Piu Das Gupta is a British Indian writer currently living in Paris. She was born in Kolkata and grew up in Croydon, spending time in London and Oxford along the way. She hopes to reflect the diversity of these worlds in her work. When she’s not writing (which is most of the time), she likes to sit on rooftops and count pigeons.
Read about her journey from ideas to publication.
What made you apply for the WriteMentor programme?
I applied for the WriteMentor Spark mentoring program because it immediately appealed to me: the idea of established children’s writers helping aspiring authors find their feet. I was not disappointed.
My mentor, Lindsay Galvin, was a fount of wise advice, reassuring me on many of the issues that worried me. Every month, I sent her 5,000 words, and she answered any specific questions that I put to her.
I am so glad I discovered WriteMentor, it is such a warm and welcoming community where established children’s authors mingle freely with new and aspiring ones, and everybody’s free to exchange experiences and info with each other. The WriteMentor Middle Grade and Young Adult courses and the WOWCON conference are also amazing value for money, compared with many of the other (extremely expensive) writing courses out there.
With WriteMentor you are taught personally by the writer who runs the course, unlike some other courses where you get pre-recorded videos with little or no input from the actual teacher.
Tell us about your writing journey from start until now.
I’d been trying unsuccessfully to get a children’s book off the ground for three years before this one. I’d written an earlier Middle Grade book which had a couple of full read requests from agents, but which was ultimately rejected. Realizing that I must be doing something wrong, I did the Curtis Brown children’s/Young Adult writing course with the amazing Catherine Johnson, and then the Spark mentoring and Middle Grade course with Lindsay. I’m so glad I did!
Looking back at my earlier book, I can see there were so many basic errors – long descriptive passages, flat characters, way too much “telling” rather than “showing.” I’m not sure that, without the writing courses and mentoring, I would have even spotted them!
Can you tell us a little more about the book you worked on and signed with?
The book I’m signed up for is a Middle Grade magical realist romp with a mixed-race heroine like myself. I signed with Chloe Seager at Madeleine Milburn because she was so committed and enthusiastic about the book, and also had some great ideas for taking it forward.
What is your best piece of writing advice that you learned on the programme?
If there is one thing I have learned from mentoring it is never give up, and believe in yourself. Also, learn from your mistakes! Be prepared to edit, revise, tear things up, start again. Don’t get over-confident with success, or too depressed at failure, because believe me you’ll have both in spades.
Believe in the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but make plans for what you’ll do if it’s not there. And make the most of all the wonderful writing folk you’ll meet along the way.