After studying songwriting at university and returning to Suffolk to set up a music tuition business, Georgia Gant finally decided to get serious about her writing dream.
After a couple of years writing novels and learning the ropes, she was chosen by Anna Mainwaring for the WriteMentor 2020 Summer Mentoring Programme and went on to sign with Joanna Moult of Skylark Literary Agency.
She’s usually found reading YA, writing YA, watching YA films, or discussing YA ideas with her disinterested rescue dog.
What made you apply for the WriteMentor programme?
After studying music at university, I decided writing novels was something I really wanted to pursue. In 2019, I thought my latest, a YA contemporary titled Guitars, Bras and Heading for the Stars, might be strong enough to get somewhere. I worked on it with the lovely Aisha Bushby during WriteMentor’s Preparing for Submission course, and right around the time that course finished, applications for the 2020 Summer Mentoring Programme opened up. I thought this was an amazing opportunity, and one I could never have afforded without WriteMentor’s free initiative. To my joy, Anna Mainwaring — YA contemporary extraordinaire — saw potential in my novel and chose me for the programme!
What was your experience like?
Anna gave my full manuscript several read-throughs, each time suggesting potential edits. First, we started with the wider plot — which included taking out an entire character! This was something I’d been considering for a while, but Anna gave me the confidence that it could be done. We then moved onto finer points to improve the writing style and flow of the prose. These are all things I still think about each time I sit down to edit my novels.
Anna was so positive about everything and put my mind at ease, letting me know that my writing was ready — I just needed to find the right agent match!
I’ve continued to interact on Twitter with all three mentors that I applied to, so it’s also been a great way to widen my writing community!
Tell us about your writing journey from start until now.
I have been a massive reader all my life. I started writing my first book when I was eighteen, which took me four years to finish around going to university and starting my tuition business. Once I finished that book, I quickly decided writing novels was something I wanted to take seriously, and I set about writing another three over the next two years, the second of which was Guitars, Bras, and Heading for the Stars, chosen for the mentorship programme. After full requests for that novel went nowhere, I decided I was going to write another novel in the last few months of 2020. By February 2021, that fifth book had led me to sign with my agent!
I definitely felt that with each novel I wrote, my understanding of plotting, pacing, and structure grew, and I now feel I have a very solid idea of the type of books I want to write.
Can you tell us a little more about the book you worked on and signed with?
The book I worked on for the mentorship programme was a YA contemporary about four high-schoolers who form a rock band and take down the bullies. It was a novel very close to my heart, having been a musician and songwriter for many years. I received a fair bit of interest and several full manuscript requests after the showcase, but no offers.
I then decided that before the year was up, I wanted to get down the first draft of an exciting new idea I’d had, a YA spy thriller with speculative elements. I worked flat out and managed to write, edit, and begin querying this novel within around four months. Fortunately, I received a lot of interest with this one, and I was so thrilled to be offered representation with an agent that had been on my list of top ten dream agents, the wonderful Joanna Moult at Skylark. After chatting to her a couple of times, I had to wait the standard two weeks while other agents finished considering the full. It was a very anxious wait, and I was so relieved when I could finally accept her offer!
What is the best piece of writing advice that you learned on the programme?
I think my favourite tip that Anna gave me — and the one I always go back to with each book I write — is to make sure each chapter starts and ends with a really hooky sentence. The first line of each chapter needs to make the reader want to continue on through that chapter, and the one at the end needs to make the reader turn to the next.
Why do you think mentoring is important for writers?
I think writing can be a really daunting industry to break into and to be able to talk to someone that’s been there and done it is so helpful. The confidence boost that a professional author choosing your book brings is also pretty great!