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Alumni Network

The HarperCollins Author and Design 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 2022 Bio’s below.

Calah Singleton

Calah Singleton is an American writer who has lived in London for almost a decade. She is an editor at an independent publishing house and a member of the Black Agents and Editors’ Group. She studied political science at Yale and the LSE, fiction at the University of North Carolina’s MFA program and City University’s Novel Studio, and was part of Curtis Brown Creative’s inaugural Breakthrough Novel-Writing Course.
Calah has a particular interest in fantasy and speculative fiction, and her work deals with the uncertainty of growing up, courage during precarious times, and feelings of not belonging. After years of fighting, she has finally embraced writing ‘genre fiction’ with open arms. Alongside her writing for children and young adults, she is currently working on an adult novel that marries fantasy with cosy crime.
When not writing or editing, Calah can be found playing fiddle in her folk band, painting, or ghost-writing as a dragon in response to children’s letters for the creative writing charity Ministry of Stories.

Asia Razaq

Asia is a former primary school teacher who dreamt of building her career in the educational industry. She spent her time teaching, tutoring, working with families with special needs children and volunteering. Her world took a turn when she gave birth to her second son whose life is impacted with a rare neurological condition. Asia had to give up her career, social life, and all that she used to be to become a 24-hour carer for her fragile son.
Asia has just finished her author academy course with HarperCollins which she found extremely enlightening, and it has given her the drive to complete her book. Over this course she has learnt a huge amount, with her favourite session being marketing and publicity. She has found the HarperCollins author academy to be an eye opener to the world of publishing and what goes on behind the scenes, which she has found truly fascinating! 
Asia has been on a memoir writing course with WriteClub for a year which has been valuable as she learnt skills as a writer. She has featured in the BBC radio to talk about her life as a carer, was short listed for the BBC carer award and blogs daily on her sons Instagram account @adventuresofazaan. Asia is working on her upcoming website,
Her focus in life now is to share her story of her remarkable son and her journey bringing him up facing stigma around disability in her Pakistani culture, the battles they have faced and the ‘life and death’ hospital admissions her son goes through on a regular basis. She hopes this book will tell the true story of what it’s really like mothering a child with severe medical needs, will spread awareness and make other parent carers feel less alone. 

Davina Bhanabhai

Davina is a British Indian woman who was born and raised in West Yorkshire, where she now lives with her lovely husband and two colourful daughters. She gained a First Class degree in Radiography, a Distinction in her Post-Graduate Diploma in Medical Ultrasound and worked as a Sonographer in the NHS for 17 years before leaving the profession to pursue a career in writing. She is a high school governor and enjoys volunteering in this role within the education sector.
She loves writing adult fiction (women’s fiction, psychological thrillers or medical thriller genres) and non-fiction (mental health and culinary) books. A nature, health and food addict, you can find her running or walking amongst the Yorkshire hills, baking or cooking delicious homemade goods – macarons being her favourite bake – and engaging in mindfulness and meditation.
She wants to make a career out of being a successfully published author – it has been a childhood ambition which she is determined to achieve! You can find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Shania Soler

Shania N. Soler dabbles in most genres but has a genuine love for, and connection with, historical and contemporary fiction. She aims to bring female voices and culturally diverse characters to the forefront of her works. Through the challenges she creates for her characters, Shania hopes her readers will be inspired to always keep trying and never give up on their dreams and goals.
When not working on her freelance editorial and writing business, Beyond Literary, she spends her time running her creative magazine, Wayward Literature, which she created with the aim to bring people together through various written and art forms. 

Priyesh Shah

Priyesh is an aspiring children’s author. Born in London to Kenyan Indian parents, he has also lived in Birmingham and Bristol.
He has spent most of his adult life trying to write. He has also spent most of his adult life in a battle with OCD, a condition he lives with. Gradually, and with the help of many people, he has found the tools he’s needed to cope with, manage and live a meaningful life. He believes this has been the most vital education he could have ever received. Over time, this is allowing him to write with more compassion, for himself and others, and with a lighter touch. And this, in turn, is allowing him to write more sustainably – over longer periods and more often, without burning out – simply because it’s more fun.
In 2017, he taught himself to code to support himself and his long-term writing ambitions. He now works four days a week as a software engineer and spends the extra day working on his middle-grade novel.

Annie McGee

Annie McGee is an illustrator and writer in Warrington, Cheshire. She’s currently exploring how to use her art to share her personal experiences of chronic illnesses and hidden disabilities, whilst creating awareness, particularly for those with hypermobile Ehler Danlos Syndrome and its co-morbidities. She’s a co-host of The Association of Illustrator’s disabled illustrators meet ups online and has just finished a 6-month mentoring program with The AOI. Annie has been selected for the 2023 cohort for the Pathways into Children’s Publishing and is looking forward to building her portfolio for children’s picture books on this two-year programme.
When she’s not toddler wrangling Annie can be found in her hive of creativity, known as The Art Shed, nestled amongst her mid-century drawers filled with art supplies and shelves of picture books, bopping along to music from the 1950s that crackles from her record player and writing from her cosy yellow armchair. Annie loves to experiment and enjoys tailoring her materials to each project she undertakes, diving into inks, watercolours, pastels, crayons and digital mediums. Her work is character led with bold colour palette choices, influenced by her love for adventure and mystery novels. She loves to illustrate and write about mysteries, historic themes, daily life experiences and myths and legends from around the world.

Taslin Pollock

Taslin is a British-born writer of contemporary, fantasy and sci-fi, Middle-Grade and Young Adult fiction. Her writing usually centres on a culturally diverse protagonist navigating challenging issues affecting young people today, such as young people as carers, the effects of racism or bullying.  
Her short story, Motherhood won the 2021 Falkirk Writing Rammy Prize and was published in their online anthology. Her short story, *Insert Worst Fear*, was longlisted for the 2021 Fox & Windmill Short Story Anthology, and her MG novel, Giants of Kingston Harbour was shortlisted for the 2022 Golden Egg Award. She is an alumni of the HarperCollins Author and Design Academy Autumn 2022, and the 2021 Scottish Book Trust Writing for Children Course. She has also recently won a place on the 2022-2023 All Stories Mentorship Programme for aspiring Children’s authors from underrepresented backgrounds.
Taslin currently resides in Central Scotland, with her husband and two children. When she is not writing, she can usually be found in her garden.

Arrthi Little

Arrthi (Arty) Little is a cartoonist and children’s writer based in Hampshire with a background in character design. Her captivating cartoon characters have featured in over one hundred e-learning lessons for clients such as Treatwell and SumUp.

A unique blend of cultures, Sri Lankan, German and British, influenced her outlook on life and sense of humour. She uses it as a catalyst to tackle meaningful issues including language barriers and stereotyping. Her mission is to create a universal beacon of positivity using an array of entertaining and empathetic characters.

Arrthi is currently working on a comedy about the antics of the tenacious loris ‘Rameni’, as well as a mythical range of cute, pun-filled greeting cards called the ‘Cheeky Legends’.

Lui Sit

Lui Sit was born in Hong Kong, raised in Australia and lives in London. She writes multiple genres including adult short fiction, memoir and children’s middle grade books. She is an alumnus of several writers’ development schemes including A Brief Pause, London Writers Award and Penguin WriteNow. Her short stories have placed in competitions including, Spread the Word Life Writing Award, Superlative, Cranked Anvil, Willesden Herald and Desperate Literature. Her stories are published in journals and anthologies including MAINSTREAM, Superlative, Short Good Things, Fudoki, City of Stories & Out of The Box. She has a several undergraduate Humanities and Social Science degrees and a Master of Arts in Dance Anthropology. She has worked in project and event coordination within the arts, higher education and charities, both in Australia and in London.    

Shahema Tafader

Shahema Tafader is an illustrator and designer from London. Her artistic work reflects her love for nature, animals, and humanity. She doesn’t limit herself to one art ‘style’ and, as a result, is able to create illustrations and designs to accommodate a range of moods and audiences. For example, her illustrations in her picture book (Naughty Nisha: A Trip to the Park) have a cartoony and vibrant style, suitable for children; whereas her design choices for her print magazine (CandleLit Magazine) have a more professional and mature feel, suitable for adults. 
In her early twenties, Shahema completed her undergraduate law degree, The Bar Professional Training Course, and her Masters in Professional Legal Skills. She was called to the bar of England and Wales in 2012. The skills learned from these qualifications have been invaluable in her current publishing goals, especially in helping her structure her stories, and to edit ruthlessly. Undoubtedly, these skills have aided her successes, including becoming the Barking and Dagenham winner for the City of Stories Home Competition 2022 (her winning story has been published in an anthology). 

Heather Pearson

Heather is a writer, poet, and author based in Brighton UK.
She writes about the beauty, vulnerability, and wonder of the natural world, and what it means to be a part of nature. She is especially interested in centring women’s experiences, empowering women’s wisdom, and writing to restore humanity’s connection to nature.
In 2022, she was a co-author in the grassroots literary project, ‘No Ordinary Words The Real Life Wisdom of Women’, and later that year, self-published her first poetry collection, ‘Woman of Nature’.
She is currently working on her first non-fiction book, ‘The Feminine Path’, a teaching memoir that empowers women to connect to the ancient wisdom of the earth to bring peace, purpose, and fulfilment to their lives.

Melissa Alvaro Mutolo

Melissa is a British-Mozambican writer, creating historical fiction that blends the boundaries between Europe and Africa. She studied MA Text and Performance at RADA/Birkbeck. In 2021 her first short story was published in the anthology The Art of Being Dangerous: Exploring Women and Danger through Creative Expression.  She is working on her novel The Dark Duke, loosely based on the rise and reign of Alessandro de Medici.

Roua Horanieh

Roua was born in Syria in 1976. She qualified in architecture in Lebanon in 2001 and moved to the UK in 2012. She is an avid reader and a committed writer, interested in themes of identity, voice and creativity. 
She has written Home, a play, under her pen name Noura Hubo, that questions identity and belonging, Tethering, a memoir on finding her voice and a number of essays, short stories and children stories. 
She has often read her essays for an audience, accompanied by the Berliner Symphoniker.
She lives in Hackney/London with her husband and eight year old daughter.

Advait Sarkar

I am a researcher working at the intersection of artificial intelligence, design, data, and society, with honorary lectureships at the University of Cambridge and University College London. I have published over fifty academic articles on aspects of design and artificial intelligence, and my principles of design have been incorporated by some of the most widely used software in the world, including Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint.
I am keenly passionate about using technology and artificial intelligence to build a more joyful and equitable society. We have important challenges to tackle, regarding automation-related job loss, regarding misinformation, regarding oppressive neocolonial computing agendas, and regarding the bullshitization of work and the death of creativity. As a working academic, an industry insider, and a queer immigrant from a country that still lies in colonial shadow, my perspective is pulled in several directions by a confusing web of privilege and oppression. Through my writing, I hope to explore these ideas and bring them into sharp focus for the public imagination, and ultimately steer public policy.

Saberina Agyei

Saberina is an aspiring writer who’s multicultural heritage and life experiences have made for a distinct point of view. An avid reader Saberina completed a BA in English from Goldsmith’s, then went onto complete an MA in International Relations at Queen Mary. Following her study she worked in Ghana for over a year, travelling the country with her father training students and professionals in the mining industry. 
On her return to the UK she continued her work with those from disadvantaged backgrounds, working as a teacher at an independent school, then moving on to work in children and adult social care. For the most recent part of her career she has managed homes for children and young people, but behind the scenes returned to her secret passion of writing, starting a blog where she posted a mixture of non-fiction and poetry pieces. 
Recognising a desire to return to the form, she became a member of the Black Writers Guild and jumped at the chance to be a part of the HarperCollins Author Academy Autumn 2022 Cohort. Whilst her earliest memories of writing are short stories she compiled as a child about talking flowers, Saberina’s current work is comprised of literary fiction which explores the experiences of the black community in the UK. She hopes to incorporate her triple heritage as Ghanaian and Grenadian but British born, into her writing, as well as the stories she has come across working in social care as she is confident they will make for interesting reading. Although an alumni of the Fiction course from the Academy, Saberina has additional ambitions of writing books for children. She is currently working on her first novel.

Nozomi 雷希望

Nozomi is a Mixed East Asian creative from Hong Kong. She moved to the UK for her university studies in film and television studies.Her academic work focused on exploring representation in contemporary media, including cinema, literature and television. Since graduating with first-class honours, she has worked in children’s television production and now works in inclusion and diversity consulting. 
She continues creative endeavours on a freelance basis.This includes filmmaking through various commissions and programmes. Nozomi is also a freelance sensitivity reader, working with authors, editors and publishing houses globally on their publications. 

Nastaran Boroun

Nastaran Boroun is a first-generation immigrant from a small town in Iran. She has a degree in Software Engineering and an MSc in Data science. When she’s not busy coding, she spends her time writing fantasy stories inspired by Persian fairy tales. She likes to write stories about strong women, mythical creatures and loveable monsters. She is currently working on her YA Fantasy, a fairy tale retelling inspired by Middle Eastern mythology

Sav Hamid

Sav Altair Hamid is a British-Pakistani writer and student of English and Creative Writing at Royal Holloway University of London. He has fostered a love of all things literary all his life, and aims to combine this lifelong passion with their lived experience as a queer transmasculine person of colour in their writing. Their belief that literature and social change are inextricably linked manifests itself both in their scholarly pursuits and creative endeavours, and he strives towards making others with similar life paths as his feel seen and represented in the media they see.
As well as completing the HarperCollins Author Academy, Sav has been published in the annual Young Writers anthology for short-form fiction and has written for the COG Youth Services magazine. They are currently working towards the final project of their degree to be completed in 2024, a creative piece exploring the intersections of identity and how they interact with an often hostile environment. Despite this enmity, or perhaps in spite of it, their ultimate goal is to write poetry and novels that focus on the joy of being more than the world understands, not the pain.

Serena Alim

Serena is a doctor and lecturer. She studied medicine at Hull York Medical School before training to become a General Practitioner. She has a passion for teaching, obtaining a Postgraduate Certificate in Medical Education from the University of Leeds, which she uses as a Clinical Lecturer at the University of Manchester. 
She has also found real value in operational and management skills within the field of General Practice and now also works as a Clinical Advisor for the West Yorkshire Integrated Care Board. This multifaceted role involves ensuring quality of practices, commissioning services and maintaining retention of workforce.
Above all else she is a wife and mother and this is in large part the foundation for a lot of her writing: mixing culture and race within a family unit. She undertook the challenge of the Harper Collins Author Academy to explore her creativity and reflect on some of the challenges she has faced in her life so far. 

Thi Thu Hang Phi

Hang is currently a Master student in the Children’s Literature, Media, and Culture program. That course allowed her to study in Scotland, Denmark, the Netherlands, and join online courses with universities from Spain, Poland, and Canada. Now, she also has an internship in Belgium. Hang has a strong belief that children’s books can contribute to nurturing happy kids. She has been doing storytime sessions for Vietnamese kids since 2020. She has traveled to Eindhoven, or Amsterdams to read for the Vietnamese kids on weekends since 09/2022. She also does online storytime sessions for a few kids in Denmark. She believes that Vietnamese children can be partly exposed to art, and enjoy the pleasure of reading books together . That would also help to keep the Vietnamese language for children overseas. 
In 2021, she joined a Picturebooks Hackathon as a writer and got a team award. In 2022, she joined the HarperCollins course to learn how to write, and market a children’s book. She believes that these knowledge and skills could lighten her way of becoming a children’s author. Now, she enjoys doing research in Children’s Literature; drafting her children’s books in her free time; spending time with Vietnamese kids, and her little friend Paddington. . 

Reyhana Ismail

Reyhana Ismail is an illustrator, designer, and aspiring author from Lancashire, who worked as a magazine designer for over 10 years before moving on to children’s book design in 2018.
She enjoys illustrating intricately detailed scenes, bursting with patterns, textures and an abundance of botanical elements, designed to enchant and fascinate younger audiences.
Through her own love of reading since childhood, and her strong belief in the importance of raising children as readers, Reyhana’s career naturally gravitated towards book design, and she has worked with a number of independent publishers and self-published authors, both in the UK and internationally. Whilst she has designed a wide range of books, from adult non-fiction to YA, she finds children’s picture books a wonderfully creative challenge and an absolute delight to work on.
In addition to illustration and design, Reyhana has written and developed activity books and recipe books for children, and hopes to publish her own picture books in the future, having written a handful of stories drawing on her upbringing, life experiences, and interests.
Much of her inspiration is often found on road trips around the UK, or at her favourite village in southern Turkey – where the turquoise seas, blooming bougainvillea and majestic mountains tend to refresh her creativity and imagination.
At home, she can often be found baking cakes, pottering in her garden, reading historical fiction, or taking online courses to expand her skill set. She was honoured to be on the first cohort of the HarperCollins Design Academy, which she found thoroughly enjoyable, enlightening and informative – creating a solid foundation for her to take the next steps in her career to work with traditional publishers.

Iqbal Hussain

Iqbal Hussain’s origin story started when he first wrote his name, and his dad told him he was destined to become an author. So naturally as any child would, he ran in the other direction, deciding to be a stand-up comedian. In between the stage and audience, he found fate was rather persistent. As he wrote over a thousand of his own unpublished short stories and novels, he knew he had to don his manuscripts as armour and face the world of children’s literature, with the folklore and mythology from his Pakistani-based roots, he began to forge new tales.

Using his analyst background, he started a successful social media presence, garnering almost twelve thousand followers who regularly tune in to see his reading and writing-related content. Iqbal decided to listen to the universe and began writing in the third person, (including his incredibly modest bio), gradually moving on to writing new stories, in which the main characters are met with modern-day problems, such as running out of data whilst trying to save the world.

Olivia Gaughran

Olivia (Olly) is a Mexican-Irish writer, anthropologist, and visual artist living in Cambridge, England. Her writing explores the essential quirks of belonging, authenticity, grief, intimacy, forgiveness, and relationships. She particularly enjoys drawing out courageous voices, advocating fiercely for complex truths, and representing that truth well on the page. 
She graduated in October 2022 with an MPhil in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge after completing a Bachelor of Social Work degree in the United States. Her dissertation was an ethnographic analysis of forgiveness narratives from men and women incarcerated in British prisons, although her academic interests also include linguistic anthropology, normativity, decision-making in healthcare settings, and social understandings of the human body. 
She has been writing non-fiction essays and other think pieces for her personal blog, The Olly Project, since 2018, and her work has been published in Subjectiv (2020), a visual and literary arts journal. She found working with other writers very meaningful, and subsequently started working as a freelance editor in 2020. She has also worked as a youth counselor, accountant, and writing consultant, to name just a few! Olly is currently writing her first full-length memoir, which she hopes will be a companion to young women wading through the murky waters of love and loss. .

Medina King

Medina King is an award-winning interior designer and owner of MK Kids Interiors; designing children’s spaces worldwide.
Spending her childhood on the beautiful island of Jamaica and learning English there, honed a passion within Medina for words and storytelling. Slang or the local dialect; broken English was never allowed.
Medina returned to the UK for secondary and tertiary education, where she graduated from the renown University of the Arts- London College of Communication, earning a BA Honors in Interior Design.
Finding a job in the interior design industry during the peak of the 2009 economic slump, as well as being a black designer with an accent, was proving to be difficult. Medina decided to create her own business and job for herself, which birthed of MK Kids Interiors.
Since starting the business from nothing, no capital, and no referrals, Medina has worked with various Middle Eastern Royal families, as well as dignitaries from other parts of the world. MK Kids Interiors most recently won the Herman Miller Design and Innovation Award for the Power list Black Excellence Award 2021. In 2018 she won the Theo Paphitis Small Business Sunday Award. Medina has made appearances on The Voice Newspaper, and BBC London radio. Medina has been a guest speaker at The Autumn Fair, The Ideal Home Show and most recently at Grand Designs Live in October 2022.
Despite all her achievements, in 2020 Medina realized that she was suffering from psychological abuse and had a traumatic divorce, which resulted in the loss of everything that was familiar. Medina wants to use her story to bring awareness to her community on domestic abuse and to empower women, who have been victims of domestic abuse, to move on and live successful lives.

Sofia Gulvanessian

Sofia is a writer of fiction and non-fiction based in the South-East of England. While content to dabble in everything from university zine think-pieces to short stories and poetry, Sofia’s lifelong passion has always been for sci-fi and fantasy. Sofia is currently working on their first novel, a queer high fantasy exploring themes of family, conflict, and historical legacy. After graduating from SOAS University of London with a degree in International Relations, Sofia currently supports young people to access school-based education to their full potential

Bianca Aye

Bianca is a British-Burmese writer, raised on dark fairytales and 80s action films in the North of England. Ten years after completing a  Biochemistry degree, she followed her dream of writing all the stories squashed in her head. 
She writes Young Adult fantasy and contemporary adult RomComs. When she isn’t writing or reading, you’ll find her cooking, falling out of Yoga poses or wasting time with a ridiculous (meticulous) skincare routine.
Bianca is currently working on a young adult novel about a girl fighting for her life in a hidden, magical London.

Susan Tong

Susan Tong is a writer and artist and a passionate queer woman born in Hong Kong, now living in Scotland with her partner, two playful black and white Tibetan Terrier x Havanese dogs in a house with more plants than one can shake a stick at!
Susan graduated from Scotland’s very own, Glasgow School of Art during which she also interned for Glasgow Life’s design team for the Commonwealth Games.
As a former tea lounge owner, she has appeared on television cooking her popular recipes and has joined in panel discussions, as well as written for local publications. The tea lounge has also been awarded ‘best local eats’, by The Guardian 2022 with active social media following on several platforms. There is a growing interest for her to write a culinary story-telling cookbook from her followers for which Susan is beginning to earnestly curate.
Whilst her career as a creative is still in its early days, Susan has won her place in a remote writers’ retreat with eco-collectives to focus on her current book – a scrappy memoir navigating a dysfunctional family and the ongoing realisation in queer identity and otherness. Alongside this, she is also interested in writing fiction and has an ancient China to modern times vampire story in the works.
Currently, Susan has a painting on exhibition in Glasgow and has recently finished her work experience with a London-based queer women magazine with which she has published her first digital article.