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2019 Apprentices

Word Factory Apprentice Award 2019

In association with New Writing North, the Northern Writers’ Awards, Literature Works and Writing West Midlands — with Carys Davies, Lisa Blower, Leone Ross and Chris Power.


Word Factory is delighted to announce the four winners of the Word Factory Apprentice Award 2019. This year Word Factory is proud to be extending the national reach of its unique short story mentoring scheme in partnership with New Writing North and the Northern Writers’ Awards, Writing West Midlands, Comma Press and Literature Works.

Each Apprentice will receive a year’s free access to all Word Factory events and masterclasses with leading authors, career development and industry support, as well as intensive mentoring from celebrated writers.

They will also receive free membership to the writers’s union, The Society of Authors. They will be mentored by Carys Davies, Chris Power, Lisa Blower and Leone Ross.

The 2019 Word Factory Mentors

The award is the brain-child of Word Factory’s associate director, Paul McVeigh and founder and director Cathy Galvin, both sharing working-class backgrounds and a passion for the transformative power of literature.

The winners will join the Word Factory team in an exciting year in which writers will be encouraged to explore the boundaries of the short story form. Galvin’s artistic programme of readings, debates and special events will run throughout 2019/2020 and and has attracted the support of partners including those directly related to the award and Arts Council England, Waterstones, Tara Arts Theatre, the Charles Causley and Quay Words festivals and the University of Exeter.


Giselle Leeb photo - Word Factory

Giselle Leeb

Giselle Leeb grew up in South Africa and lives in Nottingham. Her short stories have appeared in over thirty publications including The Best British Short Stories 2017 (Salt), Ambit, Mslexia, The Lonely Crowd, Litro, Bare Fiction, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Black Static, and other places. She has placed third in the Ambit, Elbow Room and WEM Aurora competitions and been shortlisted for the Bridport and Mslexia prizes. She is an assistant editor at Reckoning Journal.

Clare Howdle photo - Word Factory

Clare Howdle

Clare Howdle lives in Falmouth, Cornwall, where she runs a content agency – writing for national and international brands and publications about everything from how machine learning will enable the fifth wave of computing, to the cultural significance of the colour yellow. Her short stories have been published in The Sunday Times and The Cornish Short Stories Anthology (History Press, 2018) and longlisted for the Mslexia short story competition 2018. She’s performed her work at Port Eliot Festival, the Eden Sessions and was invited to judge a slam poetry competition with no knowledge of slam poetry. She’s endlessly baffled by the dynamics of human relationships and her writing explores the way experiences, emotions and events intersect to make us who we are. She’s supposed to be working on her first novel. Not checking the surf report.
Clare’s Word Factory Apprenticeship is also supported by Literature Works, the south-west regional writing development agency.

Roya Khatiblou photo - Word Factory

Roya Khatiblou

A finalist for the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing Fellowship, Roya’s work has appeared in Hotel Amerika, Passages North, Hayden’s Ferry Review and elsewhere. She received an MFA in fiction writing from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she was Assistant Fiction and Assistant Nonfiction Editor of Ninth Letter, and an MA in fiction writing from Northwestern University. She moved to England in 2017 and lives in Birmingham, where she is a member of Room 204 writer development programme.
Roya’s Word Factory Apprenticeship is also supported by Writing West Midlands.

Melissa Wan photo - Word Factory

Melissa Wan

Melissa Wan is a writer from Manchester by way of Holland and Hong Kong. Her story The Husband and the Wife Go to the Seaside was published by Bluemoose Books (2018) and will be reprinted in Salt’s Best British Stories 2019. Her work is often concerned with the life not lived, the uncanny, and feeling alone in relationships. She was awarded the inaugural Crowdfunded BAME Writers’ Scholarship 2028/19 to study Creative Writing at UEA, and is currently working on her first collection of stories.
Melissa’s Word Factory Apprenticeship is also supported by New Writing North.

Lucy Beevor photo - Word Factory

Commended – Lucy Beevor

Lucy is a 2018/19 XBorders participant with the Irish Writers Centre. She was a finalist for the Michael McLaverty Short Story Award 2019 and her writing has been short-listed for the Mairtín Crawford Award for Short Story 2019, the John O’Connor Short Story Prize 2018 and the Bath Flash Fiction Award. In 2016 she co-conceived and curated Death Box, an exhibition of poetry and prose.

Apprentice Alumnae

Trusted relationships are vital to the development of a writer. Our former apprentices—Avani Shah, Melissa Fu, Durre Shower, Fergus Evans, Rebecca Swirsky, Holly Dawson, Kerstin Twatchmann, Uschi Gatward, Claire Adam, Divya Ghelani and Emily Devane—have all become members of the Word Factory team, winning awards and being published in leading magazines and journals.

Claire Adam’s debut novel, GOLDEN CHILD, will be published in January 2019 by Faber & Faber in the UK/Commonwealth, and by Hogarth in USA/Canada. Set in Trinidad, it’s a story about fatherhood and family, about betrayal, love and impossible choices.


The Word Factory Apprenticeship was a huge boost, and it came at a time when I really needed it. It brought me into contact with other writers who were at a similar stage to me, which was wonderful for the sense of camaraderie, and also a sense of validation, i.e. not feeling like I was the lone crazy fool who had decided to dedicate so many years to this unprofitable endeavour! And my mentor, Jacob Ross, was also a massive help, not only in terms of the encouragement he gave me, but also on the nuts-and-bolts on the writing side: he helped me untangle the problems I was having with my novel’s structure, for example, and helped me move past a bottleneck I’d been stuck on for months. Also, both Jacob and I are from the Caribbean, and it was very useful to be able to discuss Caribbean literature side by side with literature from other countries.

Claire Adam, 2016 Apprentice. Debut novel to be published by Faber.

Many Thanks

Sincere thanks to everyone who has supported our scheme to date: and most particularly our previous mentors Courttia Newland, KJ Orr, Jenn Ashworth, Tom Lee, Nikesh Shukla, Alexei Sayle, Zoe Gilbert, Jarred McGinnis, Adam Marek, Stella Duffy, Alex Preston and Nicholas Royle, Jacob Ross, Vanessa Gebbie and Professor Ailsa Cox.