Members’ news: September 2023

Congratulations to 26er Kate Van Der Borgh who has secured a publisher for her debut novel in a four-way auction! And He Shall Appear will be published in the autumn next year. 

My newsletter, The Writer’s Walk, is back from Wednesday 4 October. I’ll be sharing more ideas for different types of walks and how you can use them for inspiration for creativity and writing, together with writing prompts and tips. It’s free to sign up and get each fortnightly edition:

I also want to start including guest posts, interviews and collaborations, so if anyone has an interesting walking story to share or would like to collaborate with me on an edition of the newsletter, then I’d love to hear from people. You can email me at 

– Sarah Farley

Lauren McMenemy has joined the committee of the British Fantasy Society, taking on the role of PR, marketing and online content coordinator. She’ll be helping to promote the organisation, which represents the UK’s writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror, and its members. Genre fiction presses are invited to contact her with releases and interview opportunities via 

This role, and her 25+ years of experience in journalism and marketing, saw Lauren take part in two panels at the 2023 FantasyCon, held in Birmingham from 15-17 September. One was on marketing, of course, with the other panel leveraging her role as EIC at‘s Trembling With Fear zine to discuss writing contracts – and saw her sit alongside Society of Authors Chair Joanne Harris. Quite the pinch-me moment!

My last 12 months have been like no other. Inspired by creative writing through 26 and Dark Angels, particularly during Covid Lockdowns, in spring 2022 I applied to do a full-time poetry MA at the University of East Anglia. To my surprise and delight, I got in. 

Starting was pretty scary. It had been 35 years since I graduated with my first degree, and I was concerned I’d be out of my depth and demographic. Sure enough, I was the oldest and the poetic genius of some of my peers was dizzying. But the differences in age, approach and backgrounds were incredibly stimulating and, I think, helped stretch my poetic voice and skills. Travelling from my home in West Sussex to the University in Norwich, and staying over for a couple of days each week, and seeing my savings shrink, was not always easy – but it was always worth it. 

The MA – and the great tutors and students I met – changed and enhanced the way I think and write about life. Now I’ve filed my final dissertation, I want to keep hold of that new kaleidoscope. So I’m splitting my time between poetry and corporate writing and have enrolled for online evening classes with the London Poetry School.

If you’re thinking of taking time out from work to develop your creative side, I urge you to do it. For me, it’s been a life-changer.

– Rebecca Dowman

I’m very pleased to say that I have signed up with an agent (Francesca Riccardi, from Kate Nash Literary Agents) to work on my debut, psychological suspense novel.

I also submitted four poems, written on Dark Angels courses, to the Bridport Prize. Apparently two of them “stood out from the crowd” and were in the top 9%. The other two apparently didn’t stand out at all, so they sent me a couple of cheering quotes about rejection. It made me wonder why we are supposed to think of rejection as character forming and good for our writing? Success is so much nicer, and feels so inspiring, when we manage to grab any, isn’t it?

On the non-fiction front, I’m launching my book “Giving Good Feedback” on 5th October – and in America.

– Margaret Kenna

I’ll be in London next Thursday to join a face-to-face gathering with Chris Packham, outside the Defra offices on Marsham St. He is arranging this until 2pm, and inviting people to join him; details here.

– Kaye Brennan (26er and The Wildlife Trusts)

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