From the coffee shops of Amman to the un-Hoovered staircases of London, these stories of window cleaners, ghosts and gamblers are as diverse as the voices that tell them. In its inaugural issue The Mechanics’ Institute Review presents 22 tales from a range of exciting international writers, with an introduction by and profile of Jonathan Coe.
Lamya Turki Hadeetha Al-Khraisha is a Jordanian Bedouin of the Bani Sakher tribe. In 2002, aged twenty-five, she was awarded first place in the British Council's national creative writing competition held in Amman. Lamya has worked as a subtitler for ShowTime and as an interpreter / translator for the United Nations Development Program. She is currently working on her first novel, Badia.
Heidi Amsinck, a journalist born in Copenhagen, has covered Britain for the Danish press since 1992. Heidi has written numerous short stories and was shortlisted in 2003 for the Royal Society of Literature's V. S. Pritchett Memorial Prize and one of her stories has been read on Radio 4. Living in North London with her husband and two young sons, Heidi is currently working on a novel.
Jonathan Catherall has taught politics to undergraduates, poetry to children, and English as a Foreign Language. He now raises money for charity from grant-making trusts and foundations. He is working on a novel set in urban Indonesia.
Tamsin Cottis is a teacher and therapist and is the co-founder of Respond, a national charity supporting people with learning disabilities who have been sexually abused. ‘Jude' is an extract from her novel, Barefoot on Sharp Stones. She lives in East London with her partner and three daughters.
Paul Daly is originally from Wales but now lives in South London. He currently advises pharmaceutical and technology companies on Research & Development government incentives. He is working on a novel: a pharma thriller and not-quite-love story.
Liz Fremantle's ambition, to be a Bunny Girl, was thwarted due to her tender age, so she embarked on a career in fashion journalism instead, becoming, eventually, Fashion Editor at Vogue. She has written for The Erotic Review and lives in London where she teaches yoga and is writing her first novel.
Nadine Grieve has worked as a radio and television producer for the BBC. She lives in London and is writing a novel about betrayal.
Sally Hinchcliffe has recently returned to London after two years in Swaziland and currently works at Kew Gardens. She was shortlisted for the BBC2 Double Exposure Screenwriting competition and selected to read one of her stories at a Tales of the Decongested event. She is currently working on a novel, The Year List.
Alison Huntington was born in South Wales. She works as a freelance copywriter and lives in North London with her partner and baby son. Alison is a second year Certificate student and is working on a novel about metamorphosis.
Anne Koch was born in Montreal to a Hungarian mother and a Dutch father, but has now lived in North London for more than twenty years. She has travelled extensively as a journalist and currently works for the BBC World Service. Anne is writing a novel about how the past can consume the present.<
Basil Lawrence was born in Johannesburg and is the youngest-ever recipient of the South African Amstel Playwright of the Year Award (in 1990 for Modern Eating Habits). Basil currently lives in London where he works for an investment bank. He has written two screenplays and is writing a novel called Henry First.
Matthew Loukes lives in East London with his wife, Jackie. Matthew was shortlisted for the 1998 CWA New Crime Writing competition and has had some sports writing published in magazines and national newspapers. He is working on a novel set in London.
Michael Mayhew was born in South East London and has had several short stories published in recent years. He has juggled a number of odd jobs in between abortive attempts to relocate to New Orleans and somehow managing to get a decent sociology degree. He is currently working on a novel, Jack & the Lad, in which the supernatural and the search for rough trade become entwined.
Helen Pike lives and works in London. ‘Hellfire Corner' is an abridged extract from her novel, which is set in England and Belgium in 1919 and 2004. She is the recipient of an Arvon Jerwood Award.
Alessandra Sartore learnt English in her native Italy by listening to David Bowie records. She came to London to meet The Clash and wrote for Rockstar magazine. She travels extensively and maintains a flexible career. Alessandra has written a collection of short fiction, ‘If I Was a Good Girl, Would I Write Such Wicked Stories?'. Her debut novel, Trail, features Cambodian refugees, drug smuggling and revenge.
Amanda Schiff has lived in London all her life. She left school at sixteen to pursue a career in film, and is now a film producer and teacher of screenwriting. Amanda is working on her first novel, a contemporary story of love and supernatural possession set in Los Angeles. It has nothing to do with the film industry.
Sue Tyley has a Ph.D. in English Literature and works as a freelance knowledge management consultant. Her job has taken her to the Royal Navy, a secure psychiatric unit and the City. Sue has written a collection of short stories and is now working on a novel.
Sophie Warne lived in Brixton. She published several guidebooks – most recently Gabon, São Tomé and Príncipe (Bradt) and Paris (Footprint) – and wrote travel pieces for publications that include The Times and Wanderlust magazine. She was writing a novel, John Angel.
Cathy Wasson is American and lives in London with her husband and two children. She is working on her first novel, Going to Graceland.
William Weinstein was born in England but has spent much of his adult life in Europe and the States. He now lives in London with his wife and son. William has had several articles published in magazines and was shortlisted for the 2003 Fish Short Story Prize. ‘All the Hard Ways' is an extract from his novel of the same title.
Heather Williams is American, lives in London, and will soon move to Berlin. She is working on a novel. ‘Blind Friend Date' is her first published story.
Rachel Wright was born in Dallas, Texas. In 1999, she was named one of the state's student journalists of the year and was shortlisted for the Texas Young Playwright competition. Rachel has written a collection of short stories and is starting to plan her first novel.
Project Director: Julia Bell
Editors: Lamya Al-Khraisha, Sally Hinchcliffe, Alessandra Sartore, Amanda Schiff, Sue Tyley, Cathy Wasson, Rachel Wright