Introducing the 2019 Michael Langan LGBTQ+ Free Read Writers

July 25, 2019 | Other News

Following the huge success of the 2017 and 2018 Michael Langan LGBTQ+ Free Reads, TLC is delighted to announce the writers selected for this year’s free manuscript assessments. Running for its third year, the LGBTQ+ Free Reads scheme is part of TLC’s Quality Writing for All Campaign which advocates for better representation and accessibility in the worlds of literature and publishing. TLC book editor Michael Langan has worked as an editor, writer, and teacher for over twenty years. Michael is a passionate and active campaigner for LGBTQ+ rights, and has donated two free 15,000 word extract assessments to aspiring LBGTQ novelists, alongside three offered thanks to TLC’s Arts Council England Free Read bursary provision. You can read more about why we are doing this here, and find out about the Free Reads scheme here. If you are interested in making a similar donation or supporting the scheme, please email TLC Director Aki Schilz on  with the subject header ‘TLC Quality Writing for All’. Our congratulations to these talented writers.

Tony Leonard

Tony Leonard was born and brought up in South Wales. He completed a BA (Hons.) in English & Drama at Brunel University, before writing extensively for the gay and mainstream media on a range of topics including AIDS/HIV, the gay scene, news, sex, health, travel, culture, community and the arts. He was UK editor of former international site,, and founded and edited Eat Sussex Magazine. Tony is working on his first novel, Live Through This, which was shortlisted for Myriad First Drafts Competition 2017. He has recently completed New Writing South’s two-year Creative Writing Course followed by the one-year Advanced Creative Writing Workshop. His short story, ‘Soiled’, was longlisted for the Grindstone International Short Story Competition 2018 and ‘Hiraeth’ was shortlisted for Common People, Kit de Waal’s anthology of working-class writers. 

Tony said: ‘At it’s heart, Live Through This is the love story of two working-class men, Tom Burgess and Craig O’Connell, and explores how their lives are affected by the AIDS crisis and its ongoing legacy. It takes place against many of the events, from the 1980s to the present, that have shaped the LGBTQ+ community today. I feel it is only now that HIV is a controllable condition, we can start to examine the impact of AIDS as a collective trauma on our community, and begin to understand some of the social and psychological consequences of living through that prolonged period of loss. There are so many stories from the AIDS years not yet told and, in writing Live Through This, I wanted to celebrate the resilience and courage of lives cut short, as well as of the survivors who are still with us. It is very exciting to have been chosen for the TLC LGBTQ+ Free Reads Scheme. Working-class voices are rarely heard in literature and I’m delighted at this opportunity to develop further as a writer and benefit from Michael Langan’s great expertise and talent.’

Katherine Lim

Katherine Lim holds a BA in English Literature from Brown University and an MA in Creative Writing from Oxford University. She was the Faith Ivens-Franklin Scholar at Keble College and runner-up for the A.M. Heath Prize for Fiction. Katherine was the ALSCW (Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers) Fellow at the Vermont Studio Center and a fellow of the Virginia Centre for the Creative Arts, Cill Rialaig, Ireland, and the Wertheim Study, New York Public Library. Her short fiction has been shortlisted for the Asham Award and the Harper-Wood Studentship for English Poetry and Literature, St. John’s College, Cambridge, and longlisted for the Historical Novel Society Conference Short Story Award. “The Party”, a short story about Vita Sackville-West, was recently performed at the Tara Arts Theatre, Earlsfield, London. Katherine has also received fellowships and/or scholarships from Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Aspen Summer Words, Colgate Writers’ Conference, Sarah Lawrence College, the Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, Key West Literary Seminar, Norton Island, Maine, and the Arvon Foundation. She won the Muse and the Marketplace Fiction Literary Idol competition, the BBC History magazine Young Historians’ Competition, and was shortlisted for the Write Stuff at the London Book Fair. Katherine is an alumna of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the Tin House Writers’ Workshop.

Katherine said: “My novel, AMERICAN HEROINE, is a story of desire and ambition, friendship and forbidden love between two iconic women, and the price one must pay for one’s dreams. Set in the 1950s—the McCarthy era—and the 1960s, the novel moves between Hollywood, New York, Washington, DC and continental Europe. I wanted to explore the hidden LGBT histories of this period; for instance, much has been written about the Red Scare, but far less about the Lavender Scare that resulted in the persecution of thousands of gay men and women. The Literary Consultancy Michael Langan Free Reads scheme is a wonderful opportunity to receive feedback on my work as I prepare to submit to literary agents. I’m excited to be a part of the TLC community.”  

Joe Northam

Joe said: “I’ve been writing, or trying to write for most of my life. Stories were always working themselves out in my head from childhood onwards but getting them down on paper is something I’ve only found the drive to do as an adult. Identity was a struggle growing up. I think that writing stories began there – in the conflict between who I felt I was and what I appeared to be. It’s something I am still living with, so fiction: creating a world in which you make the reality, is always appealing. Aside from writing I have a busy and happy family life with my husband, five children and two cats. I am fairly obsessive about cricket which I play, follow and breathe. I’d like to say I read widely but, in fact, I am too fussy for that. I love the work of Iain Pears and Susannah Clarke and have a weakness for golden age detectives.

Boot Hill is what I hope will be the first in a series of stories involving detective Clyde Allingham. Clyde began life in a short story I wrote many years ago and has been waiting politely at the back of my head ever since. He is a disgraced aristocrat who finds himself alienated from his former friends and his family. He is forced to build a new life and begins to make himself useful to his one remaining friend who is a police inspector. I wanted to use the characters of the story to explore attitudes towards homosexuality in Britain at the time just after the Wolfenden report.”

Julia Puddicombe

Julia said: “I’m 25 and I live in Nottingham with my partner of two years. I grew up in Gloucester and went to Durham for university, where I gained a BA in Theology. I have always loved writing, but I only started to take it seriously last year when I applied for the Write Now Live scheme run by Penguin Random House and ended up being shortlisted. I have severe ME which is disabling and leaves me housebound, so I spend my time writing when I’m well enough and it’s a wonderful form of escapism for me.

I am working on a Young Adult Fantasy novel about a girl who speaks to the sun in her dreams. It explores themes of faith and theology as well as rebellion and political intrigue, but the heart of the story is the friendship between the two main characters, Alexia and Liam. As a greyromantic asexual, I wanted to showcase a relationship that is full of strength and love while remaining platonic, especially in the Young Adult genre where romance is often put first. I am so happy to have this opportunity, and I’m very excited to have my work read by Michael Langan.”

Scott Young

Scott Andrew Young is a storyteller. He spent many years using his skills for marketing but left his career as a creative director at Pottery Barn in San Francisco and moved to London to pursue his dream of becoming a novelist. The result is his first novel, DIRTY WORLD, set in Los Angeles during the turbulent early 90s with the Rodney King race riots, the Northridge earthquake, and the AIDS crisis as a backdrop. Scott published several articles and edited a guidebook on cool things to do in L.A. back in the 90s and is excited to be returning to his passion. He applied for this opportunity because he was impressed when he attended workshops the Literary Consultancy did with the London Writer’s Cafe, his writing group. Scott lives in Kings Cross with his partner Nicolas. You may follow Scott on twitter @ScottAYoung

Scott said: “It’s hard to get noticed by an agent in the crowded marketplace, and with LGBTQ focused material it can be an even harder sell at least in the agent’s mind. That’s why it’s so great that someone like Michael Langan has offered his service to help elevate new work so it has the best chance at landing an agent and ultimately a publisher. I’m delighted to have been chosen by Mr. Langan for a manuscript review! A writer lives for validation and this feels great.”

To learn more about TLCs’ Arts Council England-funded Free Reads scheme click here.