The judges for the Northern Writers’ Awards change each year to ensure a mix of taste and opinions is reflected across the awards.
Anthony Anaxagorou is a British-born Cypriot poet, fiction writer, essayist, publisher and poetry educator. His poetry has been published in POETRY, The Poetry Review, Poetry London, New Statesman, Granta, and elsewhere. His work has also appeared on BBC Newsnight, BBC Radio 4, ITV, Vice UK, Channel 4 and Sky Arts. His second collection After the Formalities published with Penned in the Margins is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and was shortlisted for the 2019 T.S Eliot Prize along with the 2021 Ledbury Munthe Poetry Prize for Second Collections. It was also a Telegraph and Guardian poetry book of the year. In 2020 he published How To Write It with Merky Books. He was awarded the 2019 H-100 Award for writing and publishing, and the 2015 Groucho Maverick Award for his poetry and fiction. In 2019 he was made an honorary fellow of the University of Roehampton. Anthony is artistic director of Out-Spoken, a monthly poetry and music night held at London’s Southbank Centre, and publisher of Out-Spoken Press. His forthcoming poetry collection Heritage Aesthetics will be published by Granta Books in 2022.
Helen Mort is a poet and novelist based in Sheffield. Her collection Division Street is published by Chatto & Windus and was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize. Her second collection No Map Could Show Them was shortlisted for the Banff Mountain Literature Award. Her third collection The Illustrated Woman will be published by Chatto in 2022. She’s a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and teaches at Manchester Metropolitan University. In March 2022 Ebury are publishing her debut memoir A Line Above The Sky.
“As a previous winner, I know just how transformative the Northern Writers Awards are for authors across our region. I am so excited to be involved as a judge and to see other poets being given this opportunity. The north is home to so much literary talent and I cannot wait to read this year’s entries.”
Judging Fiction and Narrative Non-Fiction
Doug Johnstone is the author of thirteen novels, most recently The Great Silence (2021). His previous book, The Big Chill (2020), was longlisted for the Theakston Crime Novel of the Year. Several of his books have been bestsellers and three, A Dark Matter (2020), Breakers (2019) and The Jump (2015), were shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. He’s taught creative writing and been writer in residence at various institutions over the last two decades including festivals, libraries, universities, schools, prisons and a funeral directors.
Doug is a Royal Literary Fund Consultant Fellow and works as a mentor and manuscript assessor for many organisations, including The Literary Consultancy, Scottish Book Trust and New Writing North. He’s been an arts journalist for over twenty years and has also written many short stories and screenplays. He is a songwriter and musician with six albums and three EPs released, and plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He’s also co-founder of the Scotland Writers Football Club.
Tahmima Anam is an award-winning novelist, short story writer, and anthropologist. She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a Granta Best Young British Novelist, and winner of an O Henry Prize and a Commonwealth Writers Prize. Her work has been published in Granta, The New York Times, and The Guardian. She was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and lives in London.
Judging the NorthBound Book Award
Catherine Simpson is a novelist, memoir writer, short story writer and poet who was born and raised on a Lancashire farm and now lives in Edinburgh. Her memoir One Body, about how our bodies tell the stories of our lives, is forthcoming from Saraband in March 2022. Previously she has published a memoir When I Had a Little Sister, and a novel Truestory.
She won a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award for the opening chapters of Truestory. Her work has been published in various anthologies and broadcast on BBC Radio.
Janine Bradbury is an academic and poet and is Senior Lecturer in Literature at The University of York. Her critical work has been published by Bloomsbury and Palgrave Macmillan, and she has appeared on BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour and written for the Guardian. In 2020, Janine won a Poetry London Mentorship award and was shortlisted for the Oxford Brooks Poetry Competition. In 2021, she was nominated for a Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship. She is a co-organiser of the Ledbury Poetry Critics Scheme and a co-founding editor of BLACKLINES: A Journal of Black British Writing.
Sara Hunt founded award-winning independent publisher Saraband in 1994. Saraband initially specialised in non-fiction, but in 2011 literary fiction was introduced to the list, and Contraband, a sister imprint for crime, mystery and dystopian fiction, followed in 2014. Their titles have won or been shortlisted for dozens of awards, from the Booker Prize (shortlist 2016) to international awards (LA Times and others) and regional awards.
Grace Keane joined the New Writing North team in Spring 2017 as Festivals and Events Intern. She then worked as Administration and Finance Assistant, and latterly Projects and Finance Assistant. In Autumn 2019 Grace became Programme Manager (Festivals, Events and Awards). This role largely focuses on the organisation of events such as Durham Book Festival, the Gordon Burn Prize and the David Cohen Prize for Literature. She also works closely on Read Regional and the Northern Writers’ Awards. Grace is a graduate of the University of Manchester where she gained a BA Hons in English Literature. In 2021 Grace was awarded a London Book Fair Trailblazer Award.
Judging the Hachette Children's Novel Award
After studying economics at university and then realising she had no interest working for a bank, Lena McCauley instead attended the Colombia Publishing Course and started a career in publishing. She worked briefly in New York for HarperCollins and then Penguin, before moving to London in 2012, where she joined Scholastic and worked on brands such as The Hunger Games and Captain Underpants. Now a Senior Commissioning Editor at Hachette Children’s Group, Lena has her dream job of commissioning and editing titles for children and teens, ranging from illustrated young fiction to middle grade and all the way up to YA, working with authors such as Michael Mann, Jewell Parker Rhodes and Onjali Q. Raúf.
Michael Mann is the author of Ghostcloud, a magical middle-grade adventure story set deep underneath a richly reimagined London, inspired by his coal-mining grandad. At age 10, he won his first writing competition at school, for a poem about potatoes. He had to shake hands with a giant potato in front of the whole school and still has the photo to prove it. More recently, he was a winner of the 2019 London Writer’s Award (Spread the Word) and SCBWI’s Undiscovered Voices 2020. As a person of British and Indian heritage, he is passionate about diversity in children’s literature. Michael was born in London but moved to North Yorkshire when he was ten. He’s now back in London, where he lives with his partner and two children. He wrote Ghostcloud while teaching in a primary school and mostly writes when he should be sleeping.
Isobel Gahan is an Associate Agent at Curtis Brown and has worked alongside agent Stephanie Thwaites and her list of clients since 2017. She has a background in children’s publishing and is building her own list across picture books, middle grade, YA and graphic novels. She particularly enjoys fantasy and sci-fi and looks for strong and distinctive writerly voices that will draw her into a world – whether mythical or our own. In 2020 she was long-listed for the Trailblazer award.
Judging the Andrea Badenoch Fiction Award
Debbie Taylor is Editorial Director of Mslexia, which she founded in 1999. She has written for Oxfam, UNICEF, Anti-Slavery, WHO and others about women and social issues and worked as an editor for New Internationalist and Writing Women magazines. Her books include My Children, My Gold (Virago), a nonfiction travelogue about single mothers, and The Fourth Queen (Penguin), a novel set in a harem in 18th Century Morocco. Her latest novel, Herring Girl (Oneworld), a paranormal historical thriller set on the banks of the Tyne, came out in 2014.
Margaret Wilkinson has written extensively for the stage and radio. Her five-part radio dramas, Out of the Ashes and Passover, were broadcast on BBC Radio 4; as were her afternoon dramas, Can You Hear Me? and I Decided to Kill My Brother-in-Law After Dinner; and her Saturday drama, I Married a Marxist. In 2012, she returned to North East theatres with modern gothic thriller Blue Boy, directed by Tess Denman-Cleaver and produced by New Writing North in co-production with Northern Stage. She is a senior lecturer on the MA in creative writing at Newcastle University.
Judging the Finchale Award
Wendy Erskine’s short story collection Sweet Home (2018 Stinging Fly, 2019 Picador) won the Butler Literary Award, was shortlisted for the Edge Hill Prize and the Republic of Consciousness Prize, and was longlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize and the Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award for the story ‘Inakeen.’ Her stories and non-fiction have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and 4, and on RTE. Her new collection Dance Move will be published by Stinging Fly and Picador in February.
‘The great thing about judging a competition like this is the diversity of voices, styles, genres, characters. I come with very few preconceptions about what makes a good story, but I know that we will encounter exceptional work.’
Benjamin Myers was born in Durham in 1976. His novel The Gallows Pole received a Roger Deakin Award and won the Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction. Beastings won the Portico Prize for Literature and Pig Iron won the Gordon Burn Prize. His latest novel The Offing was a A BBC Radio 2 Book Club Pick and has been adapted for the theatre by Janice Okoh. The Gallows Pole is currently being adapted for the BBC by Shane Meadows, releasing in 2022.
He has also published poetry, crime novels and short fiction, while his journalism has appeared in publications including, among others, the Guardian, New Statesman, Caught by the River and New Scientist. He lives in the Upper Calder Valley, West Yorkshire.
Judging Young Adult and the Young Northern Writers' Awards
Liz Flanagan is an award-winning children’s and YA author whose work has been widely translated. She completed her PhD in Creative Writing: Teen Fiction in 2017. Her debut novel Eden Summer was published in 2016 by David Fickling Books, and went on to be nominated for the Carnegie Medal. Her second novel Dragon Daughter was published in 2018 and won the 2019 Leeds Book Award and the Calderdale Book of the Year; and its sequel, Rise of the Shadow Dragons, was published in May 2020. Liz speaks about creativity, works with young people in schools, and has taught in a range of settings – including for Arvon, and at the University of Leeds and Newcastle University. She is currently working on a new middle-grade series which will be published in 2023.
Judging the Sid Chaplin Award
Are we home yet? Katy Massey’s memoir about her relationship with her mother, was published in September 2020 by Jacaranda. It has been shortlisted for the Jhalak Prize and longlisted for the Portico Prize. She worked as a journalist for many years before completing a PhD on memoir and race at Newcastle University. Alongside her own work, she has guided and published numerous emerging writers and initiated her own Arts Council-funded literature projects. She has published two anthologies of memoir: Tangled Roots: True Life Stories About Mixed Race Britain, featuring 30-plus contributions, and Who are we now? a collection of first-person experiences of the 2016 Brexit referendum. She lives in East Sussex with her family and has just completed a novel.
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