Meet our 2018 cohort:

Kalbinder Kaur was born and raised in Stoke-on-Trent and is once again living in the Midlands. 9-5 Kalbinder administrates, outside of these hours she writes. Her stories have featured in several anthologies, and in 2017 was privileged to be Coventry’s Spon Spun Festival’s writer-in-residence. Here, she worked with Mind service users to create poetry and short fiction. Currently, Kalbinder is writing a novel following Midlanders’ lives and loves. She won third prize in the Mo Siewcharran prize 2022 for her novel Incarnations of an English Subject.

Sarah M Jasat grew up believing her family was very strange but later discovered she was Indian. She was long-listed for the Leicester Short Story Prize in 2015 and has had a short story published in Derby Shorts, an anthology by For Books Sake in 2012. She dreams of writing a longer novel for older children if only she could get her own child to go to sleep. Sarah’s flash fiction and short stories have been widely published in anthologies and journals. She currently runs workshops for writers looking to develop the craft.

Storyteller, full time mum, life organiser. Asha Krishna lives in Leicestershire surrounded by lush fields and the odd horse. Asha worked as a journalist in India before moving to the UK where she pursued a master’s degree in Newspaper journalism from De Montfort University. Her story was published in the Leicester Writes Anthology and she writes for online magazines. She loves running and biking – although the thought is more active than the deed! She writes flash fiction, short stories and reviews books.

Jignesh Vaidya was born in Mumbai. He contracted polio aged two and has been paralysed in both legs ever since. He has lived in England since 1988 when he learnt to read and write English. Jignesh has spent his career working for local radio and for various charities and organisations to help promote disability awareness. He is a motivational speaker with a special interest in disability in sport and is working on his memoir. Jignesh is currently enjoying a new chapter in his life by becoming a dad for the first time.

Nazira Vania is a Leicester-based writer. Nazira’s story ‘Numbers’ was shortlisted for the Leicester Writes Short Story Prize 2018. She is currently working on her first novel, a fearless football-themed tale inspired by her local team. Nazira occasionally provides freelance writing and editorial services, the proceeds of which finance her stationery addiction. Nazira writes as N.F. Vania. She can be found on Twitter @nazvanz. Nazira was recently shortlisted for the SI Leeds Literary Prize.

Avi Kaur Virdee is a born word nerd – so naturally, aged five, she declared she wanted to be a writer. At eight years old she won a school poetry competition, at fourteen some of her work was published in a city-wide anthology co-produced by the Leicester Mercury. She sometimes worries she may have peaked early. Her academic background is in English and Creative Writing and she’s a qualified ESOL teacher. Avi lives in Leicester, where her days are spent writing, teaching and playing with her nephews and nieces in her official capacity as The World’s Best Aunt™. She currently works as a bookseller.

Dr Shahed Yousaf is a British writer and artist of Pakistani heritage. He is the author of two medical books and was shortlisted for the Bath Flash Fiction Prize 2016 and commended for the Faber & Faber FAB prize 2017. Shahed is a GP who works in prisons and with the homeless. He is interested in the therapeutic aspects of literature, the science of happiness and dual diagnosis (mental health and substance misuse). He writes flash fiction and short stories and is currently working on his first novel. Shahed’s memoir Stitched Up was published by Penguin in July 2022.