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Room 204

2015-16 Cohort

Romalyn Ante 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 MouthSouthlight and Ink, Sweat, & Tears, amongst others. Her first novel, Chasing Deimos, was shortlisted for The Asian Writer Chick-Lit Competition in 2014.

In 2020, Romalyn published her poetry collection Antiemetic for Homesickness, which was widely praised and picked as Observer Poetry Book of the Month, Irish Times Poetry Book of 2020 and The Poetry School’s Poetry Book of the Year.

Romalyn’s website

Lindsey Bailey was a writer, teacher and workshop leader.

She wrote poetry and short stories and worked with Writing West Midlands’ Spark Young Writers as a lead writer.

Lindsey was a qualified primary teacher with 6 years of classroom experience in settings including London and Dubai. She delighted in spending time with the Spark Young Writers, as she loved being able to bring out the most creative aspects of the teaching she had previously done in schools.

Lindsey died in 2019 and is much missed by her fellow Room 204 writers, as well as the Spark Young Writers she taught and the Writing West Midlands team. 

Carol Caffrey Witherow 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.  

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.

Maisie Chan writes now primarily for children and Young Adults. Her next book, Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths, will be published in the UK with Piccadilly Press in June 2021. 

Her first piece of creative non-fiction Growing Up On Lard was published in a Penguin anthology. 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. 

Maisie’s website
Twitter: @maisiewrites

Selina Hewlett 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. 

Kate Innes trained as an archaeologist and teacher, then 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 is part of Bridgnorth Writers. 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.

Kate’s website
Twitter: @kateinnes2

Gregory Leadbetter is Professor of Poetry, Course Director of the MA in Creative Writing, Director of the Institute of Creative and Critical Writing at Birmingham City University.

He is a poet, critic and scriptwriter. His most recent collection is Maskwork (Nine Arches Press, 2020).

Gregory was appointed a Trustee of Writing West Midlands in 2015.

Gregory’s website

Nafisa Muhtadi 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. 

Nafisa’s website
Twitter: @NafisaMuhtadi

Naomi Paul 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 returned in summer 2015 to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with her new show, Price Includes Biscuits. 

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

Naomi’s website
Twitter: @MakingLight1

Pascale Presumey has always written, first in French, then in English when she moved to the UK in 1980 to pursue post-punk dreams. 

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.

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 was a teacher for more than thirty years, teaching a wide range of subjects. She works with a number of writing groups, and has recently piloted an Arts Council funded on-line mentoring programme for poets.

Martin Sketchley’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.

Martin’s website
Twitter: @MartinSketchley

Jack Tasker 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.

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 DennisGnasher and the Beanotown Kids.

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.

Nicky’s website
Twitter: @nickytatewrites