Creative Future and The Literary Consultancy partnered in 2021 to create the Next Up development programme. Generously supported by a donation from novelist Claire McGowan, with additional funding from Arts Council England, Next Up provided a year-long programme of support, development, and mentoring for ten unpublished past winners/shortlisted fiction writers of the Creative Future Writers’ Award.
Claire McGowan published her first novel in 2012 and has since become a bestselling author of crime fiction and commercial women’s fiction (writing as Eva Woods). She ran the UK’s first MA in crime writing for five years, and regularly teaches and talks about writing. McGowan was shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year award in 2019. In screenwriting, she was selected as the 2018 International Fellow on the Nickelodeon Writers’ Program, working in L.A. for six months. She has also written scripts for theatre and radio, articles and short stories, and a non-fiction audiobook for Audible. About the scheme, she said:
“As a young writer starting out, I had convinced myself I would never succeed, and indeed that I had already failed, without actually ever trying or showing my work to anyone. I want to help other writers, especially from backgrounds that are underrepresented in publishing, see that there is a place for them in this world, and help create some ramps in if possible.”
The selected writers come from communities underrepresented in the publishing industry: those with mental health or physical health issues, from LGTBQIA+, working class, and Black, Asian, Traveller and ethnically diverse backgrounds. They received a tailored package of support designed to take their writing careers to the next level, including 1:1 mentoring, a development day, TLC craft guides, and a full manuscript assessment from TLC.
We were very pleased to continue the initiative in 2022 with support from the Amazon Literary Partnership and the Copyright Licensing Agency. This year supported ten past winners/shortlisted poets, in partnership with Poetry School.
About the writers
Aischa Daughtery is a Scottish poet and young adult fiction writer who lives in Glasgow. She won the 2021 Creative Future Writer’s Award (Gold Poetry). Aischa was recently awarded a Young Scot’s 2021 Nurturing Talent Grant, which she will use to create and publish This Is How We Love, an anthology of over 120 love letters shared between lesbians across the globe. After graduating with a first-class (with distinction) MA in English Literature and Sociology in 2021, Aischa is now enrolled on the University of Glasgow’s Creative Writing MLitt. She is currently working on Nirvana Moon, a preteen fiction novel that grapples with the highs and horrors of 21st century girlhood. Her poems have appeared in Bad Betty Press, Adjacent Pineapple, From Glasgow to Saturn, Not Very Quiet, The Queer Dot, Sinister Wisdom and more, and she has received press in publications such as The Herald and NEoN Digital Arts Magazine.
Chloe Elliott is based in Durham where she is currently studying English Literature. There she is President of the Poetry Society and helps facilitate workshops and run spoken-word events. She is won a 2020 Creative Future Writers’ Award (Gold Poetry) and has been published by Bitter Melon and Bad Betty Press. Her poems have also appeared in Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal, Ink Sweat & Tears, The Gentian and the poetry podcast Bedtime Stories for the End of the World.
Arden Fitzroy is a writer-poet, actor and producer, who believes in experimentation and blurring the boundaries of genre, gender and art forms. Their writing has appeared or is forthcoming with the Royal Society of Literature, Untitled Writing, Stone of Madness Press, UCL Culture, Rejection Letters, The Final Girls and more. They have sat on judging panels for the British Fantasy Awards and are a frequent guest on pop culture podcasts. They were shortlisted for the London Writers Award in Poetry 2018, the Creative Future Writers’ Awards 2020, the VAULT FIVE 2021, and the Streetcake Experimental Writing Prize 2021, and have opened for Saul Williams on the Roundhouse Main Stage. They have also written for short film, theatre, and audio. You can find Arden on Twitter and Instagram. [Photographer credit: Jonny Bosworth]
Matt Jones was born in Porth, a former coal-mining town in the Rhondda Valleys of South Wales. First encountering haiku at the age of ten, Matt has been writing poetry for over twenty years. After recently completing an English Literature degree with first class honours, Matt is currently studying for an MA in English Literature after winning a scholarship at Cardiff University. Alongside this, he is studying for a further degree in Ancient History. A Samaritan, musician, and teacher of Buddhist meditation, Matt is currently training for ordination with the Triratna Buddhist Community.
Norman Miller is a journalist who writes creatively across multiple forms. His poems have been published in UK and international print and online outlets, and his draft collection Shadowlands made the shortlist for the 2019 Creative Future/Myriad Editions/New Writing South Spotlight Books competition.
Norman's last two stage plays have had professional cast online readings, and a third play is scheduled for London performance in March 2022. His first novel Black Watch is slowly taking shape under the aegis of Penguin Random House's WriteNow scheme, and his short story ‘Jellymen’ appeared in the 2017 book England's Future History.
Jackson Jesse Nash is a transgender writer from Essex. His poetry and fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in Rattle, Channel, Impossible Archetype, Baffling Magazine and more. Jackson is a fellow of the Lambda Literary Retreat. He has a PhD in Gender Studies with a thesis on trans representation in YA fiction. Jackson is currently based in Brighton where he lives with his partner and their cat.
Oluwaseun Olayiwola is a Nigerian-American dancer, choreographer, poet, and critic based in London. His work has been commissioned by Spread The Word and Studio 3 Arts. In 2021, he was a recipient of the Samuel Ross Black British and POC Artist Grant. He recently completed an MFA in Choreography from the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music in Dance. As a choreographer, his work has been presented in the UK, the Netherlands, Italy, and the US. As a writer, his critical work and poetry have been published and anthologized in the United Kingdom and the US. He became a Ledbury Poetry Critic in 2021.
Steve Roberts was born and grew up in the Windward Island of Dominica. He recently completed the MA in Creative Writing and Education at Goldsmiths College. His short story Ole Man River is included in the Altogether Elsewhere anthology (Blue Door Press 2021) and his poems have been featured in Story Makers Dialogues (Goldsmiths’ Edition 2019) as well as the CF Writers' Award 2021 anthology. “Mama,” one of the poems from his choreo-poem Black Reflections, is included in A River of Stories vol 4 (2016), Alice Curry’s compilation of tales and poems from across the Commonwealth.
Sarah Windebank was drawn to 17th century metaphysical poetry and modernist American verse as an undergraduate at University College London. After completing a Masters in Creative Writing at Sussex University and with new poetic influences, she started writing feminist poetry and working with poets from Brighton Poetry Stanza. Her first pamphlet, Memories of Swedish Grandmother, was published in 2020 as part of Spotlight Books, an initiative by Creative Future, New Writing South and Myriad Editions. After recently working with John McCullough in an advanced workshop, Sarah has developed an interest in poetry of the low income and disabled with a non-binary orientation, and the seeding of these influences in ecological poetry.
Amelia Zhou is a London-based writer. In her practice she works with writing and movement. Her writing has been published in UK and Australian publications, including Cordite Poetry Review, Gutter Magazine, Rabbit Poetry Journal, Datableed Zine, LUMIN Journal. She won a 2021 Creative Futures Writers’ Award (Gold Prose) and was a recipient of the Ultimo Prize. She was born and raised on Gadigal Land/Sydney, Australia.
Georgina Aboud is a short story writer. Her previous work on international development issues, where she specialised in gender, climate change and food security, has taken her around the world. She has observed elections in Kosovo, Macedonia and Ukraine, collaborated with forest and mountain communities in India and Colombia, worked on briefing papers in Bangladesh, and pulled pints in Peru. Her short book, Cora Vincent, was published as part of the Spotlight Books series by Creative Future and Myriad Editions. She lives in Hove, East Sussex.
Kirsty Boden-Stuart has been reading and writing all her life, but never saw people like herself in books. Being shortlisted for the Creative Future Writers’ Award in 2019 gave her the confidence to enroll on New Writing South’s Creative Writing Programme. She’s now honing her first novel—a coming of age story set in the 90s. She also writes poetry with themes of feminism, family, LGBTQ+ issues, and social injustice.
Rachel Burns completed a screenwriting talent scheme with ITV and Northern Film and Media. Her screenplays were longlisted in BBC Script Rooms. She is an alumnus of the 2018 Jerwood/Arvon Mentoring Programme in playwriting. Her short stories are published Mslexia, Here Comes Everyone, and in the Signs of Life anthology edited by Sarah Sasson. An extract of her young adult novel was selected for the TLC/A.M Heath Free Reads anthology edited by Jacob Ross. Her poetry pamphlet A Girl in a Blue Dress is published by Vane Women Press.
Maeve Clarke has been published in various anthologies. In 2016 she won the Platinum prize for fiction in the Creative Future Writers’ Award. She was also longlisted for Penguin Random House’s WriteNow. In 2017/18 she was an Arvon/Jerwood playwriting mentee. An extract of her play, White Gold, was published in the anthology Midnight Listening in 2018. Most recently, Prime Time: Playing it Safe, (monologues) was performed at the Birmingham Rep in 2019.
Philip Barry Forsyth is a writer and artist based in Sussex. He has written stories, poems and two screenplays, and currently studies creative writing.
Tara Gould is an award-winning writer, and a creative writing and meditation teacher. She was the inaugural CF Writer In Residence in 2016 and was published as part of the CF/Myriad Editions Spotlight Books series. Currently, she runs nature arts workshops and eco-therapy mini retreats. Tara is fascinated by our changing connection to and creative interchange with nature over time, and how this relationship impacts individual, community, and the environment. Her current project is a collection of interlinked short stories set in the past, present and future which explore the lives of characters living near a small stretch of variegated shingle beach in East Sussex.
Ellie Jackson writes poetry and fiction. She is from Pity Me (just outside of Durham). She is interested in the emotional experience of mental health, gender, sexuality, class, language (and other things). She has an MSc in Creative Writing from the University of Edinburgh and a BA in English from the University of Cambridge. She won the Creative Future Silver Award for Poetry 2020 and has had poems published in Tomorrow anthology, Foothill Journal, From Arthur’s Seat anthology, Notes, and other small zines. Instagram: @elliejacksonpoetry
Tom Newlands is a Scottish writer living in London. His first novel was shortlisted for Penguin WriteNow and given a 2021 London Writer’s Award for Literary Fiction. He also won a Creative Future Writers’ Award in 2020. Tom studied poetry at Faber Academy and Poetry School. Tom is interested in exploring disability, class consciousness and material culture and he is passionate about bringing warmth and humour to difficult subject matter. He is a sucker for any story that features fly-tipped consumer electronics, or grit bins. Tom is also a painter and visual artist and when not writing he works for a commercial art gallery in central London.
Elizabeth Ridout is originally from Yorkshire, currently based in London and Kent. Her poems and reviews have featured in a variety of magazines and she has done readings and interviews at festivals and on BBC Radio. She won a Creative Future Writers Award in 2017 and her debut poetry collection, Summon, was released by Myriad Editions as part of their Spotlight Books series in partnership with Creative Future and New Writing South. It was shortlisted for a Poetry Book Award and received a special mention in the Saboteur Awards.
Catherine Sleeman is a young writer and dancer whose work often responds to the natural world and her experiences with mental illness and hospitalisation. She has found that her creative practices have helped her to develop a more positive relationship with the world express what she had not previously been able to say.