Read about his WriteMentor journey, from programme application to literary representation.
What made you apply for the WriteMentor programme?
Last year, Words and Pictures magazine announced their January ’21 Slush Pile competition. The ask was for a book that, in its heart, had the relationship between a child and an animal. I instantly imagined a boy with a flying companion running through a forest. Because, according to the competition’s rules, I didn’t have to have a finished book, I wrote the first chapter of Microraptor, and submitted it. In March ’21 it was announced that I won runner up, and Becky Bagnell, the competition’s judge asked me for the full script, which I wrote in the next couple of months. Because I had a full manuscript that I knew had potential (my trusted critique groups had gone through it), I thought that WriteMentor would help me take it to the next level.
What was your experience like?
It was amazing. Tasha Harrison, my mentor, sent me ten full pages of feedback, in addition to a detailed, line-by-line critique of my script. I put a plan of action together, based on Tasha’s feedback, and worked through it. I was so happy with the result that I submitted to a few agents straight away!
Tell us about your writing journey from start until now.
I started writing maybe three years ago. It was a story that my, then, 5-year-old had come up with. My first attempt was terrible! Some people discouraged me, mainly because English is not my mother tongue, but I also found a lot of support in my wonderful writing groups, the Southbank and Wokingham SCBWI groups, and Slough Writers. I paid close attention to my favourite authors (Eoin Colfer was particularly inspiring), and gradually improved. One thing is for sure, it takes a lot of reading and a lot of writing!
Can you tell us a little more about the book you worked on and signed with?
Microraptor is a book about a boy who discovers a little flying dinosaur. Unfortunately, that dinosaur is wanted by an evil corporation, who chase the boy and the microraptor in a long, treacherous adventure. The story is told in first person and I think, above all, is the protagonist’s personality and humour that makes it stand out.
What is your best piece of writing advice that you learned on the programme?
I really can’t think of one specific piece of advice and single it out. I love feedback, always actively seek it, and always consider it carefully, even if, as it happens, I disagree! I firmly believe that you can’t improve if you don’t assimilate tons of feedback.
Why do you think mentoring is important for writers?
Because you cannot improve on your own, at least I can’t. As a writer you need readers, honest readers and knowledgeable readers. Without my amazing writing groups and my amazing mentor I would not have improved.
After taking part in @writementor’s summer mentoring programme & working on Middle Grade manuscript with author @TashaHarrison_, @PhilipKavvadias went on to receive representation from literary agent @AmberCaraveo of @SkylarkLitTweet