Mentee NameTitle of ManuscriptMentor NameAge CategoryGenre(s)Total word count (approx.)
Ryan LestonTrolls and TribulationsEllie LockMGComic Fantasy30000

Have you ever wondered why trolls are so obsessed with bridges?

Ten-year-old Berk isn’t like all the other trolls. For one thing, he’s rubbish at building. And he’s not really bothered about bridges, either. Building bridges is everything in the town of Ogghampton, especially when you’re the son of Chief Builder Thudd.

But Berk doesn’t want to be a builder. Instead, he wants to be an inventor.

Sprocket, the town’s only goblin engineer, has already taught him a thing or two. And Berk is desperate to join him as an apprentice – even if Sprocket’s pet gremlins make inventing a bit tricky.

But when Berk’s dad enrols him at Builder’s School, it’s time for desperate measures. He’s determined to prove himself once and for all. But will the Build-O-Matic – Berk’s latest invention – get him through his final exam? Perhaps if it wasn’t such a handful…

Trolls and Tribulations is a light-hearted lower middle-grade novel for 8 – 10-year-olds. At 30,000 words it’s How To Train Your Dragon meets Muncle Trogg with a bit of Wallace and Gromit thrown in for good measure.

As for myself, I graduated in 2011 from the University of South Wales with First Class Honours in Creative & Professional Writing. I have since worked as a journalist for the BBC, The Guardian, Metro UK and Yahoo! News among others. 

I wrote Trolls & Tribulations with the hope of inspiring children to gain the courage to be different. Although the trolls treat Berk harshly, he’s strong-willed, determined and he never gives up on his dream, even when it isn’t easy. This was partly inspired by my relationship with my own father – a former footballer who wanted me to follow in his footsteps.

The full manuscript is available on request.

Thank you for your consideration,

Ryan Leston


Not so long ago in the town of Ogghampton a smallish troll with a biggish shovel was building an enormous bridge. Well, sort of. He was actually just shovelling cement.

“Why do I get all the rubbish jobs?”

Berk jabbed his shovel into the open bag. Then he tossed an entire shovelful into the cement mixer. Berk had been mixing cement all morning but there were still at least a dozen bags of the stuff left.

“Get a move on!” shouted Foreman Stern. “We haven’t got all day!”

Foreman Stern rarely spoke quieter than a full-blown bellow. He was short and squat with a great big bushy moustache that twitched furiously when he spoke. He was exactly the kind of troll you wouldn’t want to find underneath a bridge. But he was mostly harmless.

“Yes sir!” said Berk.

The trolls were building yet another bridge. Berk didn’t really see the point – there were eighteen bridges across Ogghampton already. But bridges are a matter of pride where trolls are concerned. It was Chief Builder Thudd’s crowning glory – his biggest and sturdiest bridge yet.

Of course, they had said the same about the last one… and the one before that.

Berk picked up his shovel and really put his back into it.

Any other troll would have made quick work of it. But not Berk. At the age of ten, most trolls were almost fully grown. They were big and bulky and could carry twice their weight in building supplies. But Berk wasn’t like the other trolls. Not by a long shot. He was rather small for a troll and wasn’t particularly good at building, either.

And he was the only troll in Ogghampton who wasn’t bothered about bridges.

The other trolls were obsessed with them.

You see, building was everything in Ogghampton and Berk had to try to fit in. That is, if he didn’t want everyone to know his secret. 

He checked his watch.

“Four hours?” he cried. “Four more hours?”

Berk tapped the dial of his watch to make sure. After all, it would tick backwards every now and then. And if the alarm went off, he couldn’t get it to stop unless he gave it a really good bash. But no, it seemed to be working just fine.

Berk was proud of that watch. He had made it himself from an old alarm clock he found at the junkyard. He tied it to his wrist with some rope and spent an entire weekend fixing it. By the time he finished, it was as good as new.

Well, almost.

For a troll, Berk was really good at fixing things. While the other trolls practiced bricklaying or digging foundations, Berk spent all his time fixing broken machinery. He even built his very own contraptions out of junkyard scrap. But that was a secret. Because Berk didn’t want to be a builder like all the other trolls.

Berk wanted to be an inventor.

And his inventions were itching to get out…