Mentee NameTitle of ManuscriptMentor NameAge CategoryGenre(s)Total word count (approx.)
Emma PearlThe MirrorbirdsLu HerseyMGFantasy adventure60000

The Mirrorbirds is a middle grade fantasy adventure, complete at 60,000 words. 

12-year-old Mazy lives with her family in the rural idyll of Deaven. It is a simple, pastoral way of life, but Mazy yearns to break free and go to sea with her uncle, a fisherman. Only her mirrorbird – the magical bird-shaped manifestation of her spirit that reflects the truth in its surfaces – is more cautious, and her Pa is adamant she’s too young. 

When the mysterious Ambrose arrives in town without a mirrorbird of his own, he causes a stir. Mazy is enchanted by his tales of travelling and freedom, but he is only after her mirrorbird. When she refuses to part with Bell, Ambrose sets an elaborate trap and the entire town’s mirrorbirds are endangered. 

Mazy is shocked by the betrayal and the ensuing carnage. She sets out in pursuit, determined to retrieve the mirrorbirds and exact her revenge. She must battle stormy seas, a hole in the ocean and imprisonment in a strange, cold land. If she cannot escape, the mirrorbirds may be lost forever.

I grew up in a world full of books. Roald Dahl was my great uncle and a huge presence, inspiration and figure of general awesomeness in my early life. He taught me how to swim and how to see magic in ordinary things. He also dedicated The Twits to me, which was one of the MOST exciting things ever to happen to a 7-year-old bookworm! How could I fail to grow up a lover of stories and all things bookish?

I have written stories for as long as I’ve been able to hold a pencil, but only began writing for young people seriously about three years ago. Since then, I have been frantically learning, reading, writing and honing my craft. I’ve completed three novels and have many more in progress. My YA novel A Sea Full of Wonder was longlisted for the Write Mentor Children’s Novel Award 2020. 

It has been a blessing to be part of this summer mentoring programme with The Mirrorbirds. Thank you so much for being a part of it too. 

THE MIRRORBIRDS

Your mirrorbird is your gift from the universe – your guardian angel, your conscience, your intuition. 
The Book of Souls

The air is humming with the promise of Midsummer, the sky is the colour of forget-me-nots and the whole town is buzzing with anticipation. Bell and I are tingling all over with it as we make our way through the crowds to the inn. 

Scarlett must have seen us coming because she runs out across the green to meet me. Pip and Bell, our mirrorbirds, greet each other warmly, chasing each other’s tails as they flutter in a tight circle above us. Scarlett and I link arms. She is brimming with excitement and her cheeks are even rosier than usual. 

“I can’t wait!” she breathes.

“Me too,” I say, and we squeeze each other tight. 

The morning is set-up time, and everyone’s busy rushing to and fro. By midday, the band is playing and the green has been transformed. There are tables and chairs covering every inch of grass, and garlands of flowers hung on anything that will hold them. It’s pretty as a picture.

While we’re waiting for the festivities to begin in earnest, me, Scarlett and Noah, her twin, mess around, chasing between and under the tables, causing several of the grown-ups to tut and scold. No one stays cross for long though.

I grab a cupcake from one of the tables when nobody’s looking, and the three of us hide under a table to eat it, giggling helplessly. We emerge, wiping crumbs guiltily from our faces and trying not to draw attention to ourselves.

Suddenly I am aware of an intense burning in my chest. Bell feels it too and flinches, nestling into the crook of my neck.

I turn around, scanning the crowd. My heart is racing and I don’t know why. Everyone is laughing, talking, drinking, eating, enjoying themselves. Everything seems normal. Yet I can’t shake the feeling. 

Noah has disappeared and Scarlett is urging me towards the maypole.

“Just a moment,” I say to her, a little impatiently.

Bell sees him first.

Over towards the inn, shimmering in the heat haze coming off the hog roast, a boy is staring at me. And yes, Bell is right. The burning sensation in my chest is coming directly from him. 

I stare back. He don’t look away. He’s wearing a hat and leather gloves, which seems strange in this hot weather. It also means I can’t see him properly. All I can make out is the eyes, shining cold, piercing me to my very soul.

Who is he? I ask Bell silently. 

I don’t know, Mazy, she replies. He scares me.

I don’t think he’s from round these parts, I say. He don’t look familiar. He don’t look right, somehow.

He don’t have a mirrorbird is why, Bell whispers, hardly daring to put those words into my head.

What? I say, confused. 

But the longer I look at him, the more I fear she might be right.