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Meet the 2023/24 Cohort of the Emerging Writers Programme

We are delighted to announce the newest cohort of our Emerging Writers Programme, which supports early-career writers and is now entering its fifth year.

40 participants were selected from a field of almost 1,400 applicants, a record-breaking number, by a panel of judges comprising, poet and playwright Caroline Bird, screenwriter and playwright Moira Buffini, non-fiction writer Travis Elborough, novelist and short story writer Zoe Gilbert, novelist Ayisha Malik, and literary agents at Aitken Alexander Emma Paterson and Chris Wellbelove.

The emerging writers hail from across the UK, from Edinburgh to Brighton, including Northern Ireland and Wales, spanning an age range from early twenties to early seventies. This year’s cohort is working on a diverse array of projects, taking us from Iraq to Hong Kong, India to Ukraine, gothic fairytales to murder mystery, Haitian revolution sci-fi to time-travelling ninjas, cheese, wine, lotteries and luxury, cannibalism, hirsutism, and kleptomania. Also, for the first time, the programme welcomes two new genres: food writing and translation.

Of the 40 writers, nine are working on non-fiction, including five memoirs and three food writing projects. Eight are novelists, seven are writing for stage/screen, five are poets, five are writing for children or YA, four are short story writers and two are working on translations.

Get to know our 2023/24 Emerging Writers:

AD Aaba Atach is a media and communication strategist, with a background in politics and human rights. A Clarendon Scholar at the University of Oxford, she studies the contemporary Middle East. She was a finalist for the #MerkyBooks and Penguin Random House UK's New Writers' Competition in 2019. @IAmAnaDiamond 

Sara Aghlani is an Indian Iranian artist living in London. Her background is in film and television. Recently she has undertaken various illustration courses and is currently developing a collection of poetry. Instagram: @saltypheasant 

Dr Noga Applebaum is a Jewish writer and lecturer specialising in children’s literature. She is twice winner of the London Writers Short Story competition and has published a monograph on representations of technology in young adult fiction. She is working on a YA novel set in the Hasidic community. 

Carole Aubrée-Dumont is a France-born writer living in Brighton. Her memoir-in-progress was shortlisted in the Mslexia Memoir Competition 2020. It is the story of how the diagnosis of her son’s speechlessness made her confront the silences in her French family. Instagram: @caroleaubreedumont 

Jess Barnfield works in audio publishing and lives in South London. Originally from the Midlands, she has lived and studied in Paris, Edinburgh and Cambridge. She was highly commended for the Bridport Prize First Novel Award in 2022 and is currently working on her first novel. Instagram: @jkbfield 

Sam Baxter is an aspiring screenwriter and a recent finalist in the SWN TV Pilot Screenplay Competition (Spring 2023). During the day, Sam works as a cyber security engineer, but their true passion lies in writing character-driven screenplays for TV and film. Instagram: @sambo5092 

Olga Braga is a playwright and screenwriter. She also does stand-up comedy, having performed at some of London’s most popular comedy clubs including Backyard Comedy, Top Secret, the Comedy Store, Camden Comedy Club and Vauxhall Comedy Club. Instagram: @olga__braga. Twitter: @OlgaBraga6 

Rachael Li Ming Chong is a writer, teacher and social entrepreneur. In 2022 she received a Let Teachers SHINE Award, and a Literature Matters Award from the Royal Society of Literature. She is a winner of The Poetry Archive’s Word View 2021 Competition and a graduate of the HarperCollins Author Academy. Twitter: @rhubarbpostcard 

Nicole Davis is a freelance creative producer, podcaster and writer. She commissions short films for BFI NETWORK, moderates events and panels, and recently produced the storytelling anthology podcast ‘Never Told’ with Brock Media. She lives in London. Twitter: @stonecoledfox 

Yiota Demetriou is a third-generation British Cypriot multimedia artist, educator, writer, and multisensory designer. Her award-winning artwork, which explores the intersection of technology, art, and human connection, has been exhibited across the EU, featured on BBC Radio, and in the Bookseller. She is writing creative non-fiction about the experiences of Cypriot women in the diaspora. Twitter: @yiota_demetriou. Instagram: @interactive_storytelling / @sapiopetrichor 

William Yamaguchi Dobson is a recovering barrister, full-time dad and husband, and writer of middle-grade fiction. He is working on a funny action-adventure series set in an alternate feudal Japan and has been shortlisted for The Bath Children’s Novel Award. He also writes stage plays and screenplays. Twitter: @WYDobson1 

Timothy Fox is originally from Texas. He received a Houston Press Theatre Award for his play The Whale; or, Moby-Dick and a Vault Festival Spirit Award for his play The Witch’s Mark. His writing has appeared in, among others, Gordon Square Review, Passengers Journal, Funicular Magazine and New Writing Scotland. Twitter: @timothy_fox_ Instagram: @timothy_fox_ 

Chris Fite-Wassilak is a writer and critic. He is a contributing editor of ArtReview, a regular contributor to e-flux Criticism and Art Monthly, and his essays have appeared in The Quietus, Vittles, and The Microbiopolitics of Milk (Sternberg, 2023). Twitter: @cfitewassilak 

Maryam Garad is a British-Somali actor and writer from London. Her writing explores belonging and the nuances of marginalisation. She was part of Omnibus Theatre’s Engine Room, where she performed the beginning of her debut play REPARATIONS. She is a recipient of Bush Theatre's Bloom Bursary and part of Soho Theatre's Writer's Lab. Twitter: @maryamgarad_ 

Yanita Georgieva is a Bulgarian poet and journalist. She received the Out-Spoken Prize for Page Poetry and is a member of the Southbank New Poets Collective. You can find her work in The London Magazine, Poetry Wales, bath magg, and her debut pamphlet is forthcoming with Broken Sleep in 2024. Twitter: @georgievayani. Instagram: @yanigorgonzola 

Alistair Hall is an actor and playwright from Wiltshire. His debut one-person play Declan, a queer thriller set in rural England, is making its Edinburgh Fringe debut in 2023. As a writer, his work takes an unsanitised look at human behaviour and focuses on characters on the outskirts of mainstream society. Twitter: @alistairhallyes. Instagram: @alistairhallyes 

Mark Henstock has always worked in communications. For charities, he managed award-winning campaigns that raised millions of pounds for causes ranging from homelessness to international development. He is writing non-fiction around the themes of history, probability and destiny. He lives in London. Twitter: @MarkHenstock1 

Marissa Mireles Hinds is a poet, filmmaker, writer, curator, artist, founder of Creative Until Death and co-founder of Babes in Development. She featured in the Dazed x Circa's Class of 2022 for her short film climate change but make it (pop!). In 2022, she won Out-Spoken’s Best Poetry in Film Award and the Bergstrom Studio Writers Grant. Twitter: @sanseriif. Instagram: @sanseriif 

Margaret Morrison worked in corporate information before spending many years immersed in confectionery. She’s been a freelance translator for five years in commercial work but is increasingly moving into literary translation. Her interests include French, comic books, French comic books, genre literature and foraging. @mmmtranslation 

Georgia Myers is a fiction writer from Hackney, whose short stories have been published by Influx Press and longlisted for the Mslexia prize. Previously, she studied Art History, worked at the BBC, and taught creative writing. She is currently writing a quirky historical novel. 

Esmé Hicks is a born and bred Londoner and filmmaker. She co-produced All My Friends Hate Me (2021) and has worked in production on features such as Femme (2023) and The End We Start From (in post-production). She is now focussing on creating her own work.Twitter: @EsmeHicks.Instagram: @esmelarissa

Preeti Jha is an award-winning reporter. She worked as a political journalist for the BBC and a foreign correspondent for Agence France-Presse, before going freelance to write about democracy, gender, and civil resistance. After a decade in Asia, she returned to London last year to write her first novel.Twitter: @PreetiJha

Monica Kam is a lawyer and writer from Hong Kong. She was a recipient of Spread the Word’s London Writers Award 2022. Her fiction and poetry have been shortlisted for the Comma Press 2023 Dinesh Allirajah Prize and commended by Ambit Magazine. Monica is currently completing a collection of short stories set in Hong Kong.Twitter: @kam_monica.Instagram: @monicakam

Rosie Kellett is a theatre, TV and food writer from Derbyshire. She has predominantly worked in theatre, with her first play Primadonna selected for the 2016 VAULT Festival, London. After ten years of working in the food industry as a chef, baker and project manager, she is now developing her first cookbook proposal.Twitter: @rosieakellett.Instagram: @rosiekellett

David Lowe works in London at an in-house creative agency. He’s a lover of all things monstrous and magical and is currently writing his first fantasy novel.

Lia Martin is an English-Romanian writer from London. She has worked in state secondary schools for a decade and recently graduated from Birkbeck with an MA in Creative Writing. In 2022, she was shortlisted for the Bridport and longlisted for the Brick Lane short story prizes She is currently working on a polyphonic novel.Twitter: @liaesthermartin

Ellen McAteer is a poet and songwriter. They won a Waterstones Refugee Week poetry competition, a BBC Download songwriting competition, and completed a Goldsmiths MA in Creative and Life Writing. Their work explores women's voices, alcoholism, and psychogeography and their pamphlet Honesty Mirror has been published by Red Squirrel Press.Twitter: @ellenmcateer.Instagram: @ellenmcateerpoet.Facebook: /ellenmcateer

Avril Millar is an engineer, physicist, businesswoman, board advisor and writer. She has changed careers five times, but always with the core value of making a difference, and still works full-time at 71. She is mother to two grown-up children, one a retired professional sportsman, the other a successful CEO, and grandmother to three.Twitter: @avrilmillar.Instagram: @Avrilmillarofficial / @avrilmillar

Helena Pickup is writing a non-fiction book on luxury, power and catastrophe. After a first degree in History at Oxford University and a Masters in Art History, she trained as a curator and has lectured at Sotheby’s Institute of Art for over ten years. Helena also writes historical and fantasy fiction.

EJ Robinson is a London-based writer of fiction with degrees in Theatre and Victorian History. Her work pinballs between magical realism for children and historical fiction for adults. She has lived in England, Ireland and Japan, and is working on a middle-grade series that draws from global folklore.Twitter: @AiRobinson

Lydia Sabatini is a London-based playwright and screenwriter originally from Essex. She was part of the Bush Theatre’s Emerging Writers Group 2021/22, the Traverse Theatre’s Breakthrough Writers: In Residence Programme 2022/3 and the Mercury Theatre’s Playwrights scheme 2022/3. She will be using this programme to develop film screenplays.

Kumyl Saied is a British-Arab Screenwriter who studied at the NFTS in 2022. His writing portfolio consists of feature films that explore longing, grief and mental illness. Family dysfunction serves as the glue that holds Kumyl's work together, be it through blood splattered horror or intimate drama.Instagram: @kayzone93

Molly Pepper Steemson is a writer and sommelier from London. She is the author of Very Short, a Substack series of 100 100-word stories. Her work is mostly concerned with food, drink, adultery, viscera and, occasionally, death.Twitter: @SteemsonMolly.Instagram: @molly.pepper.steemson

Madeline Heather Stephens did an English degree and a Masters degree in Renaissance Literature, at York. She has worked in fundraising and political campaigning for charities. An admirer of comic fiction, she hopes to write a novel that will make people laugh.

Stacey Taylor is a writer from Cardiff. She has an MA in English and Creative Writing and loves reading and writing in different genres. She was recently longlisted for the Penguin Michael Joseph Undiscovered Writers’ Prize. She is currently working on a YA novel.

Helena Tebeau grew up in Warsaw, Poland. She studied English at Swarthmore College in the US and received her MSc in Behaviour Economics from LSE. Living in London, she now works in life sciences consulting and translates Polish literature, exploring the subversion of femininity and motherhood in modern day interpretations of folklore and fairytales.Instagram: @helenaclairexx

Airy, a fashion stylist and drag queen, began their career in fashion writing for i-D. They were fashion director at Notion for three years before going freelance. Between styling for celebrity clients, they’re working on their first novel, a fictionalised account of their childhood in a Christian fundamentalist doomsday cult.@airysomething

Catherine Wilson Garry is a poet and writer based in Edinburgh. Her debut poetry pamphlet, Another Word for Home is Blackbird, was recently published by Stewed Rhubarb Press. Her writing has been published by organisations including Extra Teeth magazine, The Scotsman, BBC Radio 4 and The British National Gallery.Twitter: @CWilsonPoet.Instagram: @CWilsonPoet.Website:

Adam Wynne studied English at Oxford University and is an alumnus of the Faber Academy Writing a Novel course. He has worked in business and government. Adam has a passion for thrillers - both contemporary and historical - and especially those with a dark comedic edge.

Tian Yi lives in London and writes weird short stories about families and hauntings. She has received support from the Mendocino Coast Writers’ Conference and Hedgebrook. She graduated with an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck, where she was awarded a Sophie Warne Fellowship.Twitter: @tianyiwriting


Caroline Bird is a poet and playwright. Her sixth collection, The Air Year, won the Forward Prize for Best Collection 2020 and was shortlisted for the Polari Prize and the Costa Prize. Her fifth collection, In These Days of Prohibition, was shortlisted for the 2017 TS Eliot Prize and the Ted Hughes Award. As a playwright, Bird has been shortlisted for the George Devine Award and the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Her Selected Poems, Rookie, was published in May 2022.

Moira Buffini is a screenwriter and playwright. Her plays include: Welcome to Thebes and for the National Theatre; Dying for It and Marianne Dreams for the Almeida; Loveplay for the RSC; and the Olivier Award nominated Dinner and Olivier Award-winning Handbagged, both enjoyed successful transfers to the West End. Her screenplays include Tamara DreweByzantiumJane Eyre and The Dig and she is co-creator and writer of Harlots for ITV and Hulu.

Travis Elborough is an author and cultural commentator. His many books include The Bus We Loved, a history of the Routemaster bus; The Long-Player Goodbye, a hymn to vinyl records; Wish You Were Here, a survey of the British beside the seaside, A Walk in the Park: The Life and Times of a People’s Institution and Through the Looking Glasses: The Spectacular Life of SpectaclesAtlas of Vanishing Places won Illustrated Book of the Year at the Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards in 2020.

Zoe Gilbert's novels are Folk, which was shortlisted for the International Dylan Thomas Prize and adapted for BBC Radio, and Mischief Acts. Her short stories have been published in anthologies by Comma Press, appeared in publications including The Stinging FlyMechanics' Institute Review, and the British Fantasy Society Journal and won awards, including the Costa Short Story Award. She is co-founder of London Lit Lab with Lily Dunn, and the co-editor of A Wild and Precious Life, an anthology of writers in recovery.

Ayisha Malik is the author of the critically acclaimed novels, Sofia Khan is Not ObligedThe Other Half of HappinessThis Green and Pleasant Land and The Movement. She was a WHSmith Fresh Talent Pick, winner of The Diversity Book Awards and was shortlisted for the Asian Women of Achievement Award and Marie Claire’s Future Shapers Awards. She has written a re-telling of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park – part of Hachette’s Awesomely Austen children’s series – and the children’s book, Seven Sisters.

Emma Paterson is a Director of Aitken Alexander Associates and a member of the Booker Prize Foundation Advisory Committee. She was included in British Vogue’s 2021 list of the 25 most influential women and named one of Britain’s most influential people of African, African Caribbean and African American heritage by Powerlist. She represents literary fiction, non-fiction and poetry and her authors include Bernardine Evaristo, Mary Jean Chan, Rachel Long, Natasha Brown, Susanna Moore, Olivia Sudjic, Emma Dabiri, Shon Faye, Mona Chalabi and Sam Knight.

Chris Wellbelove is a Director of Aitken Alexander Associates and Head of the Book Department.He represents fiction, nonfiction and poetry and his authors include Daisy Johnson, Evie Wyld, The Secret Barrister, Kevin Jared Hosein, Vanessa Onwuemezi, Andrew McMillan, Kayo Chingonyi, Liz Berry, Jonathan Liew, Matthew Green, Grace Blakeley, Wayne McGregor and Ita O’Brien. His authors have won or been shortlisted for prizes including the Booker Prize, Dylan Thomas Prize, Waterstones Book of the Year, Forward Prizes, TS Eliot Prize and the Wainwright Prize.