2023 WriteMentor Mentoring Programme
A mentoring programme that matches published authors with children’s fiction writers to support their craft development and writing careers
This year’s programme will be different – if you haven’t read about those changes, you can find them here.
Mentor chats on Twitter: Mon/Tues 10/11th April 7-9pm DROP-IN (mentors will attend for an hour during this window), so simply post your questions using #WriteMentor and they’ll get to them during this period.
Mentee application window: Weds 12th-Fri 14th April.
Mentee announcements: Monday 1st May.
Mentoring period: 1st May – undefined (this is where the flexibility comes in – we suggest a period of less than 12 months in total – though you may want to make it 6 or 9, or extend it further – the only stipulation is about 6 hours of time via email/calls over the year and a reminder that mentors are volunteering, so no unrealistic demands upon them or their time).
Please do read the post linked above, to fully understand the ethos of the new programme – it’s now a mentoring focus rather than an editorial one.
That said, we’ll still ask you to add some writing materials to your application as mentors will want to know your work before choosing to pair with you.
Applications will be via a short form where you state why mentoring would help you, and attach a standard submission package for your work: letter, synopsis, 3 chapters OR letter and Picture Book.
We’re looking for unpublished and unagented writers for this one, only. If you are self-published, but wish to pursue a traditional route with your current work, you are eligible to apply. By unpublished, we mean having not signed a contract for the publication of a novel or picture book, where you have received an advance.
You should have a completed manuscript/picture book which you intend to submit to agents within the next 6 months. This is not a programme for those in the early stage of manuscript/writing development, but for those who have worked on their craft to a high level but need a little extra guidance with the next stages.
Just to emphasise, the programme will focus on writer development, more than manuscript development, though some mentors may wish to offer this. There should be no expectation that your work will be edited.
Here’s the mentors who have volunteered to generously give up their time to help writers on the cusp of publication to navigate the mirky waters of becoming a first-time author.
Picture Book Mentors
Eva Wong Nava
Eva Wong Nava writes for children full time. She is an award-winning and best-selling author with books for children aged 4 to 18 years old. She has degrees in English Literature and Art History and she has taken courses on the craft of writing over many years. Eva uses the skills gained from her studies to write her stories. When not writing, Eva coaches aspiring writers and works as a freelance editor for publishers and authors.
She is the co-founder of Picture Book Matters, a mentoring platform for picture book authors and illustrators. She has seen her mentees go from aspiring to published picture book authors. Eva is passionate about children’s literature because she knows that reading for pleasure begins in infancy. She is writing her next middle-grade book and editing picture book manuscripts that will be published soon.
“As an author from a minoritised and underrepresented group, I know only too well what can happen when someone champions you. As a writer, I’ve worked with mentors who have helped me progress in my writing journey, going from aspiring to being published. As a trade published author, I have a personal experience of the industry (working with agents, commissioning editors and sales) and the industry’s expectations of authors. As a mentor, I would love to share the skills and expertise gained with soon-to-be published writers. Writing may be a lone journey, but the journey doesn’t have to be lonely.
I’m happy to support BIPOC/BAME or under-represented authors with PBs — lyrical and whimsical, family-centred stories; MG — high concept stories and ones targetted at the upper MG age bracket; they can be stand alone or be serialised; period MG novels work for me, too, so these are stories set in a fictional past world. For YA, historical fiction floats my boat and if there’s a dash of magic-realism in there, it’s ship’s ahoy. I’m into world building so show me your world. I love editorial work and can support writers there craft- and word-wise.”
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary, Historical, Romance, Magical Realism, Action/Adventure
Eva will also consider middle grade and young adult.
Frances Tosdevin has three traditionally published picture books (in both rhyme and prose) with four more on the way, and is represented by Lucy Irvine of Peters, Fraser and Dunlop. Her books have been translated into six languages including 10,000 copies in Welsh of her debut, THE BEAR AND HER BOOK (illustrated by Sophia O’Connor, published by UCLan Publishing) which was selected by BookTrustCymru for use in Welsh reception classes during the 2023 spring term as part of their book bag scheme. Both of her Bear books have also sold to the USA as well as various foreign territories. THE BEAR AND HER BOOK won the 2022 SCBWI Crystal Kite Award for the British Isles, and was a Children’s Book of the Week in The Independent. Her second book, AN ARTIST’S EYES (illustrated by Clémence Monnet, published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books) was nominated for the 2023 Yoto Carnegie Illustration Award.
“I’ve taken lots of picture book courses and classes, and am privileged to be in a critique group with many amazing picture book creators.
Apart from writing, I love gardening, nature and drinking tea! I used to keep chickens but now just have two cats— one of whom loves to photobomb my Zoom calls! I’ve been both a mentee (2019) and a mentor (2021) in the Summer Programme, and value the lasting friendships that have resulted. Being a mentor enables me to give something back to the writing community. I would aim to offer my mentee both practical and pastoral support— to be a sounding board while they consider their writing-related choices as well as a shoulder to cry on when things are tough. I think a good mentor will try to stand back and see the bigger picture which can sometimes be hard to spot when you’re in the middle of it yourself. I’ve got experience of subbing to agents, and since being agented, of being on submission to publishers. I know what it’s like to get rejections, so some metaphorical hand-holding will be on offer, too! I hope to combine plenty of encouragement with practical advice about the industry. I’m also happy to offer some editorial support on a mentee’s strongest texts (if this is helpful) in rhyme and/or prose, and to help identify which texts to focus on for submission.
I’d love to find an accomplished writer of both rhyme and prose picture books, and one who writes widely— from lyrical and moving to funny and upbeat! If you’re my perfect mentee match, then you’re serious about your craft and are probably already submitting to agents (perhaps getting the occasional snippet of personal feedback). You’re likely to be entering picture book competitions and are actively finding the time to write regularly. Although I’ll choose a mentee based on how much I love their work, I’d especially like to connect with a writer aged 40 or over.”
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary, Mystery, Humour/Funny, Magical Realism, Time-Travel, Action/Adventure
Gaynor Andrews is a member of SCBWI and her picture books are represented by Kate Scarborough of Tyilds Agency. Her debut rhyming picture book is due for publication in 2024. Gaynor has taught in primary schools across the UK, as well as Thailand and France. She now lives in the Scottish Highlands, writing educational resources by day and stories and poems by night. Her poetry has appeared in the Caterpillar Magazine and the Dirigible Balloon website. Two of her poems were selected for the Dirigible Balloon’s first anthology, Chasing Clouds in 2022.
“I’ve found feedback and support from my lovely critique partners invaluable and would like to pay that forward to the writing community, particularly to those who don’t find it easy to pay for writing courses and conferences. I love the rhythm of language and have a particular passion for rhyme.
I would love to see magical, lyrical picture books in either prose or rhyme. I enjoy warm, humorous stories too. I’m looking for someone who has several completed manuscripts and feels almost ready to submit to agents. I’m very happy to help you polish your rhyme and check your scansion.”
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary, Mystery, Humour/Funny, Magical Realism, Time-Travel, Action/Adventure
Sarah Atherton is the author of BELLA’S BUTTERFLIES (Sage’s Tower Publishing, 2021). She has been writing picture books for 8 years and has recently started writing chapter books. Sarah grew up in Holland and loves speaking different languages, including Dutch and Spanish. She now lives in Buckinghamshire, England with her husband, two grown up children and two very spoilt cats! Sarah works part-time as a special educational needs coordinator in a primary school and is passionate about seeing children with various needs being represented in picture books. Sarah classes herself as a bit of a phonics expert and you can see this in action by taking a look at her YouTube channel.
“I absolutely LOVE picture books and I want to get as many good quality stories out there as possible to get children excited about reading. I would like to be a mentor so I can support a writer to develop their work, and to advise them on decisions such as querying agents and editors. I can be a shoulder to cry on when things aren’t going to plan and I can be the loudest cheerleader when there are things to celebrate! I have learnt a lot from my own experience of promoting my picture book and I would be delighted to share this knowledge with my mentee.
I’m looking for a picture book writer and I’m open to a wide range of themes. The only area I wouldn’t be a good fit for is non-fiction. I would love to work with someone who writes funny stories or stories which help children to understand their social, emotional and mental health. I’m passionate about seeing children from all backgrounds represented in picture books. I’m happy to work with someone who writes in rhyme as well as in prose. I can offer advice and support on the craft of writing and the dreaded querying trenches!”
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary, Mystery, Humour/Funny, Action/Adventure
Chapter Books/Middle Grade
Cat Weldon is a children’s author who writes funny, Middle Grade fantasy stories with a particular interest in off beat fairy tales and world mythology. Her hilarious Viking Series, HOW TO BE A HERO is published by Macmillan Children’s Books. With a master’s degree in Scriptwriting and a background in Children’s Theatre, Cat now splits her time between teaching, writing and trying to round up her collection of delinquent chickens.
“I wrote my first novel with no idea what I was doing. I knew I had an interesting idea and the determination to keep going until my novel was as good as it could be but no real clue as to how to do it. I have now published three novels with Macmillan Children’s Books, and I would like to give someone else the benefit of my hard-won experience! I also have a wealth of experience in education and working with children and young people, I firmly believe that information and entertainment work best hand in hand.
I’m hoping to find a writer with funny bones! Send me your humorous chapter books or mg fiction. I’m a good fit for fantasy and historical stuff too. My skills are in plotting and editing so if you need help tightening up your writing ready for querying, send it my way!”
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Humour/Funny, Time-Travel, Action/Adventure
Middle Grade Mentors
Carolyn Ward studied for an English degree in Wolverhampton before moving to Manchester, where she worked in retail jewellery for many years, rode horses around Manchester City’s training ground and nearly fell in the river. Now settled in South Staffordshire and mum to three, she writes middle grade and teen horror, and is represented by Thérèse Coen at Susanna Lea Associates. In her spare time she enjoys shopping for haunted antiques and has far too many notebooks. BELLA BRIGHT AND THE GHOST GAME is her first novel, being published in September 2023 by Welbeck Flame.
“I am really excited to mentor this year, which will be my 6th, with the changes in focus from editing to pure writing-career mentoring. I will not be offering any editorial support at all, I think it’s only fair to state this clearly, right at the start. It has taken me over seven years to get published, and during that time I have built up a wealth of knowledge that I would be delighted to share. I can advise on finding an agent, writing a killer submission query, how to communicate with agents, what to expect after getting signed, and the different sort of development your book will go through at a publishing house. Giving back to fledgling writers is important to me, as every year I take part as a mentor, I learn so much, and really enjoy getting to know my mentees.
This year I am looking for a strong MG or perhaps teen voice, ideally with someone who is already looking hard at agents, or has had a few full requests. I’m rather partial to funny writing, or a thriller or horror. I think overall though, I want lightning in a bottle: different and energising and slightly bonkers. I’m going to mentor from May-Mid August 2023.”
Genres: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Contemporary, Historical, Thriller, Mystery, Dystopian, Humour/Funny, Horror, Paranormal, Crime, Magical Realism, Time-Travel, Action/Adventure
Jonathan Eyers is the author or co-author of six books of fiction and non-fiction for kids and adults, including the middle grade novel THE THIEVES OF PUDDING LANE and the delightful non-fiction book HOW TO SNOG A HAGFISH!: DISGUSTING THINGS IN THE SEA. Jonathan is a commissioning editor at Bloomsbury Publishing, and writers he has mentored or edited via the Cornerstones Literary Consultancy have been published by Bonnier, Boldwood, Orenda and others. His previous mentee Laura Noakes will soon see her WriteMentor 2021 novel COSIMA UNFORTUNATE published by HarperCollins. Check out Jonathan’s masterclass video on WriteMentor’s YouTube channel about the 7 common problems he often come across in manuscripts.
“I have been a mentor with WriteMentor for three consecutive years and it has been a joy to work with writers at different stages in their writing careers. I wish a programme like WriteMentor had been available when I was at an earlier stage in my own, and I’m now at a stage where I feel that I want to give something back. I am completely open-minded about what I take on – one of my previous picks caught me completely by surprise and wasn’t what I thought I was looking for. In general a strong main character and an intriguing hook or concept will appeal to me, but that could be anything from historical fiction to fantasy.”
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary, Historical, Mystery, Action/Adventure
Lisette Auton’s work focuses on identity, process, kindness and access. Disabled, neurodivergent and northern, some say she’s a word artist, she says she does stuff with words. As a writer and artist she works with words in all their forms: as an author and playwright, a film and theatre maker, as a solo artist, with collaborators, and alongside wonderful humans as a creative practitioner and mentor. Lisette is an award-winning poet; the 2019 Early Careers Fellow for Literature at Cove Park; on the TSS Publishing list of Best British & Irish Flash Fiction; and winner of The Journal Culture Award 2021 for Performance of the Year for WRITING THE MISSING – A RIVER CYCLE commissioned by Durham Book Festival. Her debut middle grade novel THE SECRET OF HAVEN POINT was published by Puffin in February 2022, and THE STICKLEBACK CATCHERS in February 2023. You’ll find Lisette’s work in galleries, online, in theatres and bookshops, as well as random places such as laundrettes and railway station waiting rooms.
“Navigating the publishing world is tricky, I was very lucky and had a mentor a few steps ahead of me on the journey and I know how useful that was for me. They weren’t writing Middle Grade though, and that even more insider knowledge of children’s publishing would have been great, and that’s what I’d love to give. Up front honesty here – I don’t have time to go on a mahoosive editorial journey with you! And probably will have to stick to the allocated time, just purely due to my writing commitments. Just so you know from the start! You’ll need to already have a lovely polished manuscript and can use the crit group to make it even more so. What I can offer is navigation help, moral support, talking about the publishing world, working through which agents may be a match and sorting a package together, how to work with expectations and waiting, what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour from professionals around you, what some of the weird publishing words and phrases mean! It’s all a bit bewildering at times, and I’m here, not knowing everything by a long shot, but a little bit further along. Basically, cuppas, biscuits and moral support. I’m disabled and neurodivergent, and from the north east which is way away from publishing land. They lead me to need even more navigation skills than usual, I’d love to help someone who needs those too.
I’m looking for a disabled, chronically ill and/or neurodivergent writer, who has a completed full manuscript that they’ve edited as far as they can solo, and would like help with next steps. My experience is with traditional publishing – I’ll be most useful for those looking towards this route. If you’re Northern too, always a bonus!”
Genres: Sci-Fi, Contemporary, Thriller, Mystery, Magical Realism, Time-Travel, Action/Adventure
Lorraine Hawley, the middle-grade author of CURIOUS WORLD OF DANDY-LION, resides in the United States and is represented by Deidre Knight at the Knight agency. She writes stories about preteens, teens, and fantastical worlds. While she has attempted to write non-magical stories, her characters refuse to stay reality grounded, leaping off the pages to fly. Lorraine is active in the writing community and is prepared to openly share the joys and pitfalls of her writing journey with a mentee.
“The writing journey is more manageable with someone in your corner. I made so many rookie mistakes, not knowing how to query or when, not to mention the submission process, that I hope to spare at least one mentee my pain.”
Genres: Fantasy, Humour/Funny, Horror, Magical Realism, Action/Adventure
Lucy Hope is a children’s author. Her debut novel, FLEDGLING, a gothic adventure with a hint of fantasy, was nominated for the Carnegie Medal for Writing 2023. Her second novel, WREN, another gothic fantasy, was published in October 2022. Her third novel is due to be published in October 2023. Lucy completed the MA in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University in 2019 and passed with distinction. She came into writing quite late in life, with her first novel being published when she was 50. She’s just moved from the Cotswolds to London.
“I was incredibly lucky to be able to take a year out of my life between 2018 and 2019 to do the MA in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University, and I’m aware how this course helped me find an agent and then a publisher. I’d love to be able to pass on the knowledge I gained during this time working with inspirational tutors and talented fellow writers. I was signed by my agent, Joanna Moult at Skylark Literary, soon after completing the course and have had a bit of a whirlwind since with three books publishing in three years. I have learnt so much from the process and would LOVE the opportunity to help new writers who are just at the point of sharing their work with the world. I’ve been there very recently and I know how intimidating, confusing (and sometimes disheartening) the process can be, so would love to offer my time to support a new writer (whatever their age!) through their journey towards publication.
I’d love to hear from you if you have a polished manuscript that’s ready to send out to agents. Or maybe you’ve started sending it out already but are getting stock rejections and don’t know why. I LOVE anything historical, and if it has a sprinkling of fantasy, that’s even better! I have a soft spot for funny writing, or anything that’s a bit quirky or unexpected. I’m particularly looking for writing with a big, pulsating heart – wherever and whenever it’s set. I have a thing about birds so if anyone has a middle-grade manuscript featuring our feathered friends, then definitely get in touch! I’m happy to help get your query package into shape too, including the dreaded synopsis!”
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary, Historical, Mystery, Magical Realism
Lucy Unwin’s debut THE OCTOPUS, DADU AND ME was published by UCLan Publishing in January 2023. It’s contemporary realism with a dash of the unusual, and is about a girl who forms a special relationship with an octopus as she tries to process her feelings about her grandparent’s worsening dementia.
Lucy is also a freelance editor, spent many years as a music journalist at BBC 6 Music and has a BA in English and Politics. She also volunteered for 3 years at writing charity 826 Valencia in San Francisco. She has lived all around the UK, as well as in California, and for a year in the beautiful Chilean coastal city of Valparaíso and is now settled on the top of the Sussex cliffs with her husband and two daughters. She is represented by Emily Talbot at United Agents.
I’m looking to work with someone who has already shown they’re taking their own writing seriously and has put in the effort to learn their craft, but is perhaps still a little mystified about how things work going forward. I’m also available for cheerleading and moral support, or even to bounce ideas off.
“Over the years I’ve been writing I’ve been a frantic hoarder of writing tips and strategies. I love analysing why things work or don’t, and I’ve learnt so much (and clearly still learning!) It seems a waste not to share it all! Publishing is such a strange industry, where writers have to take so many leaps in the dark. I think we should do anything we can to help each other. I’ve benefitted from the advice of more established authors and I’ve found it very rewarding to mentor writers who may be one step behind — hopefully we can all pass it along the chain! I also think the community that comes from writing competitions is invaluable. I’ve entered a lot over the years and never won any of them (!) but the feedback, support and friendships I’ve made have helped immeasurably.”
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary, Humour/Funny, Magical Realism, Time-Travel, Action/Adventure
Philip Kavvadias grew up in Athens, fell in love in Dublin, and built a home in Windsor. He writes constantly: stories, plays, screenplays, poems. He is passionate about Sustainability and he’s lucky enough to work on that, for one of the biggest brands in the world. He is a Scout Leader and when he’s not taking kids on real-life adventures, Philip cooks lovely meals for his family – swiftly followed by ordering takeaway!
“Over the last two years I have built wonderful relationships with people I worked with during the summer programmes. I feel that the interaction has really helped them and me improve and expand our writing. I would love to continue to do that.
Stories I enjoy the most have humour and heart. They are daring, thrilling, witty, different. They talk about great adventures, great changes and, more than anything, great friendships. They don’t have to be loud but they have to be big. I hope some of that drivel makes a tiny bit of sense and looking forward to reading your stories!”
Genres: Sci-Fi, Humour/Funny, Action/Adventure
Piu DasGupta is a children’s writer living in Paris, France. Her debut middle grade is a twisty Gothic adventure set in Paris and due to be traditionally published in spring 2024, with a second standalone middle grade slated for publication in spring 2025. When she is not writing or musing, Piu spends her time on the roof of her Paris apartment with her two cats, or counting pigeons.
“I’ve mentored for two years with WriteMentor and found it a hugely rewarding experience. I think the proposed changes are a great way forward, in fact with my previous mentees I have maintained contact and continued to advise them well after the mentorship period officially ended. I’m happy to review and comment on scripts, but I also have extensive experience of the industry. Of course it’s fantastic to get an agent and/or a publication deal, but a writer’s first objective must always be in improving their craft and making their work the best it can be. The learning never stops, and in some ways it’s a journey without end, with so much to learn and improve on the way.
I’m looking for a writer of Gothic/horror MG or teen fiction, someone with at least one completed draft who’s subbed to agents with a few “near misses.” Willing to re-work substantially if necessary. I’ll read opening chapters & synopsis and give general advice on agents and publishing options (UK preferred as that’s my knowledge base). I’ll expect the focus of the mentorship to last over the summer. Can’t wait to read your work!”
Genres: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Thriller, Mystery, Dystopian, Horror, Paranormal, Crime, Magical Realism, Time-Travel, Action/Adventure
Stephanie Sorrell’s debut children’s novel, DANDY THE HIGHWAY LION, was shortlisted for the Times/Chicken House Competition in 2020, before going on to be published by Chicken House in Spring 2023. After studying English Literature with Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, she stumbled, semi-intentionally, into life aboard a boat, where she now lives with her husband, two spoilt cats (rescued while sailing in Spain), and several visiting swans.
“Writing can be a lonely occupation at the best of times, and as a peripatetic boat-dweller, who didn’t know about Write Mentor when developing my debut children’s novel, I definitely felt the want of a writing community and a more experienced writer to turn to for advice. I’d love to be able to offer that support and guidance to authors developing their novels and, hopefully, make the path towards publication just a little bit easier!
I’m open to most genres, but I’m probably not the best bet for Sci Fi or Horror. I’d love to work with someone writing historical fiction, perhaps with a fantastical element, and, most importantly, with humour!“
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Mystery, Humour/Funny, Action/Adventure
Middle Grade/Young Adult Mentors
Children’s author Alex Falase-Koya has been reading and writing since he was a teenager. His debut novel MARV AND THE MEGA ROBOT was inspired after Alex struggled to find superheroes in fiction who looked like him. He is also the co-writer of Marcus Rashford’s first fiction book The Breakfast Club Adventures. A previous winner of Spread the Word’s 2019 London’s Writers Awards for YA and Children’s, Alex lives in Walthamstow with his girlfriend and two cats.
“One of the things I’ve found the most difficult about this industry is the fact that good feedback is very difficult to come by. I remember many a time working on a novel for over a year and then pushing it out in the world and getting nothing back. That’s why I’m so interested in helping out and hopefully being the source of feedback that I didn’t really have in my past. Programmes like this and the avenues for growth it offers people are invaluable, and so I’d really like to get the opportunity to be a part of that.“
Genres: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Mystery, Horror, Action/Adventure
Emma Finlayson-Palmer lives in the West Midlands with her husband and a multitude of children, cats and chickens. A writer of children’s fiction with a special focus on CBs and YAs and short stories, represented by Veronique Baxter of the David Higham agency. Emma’s chapter book series AUTUMN MOONBEAM is out now. Emma runs #ukteenchat, a writing themed chat on Twitter, and has been a #WriteMentor mentor from its inaugural year and now edits, mentors and reads competition entries too. She’s also one half of Word Witches, as a children’s fiction editor.
“I love being part of the kidlit writing community and working with other writers. I’ve been very lucky over the years to have had support from other writers, beta reading, crit groups, writing groups and organisation and mentoring, and I really want to pass on things I have learnt along the way to other writers. I want to share my passion for stories and support other writers at an earlier stage in their journey to me. I’m very much about finding the positives in everything and want to share and support someone help learn their craft and industry information whilst having fun with writing along the way.
I never know what I’m going to love until it’s in front of me, but I especially love Thrillers and Horror, but I’m also a big fan of fantasy too. I’m also open to any age group (bar PB) this year, and I’m keen to see some YA come my way. As an autistic, bi, working class Midlands based writer, I’m not necessarily looking for a writer with the same background as me, but that’s a big part of my own writing and experience what I’ll bring to the mentoring and I’m passionate about seeing better representation for children of all background in stories.”
Genres: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Contemporary, Thriller, Mystery, Dystopian, Horror, Paranormal, Crime
A WriteMentor alumnus, Kate Anderson writes speculative middle grade and young adult. Her debut novel, HERE LIES OLIVE, will be released by Flux in October 2023.
“As a WriteMentor alumnus, I know just how valuable this program can be! My mentor and I still keep in touch and he has been a great support over the years. I would love to offer that to another writer. I also feel that I have valuable experience in taking a different path to traditional publication. I received an offer of publication before signing with an agent, and then took that offer to agents, ultimately landing me an offer of representation as well. My strengths lie in world-building, dialogue, plotting, pacing, and focusing on character motivation. I used to be a pantser because I loved the creative energy that came with drafting something completely unplanned, but now I use a loose outline that allows me to focus my writing while still surprising myself with the story. As a reader, my absolute favorite genre is anything that has to do with the end of the world: natural disasters, zombies and vampires, pandemics. I especially want to see the beginning of the end, like Susan Beth Pfeffer did so well in LIFE AS WE KNEW IT. I also love reading anything creepy or scary. I’m hard to scare, so if you can give me the chills, send your work my way! Any genre of horror is fine, especially folk horror. Accessible sci-fi based in our world and real science are another favorite. I enjoy some retellings but I’m not the right person for high fantasy. Finally, contemporary of all kinds is welcome!
I’m looking for a mentee who writes MG and/or YA and wants to focus on plot and pacing. I’m a big fan of Save the Cat, but am willing to work with someone who isn’tfamiliar with it. I’m also willing to help with the querying process, whether it’s agents or small publishers!”
Genres: Sci-Fi, Contemporary, Historical, Thriller, Dystopian, Horror, Paranormal, Time-Travel
Lu Hersey had years of experience working in the publishing world, and is a traditionally published writer with an MA in Writing for Young People. Her published books, Deep Water and Broken Ground, are both in the folk horror/kitchen sink paranormal for teen readers category.
“I’ve been a #WriteMentor mentor for the last four years, mainly because I love being able to help other writers with their work. I enjoy taking on this annual challenge to make contact with a new, talented writer who just needs help and encouragement – and maybe a little editorial advice – along the way. I love all things myth and folklore, crime, humour, adventure – almost any genre can grab my attention if it’s an original story.
My ideal mentee is an MG or teen writer who started out loving their wonderful, original ms, but now feels a bit worn down and isn’t sure what to do next. If I can, I’d love to help them get their writing mojo back.”
Genres: Sci-Fi, Thriller, Mystery, Humour/Funny, Paranormal, Crime, Magical Realism, Action/Adventure
Young Adult Mentors
Anika Hussain was born and raised in Stockholm, Sweden but currently lives and writes in Bath, Somerset. She is a graduate of the Bath Spa MAWYP. Not having seen herself in the books she read as a teenager, Anika writes YA novels with South Asian characters at the heart of the story. In her free time, Anika rewatches Love Island, listens to too many true crime podcasts, and sings pop-punk songs loudly around her apartment. Anika is represented by Alice Sutherland-Hawes and her first YA novel, THIS IS HOW YOU FALL IN LOVE, was released Feb 2023 by Hot Key Books.
“I’m looking to be of help to writers who want an extra pair of eyes on their work before they feel ready to send out to agents and publishers. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a critique group who has been able to mentor me in numerous ways and have seen first-hand how important it is to have somebody who understands what you are feeling at every stage of the writing process.
I’m looking for a YA contemporary BIPOC writer. I am most passionate about stories featuring mental health but am also a sucker for revenge stories (though no horror) and rom-coms. I can offer advice and support on the craft of writing and be a sounding board as you navigate your journey.”
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Laura R. Samotin graduated with her PhD in political science from Columbia University and has published her research on international security with Georgetown University Press and Cambridge University Press, and in academic journals. She served as a 2021 #DVMentor mentor and a 2021 WriteMentor Summer Program mentor, and also runs the website to help authors on their writing journey. She lives in New York City with her spouse.
My experience as a WriteMentor mentor the last two years was incredibly special—it was fantastic to have a chance to help my mentee learn and grow throughout the program, getting them through to the querying stage, and then keeping in touch with him beyond that. We still talk and check in, and I’m so proud to support their amazing work. Both of my mentees have truly grown as writers, and seeing the increase in their confidence was really amazing. I’d like to keep this going by participating in WriteMentor a third time, and I would very much like to be able to continue to contribute to the growth and success of this new iteration of the program.“
“As a mentor, I’m hoping that once again, this program will attract mentors and mentees who are committed to forming a supportive community, one which focuses on helping people grow as writers. I never would have been able to become a better writer without a strong writing community backing me, not just to teach me key skills but also to encourage me to keep going through writer’s block and the ups and downs of the querying and publication process. While I am of course interested in helping a mentee editorially, I feel as though the reshaping of the program to create a community of writers who have each others’ backs is even more important than helping to shape up a single manuscript for publication. This will be a durable relationship that will help support writers wherever they wish to go in their writing journey, and ultimately I think that’s the most important thing that could come out of a mentor-mentee relationship. I’d love to be a part of that!
I’m looking for a queer, Jewish, and/or disabled author who writes YA fantasy or historical fiction and has queried at least one manuscript and is in the process of querying another; alternatively, I am open to mentoring a writer who is currently on submission and is looking for guidance through the process.”
Genres: Fantasy, Historical
Lou Abercrombie has been writing for the past seven years and have two teen contemporary books published through Little Tiger – FIG SWIMS THE WORLD (2020) and COMING UP FOR AIR (2022). She also writes children’s non-fiction.
“Having mentored on last year’s programme, I got so much out of helping a fellow newbie writer. Until a book is in published form, there are so many stages and processes for a writer to go through that aren’t necessarily obvious, including how to structure a book. Since writing is a lonely job, I think it’s imperative to give back!
I’m looking for contemporary teen / YA from anyone who has completed their manuscript. No magic or fantasy please. Editing is my favourite part of the process so happy to help get WIP into best shape for querying.”
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Humour/Funny
Lou Finch writes contemporary YA novels with a speculative twist. Her debut novel, THE ETERNAL RETURN OF CLARA HART, was published in 2022 and has been longlisted for the Yoto Carnegie Awards and the Branford Boase Award. She lives in South East England with two tiny dogs and a photographer husband. Lou is represented by the brilliant Becky Bagnell of Lindsay Literary Agency.
“I was lucky enough to be a WriteMentor mentee in 2020. Three years later, I’m still in touch with my fellow mentees, and fabulous mentors, so I know what a huge and lasting source of support the programme can be. After mentoring for the first time in 2022, I’m returning in 2023. I know the importance of having people around you who believe fiercely in your work and abilities, as well as the value of knowing writers who are a little further ahead in their writing journey to go to for advice. I would love to help someone feel more confident and supported as they take the next steps with their writing.
I’m looking for a writer of YA contemporary, magical realism, speculative or thrillers – pretty much anything other than high fantasy or sci-fi. I can offer support on writing craft, the query package and endless encouragement to keep going! I’d love to see applications from UK-based writers who have at least one complete MS, whether you have started querying or not.”
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Paranormal, Magical Realism
Melissa Welliver writes Young Adult Speculative novels. She works at WriteMentor and runs the Community Learning Hub for Children’s writers. Melissa has been published in two short story anthologies, one with a forward by Jeanette Winterson. She has a self-published novel, THE UNDYING TOWER published in 2021. Her print debut, MY LOVE LIFE AND THE APOCALYPSE, will be published by Chicken House in April 2023. Melissa has completed the acclaimed Curtis Brown Creative Novel Writing Course for children under the tutelage of Catherine Johnson. She has been longlisted for the Bath Novel Award, the #BNAKids award, and Mslexia’s Children’s Novel Prize, and she was shortlisted for both the inaugural Hachette Children’s Novel Award in association with New Writing North, and the Wells Book for Children competition. She lives in the Northwest with her Bassetoodle, Zelda, and is represented by Lucy Irvine of Peters, Fraser & Dunlop.
“I’ve applied because this will be my 6th (!) year mentoring, and I can’t give it up just yet! I love building a lasting relationship with my mentees that I hope we can take forward on both our publishing journeys. There is nothing quite like helping someone who is bursting with talent and just needs a nudge in the right direction. I’ve had mentees go on to finish their novels, sign with agents, and even sell books to publishers such as scholastic.“
Genres: Sci-Fi, Romance, Dystopian, Magical Realism, Action/Adventure
Sue Cunningham writes YA with humour and a hint of magic. Her debut novel is due to be published by Scholastic UK in autumn 2023. She won the WriteMentor Children’s Novel Award 2020, was featured in the 2022 SCBWI Undiscovered Voices Anthology and has short/longlisted for other awards including Northern Writers and Bath Children’s Novel Award. She is represented by Rachel Petty at The Blair Partnership. Sue lives in a Manchester man cave with her husband, teen sons and a super-clingy cockapoo. When she’s not writing or tripping over electric guitar cables, she works for the NHS.
“As a grateful recipient of wonderful support from the WriteMentor team and community in recent years, I would love to now pay it forward to another writer!
If you’re writing YA, be it contemporary, historical, adventure or thriller, please send it my way! I love humour and magical realism but I’m not a good fit for sci-fi or high fantasy. I’m new to the whole publishing process but I’m a veteran of the slushpile so I’d love to support and cheerlead another writer as they navigate their way through the submissions process. As a northerner, I’d like to see more regional voices in kids’ books (but this isn’t a dealbreaker). I enjoy editing so I’m happy to help shine up your sub package – if your synopsis is in a muddle, I’m your woman! PS – I’m a wuss so please don’t send me any horror, gore or tearjerkers about dead pets!”
Genres: Contemporary, Historical, Romance, Thriller, Mystery, Humour/Funny, Paranormal, Crime, Magical Realism, Time-Travel, Action/Adventure