Monday, 9 November 2009

Katie: Young People's Mentoring Scheme

As part of his residency which ended in September, Keith Gray mentored four very talented teenage writers - Mathias, Manakan, Charlotte and Katie. They each worked with Keith, one-to-one and in groups, on their novels. The scheme ended with a trip to Scholastic Children's Publishing in London where the group got to learn more about the publishing process. Keith and the Scottish Book Trust staff had a wonderful time being involved in the scheme. We asked Katie to blog about how she found it from the mentee perspective...

For the past six months I have been fortunate enough to be involved in Scottish Book Trust’s first ever Young people’s Mentoring Scheme. It’s an opportunity that many adults would envy and it certainly taught me a lot about writing and what it will be like when I (hopefully!) have my work published.

It all started in March 2008 when I met my fellow mentees Mathias, Charlotte and Manakan for the first time and we were all introduced to Keith. I will admit that it was a bit daunting at first! Here stood a man who’d already achieved everything I dreamed of and I was about to spend the next few months giving him my work to read! Luckily, we all got along straight away and my fears vanished when Keith opened by talking about how much he hated Maths. I knew that if all else failed we had that in common.
We had our first proper group meeting on Thursday 4th June. We were all very ambitious in our plans for the scheme and immediately set about writing our first novels. It was my first experience of writing anything longer than a short story but I felt comfortable sharing my ideas with the group and Keith.

At our second group meeting we had the privilege of talking to Lucy Juckes, an agent from Jenny Brown Associates. It was my first real glimpse into the business side of writing and to say it was surprising would be an understatement. Our visions of publishing our first book and suddenly being a millionaire with a mansion and a sports car suddenly didn’t seem as likely! As Lucy talked more and more about facts and figures it was difficult to hide our shock and we must have made her feel rather guilty as she finished with,
“I really hope I haven’t put you off!”

Luckily, she hadn’t and we all continued writing. By this point, we were all back at school and perhaps the biggest challenge for me was juggling all of this with my regular life as a fifteen year old school student. Teachers weren’t quite as excited about my writing as I was and for some reason “I didn’t do the homework because I had the most genius idea for my book” didn’t count as a good reason. I really don’t understand why!

The highlight of this whole experience for me was definitely our trip to London a fortnight ago and not just because it meant two whole days off school! We had the chance to not only see inside Scholastic but we also got to talk to people from all different jobs within the publishing business. It was interesting to talk to them about what they think make makes a good book and to get their advice about what to do when we complete our work.

I have had a brilliant time with the mentoring scheme and although at times it was hard work, it was absolutely worth it! I do plan to finish my novel and have promised Keith that I will write for at least an hour a day (I doubt this will work but we don’t need to tell him that!). One day when I am bestselling author who does have a mansion and a sports car I know I will look back and remember it was all started by this and everyone who was involved. I wish the next lot of mentees luck; they are most definitely going to need it!

(pictured left to right: Charlotte, Katie, Keith Gray, Manakan, Mathias)

You can read work from Katie and the other mentees in their very own section of the Scottish Book Trust website.

Other News:

The Book Depository has launched 'My Bookmark' - a competition for customers to design ten bookmarks which will be despatched with orders from its site. You can find out more on

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