent and potential for development and will commit to the Escalator Literature scheme and the work they undertake as part of it.
• Be over the age of 18 years old
• Be resident in the East of England (Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk)
• Application must be in written in English
• Submit single authored works only
• Demonstrate creative talent and potential for development
• Be available to attend a mentoring session on 21 January 2012
Applicants must not
• Be studying for a full time academic qualification in creative writing at the time of applying for the GFTA (January 2012)
• Applicants must not have previously published or self published a full length work of fiction.
• Applicants must not have received an Arts Council Grant for the Arts in the previous three years
• Applicants must not be employees of Writers’ Centre Norwich
Want to Apply? Here’s How:
Apply and Pay Online:
Please pay online here
, filling in the questionnaire and then printing out your e-receipt. You will need to pay a processing fee of £5 online, and we accept credit and debit cards.
Applicants may not apply more than once.
If you have not already registered with Writers’ Centre Norwich you will be asked to register.
If you are unable to pay online please contact us on 01603 877177.
Then Send Us Your Application:
Once you have paid online please submit the following by post:
• A Sample Of Your Work (3 x copies)*
Up to 3000 words typed (hand-written submissions will not be accepted), single-spaced 12pt on A4. Note – this sample of work should be a sample of work that demonstrates the quality of your writing and should be an extract from a piece of longer writing.
• An Application Letter (3 x copies)*
Please send a type-written covering letter no longer than one side of A4 paper including:
• The context and scope of your writing submission
• A short biography of your writing history
• An explanation of where you are in your writing life and how you would benefit from Escalator Literature
• The Receipt From Your Online Payment
*Please include your online booking reference number on all copies of your documentation. You can include your name on your application letter, but please do not include it on your writing submission.
Please send the receipt for your online payment along with three copies of your writing sample and three copies of your covering letter to:
Writers’ Centre Norwich
14 Princes Street
DEADLINE: Tuesday 29th November 2011
Your application must reach our office by this date
If you need further information
about the Escalator Fiction Competition then we are very happy to talk to you informally and answer any questions:
Please contact: Laura Stimson on 01603 877177. Email: Laura.email@example.com
Last year’s Escalator was for poets and it was open nationally. Visit the 2010/11 project page or alternatively, find out how they got on in this short film:
What Happens Next?
The ten Escalator winners and commended applicants will be notified by Friday 13th January 2012. Good luck!!
Escalator Poetry Competition 2010/11: The Winners
Writers’ Centre Norwich catapulted into 2011 with a very tough decision to make. Or rather, our panel of Escalator judges did. With over 300 applications for this year’s Escalator scheme, the judges had a poetry mountain to scale.
After vigorous debate between Tom Chivers, Mimi Khalvati and Sean O’Brien, we’re delighted to announce the six winning poets (below). Throughout 2011, each poet will work with a creative mentor to develop their craft. Our mentors are feted poets Mimi Khalvati, Daljit Nagra and George Szirtes, with mentoring super-woman Michelle Spring managing the process. Winners will also take part in a residential weekend at the University of East Anglia, devised by Writers’ Centre Norwich. At the end of the year, each winner will showcase their work in a dedicated Escalator pamphlet.
Winners’ poetry explores influences as disparate as mathematics, music, spirituality and sculpture. Each poet captured the judge’s attention with their rich wordplay, experimentation, vision and risk. With an inspirational year ahead of them, we very much look forward to reading more from this fantastic group of writers.
“…it is an exciting, very valuable scheme and offers so much to up-and-coming writers”
Escalator Judge 2011
The 2010/11 winners are:
Geraldine Clarkson started writing poetry three years ago. She was mentored by Jo Shapcott under the Jerwood/Arvon Mentoring Scheme during 2010, and shortlisted for the 2010 Arvon Poetry Competition. She has had poems published in Smiths Knoll, the Daily Mirror, Twin art & fashion magazine, Poetry Digest [on cupcakes!], online at Eyewear, and forthcoming in Fuselit. Two of her prose poems are included in This Line is not for Turning: Anthology of Contemporary British Poetry, forthcoming from Cinnamon Press in autumn 2011.
Maitreyabandhu won the Keats-Shelley Prize, The Basil Bunting Award, the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize, and 1st prize in the New Writer Prose and Poetry competition in 2009. He won the Ledbury Poetry Festival Competition in 2010. His article on poetry as a spiritual practice is due out in the spring edition of Poetry Review. He lives and works in the London Buddhist Centre and has been ordained into the Triratna Buddhist Order for 20 years. He has written two books on Buddhism.
Frank Newsum is from London, and has lived in Lincolnshire, Yorkshire and Germany. He began writing seriously in 2004, and since then writing has gradually encroached on most of his time, largely replacing fell-walking, leisure cycling and dinghy-sailing. He has a soft spot for mathematics, and another for Early Music. He is also interested in literature from other languages.
Eileen Pun was born in New York, US and moved to northwest England after her study as a foreign exchange student at Lancaster University. Eileen won the Manchester Metropolitan and Royal Northern College of Music, 2009 Rosamond Prize for best collaborative piece of poetry and music. She was commissioned to write a short chamber opera, The Red Knot which was performed in May 2010. Several of her poems have appeared in magazines and anthologies in both the US and UK. Her work is most recently featured in The Rialto’s November 2010, young poet’s feature.
Sarah Roby won the Mslexia Poetry Competition
in 2009 for her poem The Inland Waterways
. Her work features in this year's Templar Anthology
and has been admired by Carol Ann Duffy for its 'willingness to experiment and to play.'
She has recently completed a verse narrative on the working holidays taken in Happisburgh, North Norfolk, by Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Ben Nicholson. Sarah developed a crush on this form having read Adam Foulds’ verse narrative The Broken Word
. This interest then became the focus for an MA in Creative Writing (Lancaster University) for which she was awarded Distinction. Sarah lives in Norwich.
Tom Warner was born in Mansfield. In 2001 he won an Eric Gregory Award and graduated from the University of East Anglia’s MA in Creative Writing with Distinction. He received a Faber New Poets Award in 2010 and in 2009-2010 was Poet-in-residence to Newark-on-Trent. A pamphlet of his poetry was published by Faber in 2010. He currently lives in Norwich.
Three poets were commended:
Find out more about Escalator Literature
on the project page.
We run Escalator Literature on behalf of Arts Council England and we’d like to thank them for their support.
The Big Smoke
Last year our Escalator Literature competition focused on literary fiction and creative non-fiction. One of the winners, Martin Ungless, kindly wrote some blogs documenting the progress he made during the year. This is the final blog. We held it back until now because we thought it would be useful for any of you poets out there thinking about applying for this year's competition. Yes, it's a different genre, but the development towards your writing will always be the same - invaluable.
Previous posts by Martin Ungless:
Challenging work, but the right kind - Escalator update
Try Writing in a Winter Wonderland
I have just completed my novel, Blind Justice, and dispatched it to my agent, the ever-so erudite Rachel Calder at The Sayle Literary Agency. Heavens, plenty's happened since I last wrote here! And all thanks to the Escalator programme too. Okay, I should have written more often - I guess that's the idea of a blog - but here goes the last one, and now with so much more to cram in.
Martin Ungless reading at the Escalator Literature launch, Foyles Bookshop. Photo: Dave Gutteridge
With months of professional development and mentoring behind us we headed down to the Smoke for some reading out loud.
Richard Skinner had already spent a day with us exploring the writer's life - at least all the different ways he knew of making a living out of this crazy business. Wide experience, warmly expressed. Scary. Undaunted we wrote on.
Juliet Pickering of A P Watt gave us the slant from a literary agent's perspective. Friendly, clear and honest. Both she and Richard gave us penetrating insights into the publishing world, and between them made experts of us all at writing those brilliant, terse-but-hugely-engaging covering-letters and synopses, which will make or break a writing career. Undaunted we wrote on.
The effervescent Luke Wright taught us mike-technique and stagecraft, sprinkling our presentation skills with a little of his sparkle. Undaunted we spoke on.
And so to the Smoke. Our big Escalator launch was at Foyles, where 10 hungry authors read their humble works to an exalted audience of invited publishers and agents - I actually spoke to a publisher in the lift! Mind you that was after the evacuation. Did I mention the smoke? No, not the city, but the stuff coming out of the toaster in the Foyles' staffroom. No sooner had I pronounced the immortal line "Billy we gotta get outta here!" than the fire-alarm sounded, and we did indeed. A full evacuation of the whole bookshop. More introductions were probably made out on Charing Cross Road during the informality of our enforced exit - blitz spirit at its best - than had been struck even as the fizz began to flow upstairs. It was great.
Gently installed back inside, we set about our tasks again, experts all thanks to Luke's kind patience. My goodness what a very talented bunch, such delicacy of touch, such verve; such sentiment without sentimentality; such joyous invention; such brilliantly evoked history; listeners transported; fantastic humour and simple perfect words. I've no idea how I conned my way into their number, but my goodness how I'm glad I did.
I know I've said it many times before, but really Writers' Centre, from all of the 2009/10 Escalator winners, thank you, thank you, thank you.
Find out more about this year's Escalator Poetry Competition and the class of 2009/10.
What’s on? Quite a bit, actually...
Free manuscript reading service, you say? A nationwide poetry competition, you say? And the Jarrold / EDP East Anglian Book Award winners announced on Wednesday 20th October... you guessed it: you say?
Now this isn’t a shameless blog designed to solely promote our literary goodies on offer. Well, it is, but the reasoning isn’t quite that shallow.
Firstly, an attendee at one of our writing workshops told us about some recent success she’s had with her book thanks to some of the above schemes we’re running – a great excuse to extol their virtues!
Secondly, we don’t want you to miss out.
The workshop attendee I mention is Charlotte Paton. Charlotte kindly emailed to tell us that her book, The King of the Norfolk Poachers, had been shortlisted for the East Anglian Book Awards – great news. But even better that we had a small (we’re being gracious) hand in helping her to achieve this.
In her own words:
“The support of Writers Centre Norwich was invaluable to me as I struggled to complete it [The King of the Norfolk Poachers]. Stephen Foster read a chapter and was very encouraging, and the bursary you awarded me to have the book read by The Literary Consultancy determined me to keep going!! It has been a seven year slog, but it is a wonderful feeling to see it in print.”
So the moral of the story is... get involved! Take a chance and who knows where it will lead you. Here’s the rundown:
Free Manuscript Reading Service
This is the scheme that Charlotte mentioned, above. If you’re based in the East of England and can’t ordinarily afford a manuscript reading service, then this is for you: sage industry advice from The Literary Consultancy and the holy grail – honest, constructive feedback.
Download the application form and see if it’s for you.
2010 Jarrold East Anglian Book Awards
Pop along and wish Charlotte luck. We announced the shortlisted authors a little while ago, and we’re now nearing the business end of the awards ceremony.
Held at the Assembly House, in Norwich, on the evening of Wednesday 20th October and presented by BBC Look East's Carol Bundock, you can buy tickets at the EDP shop in the Archant building, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich - or visit customer services at Jarrold on London Street, Norwich.
Escalator Poetry Competition
If you haven’t heard about this already, then I’m ashamed to call myself a marketeer (perhaps I need two companions... you know where I’m heading with this). A year’s worth of development towards your poetry, including: mentoring from established poets; a summer school residential based at the UEA and support in making an Arts Council England Grants for the Arts bid.
All invaluable, and available at the click of a button. Application form.
Enough. And apologies if this looks like a shameless marketing post. I suppose it is. But it’s a caring - we want you to do really well – one.
Develop your Poetry on National Poetry Day
It’s National Poetry Day!
Hurrah for that. We all know that poetry lives for 365 days a year, but it’s great that it gets a jolly good day in the October sun (in the East, anyhow).
Now, sadly, our Escalator Poetry Competition doesn’t run for quite so long.
Open across all of England, why not mark this special day by applying for a chance to win a year’s worth of development towards your poetry; you’ve got until November 29th to get your submission in. Here’s a reminder of the poetry goods on offer:
• One-to-one creative mentoring from Mimi Khalvati, Daljit Nagra and George Szirtes.
• Support in making an application for an Arts Council England Grants for the Arts award for development funding.
• A place on an Escalator Poetry writing residential long weekend at the University of East Anglia where you will take part in professional development sessions and be given space to write.
• Publication in a bespoke sampler sent to key poetry and magazine editors, festival organisers and others in the poetry world.
Get writing, download the application form, buy some (first class) stamps; we want to see some serious poetry talent delivered through our door.
Many previous Escalator winners have gone on to great success. Make the most of National Poetry Day with the beginning of your own.
EMERGE: Escalator Poetry Competition 2010
You may have heard through the grapevine that our 2010 Escalator Poetry Competition is soon to launch. In fact, we mentioned it ourselves on this latest news section not too long ago, but only as a heads-up... so we’re pleased to announce that
Full details are now available for the 2010 Escalator Poetry Competition!
Open to poets yet to publish a first collection, and for the first time open to applicants from all parts of England, this is your chance to enjoy a year-long programme of support for your writing; mentoring from established poets Mimi Khalvati, Daljit Nagra and George Szirtes; a summer school residential based at the UEA and support in making an Arts Council England Grants for the Arts bid.
What are you waiting for? Visit the Escalator Poetry Competition page for all the juicy details.
Escalator related good news:
Many of our past Escalator winners go on to achieve great things, and literally at the time of writing this post, we’ve received an email from Ruth Dugdall, a winner from our 06/07 class.
Ruth was mentored on the Escalator scheme by Michelle Spring - Chair of this year's Escalator mentors - and has just had her novel, The Women Before Me, published by Legend Press. Already the winner of two national writing competitions, including a prestigious CWA Dagger (other dagger winners include Ian Rankin & Ruth Rendell), it’s also getting some great reviews; the The Book Bag and Amazon to mention a few.
You can order The Women Before Me from Play.com (cheaper than Amazon), and you can keep up with Ruth’s latest news through her blog.
Keep up the good work, Ruth!