The HarperCollins Author Academy Alumni Network exists to ensure students can continue their learning and connection to the publishing industry.
It also aims to provide key networking opportunities for all students.
The network is a community for underrepresented authors to continue the conversation, create critique circles, and meet industry professionals after completing the course.
Have a look at our Class of Autumn 2021 Bio’s below.
Rachael Li Ming Chong
Rachael is a writer, poet and teacher of Chinese Malaysian heritage, born and based in London. She has been published by various online platforms and anthologies, including Poetry for Good, the Royal Society of Literature, ‘One Minute Monologues’ (Atticus Books, 2021), ‘Where We Find Ourselves’ (Arachne Press, 2021), and ‘Words from the Brink’ (Arachne Press, 2021). In 2021, she was longlisted for the Southbank New Poets Collective and shortlisted for the Gloucestershire Poetry Society Competition. She was commended in the 2021 Verve Poetry Festival Competition resulting in her inclusion in the anthology ‘Beginnings’ (Verve Poetry Press, 2022). She is currently working on a YA novel inspired by East Asian folklore and mythology.
Faisal A. Qureshi
Faisal is a scriptwriter and producer whose work has been broadcast on Channel 4 and BBC Radio.
He graduated in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology before going to film school where he studied editing and scriptwriting. He has developed projects for a number of production companies both in the UK and US as well as helping produce documentaries and features such as the BAFTA winning FOUR LIONS, the BAFTA and Emmy award winning documentary, LEAVING NEVERLAND, IN THE SHADOW OF 9/11 and THE DAY SHALL COME.
He is based near Manchester and will travel anywhere for work
Leora is a marketer living in Southeast London. My dream job is to become a full-time author writing YA fiction, predominantly in the fantasy genre with strong female leads of colour. I have written short stories on multiple online platforms in the past as a teenager, the feedback has been useful in growing my writing confidence. I wish to publish my more developed manuscripts traditionally and being part of this course has helped.
It was so inspiring to see the talent and work that goes into being a successful author but particularly with picture books, so this is an avenue I am looking to dabble in.
When not working or writing she takes the time to focus on her physical health by various sports and actives.
Tammie hails from Bradford and studied Civil & Structural Engineering at the University of Leeds, graduating in 2017. She worked as a civil engineer on various bridge and transportation projects before changing career to work as a freelancer in the TV industry on unscripted and factual shows.
She was chosen for New Writing North’s ‘A Writing Chance’ 2021 scheme for under-represented and working-class writers.
Assiah is a Leicester-based journalist, writer, podcaster and content creator who grew up in the United Arab Emirates for several years until she returned to the UK in 2014 to complete her higher level studies. In January 2021, she graduated with upper second honours in her Masters studying the Channel 4 Investigative Journalism course at De Montfort University. Upon graduating, she continued to develop her own work as a freelance journalist and blogger, and as well as developing her own projects such as her podcast series co-hosted by Assiah and Sagal Hersy, titled The Musfits (available on all streaming platforms). She is additionally in preparation to relaunch her IGTV series The Black Box, that will be transformed into a YouTube and TikTok series which will focus on reporting untold stories surrounding different marginalised communities and sharing hot takes on what’s trending in the UK and around the world.
Much of her university and professional work has focussed on amplifying diverse voices and seeking authentic representation, as she aspires to use her passion into writing literary fiction stories and particularly writing powerful characters that she wished she had seen growing up as a Kenyan Muslim girl. Currently, Assiah is working as a Life Writer at BristolLive, reporting stories on local communities in the city.
Lindsey is a stakeholder engagement and finance expert and a 2021 Black British Business Awards finalist. He has a 20-year record in the fields of investor engagement, financial analysis and communications, and has written many articles for a number of industry-leading publications and forums including Investment Week, IR Magazine, City AM and the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance. Having reached a senior position in the world of finance and professional services from humble beginnings, Lindsey is also a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion – particularly in areas of racial and socioeconomic equality – coupling this with the importance of building intelligent leadership skills and healthy organisational cultures. He is currently writing a book covering those topics – which he hopes will be the first of many
Iqbal is a recipient of the inaugural London Writers’ Awards 2018 and was shortlisted for the Penguin Random House WriteNow scheme 2017.
Iqbal’s adult novel, Northern Boy, about being a “butterfly among the bricks”, is currently out on submission.
Kaya is a 26 year old educator/mentor from Birmingham. Kaya raises awareness around police brutality in the UK and racial disparities in her community, in response to her fathers declining health following his racial attack from the police in the 90’s. Kaya shares resources on racial and political issues in the online and offline space, and works in the charity sector for youth work and development.
Aisha comes from a long line of nomadic souls. Her wanderings have taken her from her birth place in the warm heart of Africa to the cooler climate of England. After teaching herself the sciences in her home country, she went on to study in England, receiving a BSc(Hons) and a teaching qualification. She then moved to Australia, continuing her work with young people, lecturing in Chemistry and teaching English.
She is a poet and writer of fiction as well as being a healer, a perfume maker, a teacher and a seeker of truth. She is working on her debut novel and deciding on which of her thousands of poems to choose for her first anthology. Having returned to England, she lives there for now until the wind changes and sands shift once again.
Natalie is a London-based writer who dabbles in both fiction and non-fiction writing. Natalie’s work draws from her own lived experience in navigating the intersections of race and gender. She is currently working on a non-fiction manuscript which explores the frustrations and challenges of being a feminist today.
When she isn’t writing, Natalie works as a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion specialist, currently working in tech and with previous experience in politics.
Natalie holds a degree in International Relations and she was selected for the non-fiction stream of the HarperCollins Author Academy.
Narjas Theodora Zatat
Narjas was born in a little Hungarian town called Miskolc to a Greek mum and Algerian dad, and she moved to London when she was eight years old. She grew up on a healthy diet of Arab mythology, Greek myths and legends, and Hungarian folklore. As an adult (and a proper serious journalist), she continues to write fantastical stories.
Her submission, ‘Djinntouched’, won the 2021 Faber & Faber and the Andlyn Literary Agency’s Fiction prize.
Caithlin is a twenty-three-year-old writer raised in Singapore and now living in London. She is currently working on her debut novel about millennial life, urban spaces, and magic.
Caithlin graduated with a BA in English from the University of Cambridge and an MA in Modern Literature from University College London. Having specialised in transnational feminist literature, she is interested in marginalised perspectives and issues of identity. Her short story ‘The Menagerie’ was published in the UCL Publishers’ Prize, and her poetry in the anthologies Rust + Moth, Notes, and Footnotes.
Kristian Jeff Cortez Agustin
Kristian writes love poetry. In 2012 — same year as Southbank Centre’s Poetry Parnassus which he also attended — Kristian’s first poetry collection ‘For Love and Poetry’ was independently published in London. A self-edited second edition eventually followed in 2021. He recently transitioned into protest poetry when he wrote his other anthology ‘Two Thousand and Twenty Years’ as an expression of homage to various resistance movements during the pandemic of 2020.
Originally from the Philippines, Kristian has lived in Singapore (for a professional stint at the Asia-Europe Foundation), Hong Kong (for his research work at Hong Kong Baptist University), and London (for his postgraduate degree at the University of Westminster). Now a PhD candidate at Manchester School of Art, Kristian is currently writing his dissertation on curating Southeast Asian visual culture through participatory photography. His research on contemporary regionalism delves into art history, critical theory, cultural studies, digital media, and participatory action research. An interdisciplinary artist, Kristian often brings together various specialisms in his creative practice — calligraphy, illustration, digital media (graphic design, photography, video), exhibition design, performance (directing, songwriting, theatre), and poetry. He has previously collaborated with academics, artists, curators, and writers in Hong Kong, London, and Manila.
As an artist and poet, Kristian is known by his initials KJCA.
Parvyn is a model, cook and founder of Easy Spice Cooking, her mission is to help people discover healing through cooking. As a model Parvyn has appeared in ID magazine, Elle, Vogue and is the muse of cult coutureier Ziad Ghanem.
In 2014 while walking on the pavement Parvyn was hit by a motorbike, after three weeks in hospital and many surgeries later she left the hospital with an external fixator on her leg, the frame was attached to her for four months, than a cast then a boot and 18 months later she was able to walk without crutches. She describes being in bed for what felt like years and experiencing anxiety, PTSD and depression. In 2018 her depression became worse where she was waking up crying everyday, she was given advice to take up a daily hobby and she decided to cook everyday. Cooking gave her a sense of growth, achievement, connection and improved her mental wellbeing which is what led to the launch of Easy Spice Cooking.
Since 2019 Parvyn worked as a producer at She Lives Collective Responsible for organizing events to promote films made by women for women on behalf of a purpose-led community for female creators. Actively involved in helping to form partnerships and allegiances with supportive networks at the BBC, Vogue and London Live, organizing and conducting interviews with high-profile presenters to raise the profile of the collective and empower women to be creative.
Parvyn is currently writing her first book Kitchen Therapy
Michelle is a mum of three, doctoral research dietitian and picture book author. Michelle grew up in Barbados, where she enjoyed a very fun and relaxed childhood! While these fond memories still make her smile, it’s her motherhood journey that inspires her writing today. Michelle is currently working on her PhD in Nutrition & Dietetics, but values a balanced approach to her career, academic and motherhood journeys.
Michelle has always loved tapping into her creativity through writing. As a child, whether she was writing letters to her pen-pal, reading her library of Enid Blyton books or writing poetry, Michelle began to understand early on that language is more than just words. Other childhood creative outlets such as art and crafts, singing, pottery, and imaginary play also facilitated emotional expression, when the words didn’t come easily.
With all the challenges Michelle has overcome, her mission is to inspire her three boys and all her little readers to express themselves creatively and to believe that anything they dream of can be within their reach. Michelle lives in the South-East of the UK with her husband and sons. When she is not doing clinical academic research, Michelle enjoys writing picture books, spending quality time with her family, gardening and cooking!
Emily is a British-Lebanese writer with a strong interest in
relationship to place and in how our imaginations are made up of
geographical and physical landscapes/landmarks. She’s also very
interested in how we’re constituted by the past, by what’s come before
Most of her writing and thinking is to do in some way or another with
the interrelations of language, land, spirituality, body, culture:
it’s also concerned with class and the impact of economic and other
kinds of precarity. She keeps an archive of resources on twitter
@hemaliee. She’s currently working on a poetry collection and in the
early stages of a novel.
Priscilla is a writer and poet from London with an interest in telling stories that are thought-provoking and convey important messages. She graduated from the University of Surrey with a first class honours degree in Biomedical Science, having come from a background that is typically labelled as ‘disadvantaged’. She hopes to uplift young people with her non-fiction narrative book currently being drafted, equipping students from minority backgrounds through their academic journey.
Priscilla plans to write stories in book, TV and theatre form. Her poetry has featured in the Royal Society of Literature’s quarterly magazine, and read on BBC Radio London for National Poetry Day 2021. She is an alumnus of the National Youth Theatre and 7BlackWomen Writers programme, and is currently developing her storytelling and scriptwriting as a member of Soho Theatre’s Writers Lab. As an alumnus of the HarperCollins Author Academy, Priscilla has gained a plethora of knowledge to progress in the publishing industry.
Yassin is an aspiring writer, foodie, founder of a start up food product business, product manager and winner of Local Business Accelerators in Hampshire. She has a BSc Biochemistry, MSc Environmental Studies and loves swimming and cooking. She has developed a love for writing for children with the stories she is writing, greatly influenced by her own childhood experiences growing up in the Gambia, West Africa.
Currently developing a series exploring a six year old girl discovering the world around her, how she perceives her interactions with the natural environment and the adventures she experiences within it. What she learns about love, self-discovery and interests in a world of privilege while witnessing a parallel world with so much lack and poverty and how she finds the courage to make a difference. It explores themes of family, friendship, fitting in and courage while learning from nature and food in the magical realism genre. It has an educational component, looks at different time lines and also at how environmental changes impact the world.
Pauline (she/her) is a 20-year-old, multi-disciplined creative based in London, UK.
She is an unconventional artist with a distinct voice and vision using storytelling in many mediums, including creative writing, audio and generative art. She is currently working on her debut novel, which has themes of identity, belonging and accepting change.
“Taking part in the children’s pathway has encouraged my imaginative concepts and opened closed doors. Thank you to my tutor Anna who has amazingly embraced all our forward-thinking ideas and shared advice which will help shape us as writers. Moreover, the masterclasses have provided valuable access to different publishing departments, and I am so thankful for this learning experience.”
Phoebe Yemi Ara
Phoebe is a 2021 London Library Emerging Writer, who has won several awards in fiction, non-fiction and poetry. She writes sci-fi, fantasy and romance. She is also a screenwriter, and aspiring graphic novelist.
She graduated from the University of Warwick with a First Class in English Literature and Creative Writing. She loves ancient myths, psychology and thrillers—all of which manage to sneak into her stories. She currently works in television, bringing drama and comedy to the small screen.
Kingsley is a half-Sri Lankan, half-Belgian, British gay man. This has informed him being keen to write novels with diverse casts, written in an informed, respectful manner. However, he doesn’t want his identity to limit him as an author. He is also a Clinical Psychologist. After eleven years in the NHS, since 2019 he has worked in digital mental health, consulting on the design and development of mobile apps and virtual reality to use as part of therapy.
Although a lifelong keen reader, he only took up creative writing towards the end of 2020. Since then, he has completed four short writing courses (with The Arvon Foundation, Curtis Brown Creative, and Faber Academy), before graduating from the HarperCollins Author Academy at the end of 2021. (Prior to this, as an adult his main creative output was through improv.) He would like his novels to tell compelling stories that help readers increase their awareness and make sense of deeper issues in their own and others’ lives.
Tania’s passion for storytelling started as a child. Using an old-fashioned typewriter, she adapted fairytales into scripts for her sister and friends to act in. These days, she explores stories involving motherhood and female friendship, often with a dark or supernatural twist. She is currently writing a psychological suspense novel.
She is part of the BBC Writersroom London Voices, and recently developed a screenplay, Shrinkwrap, with them. She is ghost-writing a children’s series. Her previous career as an award-winning copywriter (at J. Walter Thompson, Publicis and other marketing agencies) has made her a versatile and commercial writer. She enjoys working collaboratively and coming up with new ideas. Tania has an MA in History of Art from Edinburgh University. She is a mother of three and volunteers for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She is British Malaysian Chinese, born and bred in East London/Essex.
Louise is an English graduate from the University of Bristol. This year she has achieved a Distinction in the Publishing Training Centre’s Creative Copywriting course. She is currently working as a teaching assistant, supporting children with social, emotional and mental health needs. For the past four years, she has danced for Fuze UK, a non-profit charity organisation focused on diversity and inclusivity.
Louise aspires to write for people who, like herself, want to read beautiful stories from diverse perspectives. The HarperCollins Author Academy has provided a top-class insight into what makes a book engaging, and how the publishing industry makes it all possible.
Sabrina is a British playwright who lives in Bradford with her three sons.
She has BA (Hons) in English Literature and is currently pursuing her Masters in Creative Writing.
She Tutors GCSE and A level students English Language and Literature and has successfully had two of her plays produced at Leeds Playhouse and at the National Science Museum in Bradford. She also writes poetry and short stories and is currently writing her first novel.
Nadine is legally trained, having undertaken a bachelor of laws degree (LLB) at the University of Warwick, a master of laws degree (LLM) at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), and a postgraduate diploma in legal practice (LPC) at BPP Law School. She is a national representative for BAME members in the Labour Party, elected onto Labour’s National Policy Forum. A highly competent public speaker, she has penned and delivered national political speeches, memorable for their creative flair. Nadine has also organised and chaired regional and national workshops and fringe events. She played a pivotal role in getting the first BAME MP elected to represent her constituency in 2018.
Nadine has recently become a proofreader and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP). Her first short story, ‘Eighty-Four’, about the elderly and loneliness, was commended and published in Spread the Word’s ‘City of Stories 2’ in 2018. She is currently working on the first book in her dark/epic fantasy series based on the angelic Watchers. Nadine has a diploma in piano performance with the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) and aspires to achieve professional status. She also enjoys studying tarot.
With his background in immigration and human rights law, Vy-liam is a PhD student researching statelessness and genocide in South East Asia, a University immigration law adviser and a contributing writer for publications and platforms such as Resonate and besea.n who work to amplify East and South East Asian voices.
Drawing from his background, Vy-liam works to create stories centred on the human experiences hidden from view, such as the refugee journey, the voices of the stateless and the conflict of identity within family”
PhD | Writing
Sabah Nawaz is an aspiring author from a small town in Lancashire. She is a final-year student completing her degree in Classical Civilisations at the University of Warwick. Currently in her dissertation, she is exploring mother-daughter relationships in classical thought that fuel modern psychoanalytical and feminist theories alike on female bonds.
She loves to read and write in a wide range of genres, for both adults and children, and is passionate about exploring themes of mental health, gender, race, and class. When not writing her current works-in-progress and studying, she volunteers for SHOUT as a Crisis Support Worker and has been doing so for over a year.
Esther is a Multi-Published Author, Writer, Blogger, Influential Speaker, Workshop Facilitator and Founder of Authentic Worth Publishing, Esther is a woman of many talents. She helps aspiring authors turn their stories into published books.
Esther’s passion is reminding individuals that confidence starts within. Through Esther’s stories and life’s lessons, she teaches, coaches and inspires individuals in bringing worth back into them through storytelling and book writing. She believes that a book is one of the best ways to stand out and ultimately leave a legacy behind.
She is an advocate for building self-confidence and personal development and has been offered numerous opportunities on several TV programmes, podcasts and radio stations alongside collaborating with the British Library, Start Ups for London Libraries, Southwark and Lewisham Council. She is the Finalist for the Social Value Awards by the Mayor of Lewisham.
Yvonne Tomlin Miller
Author of Lifetricity. Like a mighty shooting star, ‘Lifetricity’ propels you forward in life with great strength. A powerful guidance system, we all have within us, will become revealed and charged in the right direction, allowing you to tip the balance in your favour strengthening your life contentment muscle.
In just 7 simple steps, this is a place where everything falls into place for you, liberating you from the self-doubt, skepticism fuelled societal machinery, towards creating an enduring joyful inner peace. Allowing you to feel happy most of the time!
The Lifetricity Personal Development steps were evolved as a direct result of my own life experiences, as a black woman to parents from the Windrush generation.
Often moving against the grain of the mass mentality in my home, amongst peers and even society, I was able to use this gift to achieve much success in my life, without the baggage if you like. Resulting in
Owning my first 100 seater Jazz Restaurant at the age of 23 and securing a great reviews including touching the heart of the New York Times, becoming one of the youngest and first of colour college principals in London despite leaving school without qualifications.
Coaching hundreds of people to step into their light and truly realise their full potential.
Recent recent Cambridge University Graduate interested in enacting social change through access to education. As the only person from my state school cohort to have received an offer from Oxbridge I am passionate about adding value to the lives of others by ensuring everyone irrespective of their background can reach their full potential. I have committed to this over the last 8 years through public speaking, mentoring and collaborative advocacy work, starting this journey at age 14.
Since I was in school it has been my resilience, growth-mindset, and optimism that has driven me to make the most of the opportunities around me, many of which I have sought out and created for myself often through innovative ways. During my time at university, I was nationally recognised with the ‘Outstanding Achievement Award’ at the House of Lords for the UK Student Social Mobility Awards. As well as awarded with the Queens’ College, Cambridge Cyril Bibby Prize and selected as one of the global winners of the 2021 McKinsey Achievement Award due to pioneering initiatives in the social mobility space. Beyond this I enjoy writing, public speaking and Dj’ing.
Dal Kular is a Sheffield born and based writer of Punjabi/Sikh heritage. She is a facilitator, tutor and mentor specialising in creative writing arts for healing.
From leaving school at 16 years old with 3 O-levels and being told she could never be a writer Dal returned to the power of words and writing in her late forties as an act of radical self-care and healing, gaining an MSc in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes. Through her She Howls writing circles, co-writing spaces and Our True Nature writing workshops for women of colour – she encourages women to discover the power of their own voices.
She is currently working on a memoir about her mother, grief and nature. Her poetry chapbook (un)interrupted tongues is being published next year by Fly On the Wall Press. She is most often found roaming the Peak District in her tiny brown van, Muddy.
From writing short stories as a child to unpublished (and half-finished!) drafts on her laptop as an adult, Annette Burke thought it was time she finally awakened the sleeping author within her, so when she came across the HarperCollins Author Academy, it felt like too good an opportunity to miss.
With a professional background in brand communications, Annette is driven by transferring her experience with the written word from informative and creative copy for retail companies to doing the same for children, crafting uplifting and empowering stories to celebrate positive self-image and identity.
British-born with Caribbean parentage, Annette was inspired – after having her daughter – to find focus in her writing through narratives that connect with her heritage, in the hope that they will offer a shared experience of joy between parent and child in her household and many others of all cultures.
Annette grew up in Reading and lives in London.
Yuebai is an Italian-Chinese sociocultural explorer and storyteller working at the intersection of culture, tech and identity. After graduating from the LSE in 2010, she worked at the United Nations before finding a voice in the human-centered design world. Since then, she has worked with multinationals, tech startups and non-profit organisations around the world.
She shares stories that separate us and brings us together. From curating experiential immersions to developing audiovisual stories, she seeks to immerse her audience in the multiple realities that shape us, our relationships and societies.
Yuebai has been published in Aljazeera, Slate Magazine, Technode, Mail&Guardian, Roads&Kingdoms. She’s currently working on a project related to migration, identity and food in London.
Jessica is a first-generation, British-Indian woman currently studying a postgraduate
course at University of Cambridge after graduating with First Class honours from
University of Nottingham in English and Philosophy. Jessica’s drive to realise her
dreams comes from the upbringing by her immigrant parents, both of whom have
sadly passed away.
Jessica is aspiring to become an academic in Philosophy. As a woman and an ethnic
minority, Jessica defies the stereotype of a Philosopher, and she is passionate in
inspiring others to also pursue their ambitions. Jessica is also an ally to the LGBTQ+
community and delivers training to social workers and foster parents on raising
awareness of how to support young members of the community.
Jessica is currently writing her first book that celebrates the lives and the work of
diverse thinkers from across the globe.
“I am very grateful for the opportunities HarperCollins Author Academy offers, and I
am also honoured to be a part of the HarperCollins alumni with other inspirational
Joanne is a content creator from Hong Kong. After graduating from The University of Dundee with a Liberal Arts Degree, she is training to become an English Literature teacher. She spends most of her time volunteering at schools and children’s charities. When she’s not reading picture books to young children or studying a new foreign language, Joanne runs a youtube channel and makes video essays on books and tv shows and an occasional vlog here and there.
She’s currently working on a few short stories and one children’s book. You can find out more about her projects by connecting with her on her social media or emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org