Author Leila Rasheed has created a writer development scheme, funded by the Publishers Association and Arts Council England, to encourage writers from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds to write children’s books.
Rasheed said she set up the Megaphone project because she couldn’t find books featuring Asian children when she was young.
“Thirty years later, not enough has changed,” she said. “Megaphone is an attempt to make a practical, positive difference by giving ethnic minority writers the best possible chance of reaching children’s bookshelves. The goal of Megaphone is to find five fantastic, talented writers who can change the face of children’s literature, and serve as their springboard into publication.”
Any writers who want to take part can apply online between 14th October and 24th December by sending a 500-1,000 word sample of their writing, as well as a description of the novel they would like, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Five successful applicants will be invited to take part in writing masterclasses with children’s authors such as Sarwat Chadda, Candy Gourlay and Alex Wheatle, and literary agent Julia Churchill, in 2016 and 2017. The £300 fees will be covered for anyone who cannot afford to pay for themselves.
The writers will also receive one-to-one writing support from Rasheed and feedback from editors including Shannon Cullen (Penguin RandomHouse), Karen Ball (Hachette) and Rachel Mann (Simon&Schuster).
"In an increasingly polarised and sometimes frightening world, we must create communities and new worlds in books for children,” said Mann. “We can only do this if our writers are as richly experienced and wildly different as they could be, speaking to the full spectrum of readers and building bridges through their writing."
Finally, Rasheed will organise a showcase event and a short promotional film to bring the writers to the attention of the public and the publishing industry.
The Megaphone scheme is funded by Arts Council England and The PA Children’s Book Group in association with EQUIP.