The Carnegie Award is the Man Booker prize of children’s literature, and I’m super excited to hear that two Megaphone writers are on that list – Catherine Johnson for The Curious Tale of the Lady Caraboo, a wonderful novel about a real historical character who rose like a phoenix out of terrible circumstances and built her own life out of stories, and Alex Wheatle for his first YA novel, the funny and moving Liccle Bit, about a boy who’s caught in a situation that’s only getting worse… and how he tries to get out of it. I loved both these books. Huge congratulations to the authors!
BBC Radio WM this evening:
I’ll be on BBC WM (95.6 FM) talking about Megaphone at 6.30 pm this evening – with Arshia Riaz on Midlands Masala. Very excited that I get to feel glam in the Mailbox for half an hour 🙂
(let’s face, it’s just me typing this. I don’t know whether to refer to myself in the third person, or with the royal ‘we’, or what. Also, I’m sorry there are still no pictures on this blog).
Anyway, Spread the Word are the writer development agency for London – which is a massive responsibility I should think. Happily they’re living up to it by publishing this very important report: Writing The Future: Black and Asian Writers and Publishers in the UK market-place. It provided welcome context for Megaphone, and I believe everyone should read it.
They’ve also just published an interview in which I mostly describe a Bookshop Utopia:
Come one, come all!
We take applications until 24th December 2014, and will long-list them all together after that date (so there’s no need to rush to be the first to send yours in).
Read through the FAQs Page first of all, and check you have all the information you need. Then go to the How to Apply page and follow the instructions.
When you send in the application you’ll get an auto-reply which you should take as proof that we’ve received your application. There will also be a link to a very short survey – you don’t have to fill this in but if you do, it’ll give us really useful information that we can use to improve Megaphone, and we’ll be very grateful. It’s anonymous and not linked to your application at all.
Good luck! Can’t wait to read your great stories.
So I just went on Twitter and saw this:
Creative Access, the charity which brings young Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority people into publishing internships, may lose its funding next year unless a new source is found.
I am not a publishing expert, nor am I a charities expert, but I am kind of an expert at being from an ethnic minority in and around children’s literature (reader, writer, bookseller, MA in Children’s Literature, etc.) and it is an absolute no-brainer that what Creative Access does is essential and must be funded.
These words from Helen Efange, quoted in the Bookseller article, say it all really: “I am the only (and maybe first) minority face within the book department” (at United Agents), “but hopefully I will not be the last.”
An absence of BAME writers for children is related to an absence of BAME people working in children’s publishing. Who is comfortable stepping into a space that seems so clearly to exclude them? And an absence of BAME writers for children is surely related to BAME children not seeing ‘writer’ as a possible option for them. How can you believe you have permission to write if you don’t see anyone like you writing? How can you feel at home in books? The question of who creates culture, who has the power of the storyteller, who keeps the gates to literature, is important. Stories create people as much as people create stories.
We need Creative Access to do this work for all of us.
Megaphone got a spot in the Bookseller today – hope it will reach lots of people!