This February I had the honour of attending Write Now Live, an initiative by Penguin to find, mentor and publish new writers from under-represented communities (BAME, LGBTQ etc). I applied for this opportunity towards the end of last year, submitting an extract from my novel, The Last Picture House. After being selected as one of 50 (out of 900!) I was really excited to kick off my year with a day of industry insights.
The day was structured around demystifying the publishing industry, writing fiction and non-fiction (for adults and young people), the barriers to getting published and how to approach an agent. Each of these sessions was delivered by people who worked at Penguin or in the Publishing industry – and they were really interesting.
Aside from these fantastic sessions, we were each given a one to one with an editor from Penguin. I’ve never had the chance to go through my book with an professional editor before, so I was interested (and a little nervous) to see what the session would bring. My editor, Casiana, was lovely and so helpful with her advice and feedback. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks with a new focus and drive to get this new draft finished and up to scratch.
At the end of the day we were given a bag of books to take away (can you think of a better end to an event? I can’t.) I’ve been really enjoying these over the last few weeks, and one of the books in particular has really stuck with me. The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith is beautiful. It tells the story of Ravine, a young woman with chronic pain syndrome, who records her memories from childhood leading up to the disappearance of her best friend. As a reader I have never looked through the eyes of a character like Ravine before, and the world that Snaith creates is completely engrossing.
Write Now Live was special. It was a day for inclusivity and sharing. We sat at tables with editors, agents, authors – every person who attended would contribute to the sessions with a genuine interest in collaberation. Every person I met was accommodating and excited – and it felt as though we were participating in something significant. A few weeks later, I’m still buzzing about the day. After so many weeks of depressing news, the chance to write with this group of people felt like a ray of hope.