Four crime writers have been been selected to take part in Killer Women's writing mentorship scheme for BAME and working-class authors.
Female crime writing group Killer Women launched the initiative, with the backing of J K Rowling, to support emerging female crime writers from BAME and working-class/low income backgrounds. The scheme offers the opportunity for four women seeking to write crime fiction to be expertly mentored by four successful, published authors.
Kahalia Bakosi, Louise Cannon, Laura Mace and Veena Muthuraman have been selected from over 50 applicants to the scheme. They will be mentored by Killer Women authors, Jane Casey, Tammy Cohen, Emma Kavanagh-Jones and Colette McBeth. Each mentor will read work in progress, and offer advice and support, including up to 12 hours of one-to-one contact time.
Bakosi, who will be working with Casey, drew on her experiences as a young black woman of Nigerian heritage, born and raised in Brixton south London for her proposal. She said: "Growing up I rarely read narratives that coincided with my experience, instead, I was constantly confronted with the same guns and gangs narrative or tales of poverty."
Cannon’s proposal was a "dark, high-tension, family psychological thriller packed with heart-thumping plot twists". Canon, who will be working with Coen, said: "Despite growing up with a love of reading and creative writing, somewhere along the line I had assumed that ordinary working-class people didn't write novels. After my second son was born, I decided to start a blog to document the highs and lows of being a parent and to flex my (now dormant) writing skills. Having people enjoy and comment on my writing gave me a renewed sense of confidence and I started to wonder if I could actually write a whole novel, imagining it was my book on the shelf I was relabelling while working at my part-time Tesco job. After several false starts, I was fortunate to spot this opportunity with Killer Women, giving voices to women from backgrounds that aren't always heard. I'm thrilled to be working with such an experienced writer as Tammy and excited to see what doors the scheme could open for all of us mentees."
McBeth will mentor Leeds-based Mace. She said: "I was so excited to hear about the Killer Women mentoring scheme - as a huge fan of crime writing and an aspiring author myself, it sounded perfect! I would have loved to begin a career in publishing, but unfortunately the opportunities in the north are few and far between and there seemed no way I could afford to live in London even if I wanted to. I found myself working with words in a different way at a greeting card company. Finding the time to really get stuck into my own writing can be difficult sometimes and I felt I had no idea who I would approach if I did write something worthwhile, which is why this scheme sounds ideal."
Muthuraman, who was born and raised in Kerala and now lives in Edinburgh, has written a set of contemporary short stories based in a place reminiscent of her roots in rural India but says her heart remains in genre fiction, particularly crime and historical fiction. She will be working with Kavanagh-Jones to develop the first of a series of crime novels set in Kerala.
The mentors said: "The standard of submissions was impressive and covered a hugely diverse range of subjects. With such an array of raw talent, it was hard to whittle the entries down but we're very happy with our final choices - four very different writers, each with their own individual style and voice, informed by their particular backgrounds. Publishing can sometimes appear to be homogeneously middle class and we feel that each of our four mentees has the potential to produce something uniquely fresh and exciting and we can't wait to start working with them to further hone their ideas and see where the coming year might take them."
All the entrants to the scheme will be invited to take part in exclusive online workshops with Killer Women authors as well as Ann Cleeves, HarperCollins imprint HQ and The Good Literary Agency. The Good Literary Agency will read and comment on mentees’ work and a commissioning editor from HQ will read and comment on mentees’ work with a view to possible publication. The mentees will also benefit from two tickets to the Killer Women Festival of Crime Writing and Drama in London in March 2020; a great opportunity to network with leading crime writers, publishers, editors and agents.
The scheme is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and supported by Creative Access, HQ, The Reading Agency, The Good Literary Agency and Stoke Newington Literary Festival.