Of participants in the inaugural Megaphone writing scheme signed with a literary agent after finishing the course
Copies of anthology A Change is Gonna Come have been sold through the UK TCM since August 2017
anthology A Change is Gonna Come, which collected stories by BAME writers, and now has a book deal with Hot Key Books. One of the most important things she gained from taking part was confidence. “I’ve always been scared of writing stories featuring Muslim characters, or about Muslim issues, because I assumed no one wanted to read them. I’d grown up seeing white as the default, thinking of it as the only option. So to have such a positive reaction to my story and my writ- ing was so nice. It encouraged me to continue writing the stories I thought were important.” For Aisha Bushby, the process of her writing being published in A Change is Gonna Come was like “atending a writer boot-camp”. She sat on panels at literary events, ran a workshop, was inter- viewed on the radio and received a bad review. She even scrapped the novel she was working on and started on another. Bushby then signed with an agent (Claire Wilson at RCW) and secured a contract with Egmont—so in less than a year she had gone from submiting a short story to having a two-book deal.
Bushby was also highly commended by the FAB Prize— an award for unsigned BAME writers and illustrators run by Faber and the Andlyn Literary Agency—and a high number of other creatives who submited to the prize have since signed with agents or publishers. Hannah
Lee’s picture book My Hair will be published by Faber, and Rohan Agalawata, who won in 2017, signed with agent Ben Illis at BIA. Highly commended author Kereen Geten is represented by Alice Sutherland-Hawes at Madeleine Milburn Literary, TV & Film Agency, while commended author Yvonne Batle-Felton signed with Elise Dillsworth’s eponymous agency and inked a deal with Dialogue Books. Batle- Felton also won New Writing
Copies Steve Peters’ Te Chimp Paradox has sold through Nielsen BookScan UK to date
WRITENOW GRADUATE EMMA SMITH-BARTON
North’s Northern Writers Award for Fiction in 2017. All the writers and organisers who spoke to The Bookseller said longer-term strategies need to be implemented to ensure authors of colour are beter represented. Rasheed, who founded Megaphone, is looking for funding to run the scheme again—Usborne has agreed to fund the fees for two writers—and said the long-term goal is sustain- abilit. “The exclusion of writers and readers of colour is an estab- lished, systematic problem and needs long-term, strategic action to fix it,” she said. “In the end, the result will be a beter landscape for readers and writers, and more opportunities for publishers.” Smith-Barton said: “Changing the industry long-term has to be the goal. I really hope these initiatives will make a difference. They are a good start but there is still, of course, a lot of work to be done.”
Stripes’ anthology of BAME writing A Change is Gonna Come (9781847158390, £7.99) won the YA Book Prize 2018’s Special Achievement Award earlier this year. It is out now in paperback.
Six questions for... Professor Steve Peters Author
01 Why did you decide to write My Hidden Chimp?
When Te Chimp Paradox came out, lots of people asked me for an equivalent book for children. I was amazed, in fact, by the response to Te Chimp Paradox. Eventually that morphed into this book, which is for children aged from around four to 11. I wanted children to understand the part of their mind that operates without their permission. For example, they don’t know why they get in a temper and, like all of us, they have to learn how to react. We are not responsible for the actions of our chimp brain, but we are responsible for how we manage it.
02 Is it harder for children [than adults] to manage
their emotions? Much harder. Teir minds are much more immature. We all have a human brain, a chimp brain and a computer, which is where memory is stored. But in a child the computer isn’t programmed, there- fore the chimp takes over most of the time. I want to help children form habits that help them to demonstrate helpful behaviours.
03 Why did you use the metaphor of a chimp?
When I started looking at this in the 1990s, I consulted with specialists in great apes. Te part of the mind I’m calling “the chimp” operates the same way in apes,
especially in times of stress. So why not call it the chimp? Te students I worked with loved it.
04 What are the 10 healthy habits in the book?
I asked parents what habits they wanted to see in their children and they talked about habits that are really common sense, such as good manners or getting over a mistake. I used the 10 habits to demon- strate how the mind works and talk about the science behind it.
05 Are children more anxious now?
Anxiety and stress can exist in anybody. Te way the brain is constructed means it functions around the idea of concern and anxiety. Tose feelings are often out of proportion and we need to learn to manage them.
06 How long did it take to put the book together?
I started writing the book around 12 months ago. It was revised, as various experts and the general public gave advice, then I refined it again. It wasn’t quick!
On 15th November, Professor Steve Peters, author of adult title The Chimp Paradox (Vermilion), will publish My Hidden Chimp (Studio Press), a title to help kids under-
stand and manage their emotions. 11
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