Room 204 Participants 2015/16

Here are the writers who are part of our Room 204 Writer Development Programme 2015/16:

Carol Caffrey photo2Carol Caffrey Witherow

Carol is a native of Dublin and has been living in Shropshire since 1991.  Writing (fiction, poetry and plays) has always been a part of her life, though she only began to pursue it more seriously in the past few years.  A graduate of UCD, she worked as a teacher in Ireland, Nigeria and Paris before becoming a professional actor in the 1980s.  She worked mostly with community theatre groups, touring prisons, schools, women’s clubs and the alternative comedy circuit, often helping to devise and script the company’s work.

She has been published in Bare Fiction magazine, the 2013 Fish Anthology  (as a runner-up in the Flash competition), Ireland’s Own magazine and online with the Wenlock Poetry Festival.  She’s a regular contributor to Shrewsbury Poetry open mic nights and the town’s Flash Fiction evenings and is currently working on a radio drama about Queen Elizabeth 1 and a novel, set in a copper-mining village on the Beara peninsula. West Cork.

The spoken – as well as the written – word interests her and partly because of that she recently revived her long-dormant acting career with a production of the one-woman play, Music for Dogs, written (originally for radio) by eminent Irish poet and playwright, Paula Meehan. The play is to be shown in Ludlow, Market Drayton, Scotland and it will open the 11th Palliative Care Conference at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre in Glasgow, 2016. 


Gregory Leadbetter

Gregory Leadbetter is a Reader in Literature and Creative Writing, Director of Institute of Creative and Critical Writing and Director of MA in Writing at Birmingham City University. He is a graduate of Trinity College Cambridge, and of the MA in Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths, London. After winning a Research Studentship for the project, he completed his PhD on Coleridge at Oxford Brookes University. He is a poet, critic and scriptwriter. A collection of his poems, entitled The Body in the Well, was published by HappenStance Press in 2007, and his poems have been commended in the Arvon Poetry Competition and shortlisted for the Strokestown Poetry Prize. His monograph on Coleridge’s poetry and poetics, Coleridge and the Daemonic Imagination, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2011. Between 2005 and 2007, he was a scriptwriter for the BBC radio drama series Silver Street. In 2010, he was Poet in Residence at Radley College, Abingdon.

Jack TaskerJack Tasker

Jack is a graduate of Liverpool John Moore’s Creative Writing degree, where he served as an editor for In The Red, the University’s literary magazine. During his time with In The Red, he helped secure contributions from Gunter Grass, Henry Rollins, Paul Magrs, Frank Turner and Alice Oswald. Since graduating he has completed the draft of his first novel, with the working title of Currents. The novel follows the journey of an adolescent runaway who finds himself in a remote Scottish fishing village with no money and no future.

Aside from this, Jack is also the writer for Birmingham-based Associated Architects, and has led their Hidden Spaces campaign, a celebration of the city’s lost and forgotten architecture. He also finds time to write and perform in three bands and run an independent record label.


Jane SeabourneJane Seabourne

Jane Seabourne writes poetry. Her poems have been published in a variety of magazines from The Cannon’s Mouth to Mslexia. Her first collection, Bright Morning, was published by Offa’s Press in 2010 and is included in Poetry on Loan’s Here, There and Everywhere recommended reading list.

Jane is a regular reader at spoken word events throughout the West Midlands, especially at City Voices in Wolverhampton.

She was a teacher for more than thirty years, teaching a wide range of subjects, in a wide range of settings to a wide range of people – from English at a boys’ school in Mid-Glamorgan, to assertiveness skills in Tashkent, ending up teaching counselling at a college in Wolverhampton.  She still enjoys the best of teaching, which in her opinion is drawing out of people things they didn’t know they knew, by leading creative writing groups. She works with a number of writing groups, and has recently piloted an Arts Council funded on-line mentoring programme for poets.

Jane volunteers for Wolverhampton Libraries, running their Poetry Readers’ group. Her first love is writing and her motto is ‘no day without a line.’


Kate InnesKate Innes

Having lived and worked on three continents, Kate has now settled near Wenlock Edge, and it is this beautiful landscape, its history and its fauna, that has inspired most of her writing. 

Trained as an archaeologist and teacher, Kate was an Education Officer in Galleries and Museums around the West Midlands before having her three children.  She enjoys exploring mythology, nature and art in her writing, with a particular emphasis on the medieval period. 

Kate has been a member of the Borders Poetry Writing Group since 2008 and recently joined She regularly reads at the Shrewsbury Poetry Café and is the author of The Errant Hours, a historical literary novel set on the Welsh Borders in the thirteenth century, which should be available in print this year. / / @kateinnes2


Lindsey BaileyLindsey Bailey

Lindsey is a writer, teacher, workshop leader, tree hugger and all round curious gal who currently resides in a leafy suburb of Birmingham.  After more than a decade of living an itinerant lifestyle, she has returned home to the West Midlands and draws her inspiration from her travels, the natural world and human relationships.

She writes poetry and short stories and works on Writing West Midlands’ Young Writers’ Groups as a lead writer.

Lindsey is a UK qualified primary teacher with 6 years of classroom experience in settings including London and Dubai. She has a BA Hons degree in Creative Writing which she says was worth every penny even though “[It] taught me more about life than it did about writing.” In 2009 she graduated from London South Bank University with a PCGE. Teaching young people she says “reignited a flame for my love of literature” and since then she has been making giant strides towards a lifestyle that allows her to combine her love of teaching and writing.

She is currently reading motivational books and blogs about starting out in business and when reading for pleasure she enjoys novels by Jodi Picoult, Elizabeth Gilbert and Paulo Coehlo.


Martin Sketchley

Martin SketchleyMartin’s first novel, The Affinity Trap, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2004, followed by The Destiny Mask and The Liberty Gun. His short fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies, most recently The Howl – a collaboration with Ian R MacLeod – in Solaris Rising 3. His 2010 short story Songbirds was nominated for the BSFA Award. He also appeared on the DVD accompanying the reissue of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ album Abattoir Blues/Lyre of Orpheus.

By day Martin copy-edits business reports for a London-based publisher with clients such as Unilever, BP and The British Council. He is a member of The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain and The British Science Fiction Association. He is currently trying to break into radio drama. / @MartinSketchley


Nafisa MuhtadiNafisa Muhtadi

Nafisa was born in Yorkshire, grew up in Walsall, went to school in Sutton Coldfield and graduated from two Birmingham universities, most recently Birmingham City University where she gained a Masters in Writing (Distinction). Her short story How to Conduct a Rishta Meeting was written as part of her Fiction module portfolio and listed as Highly Commended in the Manchester Fiction Prize 2014.  She was also a runner up in Faber Academy’s weekly Quickfic writing competition with a flash fiction piece on surviving a zombie Christmas. She enjoys dabbling in short stories, flash, screenwriting and non-fiction. She keeps a blog on creative writing and always has a stack of library books on her reading pile. If prompted, she will talk at great length about her love and admiration for Lorrie Moore. In such an occurrence, you are advised to politely nod then back away slowly to your nearest exit. / @NafisaMuhtadi


Naomi PaulNaomi Paul

Naomi writes and performs her own work at theatre, comedy, cabaret and spoken word events around the country. She took her debut solo show Reshape While Damp to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2012. During 2013, she wrote for solo performance at two London festivals and for a double bill, Women at the Edge, which played successfully at fringe festivals in Birmingham, Ludlow, Stratford-upon-Avon and Henley-on-Thames. She also headlined Change, a festival of new writing for Pulse Ensemble Theatre in New York. She returned in summer 2015 to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with her new show, Price Includes Biscuits. Her work crosses genres and has been described as ‘sharp, funny and deeply felt.’

Naomi has been a guest performer at a range of spoken word events and festivals and has recently published a first poetry collection, Displacement Activity and other poems. She has an MA in Creative Writing, runs writing workshops and was a participant in Birmingham Rep’s Write Away scheme. She also performs with Flashlight Tellers and is a member of Birmingham-based Big Script. / / @MakingLight1
Nicky Tate
Nicky Tate

Nicky Tate graduated with Distinction in 2014 from the BCU MA Writing programme. She writes educational features for a London radio station for children with over 500 broadcasted over the last few years.  She has written character scripts for many well-known children’s brands including Dennis, Gnasher and the Beanotown Kids.

Her own projects are a little darker, frequently within the science fiction genre. Typically featuring plasma balls and exploding corpses, these along with her other prose explore themes such as moral failure, personal identity and reality.

She likes experimenting with screenplay; both TV pilot and full-length feature, and is pitching several scripts both for UK and US markets.  Her completed novel manuscript The Challah Tin was shortlisted for the Impress Prize in 2013. She won BCU prizes for Screenplay and Creative Non-Fiction in 2013 and 2014 and was a Faber Flashfic runner-up in February 2015. / @nickytatewrites


Pascale Presumey

PascalePascale has always written, first in French, then in English when she moved to the UK in 1980 to pursue post-punk dreams. She is an Environmental Science graduate and has worked as a photographer, teacher, and Wildlife Field Researcher radio-tracking badgers in Gloucestershire, trapping wood mice in Shropshire and surveying Bighorn sheep in the Sonoran desert of Arizona.

Pascale has had short stories published in very obscure magazines both in Canada and the US, and she was a member of the National Academy of Writing course. Her short story A small number of things was published in the NAW anthology The Book of Numbers.

She is currently editing her second novel, Battles Without Names, and working on Hunting Drunk an anti-memoir set in the Jura Mountains and the West Midlands, while dipping her toes in flash fiction, and when brave enough, poetry.


Romalyn AnteRomalyn Ante

Romalyn was born in 1989 in Lipa City, Philippines and she migrated to the UK at 16 years old. She helps to run Blakenhall Writers Group in Wolverhampton. She has also been an Offa’s Press’ mentee. Her poems appeared in Offa’s Press’ anthology, We’re All In This Together and in variety of magazines such as Cannon’s Mouth, Southlight and Ink, Sweat, & Tears, amongst others. Her first novel, Chasing Deimos, was shortlisted for The Asian Writer Chick-Lit Competition in 2014.


Selina HewlettSelina Hewlett

Selina writes short stories, and also dabbles in flash fiction, script writing and poetry. She has been threatening to write a book since 1994, and is currently grappling with a second draft. She has a BA in Creative Writing, and has recently returned to writing after a motherhood induced break. 

In former lives she’s studied law, backpacked through Central America, set up a coffee shop, been a barista at a cafe on Bondi Beach, and worked at a bacon packing factory in Chelmsley Wood, amongst other things. She now works as Operations Director at Flatpack Film Festival, which is fun.

She lives in Tamworth with a smaller, more argumentative version of herself, and a black cat called Daisy.


Tina FreethMaisie Chan

In 2007, Maisie began writing her memoir whilst on the National Academy of Writing Diploma course. However, instead of finishing her memoir, she dabbled in other forms of writing such flash fiction, short stories, plays and screenplays. Her first piece of creative non-fiction Growing Up On Lard was published in a Penguin anthology. She was offered the chance to write two books for reluctant readers which were published by educational publisher Franklin Watts. Her first two short film scripts were shortlisted for competitions, with Lychees and Bingo Balls winning the BBC Bites (Writersroom) Competition. Her first two plays were performed script in hand; the latest Insufficiently Yellow was performed by Yellow Earth Theatre as part of the Dim Sum Nights Tour in 2012. Occasionally, Maisie dresses up as the mythical Chinese Goddess Guan Yin and pretends she can speak fluent Mandarin, which sadly she cannot. | @maisiewrites