Talent Development

Word Space 2023-24

13th June 2023

Word Space is Literature Works’ inclusive and diverse talent development programme for developing new voices from around the South West region.

2023-24 sees our second cohort of 8 emerging writers embark on a creative journey with their mentors for 12 months to develop their work and achieve set writing goals.

Meet the Cohort

  • Alun Hughes is a poet and singer, a single parent of two teenage boys, living in Stroud, Gloucestershire. In 2020, he received a MA Creative Writing with Distinction from Bath Spa University. In 2021, he was a digital writer in residence with Dialect at the Cotswold Water Park and won third prize in the Troubadour International Poetry Competition. In 2022, he was shortlisted for the Laurie Lee Prize.

    Alun started working on land in 2000 as a farmhand on an organic farm just north of Lewes, Sussex. Since then, he has worked as a woodsman, yurt maker, hedge layer, teacher of woodland management and green woodwork. In 2008, he became involved in designing and facilitating courses in nature-based practice and wilderness work. Alun’s poetry pamphlet Down the Heavens, is published by Yew Tree Press. Somewhere Somewhere, an album of nine poems from the collection to original soundtracks, made with the band Lensmen, is out now on the Irregular Patterns label.

  • Catherine has been writing fiction and poems since 2015 – producing a first novel (that lives under her bed), and a second novel, ‘They Came to the Oak’, which was shortlisted for the Impress Prize for new writers in 2017.

    Professionally she works as a copywriter; making complex, online information simple for people. For Word Space this year, she’ll be concentrating on a piece of creative non-fiction.

  • Recently retired, Chris only started creative writing about two years ago and is yet to be published but lives in hope. He grew up in Sheffield and now lives in Bristol. He writes short stories set in the 1970s in a northern industrial city. Chris’ characters live ordinary lives in an ordinary council estate. His stories often feature bus stops, privet hedges, crittall windows, darts, football, beer or records and sometimes all of those. Avocado green toilets also make an occasional surprise appearance. How exciting is that?

    Chris’ writing pays homage to a time and place when working class communities and the places they lived were dignified, thriving and successful. Chris is considering writing a longer fictional story involving the same set of characters from his shorter pieces but he currently has little idea of a plot to carry a story through into a full novel. He hopes that the Word Space programme can aid him in this regard and/or support his writing of more short stories and help him get published.

  • Ella lives in Cornwall and works as a speech and language therapist. She started writing through an evening adult education class and hasn’t stopped since. Her short stories have been published in Paperbound, People’s Friend, Mythic Circle and Indigo Dreams magazines; also in anthologies with Cornwall Writers ‘Beneath and Beyond’ and ‘Secret and Hidden’. She won first place in Creative South West short story competition in 2021 and second place for the Perito Prize in 2022 with a story about inclusivity.

    Since focusing on poetry, she was commissioned to create a video poem for Apples and Snakes Cece’s Speakeasy climate change project and was also funded to attend an Arvon course in 2021. She formed a women’s poetry collective in 2022 (Mor Poets) and published a poetry/photography book about sea swimming, discovering a love for performing at spoken word events along the way. Her new Arts Council supported project, Mordardh, will explore and share new poetry about surfing – she can’t wait.

    She hopes Word Space will give her support in structuring her hybrid memoir about parenting her autistic son. When she’s not writing, she’s sailing, swimming or walking in wild spaces.

  • After working as a shoe-seller in London, Mark now writes in South Somerset. He works in multiple genres – his short stories and creative non-fiction have won him prizes including a trip to Sydney and been published/shortlisted by Moxy literary magazine, the A3 Review, Fish Publishing and others.

    He has also had poetry published online and in print, including the Quay Voices Anthology Volume II. Last summer, Mark was announced by Dame Margaret Drabble as the Runner-Up in the Interact Ruth Rendell Short Story Prize. He was also shortlisted for the 2022 TLC Pen Factor Prize. He performs at spoken word events throughout the southwest and has also written a book for locked-down local children. A sequel will be out this summer. At Word Space, he hopes to find a home for his full-length work of creative non-fiction and develop his current work-in-progress, a workplace novel set in a time of Covid.

  • Tracey Fuller has published short auto-fiction for Oh! Magazine, and Motherwell, fiction for Litro and poetry for the Science Museum.

    She is published in Quay Voices One, a Literature Works anthology. She has read at the Open Mic at Brook Street Kitchen, live Crowdcast events as well as at the prestigious Voice Box at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on London’s South Bank. Tracey completed her Creative Writing MA at Middlesex University. Winning the Biscuit Prize for short fiction led her to complete her novella ‘The Silver Vessel’ which was subsequently published by Biscuit. It took a lifeboat crew, a vintage car and a diving show through the Great War. Recently, Tracey has been proud to participate in an arts commission for the Science Museum and the resulting anthology will be published summer 2023. Tracey has a fascination with old military bases and is hoping to incorporate them into her writing this year.

    She is looking forward to developing her ‘performance/ reading’ skills and working with other southwest writers and mentors to enable her to develop a novel-length piece. Living on Dartmoor inspires Tracey’s work, and she likes wild swimming with her family, and riding Daisy their tandem around the Devon countryside.

  • Viktoria was an Emerging Writer at the London Library in 2021. She writes poetry, short fiction, and long-form (Novel). She’s been very lucky in love writing and has been listed for the Creative Future award, The Book Edit writer’s prize, The Grindstone Novel prize, and The Primadonna Prize among others.

    When she’s not writing, she’s reading, running while listening to audio books, or swimming even though it gives her rhinitis. Though she acts too silly to be literary, she enjoys writing about love that doesn’t quite make it. Hopeful, sad endings are her kryptonite as are lines that are so over-exaggerated they become parody. She’s excited to embark on Word Space to feel more connected to the writing community.


Word Space this year is being delivered with the support of our partner organisations: The Writer’s Block, enabling Cornish writers to find their voice; Dialect Writers, working with rural writers in Gloucestershire; Speaking Volumes, producing live literature and a range of support for diverse writers; and Little Toller Books, publishers and booksellers specialising in themes around rurality and nature writing.

We also have an excellent group of mentors for this year’s cohort.

Meet the Mentors

  • Virginia Baily is the author of three novels: Africa Junction, Early One Morning, and The Fourth Shore. She won the McKitterick prize in 2012 for her debut novel and her work has been translated into thirteen languages. Early One Morning was a Sunday Times bestseller and was dramatized on BBC Radio 4. Her award-winning short stories have been widely published. She is the co-editor of Riptide short story journal. She is currently working on a novel set in Exeter.

  • J. R. Carpenter is an artist, writer, and researcher working across performance, print, and digital media. Her digital poem The Gathering Cloud won the New Media Writing Prize 2016. Her print collection An Ocean of Static was highly commended by the Forward Prizes 2018. Her collection This is a Picture of Wind was one of The Guardian’s best poetry books of 2020. She is a fellow of the Eccles Centre at the British Library and the Moore Institute at NUI Galway, and is currently a research fellow at University of Southampton, working on Wind as a Model, Media, and Experience at Winchester School of Art.

  • Lily Dunn is an author, mentor and academic. Her debut nonfiction, Sins of My Father: A Daughter, A Cult, A Wild Unravelling, a memoir about the legacy of her father’s addictions (W&N) was The Spectator and The Guardian Best Nonfiction Book, 2022, and her doctorate is concerned with the transformative power of writing memoir. She has personal essays published by Granta and Aeon, among other publications, and she is also co-editor of A Wild and Precious Life (Unbound, 2021), an anthology of stories on recovery from mental illness and addiction. Her first novel, Shadowing the Sun, was published by Portobello Books (2007). She teaches narrative nonfiction and memoir at Bath Spa University and co-runs London Lit Lab.

  • Alyson Hallett has recently completed an EarthArt Fellowship in the Earth Sciences department of the University of Bristol where she worked with vulcanologists on the impact of meteors. Her latest pamphlet, Covid/Corvid was co-written with Penelope Shuttle and is published by Broken Sleep Books. Alyson is a Hawthornden Fellow and part-time lecturer at Falmouth Art School and UWE. She lives near Bath, loves to walk and swim in the sea, and is deeply committed to collaborative practice.

  • Kerry Hudson was born in Aberdeen. Her first novel, TONY HOGAN BOUGHT ME AN ICE-CREAM FLOAT BEFORE HE STOLE MY MA was published in 2012 by Chatto & Windus (Penguin Random House) and was the winner of the Scottish First Book Award while also being shortlisted for the Southbank Sky Arts Literature Award, Guardian First Book Award, Green Carnation Prize, Author’s Club First Novel Prize and the Polari First Book Award. Kerry’s second novel, THIRST, was published in 2014 by Chatto & Windus and won France’s most prestigious award for foreign fiction the Prix Femina Étranger. It was also shortlisted for the European Premio Strega in Italy. Her books are also available in the US (Penguin), France (Editions Philippe Rey), Italy (Minimum Fax) and Turkey.

    Her latest book and memoir, LOWBORN, takes her back to the towns of her childhood as she investigates her own past and what it means to be poor in Britain today. It was a Radio 4 Book of the Week, a Guardian and Independent Book of the Year. It was longlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize and Portico Prize and shortlisted in the National Book Token, Books Are My Bag Reader’s Awards and the Saltire Scottish Non-Fiction Book of the Year.

    Kerry was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2020. She founded The WoMentoring Project and Breakthrough Festival. She has written for Grazia, Guardian, Observer New Review, Big Issue and the Metro newspaper. She was a writer in residence for the British Council in South Korea and Latvia, mentored with IdeasTap Inspires, TLC and Curtis Brown Academy, teaches for the Arvon Foundation. She lives in Glasgow’s Southside.

  • Tiffany Murray’s novels are Diamond Star Halo, Happy Accidents and Sugar Hall. Her memoir, My Family and Other Rock Stars, will be published by Fleet in 2024. Tiffany has a series of short stories on BBC Radio 4, ‘Hulda’s Café’, and she is currently working on a crime novel, The Girl Who Spoke to Birds. She is a recipient of the Roger Deakin Award for nature writing from the Society of Authors, and has been an International Hay Festival Fiction fellow, a Fulbright scholar, and a Senior Lecturer. Tiffany founded and directs Hay Festival’s development program for Welsh writers, ‘Writers at Work.’

  • Greta Stoddart’s 4 poetry books (Anvil, Bloodaxe) have won or been shortlisted for the Geoffrey Faber, Forward, Roehampton and Costa poetry awards. A long radio poem Who’s there? was BBC Pick of the Week and shortlisted for the 2017 Ted Hughes Award. She was also shortlisted for the 2021 Bridport Short Story Award and longlisted for the 2022 BBC Short Story Award.

    Greta began teaching at Morley College in London before going on to teach at Goldsmiths College, University of London. She then became a Poetry Fellow at Warwick University, Writer-in-Residence at Exeter University and Creative Writing tutor at Bath Spa University. She has taught for the Arvon Foundation and been a tutor for the Poetry School for 20 years, during which time she has had extensive mentoring experience.

    (Photography Credit: Robin Mills)