London Independent Story Prize Judges

'Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration,

I don’t think you can go wrong.' 

Ella Fitzgerald

Amal Chatterjee Creative Writing Competition Judges

Amal Chatterjee, who is from various places including India, Sri Lanka, Scotland, and Amsterdam, has published fiction, history, commentary, and writes plays too. Now dividing his time between Amsterdam and Oxford, besides writing, he teaches fiction at Oxford University, online and in workshops in Amsterdam, Paris, Prague ... and other places. Amal’s been shortlisted for prizes in India, had awards from Scotland and judged some too. 

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Sharmilla Beezmohun has worked in publishing since 1994. In 2010 She co-founded Speaking Volumes Live Literature Productions with Sarah Sanders. In 2021, Sharmilla edited ‘Not Quite Right for Us’: Forty Writers Speak Volumes (flipped eye), an anthology celebrating ten years of Speaking Volumes. Her first novel, Echoes of a Green Land, was published in translation in Spain as Ecos de la tierra verde in 2010. She is a Trustee of Carcanet Publishers, Modern Poetry in Translation magazine and the George Padmore Institute, an archive housing unique collections of material from pioneering Black British political and cultural organisations of the last seventy years. In 2019 Sharmilla became an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. 


Debi Alper is an author and an editor. She spent most of her time helping other writers to perfect their novels through critiques, mentoring, Book Doctor sessions and creative writing workshops. She edits in all genres and many authors that she has worked with have been signed up with agents and gone on to see their books published. Debi also acts as a competition judge and is a reader for the Costa Short Story Awards.

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Lucy Fulford is a journalist, editor and filmmaker born in Sydney and living in the UK. She has reported for the national press in London, on the conflict in eastern Ukraine and made multimedia content for leading NGOs. Growing up between cultures led to an interest in exploring identity and she’s working on a book about the generational legacy of forced migration, alongside producing narrative and documentary films. 
Follow her on Twitter @lucyfulford and Instagram @lucyfulfordjournalist


Tice Cin is an interdisciplinary artist from Tottenham, North London. An awardee of the Literary Fiction category for London Writers Awards, she has just completed her first novel. Her work has been published by Skin Deep Magazine and commissioned by venues including Battersea Arts Centre and St Paul's Cathedral. An alumnus of the poetry community Barbican Young Poets, she now creates digital art as part of Design Yourself – a collective based at Barbican Centre – exploring what it means to be human.

Pic credit: Ata Surer.


Charli Whatley is a writer, director and poet based in London UK. She is queer and lives with a chronic illness, often using her art to cast a light on disability and the LGBTQI+ experience. Her films have an experimental style and feature outsider characters navigating heightened realities either created by or contradicting their emotional inner worlds. Her portfolio has been screened internationally and she is part of BAFTA Crew 2021.


She set up FADED NEON FILMS.  She wrote and produced Dirty Laundry , won Best British Pilot at Pilot Light Festival 2018. In 2020 Charli was selected to be part of the Penguin Books WriteNow scheme. Her poetry has featured in others work, including the #HereForCulture campaign film that played in cinemas across the UK in 2021.

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Toby Anthonisz has over a decade of experience working in animation & post-production in London and New York, he has shifted focus in 2018 to live-action production. His work has since been selected for BAFTA qualifying and international festivals and featured on Nowness and Schön! Magazine. In 2020 he set up Faded Neon Films with writer/director Charli Whatley with the aim to challenge stigmas and champion outcasts through bold cinematic stories."

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Beaton Galafa is a Malawian writer of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. He is widely published. He also edits for Nthanda Review, Malawian literary magazine.  

Follow him on Twitter @Beaton_Galafa


John Lubbock is a journalist, filmmaker and human rights activist. He writes on British and Turkish politics.

Follow him on Twitter @jwsal

James Kirchick Creative Writing Competition Judge

James Kirchick is an award-winning author, a brave activist from the USA. Please check our Blog for his interview about the competition. Follow his mind-blowing articles at 

Nick Makoha Creative Writing Competition Judge

Nick Makoha's debut collection the Kingdom of Gravity is shortlisted for the 2017 Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection and nominated by The Guardian as one of the best books of 2017. He won the 2015 Brunel International Poetry Prize and the 2016 Toi Derricotte & Cornelius Eady Chapbook Prize for his pamphlet Resurrection. A Goldsmiths, Cave Canem & Complete Works Alumni.  His poems appeared in  The New York Times, Poetry Review, Rialto, Triquarterly Review, Boston Review, Callaloo, and Wasafiri. 

Mark U Stein Creative Writing Competition Judge

Mark U Stein is Professor of English, Postcolonial and Media Studies, a great mind from Germany, and a great person! 

Follow him on Twitter @ProfMarkStein

Emine Dursun Crative Writing Competition Judge

Emine Dursun O'Brien is a multi-award-winning writer, including the Sundance lab, from New York, and the founder of the great New York International Screenplay Awards – NYISA

Follow her on Twitter @amythestranger

Petra Freimund Creative Writing Competition Judge

Petra Freimund is a passionate theatre and film director who graduated from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London, one of the finest addresses for advanced theatre practice in the world. 

Follow her on Facebook

Luis Pizarro is an author, a great historian and an editor at the oldest publishing house in Spain, Planeta Publishing.

Please check our Blog for his interview about the competition.

We're so happy to have him on board!

Meltem Arikan Creative Writing Competition Judge

Meltem Arıkan is an award-winning novelist, playwright, journalist, and a brave activist! Winner of “Freedom of Idea and Statement Prize”. She's now based in Cardiff, UK.  

Check out her latest play 'Enough is Enough'.

Emily Zinkin CreativeWriting Compettion Judge

Emily Zinkin is a young writer, and editor from London. She did her MA in Creative Writing at the University of Nottingham. A free spirit!

Aziz Kedi is a writer, editor, director and videographer from London. An edgy abstract artist for two decades. He created and produced TV shows, wrote columns for newspapers and magazines, owned a bookstore and co-wrote two feature movies. Instructing writing techniques on contemporary literature and comedy for 10 years.

Follow him on Instagram @azizkedi


Helena Mulkerns has been internationally anthologised and shortlisted for America’s Pushcart Prize and Ireland’s Hennessy Literary and Francis MacManus awards. She has edited two literary anthologies and is a recipient of a bursary from the Arts Council of Ireland. Her debut short story collection, Ferenji, was published by Doire Press in 2016. In 2018, she features in a new anthology of Irish writing, Reading The Future, edited by Alan Hayes, and her second short story collection is out in Fall. She founded and runs the regular live arts event, The Cáca Milis Cabaret.


Aylin Tekiner is an award-winning visual artist, writer, and activist from New York.

Find out more at The Memory Tales.


Onur Uz is a songwriter, pianist, and singer who works mostly in London’s vibrant open mic and LGBTQ scene by mentoring young musicians, alongside organising open mic nights in East London. He performs in London’s West and East End regularly and also works as a journalist on music, lifestyle and fashion.
Follow him on Instagram @ozmusicuk


Gaynor Jones is a freelance writer from Manchester, UK. She specialises in short fiction and was the recipient of the 2018 Mairtín Crawford Short Story Award. Her flash fiction has been published widely and nominated for Best Small Fictions and Best of the Net. She released a flash fiction collection, Business As Usual, in January 2019 .

Follow her on Twitter @Jonzeywriter 


Feristah Senem Yildirim is an internationally recognised actor, scriptwriter and serving as a jury for several film festivals. 


Ozge Gozturk is the founder of The London Independent Story Prize. She is a published author, journalist and multi-award-winning scriptwriter. After travelling from country to country, she settled down in London. Follow her on social media @OzgeGztrk