Meet the IdeasTap Inspires Writers Centre Norwich winners

Meet the IdeasTap Inspires Writers Centre Norwich winners

By Jessica Pan 10/02/15

As part of our IdeasTap Inspires programme, we gave 10 talented writers six months of professional development and mentoring with Writers Centre Norwich. Ahead of their showcase event on 12 February, Jessica Pan gives us a rundown of who they are… 

Jonny Bayfield 

Self-described as a playwright who loves fiction, Jonny Bayfield has had his work performed at several festivals and theatres, including Edinburgh Fringe and The Soho Theatre where his first full-length play, The Slaughterhouse on the Hill, was runner up in the Young Writer Award 2013. He's at work on Coaster, “a semi-autobiographical novel which explores life in a rotting seaside town and how the death of youth and the onset of adulthood affect one man.” Bayfield is also a TV, theatre and film actor and co-artistic director of London-based Theatre troupe Caligula's Alibi. Follow him on Twitter: @jonniebayfield 


Ed Cottrell 

Poetry and prose writer Ed Cottrell studied english literature at the University of Warwick, before working for the British Council literature department where he organises events with Turkish and Korean writers in the UK. He also works for Modern Poetry and Translation. He describes his writing as “weird stories” and he “lives and writes from a boat in London.” Follow him on Twitter: @erghargh 


Michael Donkor 

Raised in a Ghanaian household in London, Michael Donkor’s first novel draws on his “childhood memories of holidays to Kumasi.” He’s won competitions run by Foyles and the University of North London. Donkor read english at Oxford where he explored the writings of Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, VirginiaWoolf and William Faulkner and delved into short story writing with a focus on his West African heritage. During his time studying creative writing at Royal Holloway he began to experiment with novel-writing and is currently at work on his first novel, Hold. Follow him on Twitter: @MichaelDonkor 


Lindsey Fairweather

Detroit-born Lindsey Fairweather graduated from Yale before relocating to the UK to work at the American School in London. A year later, she won the Malcolm Bradbury Bursary on the University of East Anglia's creative writing MA and began work on her first book, On Earth, As It Is, “a literary novel about a Midwestern innkeeper who believes the apocalypse is beginning.” She has plans to write and teach in Madrid with her husband, a British diplomat, and their two sons. Follow her on Twitter: @lmfairweather


Maria Hummer

Twenty-eight-year-old American Maria Hummer writes fiction, plays and screenplays. Her short story, He Took Off His Skin For Me, was a finalist in the 2013 Driftlist Prize in Fiction. The magical realist microfiction piece was adapted for the screen and premiered at Palm Springs International Shortfest 2014. Maria is drawn to “depicting the odd/dark/magical in the commonplace (and commonplace in the odd/dark/magical)” and she holds a BFA in creative writing and an MA in screenwriting. She is working on her first novel. Follow her on Twitter: @mariahum 


Alexandra Scarlett Mullen

Prose, poetry and screenplay writer Alexandra Scarlett Mullen won a place at the British Film Festival Future Film programme, where she wrote a screenplay in 24 hours. Her film, Syndicate, was screened at the BFI, and commended by the Guardian as "ambitious, smart and even a little scary." She has worked with the National Youth Film Academy on their apprenticeship scheme. Her inspirations include Sylvia Plath, Charles Bukowski, Irvine Welsh and she’s “influenced by the dialogue of everyday life and the small details that make us human.” 


Pooja Puri

Pooja Puri began her reading and writing career very early as a book reviewer for the Red House magazine when she was a child. At the ripe age of 14, she won second prize in a Borders Short Cuts Micro Story Competition which was later published in an anthology. She studied english language and literature at King’s College London and in her second year won the Gilbert and Levison prize. Her work experience includes reading for a publisher, proofreading and tutoring. She is working on her first novel. 


Stephanie Scott

Singaporean Stephanie Scott read english literature at York and Cambridge. After a career in finance as an investment banker in New York, London and Rome, she left her job so that she could write full-time. Her first novel, The Sentence, is “set in modern Japan and is based on the Japanese marriage break-up industry.” She’s been awarded the Jerwood Arvon National Fiction Award, the A.M. Heath Prize, the Toshiba Studentship and a distinction in her creative writing MA at Oxford.


Natasha-Sutton Williams 

Playwright, journalist and singer Natasha-Sutton Williams’ plays have been performed at various London venues including Clown Sex at the Arcola and I am Not Sick at the Pleasance Theatre. She was in the top five shortlisted for Soho Theatre’s Young Writers Award 2013. Her play, I am Not Sick, was produced by the National Youth Theatre. Currently a freelance arts journalist for and a student of Creative Writing at Birkbeck College, she is also at work on a one-woman musical, I Know What You’re Thinking. Follow her on Twitter: @Natashaplays  


Lauren Van Schaik Smith 

Ohioan Lauren Van Schaik Smith studied history and creative writing at Bryn Mar College where she won the college’s short story prize three times. One of her short stories will be published in the upcoming Fossil issue of Fuselit. She describes her approach to writing as “recover submerged childhoods and make real family apocrypha.” Lauren also works as a freelance journalist, writing reviews in Red Pepper, Litro and Truthout. Her novel “plots an apocryphal geography of the American Midwest. Also: sisters, Ozarks, and splendidly bad weather.”  Follow her on Twitter:  @laurenvansmith


For more information about Inspires, visit


Image: Arts Council England logo

Image by Andrea Shunert, on a Creative Commons license 

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