BAME writers pave way for change in Stripes' YA anthology

BAME writers pave way for change in Stripes' YA anthology

Stories from writers Phoebe Roy, Mary Bello, Aisha Bushby and Yasmin Rahman have been selected from over 100 submissions to be published in A Change Is Gonna Come (Stripes, Little Tiger Group), an anthology of short stories and poetry for young adults written by authors from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.

‎The open call for submissions asked to hear from unpublished and unagented writers for short stories on the theme of change. The chosen writers' stories will now be published in the paperback edition of the book on 10th August alongside contributions from established writers Tanya Byrne, Inua Ellams, Catherine Johnson, Patrice Lawrence, Ayisha Malik, Irfan Master, Nikesh Shukla and Lemn Sissay.

Roy was last week was named the winner of the Sceptre Loves short story prize for "It Was Summer", a story charting a relationship between two men as it changes with the seasons, and this time is recognised for her story "Iridescent Adolescent" selected for inclusion in the anthology. She has a first-class degree and master's in Archaeology and Ancient History and, having worked as an editor, tutor, publishing assistant, production editor, ghost writer and features writer, is now working on her first novel.

Aisha Bushby, a literary agent's assistant at Eve White Literary Agency, will publish "Marionette Girl" in the anthology; Yasmin Rahman, co-founder of literary magazine Scrittura, will have "Chance Encounter" published; and Mary Bello, editor for OK! Nigeria and founder of women’s podcast Queens n Dreams, will see her story "Dear Asha" published.

“This year, Stripes is publishing as many BAME UK YA voices in this anthology as the rest of the industry combined," commented Bushby. "I’m honoured to be a part of such an important book."

Rahman added: “I write contemporary YA fiction and am determined to increase the diversity in Children’s literature. Growing up as a British Muslim, I could never find any characters that I felt represented my experiences. Being selected for this anthology has made me realise that not only is there a market for stories like mine, there’s a need for them. My mission as a writer is to avoid my nieces and nephews having the same dilemma.” 

The winning stories were chosen by book industry figures including literary agent Julia Kingsford of Kingsford Campbell and Sarah Shaffi, online editor and producer for The Bookseller and co-founder of the BAME in Publishing network, alongside Stripes staff and editorial mentee, Aa’Ishah Hawton, who is shadowing Stripes commissioning editor Ruth Bennett in the editorial process.

Bennett said: “The open submissions reconfirmed our belief that there is a wealth of undiscovered voices just waiting to be found. Out of the more than one hundred entries received, there were four stories that stood out to the judging panel. We are delighted to be able to use A Change Is Gonna Come as a platform for introducing these talented new writers to YA fans, and I, for one, cannot wait to read more of their writing.”

Shaffi said: “A Change is Gonna Come is a brilliant response to the dearth of BAME voices in UK publishing. It’s a proactive step that looks to find new talent, and show publishers, agents, and the rest of the industry, that writers from minority backgrounds are out there.

“The submissions we read covered a range of issues, experiences and genres, and it was great to see the talent on show. The majority of the writers were female – they outnumber the men almost 5:1, which explains our all-female selection – so I’d encourage more men to submit their work if a similar opportunity comes up again in the future.”