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A Safe Space to Fail - talking about writing groups with the Masterminds

The Masterminds were a writing group formed out of a course Sophia ran with Keren David at City Lit in 2016. They have been meeting ever since, occasionally mentored by Sophia, to workshop new work and support each other through the prepublished years. It was a pleasure to get four of them together for this episode, to talk about the group and what it means to them.

Where Do You Belong? Talking about writing to be seen, with Catherine Johnson

Sophia talked to Catherine in Hastings via the Cleanfeed app. The topics ranged from Catherine's time as a screenwriting student at St Martin's art college in London, to her many award-winning YA novels and why she was inspired to write about black people in history, from enslaved people to aristocrats and adventurers. View the show notes here:

It Takes a Lot of Knocks - talking about first novels with Jasbinder Bilan

Jasbinder and Sophia both got their publishing break by winning the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition. Jasbinder went on to win the Costa Children’s Book Award with 'Asha and the Spirit Bird'. Sophia talks to her about the experience of writing that book and the slow and tortuous process of getting it good enough to publish. View the show notes here:

Funny and Dark - talking about being an agent with Stephanie Thwaites

Stephanie tells Sophia what she’s looking for in children’s fiction at the moment, and why the covering letter is so important. If you’ve ever wondered who is reading that submission you slave over, and how to make it stand out, Stephanie has the answers. View the show notes here:

The Bridget Jones Method - talking about writing YA fiction with Keren David

Keren and Sophia talk about writing fiction for the first time, what you can learn about structure from writing a musical, writing for dyslexic readers with publishers Barrington Stoke, and address the ‘own voices’ debate. View the show notes here:

Writing the Book Teaches You How to Write It - talking about voice with Sara Collins

'The Confessions of Frannie Langton', winner of the 2019 Costa First Novel Award is a dark gothic mysery, set in Georgian London and the plantations of Jamaica. It has a voice that leaps off the page and this is what Sophia wanted to talk to Sara about. They discuss how she undertook her research, the importance of reading Regency novels in your teens, and The Confessions’s tremendous success from the moment it was published. View the show notes here:

The Role of Luck - talking about writing for boys with Robert Muchamore

Robert calls his genre ‘attainable fantasy’. He talks about how quickly he writes, how important structure is, how he tries to make each chapter work as standalone excitement, and how the series grew by word of mouth. In fact, he says ‘it almost survived through benign neglect’. His first advance was small for the times, but he has since become a millionaire through writing. His latest Robin Hood series will be out in 2020. View the show notes here:

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