Sifters and Readers

The sifting and reading teams for the Northern Writers’ Awards change each year to ensure a mix of taste and opinions is reflected across the awards.


  • Cynthia Miller

    Cynthia Miller is a Malaysian-American poet and web3 strategy director living in Edinburgh. Her debut collection, Honorifics, received an Eric Gregory, and was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the Seamus Heaney First Collection Poetry Prize. She is the Co-Founder of the award-winning Verve Poetry Festival. Her poems have appeared in Ambit, the Rialto, MIT Technology Review, Butcher’s Dog, Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal, Under the Radar and harana poetry. 

  • Anna Woodford

    Anna Woodford is the author of five poetry books and pamphlets: Changing Room (Salt, 2018), Birdhouse (Salt, 2010), Party Piece (Smith Doorstop, 2009), Trailer (Five Leaves, 2008) and The Higgins’ Honeymoon (2003). She has won an Authors’ Foundation award, an Eric Gregory award, a PBS recommendation, an Arvon/Jerwood apprenticeship and two Northern Writers’ Awards.

  • Kit Fan

    Kit Fan is a poet, novelist and critic. His first book of poems, Paper Scissors Stone (2011), won the inaugural HKU International Poetry Prize. As Slow As Possible (2018) was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and one of the Irish Times Books of the Year. He was shortlisted twice for the Guardian 4th Estate BAME Short Story Prize. He has also won a Northern Writers’ Award for Fiction, the Times Stephen Spender Poetry Translation Prize, and a Poetry Editors’ Prize for Reviewing. His debut novel is Diamond Hill (2021).

Fiction and Narrative Non-Fiction

  • Ashley Thorpe

    Ashley is Senior Editor at Storymix: the inclusive children’s fiction studio. His role includes developing story ideas and finding and mentoring burgeoning writing talent to bring those ideas to life. As a writer, Ashley was shortlisted for the inaugural Penguin Random House WriteNow scheme, and his debut middle grade novel Shadow of the Orishas is expected to publish in 2024. 

  • Robert Williams

    Robert Williams grew up in Clitheroe, Lancashire. His first novel, Luke and Jon, won a Betty Trask Award. His second novel, How the Trouble Started, was shortlisted for the Portico Prize for fiction. Into the Trees is his latest. His books have been translated into ten languages. Robert has spoken at the Edinburgh International Book Festival and the Berlin International Book Festival, among others. He is also a songwriter and his songs have been played on BBC Radio 6 and Radio 2. Twitter: @redwardwilliams 

  • David Whetstone

    David is a journalist who has been writing about the arts in the North East since the 1980s. For more than 30 years he was Arts Editor of The Journal, the regional morning newspaper, and from 2005 to 2017 he also edited the monthly Culture magazine which covered the region’s cultural scene in depth. He now works as a freelance journalist, specialising in arts and culture, for newspapers and online publications. He has interviewed many writers, in print and on stage at book festivals, and has reported on the Northern Writers’ Awards since their inception. He has been delighted to see winners’ writing careers develop. Having been a judge on several writing competitions, he is always excited to see new talent emerge and understands how the encouragement and validation that comes with a prize, to say nothing of a little financial support, can help that to happen. 

  • Françoise Harvey

    Françoise Harvey is a writer and freelance editor. She has been published in Best British Short Stories 2017, The Lonely Crowd, Confingo, Black Static and Interzone, amongst many other places, and has been shortlisted for the Bristol and Bridport Short Story Prizes and listed in the top 50 for the BBC National Short Story Award. Before going freelance she was the production editor (and occasional guest editor) at Mslexia magazine. She is the host of NARC magazine’s ‘My Writing Life’ podcast and is founder and curator of the HARK! The Sound of Stories events online and in venue in Darlington, where she lives. She was awarded a Northern Writers’ Award in 2017 and an Arts Council DYCP grant in 2021.

Children's Fiction

  • Ann Coburn

    Ann Coburn is an award-winning author and playwright with a career spanning thirty years. She specialises in fiction for children and young adults, as well as theatre plays and screenplays for both children and adults. Ann also works as a dramaturge, freelance writing mentor, creative writing tutor and academic, with previous roles including Lecturer in Creative Writing at Newcastle University, and Royal Literary Fund Consultant Fellow.

  • Clare Weze

    Clare Weze won a Northern Writers’ Award in 2016 and is the author of Carnegie-nominated The Lightning Catcher (Bloomsbury). Her work can be found in Best Microfiction 2019, The Conglomerate, Commonword, Reflex Fiction, Riptide, The Lascaux Review and elsewhere, and she is represented by The Good Literary Agency. She grew up between London and Yorkshire and her background is in environmental and biological sciences.