Here are the participants of this year’s Writers at Work, a creative development programme for emerging Welsh talent at Hay Festival 2023 (25 May–4 June) with the support of Literature Wales, funded by Arts Council of Wales.
Offering a fully-programmed week of creative development opportunities, Writers at Work allows the selected writers to engage in the main Festival events, to attend masterclasses and workshops with publishers, agents and, crucially, with established international artists.
Writers at Work is a Hay Festival project supported by Literature Wales – the national company for the development of literature – and run by writer Tiffany Murray. Participants to date have achieved a spread of award wins and shortlistings, including the International Dylan Thomas Prize, Wales Book of the Year, The New Welsh Writing Award, the Wasafiri New Writing Prize, Wales Media Award, Welsh Rising Star Award, and Creative Wales Award.
Connor Allen is an award-winning multidisciplinary artist and the Children’s Laureate Wales (2021-2023). He has written for BBC Wales, BBC Radio 4, Wales Millennium Centre, Sherman Theatre, Dirty Protest, and others, and is a former member of the BBC Wales Welsh Voices and The Welsh Royal Court writing groups. His work is heavily inspired by elements of his own life including grief, love, masculinity, identity and ethnicity.
An actor graduate from University of Wales Trinity Saint David, he wrote and performed in his acclaimed debut show The Making of a Monster at the Wales Millennium Centre in 2022 (playtext published by Aurora Metro Books), which won the 2023 Imison Award at the BBC Audio Drama Awards. In 2021, he won the Rising Star Wales Award, and was a Jerwood Live Work Fund recipient. His debut poetry collections Dominoes (for general audiences) and Miracles (for children) were published in 2023 by Lucent Dreaming.
He is Associate Artist of his hometown theatre The Riverfront in Newport.
Sophie Buchaillard’s debut novel This Is not who we Are (Seren Books, 2022) was shortlisted for the Rhys Davies Trust Fiction Award and the Wales Book of the Year 2023. Her short stories and essays have appeared in an array of literary magazines and newspapers, including The ByLine Times, Wales Arts Review, Murmurations Magazine, and Modron Magazine. Sophie also contributed to the collections An Open Door: New Travel Writing for a Precarious Century (Parthian, 2022), and Anthology 1: Together and Apart (Square Wheel Press, 2020). A Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, Sophie is passionate about empowering others to write. She splits her time between writing and teaching creative writing at Cardiff University and in the community and is a Translation Board Member for the refugees and migrants magazine The Other Side of Hope. Sophie holds an MA in Creative and Critical Writing (Cardiff University, 2021) and is in the later stages of her PhD. She writes about identity, movement and migration. Find out more @growriter and www.sophiebuchaillard.com
Brennig Davies is a writer from the Vale of Glamorgan. He was the winner of the inaugural BBC Young Writers Award in 2015 and the Crown at the Urdd Eisteddfod 2019, and was shortlisted for the Rhys Davies Short Story Prize 2021. His work has appeared in Poetry Wales, The Cardiff Review and various anthologies, and he was the creative editor of Deffro (Urdd Gobaith Cymru, 2021).
Nia Davies is a poet experimenting with embodied practice and performance. She is also a writer, researcher, performer, curator and editor. In 2021, Nia was awarded a doctorate for research into poetry and ritual at the University of Salford. Her first book-length collection of poems All Fours (Bloodaxe Books, 2017) was shortlisted for the Roland Matthias Prize for Poetry in the Wales Book of the Year awards (2018) and longlisted for the Michael Murphy Memorial Prize for First Collection (2019). She was editor of Poetry Wales (2014–2019) and has published several pamphlets and collaborative publications and performed in intermedia projects. Nia has also worked on international literary and translation projects and has performed, collaborated and curated around the world. She lives in Swansea/Abertawe where she is part of the curatorial group running the the Nawr series of experimental music and arts events. Her second collection will be published by Bloodaxe in 2024.
Originally from Pwllheli on the Llŷn Peninsula, Gwenllian Ellis currently lives in Kilburn, London. She published her popular first book Sgen I’m Syniad: Snogs, Secs, Sens in September 2022 with Y Lolfa. Part memoir, part social commentary, the collection follows the life of the author as she deals with the trials and tribulations of growing up and navigating her way through the world. The book has gained equal amounts of praise and notoriety for its open and frank exploration of growing up, diet culture, social media sex, dating, female friendships and what it means to be a young woman in the 21st century.
Previously she had a column in Welsh language women’s magazine, Cara, in which she wrote about her personal experiences of modern dating. Since 2017, she has also worked with online platform, Hansh, and Cwmni Fran Wen theatre company as a freelance creative consultant and writer. Her play, In Luna, won second prize in the National Eisteddfod’s Drama Medal competition in 2018.
Louise Mumford was born and still lives in South Wales and had a previous career as a secondary school teacher. Her debut book, Sleepless, a “frighteningly inventive” speculative thriller inspired by her own experience of insomnia, was published by HQ in December 2020. It has reached the overall Top 50 UK Kindle Chart and was the Karin Slaughter July 2021 Killer Read in UK Asda stores nationwide. It has been recently published in Canada. Her latest thriller, The Safe House, was released in May 2022 and her next book The Hotel, out in June 2023, is set on the coast of West Wales. She is co-chair of Crime Cymru, a co-operative of crime fiction writers with a connection to Wales and she is part of the team who brought Wales’ first international crime fiction festival, Gŵyl Crime Cymru Festival, to Aberystwyth in April 2023, with sponsors and partners including the Welsh Government, Literature Wales and Waterstones. She can be found on Twitter @Louise_Mumford or at her website www.louisemumfordauthor.com.
Taz Rahman’s first poetry collection is out in February 2024 from Seren Books. He was shortlisted for the 2022 Aesthetica Creative Writing Prize and has been published in Poetry Wales, Bad Lilies, South Bank Poetry, Anthropocene, Honest Ulsterman, Planet, Barddas, Abridged Magazine, Propel and in various anthologies. He is in the editorial team for the climate emergency literary magazine Modron and also serves as the committee chair of Poetry Wales. He founded Wales’ first Youtube poetry channel Just Another Poet in 2019 to increase visibility of Welsh poets.
Francesca Reece is a writer from North Wales. Her debut novel, Voyeur, was published by Tinder Press in 2021, and has been translated into German and Polish. She was the 2019 recipient of the Desperate Literature Prize, and has had work featured in The London Magazine, Banshee and Elle UK. After several years spent living in Paris, she is currently based in London, where she is working on her second novel, out next year.
Anthony Shapland grew up in Bargoed in the Rhymney Valley. His work, as a writer, artist and filmmaker, blends documentary and fiction, building on his sense that the world is constructed in the same way as a film set – constantly evolving and temporary. His childhood was a time of massive upheaval and change. In parallel, coming out as gay was complex in a world that was only just shifting its moral and legal attitudes, making blending-in a survival strategy. Alongside writing and exhibiting, he is co-founder of g39, an artist-led space in Cardiff, where he works. He was part of the Representing Wales 2022 cohort on a support programme run by Literature Wales with mentoring support from Cynan Jones. Prior to that he took part in a short fiction course with Curtis Brown Creative, and a month-long programme with Moniack Mohr. In 2022 he was shortlisted for the Rhys Davies award for his short story, Foolscap, available in the anthology Cree, published by Parthian. He is currently working on a creative non-fiction essay with Inclusive Journalism and Seren, to be published in the anthology Cymru & I this year and is working on a short-form novella.
Emma Smith-Barton is an author, teacher and creative writing mentor from South Wales. Growing up between cultures has heavily influenced her writing and she is especially interested in exploring themes of identity and belonging. Her debut YA novel, The Million Pieces of Neena Gill, was published by Penguin Random House and shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Award, the Branford Boase Award and the Romantic Novelists' Association Debut Romantic Novel Award. She has a BA in English and Creative Writing from the University of Warwick and a Creative Writing MA from Bath Spa University.
Mari Ellis Dunning is an award-winning Welsh writer of poetry, short stories and children’s books. Her debut poetry collection Salacia launched in October 2018 with Parthian Books. Mari has an MA in Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University. The coast is hugely important to her writing and wellbeing. She lives in Aberystwyth with her husband. She tweets at @mariiellis.
Rhiannon Hooson is a poet from the Marches. Her first collection, The Other City, was shortlisted for the Wales Book of the Year Award. She has been featured in the Guardian and Magma, has a PhD in poetry, and is an Eric Gregory Award winner. She is working on a novel with the help of a Literature Wales bursary.
Janine Barnett-Phillips has been an English teacher for 25 years and is now director of Writers’ Cwtch. Her novel Asterix Clementine was shortlisted for the Times/Chicken House Competition and she’s represented by the Blair Partnership Literary Agency. She is currently working on her YA debut, The Sunshiners. Janine is a 2019 Literature Wales Bursary recipient.
Georgia Carys Williams is a part-time Creative Writing tutor at Swansea University. Her short story collection Second-hand Rain (Parthian) was shortlisted for the Sabotage Short Story Award, longlisted for the Edge Hill Prize and longlisted for the Frank O'Connor International Prize. Her debut novel was longlisted for the Mslexia Novel Competition 2018.
Wendy White’s first children’s book, ‘Welsh Cakes and Custard’ (Gomer Press), won the Tir Nan’Og Award in 2014. She has three other children’s books published with Gomer. She writes for adults as Sara Gethin and her debut novel, ‘Not Thomas’ (Honno) was shortlisted for The Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize 2017.
Dyfan Lewis writes in a variety of genres. He was raised in Craig-cefn-parc near Swansea and now lives in Cardiff. Dyfan's current project is a collection of essays based on his time travelling in South-east Asia.
Jane Fraser lives and works in Gower, writing fiction and being a co-director of NB:Design. In 2017 she was a finalist in the Manchester Fiction Prize, and in 2019 shortlisted for the Cambridge Short Story Prize. Widely published in anthologies, her debut collection of short fiction, The South Westerlies, is forthcoming from SALT Publishing in June. She has an MA and PhD in Creative Writing (Swansea University) and is represented by Sheil Land Literary Agency. Work in progress includes a second collection of short fiction and a historical novel. Website - www.janefraserwriter.com Twitter - @jfraserwriter
Hanan Issa is a mixed-race Welsh writer whose work has been featured on ITV Wales and BBC Radio Wales, published in Banat Collective, Hedgehog Press, Sukoon mag, and MuslimGirl.com, and performed at the Bush Theatre’s Hijabi Monologues. She is the co-founder of Cardiff's BAME open mic 'Where I'm Coming From' and is currently working on a feature film project in partnership with Film4. She was awarded the Hay Festival International Fellowship in 2022.
Darren Chetty was born in Swansea. He is a contributor to the bestselling book The Good Immigrant edited by Nikesh Shukla (Unbound) and co-author, with Jeffrey Boakye, of >What Is Masculinity? Why Does It Matter? And Other Big Questions (Wayland) and, with Adam Ferner, of How to Disagree (Quarto).
Elan Grug Muse is a PhD student at the Welsh department in Swansea University. She won the chair at the 2013 Urdd eisteddfod; is co-editor of Y Stamp; a member of the Cywion Cranogwen collective; and in 2017 published her first volume of poetry, Ar Ddisberod with Cyhoeddiadau Barddas.
Samantha O’Rourke is a playwright, originally from Cheshire now living in North Wales. She is currently Writer on Attachment with Liverpool’s Everyman Playhouse. Recent projects include ‘No Persons Only Women’ (Volcano Theatre, Swansea), Liverpool First (Everyman/Williamson Tunnels) and Quantum (YEP, Everyman Theatre).
Gareth Evans-Jones lives in Traeth Bychan, Anglesey and he is a lecturer in the School of Philosophy and Bangor, Bangor University. He was awarded a New Author Scholarship by Literature Wales in 2017, and his first volume of creative prose, Eira Llwyd, will be published in the autumn this year.
Emily Vanderploeg’s writing has been published in both the UK and Canada, shortlisted for the Impress Prize, Melita Hume Prize, and Arc Poem of the Year Contest, and longlisted for The Poetry School’s Primers series. She is also a 2019 Literature Wales New Writer’s Bursary Award recipient. Emily holds an MA and PhD in Creative Writing (Swansea University) and teaches at Queen’s University and with the Young Writers Squad. Originally from Aurora, Ontario, Canada, she lives in Swansea.
Morgan Owen is a poet and writer from Merthyr Tydfil. In 2017 and 2018 he won the D Gwyn Evans Memorial Prize for the best poem in a competition for poets under 25, held by Barddas. In 2018, he was poet in residence at the Architecture Exhibit in the Lle Celf at the National Eisteddfod for Wales in Cardiff. In the same year, he was part of the Her Can Cerdd ('Hundred Poem Challenge'), held by Literature Wales, whereby four poets write 100 poems in 24 hours. He also came second in the Medal for Drama in the Urdd National Eisteddfod in 2018. During January 2019 he was Radio Cymru's Poet of the Month. His work is published regularly in magazines such as O'r Pedwar Gwynt, Y Stamp, and Barddas. His first book of poems will be published later this year. Twitter @morgowen.
Eloise Williams writes fiction for young people. A Literature Wales bursary recipient, her second novel Gaslight (2017 Firefly Press) won Wales Arts Review Young People’s Book of the Year 2017, the YBB Book Awards 2018 and was shortlisted in the Tir na nOg Awards 2018. Her third novel Seaglass (2018 Firefly Press) is shortlisted for the Tir na nOg Awards 2019 and the NE Book Awards 2019. Eloise has an MA in Creative Writing from Swansea University and is represented by The Viney Shaw Agency. www.eloisewilliams.com Twitter @eloisejwilliams
Eric Ngalle Charles is a Cameroonian born, Wales based writer, poet and playwright. His first play "My mouth brought me here" was performed at London’s South Bank Centre in August 2016 and at the Hay Festival on 30 May 2017. Eric’s latest play "The Last Ritual" was performed at Hay Fetstival on 28 May 2018.
Alison Powell, originally from South Wales, writes short fiction that has appeared in various publications, including Mslexia. She is also working on a novel and won runner-up prize in 2016’s Bridport First Novel Award. She is co-founder of the Bristol-based WriteClub and is currently co-editing the National Flash Fiction anthology.
Julie Primon is a PhD student in Creative Writing at Cardiff University. A French native, Julie is working on a historical novel set in 1940s Italy, loosely based on her grandmother's own story. In her spare time, she occasionally writes poems and short stories, and she enjoys discovering new places.
Meg Elis was born in Aberystwyth in 1950, but has lived and worked in Gwynedd since 1976. She is a freelance translator and writer, who graduated in Welsh from Bangor in 1972 and obtained a doctorate in Creative Writing from Bangor, 2017. She is the author of 3 novels, 1 volume of short stories and is a regular contributor /reviewer to Welsh press.
Rufus Mufasa is a literary activist and lyrical genre hopper, and has travelled and toured profusely but always returns to Pontypridd, which she has made her home. Rufus' work explores a cocktail of disciplines, the avant-garde "ness" of multilingualism, the threading of ancestry, filled with hope and heart. Currently developing a poetry collection with support from a Writers Bursary from Literature Wales.