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University of Warwick lecturer launches unique writer development scheme for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic children's writers

Megaphone writing schemeA new writer development scheme for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic children’s writers is seeking applications. Funded by The Arts Council and The Publishers’ Association, the Megaphone scheme is led by Leila Rasheed who is the author of the Chips, Beans and Limousines series, and teaches Writing For Children on the University of Warwick’s MA in Writing.

Major publishers and award-winning authors will help the five successful applicants perfect their first children’s novel. For full details and to apply, visit

Project director and children’s author Leila Rasheed commented: “As a child I loved reading but the stories were never about Asians like me nor were they written by ethnic minority writers. It felt as if I didn’t belong in books, as much as I loved them. Thirty years later, not enough has changed. Megaphone is an attempt to make a practical, positive difference. It is especially designed for promising writers from ethnic minorities to develop their writing skills in the field of writing for children and make valuable contacts with children’s publishing professionals.”

The masterclasses will take place in 2016 – 2017 in Birmingham at a venue provided by Writing West Midlands, the regional writer development agency. Five places are available on Megaphone, costing £300, with fees fully covered for those in need. The scheme is funded by Arts Council England and The PA Children’s Book Group in association with EQUIP. Applications are invited from 14th October 2015 until 24th December 2015, with full information at

The five successful applicants will benefit from:

  • One-to-one writing support from Leila Rasheed. Leila has had three books for 9 -12 year olds published by Usborne, and has also written several publisher-led books. She teaches Writing for Children and Young People on the University of Warwick’s Writing Programme.
  • Masterclasses given by best-selling and award-winning children’s authors: Sarwat Chadda (The Ash Mistry series), Catherine Johnson (The Curious Tale of the Lady Caraboo), Candy Gourlay (Tall Story). Alex Wheatle MBE (Brixton Rock, Liccle Bit), Lee Weatherley (How To Write a Blockbuster, Angel trilogy).
  • A masterclass given by Julia Churchill, Literary Agent and head of the children’s department at A M Heath.
  • Feedback from editors at Simon and Schuster, Harper Collins, Penguin Random House, Macmillan, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster, Hachette (Little Brown Young Readers).
  • A final showcase event and a short promotional film to bring the writers to the attention of the public and the publishing industry.

Rachel Mann, Children’s Fiction Editor at Simon and Schuster and one of the participating editors, said: "In an increasingly polarised and sometimes frightening world, we must create communities and new worlds in books for children. We can only do this if our writers are as richly experienced and wildly different as they could be, speaking to the full spectrum of readers and building bridges through their writing."

Jane Griffiths, Senior Commissioning Editor for Children's Fiction at Simon and Schuster, one of the participating editors, said: “Diversity in books is often discussed at length in various forums and arenas, but it’s only initiatives like Megaphone that will move us from discussion to action.”

Catherine Johnson, author of The Curious Tale of the Lady Caraboo, Sawbones, and many other titles for children and teenagers, said: “I believe the Megaphone project is one that's needed now more than ever. As a BAME author who has been published for the last twenty years I have seen numbers of non-white UK children's authors stay resolutely low. Young readers need to see modern Britain reflected back at them in their books. New authors need support - support that is no longer available in publishing today.”

Notes for editors:

More information is available:

Megaphone development scheme:

Leila Rasheed:

Twitter: @MegaphoneWrite

Alex Buxton
Communications Manager
Tel: 02476 150423
Mob: 07876 218166