All Stories, a free mentorship programme for underrepresented children's book writers, was launched on 30th March 2021. Here, the penultimate in a series of interviews with All Stories mentees, Words & Pictures Advisory Board member A. M. Dassu speaks to Rebecca Ferrier to find out more about her writing and experience as a mentee.


1. Can you tell us a bit about the book(s) you’re writing? (Age range, genre and anything else you’d like to tell us.)


I’m working on a sea-themed tale aimed at young adults, which looks at communities and women’s roles within them. Naturally, there are fantastical elements thrown in, because who doesn’t love a little magic?


2. Everyone needs some magic! What made you want to write for children?


There is no greater audience than young people. They’re enthusiastic, passionate and dedicated. If you’ve won over teen readers, you’ve won the world as far as I’m concerned. They will be your harshest critics and your biggest allies.


3. I agree! How long have you been writing for?


Years! I was a Service child and moved schools frequently, forever playing catch-up with education and often solo working if the new school didn’t offer my previous syllabus. Every school had books and English teachers – the best teachers – who encouraged me to write in each classroom I stumbled into with a mismatched uniform. It was a way to keep me occupied while everyone tried to figure out what to do with me.


4. What has your writing journey been like up to this point?


I was shortlisted for the Tibor-Jones Page-Turner Award in 2015 and won a few small competitions. After a long period of ill health, I was amazed to find I’d won the Bridge Award’s Emerging Writer Award in 2020, which really gave me the support I needed – and writing residency time – to get back into my work. I have also recently received funding from Creative Scotland to help me complete my novel, which has allowed me to prioritise my writing and safeguard my health at the same time.


5. Amazing! Huge congratulations on all of these successes! Why did you decide to apply for an All Stories mentorship? What are you hoping to get out of it?


Having the chance to sit with your work and find your voice is a privilege few get the chance at. That’s what I was after. All Stories was put together with under-represented groups in mind and I was looking for a cohort who had each faced their own barriers – all different and impossible to compare – but dedicated to boosting one another. I can’t wait to see where All Stories goes and the voices it helps to lift up as the years go by: this is how change happens.


6. Exactly, and it's the change we so need! What’s it like to have a mentor for your writing? Is it what you expected?


Tilda Johnson is a sorceress, I’m sure of it. When we have our mentoring sessions, she helps me problem-solve any plot or structural issue in a subtle, relaxed way that doesn’t even feel like work. We’re simply having a chat about the book and suddenly I’ve hit on the solution, with Tilda’s help, without realising that’s what we were aiming for. I have learned a lot, which I’ll carry with me into every single work I write.


7. What barriers have you come up against as an underrepresented writer?


There is such little understanding about chronic illness, fatigue or invisible disabilities. Thankfully, All Stories has been supportive, understanding and flexible with deadlines, which has enabled me to create my best work. It’s also online and all our amazing seminars with industry professionals are recorded, which is so important for accessibility.


8. That's brilliant! What is your favourite book and why?


Ah, there are so many! The book I have returned to again and again is Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. It’s enchanting and has themes for both children and adults. It made me question what can be done in children’s books when you step back from expectations and what’s trending.


*Feature image courtesy of All Stories and profile image courtesy of Rebecca Ferrier




Rebecca Ferrier won the Bridge Award in 2020 and was shortlisted for the Tibor Jones Page-Turner Prize in 2015. Her short stories, reviews and articles have been published by Gutter, For Books’ Sake, Leeds University’s Land Lines Project and The Toast. In 2021, she was a UNESCO City of Literature virtual writer-in-residence at the Melbourne Literature Festival. Follow her on Twitter/Instagram: @rmlferrier.

No comments:

We love comments and really appreciate the time it takes to leave one.
Interesting and pithy reactions to a post are brilliant but we also LOVE it when people just say they've read and enjoyed.
We've made it easy to comment by losing the 'are you human?' test, which means we get a lot of spam. Fortunately, Blogger recognises these, so most, if not all, anonymous comments are deleted without reading.

Words & Pictures is the Online Magazine of SCBWI British Isles. Powered by Blogger.