Spotlights tell you more about the people involved in Megaphone: writers, editors and agents.
Lee Weatherly is one of the authors who will be leading a writing masterclass for Megaphone. In an industry where it is notoriously as difficult to stay published as it is to get published in the first place, award-winner Lee has had more than fifty books published, an impressive achievement which I think makes her excellently placed to pass on the benefit of experience to Megaphone participants. I personally have found her book, co-authored with Helen Corner, Teach Yourself: How To Write a Blockbuster a practical, useful basic guide to writing anything (not just blockbusters :)). Her latest book, Broken Sky, will be out in March from Usborne Fiction, and is ‘‘an exhilarating epic of deception, heartbreak and rebellion, set in a daring and distorted echo of 1940s America’. Can’t wait! You can follow her on Twitter @LA_Weatherly and on Tumblr to find out more.
About Megaphone, Lee has said: “I’m thrilled to be involved with Megaphone — because diversity in children’s fiction matters. When kids read, they should both experience other realities and see their own reflected. They need to know that anything is possible, that the world isn’t closed to them. We’re all cheated when this isn’t the case, no matter what our skin colour.”
One of the goals of Megaphone is to support the participants in developing the skills and networks they need to sustain a longterm career as a writer, and since Lee is a great example of success in this respect, I asked her what she thought writers needed to keep going in the long term.
Lee: “Oh gosh, what a tough question. Dedication, I guess, and talent, and a willingness to try different genres. But honestly, I think I’ve been very lucky. I’ve never written anything that I wasn’t passionate about, and everything I wanted to write happened to be in vogue at the time. I think if you try to write to the market, you’re probably likely to fail. You have to love what you’re writing.”
Good advice – so I asked her for some more. What top 3 tips would she give to an aspiring children’s fiction writer?
Lee: “Writing is hard, that’s the main thing I know. Read all you can about it, and then figure out the way that works for you. But here are some tips:
1. You should genuinely love children’s/YA fiction and read a lot of it. If you don’t, you should probably be writing something else.
2. Be aware of the market, and then forget about it. Write what excites YOU.
3. Inhabit your characters and tell the truth. Never write ‘down’. Kids aren’t stupid. They can smell well-meaning condescension a mile away.”
Finally, I asked her: what positive change would you love to see in the children’s book world? What project, initiative or change of approach would really make a difference?
Lee: “We’re in a time where publishing any individual title is a group decision based largely on marketability, which can mean that the more challenging or ‘quiet’ or unusual stories don’t ever make it onto the shelves. What I’d love to see is more decision-making power being returned to the commissioning editors, less emphasis on sales right from the onset, and a more nurturing atmosphere where authors are helped to build careers across several books. (Well, I can dream..!)”
Thanks to Lee for her support, and I’m really looking forward to her masterclass!