Megaphone participants’ recent success:

It’s great to start the week with some good news about Megaphone participants – obviously we know they are talented writers who’ll go far, but it’s good to see that being recognised elsewhere too!

Joyce Efia Harmer has been shortlisted to take part in the Penguin Random House taster day #WriteNow- her entry stood out from over a thousand to make the shortlist!

Danielle Jawando was one of the six finalists for the Penguin Random House USA ‘We Need Diverse Books’ short story competition, with her YA story: The Deerstalker. She’ll receive invaluable feedback from a top editor, Phoebe Yeh.

The link to the original competition is here:

Danielle has also recently been appointed to a post on Manchester Metropolitan University’s creative writing faculty, and will be presenting a paper at the National Association of Writers in Education’s conference this November in Stratford-upon-Avon, UK.

Congratulations guys!

A list of British BAME children’s authors

Ever since starting Megaphone I’ve thought ‘I must make a list of all the British BAME authors for children and teenagers and put it on the site.’ But time, and life, and stuff. Now the wonderful @mattlibrarian has done it, hooray!

Interview: Verna Wilkins of Firetree Books

Good to see that Verna Wilkins is continuing the important work she began with Tamarind Press.

The Turnaround Blog


It seems like almost every day now there is a conversation about the lack of diversity in the publishing industry, with emphasis on children’s books – after all, children’s books are one of the earliest places we learn about our place in society, and failing to show children of different backgrounds can have a detrimental effect on the self-image of such children. Amidst all this talking, it seems like the mentions of people who are actually DOING something about it are few and far between.

That is why we are putting the spotlight on one of our newest publishers, Firetree Books. Firetree publishes a “range of books with fun and exciting stories celebrating our culturally-diverse and inter-connected world and putting all children ‘in the picture'”. Started by Dr Verna Wilkins – a figurehead for children’s book publishing for over 30 years, having started Tamarind Books in 1987 – and her Tamarind…

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Whose World? World Book Day and the £1 selections for 2017

A real shame that WBD hasn’t done better than this. Darren Chetty puts it well in this post.


an_eye_for_an_eye_by_malorie_blackman Blackman’s Eye for an Eye was a World Book Day selection in 2003, but there are no BAME authors on the 2017 list.

Last week, the World Book Day selection committee in the UK announced their titles for 2017—and they have spent this week defending them.

The event, for those who don’t know, is held yearly in the UK, and originally started as a parallel event to UNESCO’s World Book and Copyright Day, held annually on Shakespeare’s birthday (23rd April). The UK event has since been moved to March, but it continues to promote reading through offering several choices of £1 books (for which most school children are given a book token anyway, making the books free for many). The choices are at various reading levels (so, this year there are pre-school choices and choices for KS1, KS2 and KS3 level readers) but otherwise are quite random; one of…

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Megaphone update: Candy Gourlay, TV, leaky loos..

Megaphone got off to an exciting September start with an engaging and inspiring masterclass from Candy Gourlay on the topic of structure and how it can transform your novel. Candy kept us laughing and focused throughout, relating the topic back to her own writing journey and providing an exercise that certainly made me think more about my own novel in progress. Candy, in addition to her many other roles, is a volunteer for The Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) British Isles and their conference is coming up in November with lots of brilliant events and workshops for children’s authors and illustrators: book here –

During the masterclass we were also filmed by ITV Central News for an upcoming feature on the region, diversity and literacy. All this on what must be one of the Custard Factory’s busiest days of the year: a Roald Dahl themed fun day, and the day the roof in the ladies’ loos finally gave up the struggle against the rain (there were a lot of buckets. It was damp).

I’m rather embarrassed by my photo of the masterclass because Candy herself is such an accomplished photographer, and this just doesn’t do justice to the fun we had  – in my excuse it was hastily snapped in the middle of a hectic day! (Also, that flip chart paper is not in the process of dropping down. It was like that right from the start).

Candy Gourlay: author of Shine and Tall Story

2 weeks left to apply for #WriteNowLive London!

A reminder of this great scheme just came into my inbox. Apply apply! Events in London, Birmingham and Manchester.

Penguin Random House wants to find, mentor and publish new writers with different stories to tell. Writers from communities under-represented on the nation’s bookshelves.

Are you the next Malorie Blackman?

Or Wolverhampton’s answer to James Patterson?

Are you writing the next epic love story, featuring Romeo and Julian?

If so, we’d love to meet you.

This includes unpublished writers from socio-economically marginalised backgrounds, writers who come from LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer) and BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) communities, and writers with a disability.

Through WriteNow, Penguin Random House is offering 150 writers one-to-one time with editors as well as access to literary agents, booksellers and published authors, including Kit de Waal, Bali Rai and Sathnam Sanghera. Ten exceptional writers will go on to benefit from a year of mentoring with the goal of having their book published.

Join us on Saturday 1 October in London, 26 November in Birmingham, or 4 February 2017 in Manchester.

Visit to find out more and apply. Applications for our London event close on Friday 2 September.




V for Volunteer – a dystopian reality.

“The only people who will have any kind of pleasure or culture left will be the ones who can afford to pay for it.”

A Medley Of Extemporanea

Four months ago I conducted an interview with the chair of a trustee group who are responsible for the museum in their small city. I was visiting the city to do some research for a book I was working on and, in the process, I got talking to the volunteers in the museum about their situation. That talk, and many emails after that visit, now make up the body of this interview. All names and locations have been anonymised as the people I spoke to did not want to cause any bad feelings, and feared that their grant applications would be refused yet again if they were found to be speaking out. I have nicknamed them V for Volunteer.

A little background first.

The museum is in a city with a population of around 43,000 people. These 43,000 people are spread out over a large rural area with a concentration…

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