ALL STORIES MENTEES Olivia-Savannah Roach


All Stories is an initiative that offers free opportunities for underrepresented children's book writers to develop their work. The second programme began in October last year and will end in June '23. Every fortnight, a new mentee introduces themselves and tells us about their experience so far. Please welcome Olivia-Savannah Roach.


I am passionate about writing children’s fiction for many reasons. I’ve worked alongside children as far back as I can remember, even when I was a child myself. I remember helping at Sunday School, and then I was a leader, and then an au pair, and then a teaching assistant. Sometimes it felt easier talking to children than people my own age.


I like to think that comes from the fact that children are so unashamedly and wonderfully curious. Working with children and toddlers, the questions are always: Why? How? When? They see things with different eyes and perceptions than us older folk who have been told to view things a certain way. When I’m writing, I like to look at my work with the same questions.


I’m currently working with my mentor to fine tune a novel in verse for young adults. Writing for teenagers is simultaneously an entirely different beast to writing for younger children, and entirely the same one. I often look back at my teenage years with nostalgia, fondness (okay, and a little bit of cringe too). When you’re a young adult, there is so much room for self-discovery, which can get tangled with the fact that you’re also being exposed to new choices, new social situations, and a lot more responsibility than you had as a child. I find teenagers often are asking the same questions as children and toddlers: Why? How? When? And while they are still sometimes asking this of the adults around them when they can’t understand why things must be done in certain ways, they also seem to be asking this more inwardly, of themselves, and their identity.


I say seem, when ultimately, I’m also referring to myself at that age.


And so my passion for writing children’s fiction comes from being around young adults and children themselves. Seeing them grow wiser, make mistakes, and change situations which are stuck in age old tradition and routine is inspiring. It makes me want to write so that I can help them along that journey in any way I can. Whether that is to offer escape through words when they need it, or guidance when sometimes wisdom they don’t yet have can help, or even to leave spaces in concepts that they can fill and imagine and change, too.


When it comes to examining my own writing journey, I sometimes feel closely aligned with the age audience I am writing in as well. Starting a mentorship means opening your writing to critique sometimes, praise at others, and soft suggestions of places where you might need support. There’s the shyness that comes with showing someone your work, the stubbornness on the things you don’t want to change (which can sometimes be for the better! And sometimes... not so much) and the glow when you feel validated that yes, you’re writing is going somewhere. And yes, there is a story worth telling here. And maybe by putting yourself in the position to produce but also to grow, and learn, like teenagers and children do – you’ll be able to give back to the children and teenagers who inspire your writing every day.

                                                                                                                                                *Header image credit: All Stories 




Olivia-Savannah is a Black Jamaican-British writer who grew up in the Netherlands, lives in the UK, and did a year abroad in Australia. Writing international and diverse characters has always been important to her. She studied English Literature and Creative Writing at The University of Warwick. She was longlisted for the Jane Martin Poetry Prize in 2019, shortlisted for THRIVE Hachette's Grow Your Story programme in 2021 and 2022, and her poetry has been published in Moko Magazine. She works in publishing as a campaigns assistant at Canongate. She's also an active on booktube, bookstagram and booktok.


1 comment:

  1. Love this! So true! That's why I love kids too.


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