“I wanted to elevate my writing and critique skills, and have my work reviewed by a published writer/agent“
Natalie Denny describes her experience of WriteMentor’s 12-week Young Adult mentoring course with author Lauren James
Tell us a bit about yourself as a writer
Born and raised in Liverpool, I read as a form of enjoyment and escapism. As a Black child, I was rarely represented in the books I read. This propelled me to action; wanting to create worlds that were inclusive and welcoming with strong yet vulnerable Black girls as their heroines.
My roles include writer, activist, and Programme Manager for Anthony Walker Foundation and Director of Skywriters, a creative education organisation. I am also chair of The Period Project Merseyside, a voluntary led initiative providing women and people who have periods with menstrual items and campaigning to #endperiodpoverty and co-founder of The Goddess Projects, an organisation with the mission to empower, inspire and assist Black women and women of colour to develop and achieve in their communities.
I graduated from The Open University with an open degree which incorporated creative writing. I was runner up in Writing on the Wall’s ‘Pulp Idol’ 2019 competition and author of children’s educational book ‘Her Hair: A Crown’, a resource developed in partnership with Manchester University, Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Centre, and Cedar Mount Girls group, to diversify the curriculum in Manchester Schools. In 2020, I exhibited my poetry at Output gallery and have articles commissioned and published on mental health, activism, and racism in ROOT-ed Zine, Rattle Magazine and Black Ballad. My latest educational resource, ‘Skywriters’ was launched on World Book Day 2021, and I was recently commissioned to write children’s stories for Liverpool Biennial.
I am currently working on two writing projects. A chapter book series and a YA novel called THE MUSE OF MAGIC. It’s a contemporary fantasy story that focuses on the Muses of Ancient Greek Mythology.
What made you decide to do WriteMentor’s Young Adult mentoring course at this point in your writing journey?
I wanted to elevate my writing and critique skills, and have my work reviewed by a published writer/agent. I also wanted a support network of Young Adult writers to geek out with!
In what way has the Young Adult mentoring course helped shaped your writing and/or yourself as a writer?
The Young Adult mentoring course has given me confidence in my abilities and allowed me to develop a thicker writing skin. The publishing world can be brutal and it’s important to build resilience and open yourself to critique to improve your craft. We have a fantastic critique group on the course who are skillful, honest but above all supportive. We dissect each others work but we also are each others cheerleaders. We will also continue to meet beyond the course to help each other complete our manuscripts. They are all so talented and I am honored to be able to support their work. My mentor, Lauren James, was also fantastic. Her ability to get to the heart of the story and improve it is so impressive which I learnt massively from. Plus, she was so nice!
What was the best piece of writing advice you learned from WriteStart?
I think my main learning points on the Young Adult mentoring course have been finding and telling your the truth in your story/characters and to embrace the ruthlessness of the editing process. MY WIP looks completely different from when I first started the course and has improved so much! The skills and knowledge I gained from the course has made me a better writer. Highly recommended!
Ready to take your writing to the next level?
Dive deep into writing Young Adult fiction with twice Carnegie-nominated author Lauren James. Our comprehensive and advanced Young Adult mentoring course is designed for authors already competent in the fundamentals of writing but who wish to elevate their work to the next level.
Discover the same course for Middle Grade writers….
If you’re a Middle Grade writers, we have a 12-week mentoring course for you, led by Maz Evans, author of ‘Who Let the Gods Out’, who has been nominated for awards including the Carnegie Medal and Waterstone’s Book of the Year. Includes feedback from a literary agent on your submission package.