SPECIAL FEATURE #WriteMentor Q&A Part 1

W&P’s Deputy Editor, A M Dassu talks to Stuart White, founder of WriteMentor - a mentoring programme, a novel award and the Sparks course.

Stuart White is founder and director of #WriteMentor, a triad of writing opportunities, including a voluntary summer 1-2-1 mentoring programme, a children’s novel award with low price/free entry to allow access to all writers, and home of the Spark⚡️ continual, professional development programme for writers at all stages of their career. In this post, A M Dassu interviews Stuart White to find out how a programme like this works from an organisational angle. To find out more about what it’s like to be a mentor or a mentee, you’ll have to wait for part 2!

Stuart White, founder and director

1. What inspired you to set up a mentoring programme?

#WriteMentor was originally set up to give pre-agented writers the chance to work with agented or published authors and help develop their manuscript and their overall craft skills and abilities. I wanted a programme that I myself would have wanted a few years ago (and which if I’m honest, would like now!) I had applied for some of the big US mentoring programmes, both as a mentee, then a mentor shortly after signing with my agent and getting a publication offer. However, I was rejected for every one, but the passion to mentor someone had not dissipated. I felt I had a lot of experience - MLitt, Curtis Brown Children's Course and a multitude of others - and several books written, all with the accompanying plethora of requests and rejections - I've had over 300 now on queries and one of my earlier books got more than 20 full requests, none of which led to an offer… I even had an agent arrange a call with me, and I thought it was THE CALL, only to be rejected over the phone! So, armed with all this experience, I thought I could help an early writer navigate the trenches and considered simply setting it up for myself. Then I asked some of my other agented/published friends and a whole bunch of them wanted to do it too. I applied for mentors and we got 36.

Since joining SCBWI, it was immediately noticeable that there's a huge children's writers community in the UK, one that perhaps I didn't appreciate fully. For the last year and a bit, I have been a sub-editor for W&P and this has allowed me to become closer to the SCBWI community but more importantly to realise there are actually loads of writers out there who might benefit–as I would have loved to–from mentoring and was in part inspiration for setting up WriteMentor in the first place.

2. What does it offer that other mentoring programmes don’t?

It’s free–and not all are–so it’s accessible to every single children’s writer of MG/YA. Our mentors offer different levels of support – so writers can apply to those who best suit their needs. We have an exclusive agent showcase at the end of the programme where agents (a mix of UK and US) read the finished polished work of our writers. There are fewer free mentoring opportunities in the UK than the US and as a result it has proved very popular. Nearly 300 people applied last year and we are hoping for even more mentors and as a result, even more mentees in 2019, too! I hope WriteMentor can become a programme to help pre-agented writers take that next step from slush to signed, one which I never had the chance to take part in myself.

3. Were there any success stories from the inaugural Write Mentor programme?


• Lydia Massiah – signed with Jo Williamson at Antony Harwood (and has something else exciting in the pipeline…)
• Michael Lunsford – signed with Patty Carothers at Metamorphosis Literary.
• AJ Sass – signed with Jordan Hamessley at New Leaf Literary.
• Tammy Oja – signed with Ann Rose of the Prospect Agency.
• Jenni Spangler – signed with Lauren Gardner at Bell Lomax Moreton.
• Amy McCaw – signed with Sandra Sawicka at Marjacq Scripts.
• Katie Bono – signed with Scott Miller and Kristin Cipolla at Trident Media Group.
• Haleigh Wenger – signed a publishing deal with Crush Literary.
• Hannah Kates – signed with Lynn Novak at the Seymour Agency.
• Jenny Pearson – signed with Sam Copeland at Rogers, Coleridge and White.

4. Who is involved in Write Mentor and Spark⚡️?

Mentors will change for 2019, but the 2018 ones are here:

2018 #WriteMentor Mentoring group

And the Spark⚡️ mentors, industry experts and agents are here:

Spark Mentors

Sparks Industry experts

Agents who writers can pitch directly to

5. Why did you call the course Spark⚡️?

I scoured the dictionary for the best word to describe the course… I think it has so many meanings that align with what we’re doing, and novels always start with sparks of ideas. Little tiny fragments that grow into something substantial, whole and complete.

We want to help give writers that little spark of experience or knowledge that starts their creative fires by offering access to resources, blog posts and unique content, live chat sessions with industry experts, an online writing retreat, a chance to pitch directly to selected agents (6 UK and 2 US) each month, a weekly craft-chat with tasks and feedback and of course 1-2-1 mentoring and email consultations. 🔥

6. How do you fit managing Write Mentor around your writing and teaching?

I’ll be honest and say I am simply NOT writing at all. Since last spring, when I set it up, I've written a maximum of 30,000 words. Before WM I was comfortably writing 2,000 a night most weekdays. It is a MASSIVE time drain, organising and managing the programmes and novel award. I must also admit that I have a very all-or-nothing personality, so that fits perfectly here: I am all WriteMentor and no Stuart White writer at the moment.

I do adore teaching, I'm a total science geek at heart, and teaching teenagers about science is an honour and privilege. But something about writing, and in turn helping other writers to grow (you can see how WriteMentor fits in well with the ethos of teaching) and develop is also becoming exceptionally rewarding, perhaps more so.

So, yes I manage my full-time job, family life and WriteMentor, but it's incredibly hard and a lot of things get sacrificed - namely my own writing.


Stuart White is a 36-year-old Scottish writer, who also teaches Secondary school Biology, and loves rugby, burgers and watching too many series on Netflix. And, of course, reading all the MG/YA SFF!
Seriously, strike up a conversation about Star Wars or Marvel/DC and he’s all yours.


You can find out more about the programme here:

Write Mentor: https://write-mentor.com/2019/01/20/writementor-2019
Novel Award: https://write-mentor.com
Spark ⚡️: https://write-mentor.com/writementor-spark


A. M. Dassu is Deputy Editor of Words & Pictures. She writes contemporary fiction and is currently planning her next book.
Contact her at deputyeditor@britishscbwi.org
You can find her on Twitter @a_reflective and Instagram @a.m.dassu

1 comment:

  1. It Write Mentor and Sparks is fantastic. It has a wealth of information and the community spirit is amazing. I can imagine it takes up a lot of time though. Good luck with your own writing too, Stuart.


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