ASPIRING south Asian writers were among a 50-strong selection invited to an event on Saturday (9) in an effort to secure a prized mentorship with an editor from publishing giant, Penguin Random House.
With its opening event in London, WriteNow 2017 was the first of three nationwide events in search of 12 candidates out of 150 hopefuls, aiming to discover under-represented voices in the literary community.
As part of the first stage of the campaign, attendees received advice from industry-insiders on how to get their books published as well as one-to-one feedback from editors.
One novice writer, Iqbal, from east London is a second-generation Pakistani immigrant, who hopes to challenge stereotypes and prejudices about Muslim lives through his writing by giving an authentic insight into the seemingly “private world”.
Adult-fiction writer, Reeta, from north London said: “I believe a number of people can relate to my stories, whether they’re South Asian, a woman, queer, or none of these.”
Reeta’s writings reflect her dual-culture as a British-born Indian woman, exploring themes such as female empowerment, education, arranged marriage, domestic violence, mental health, relationships, and love.
Among those speaking on the day were published authors Elif Shafak, Afua Hirsch and Mahsuda Snaith.
Snaith said: “We need to hear from all the voices that come from the minority but speak for all of us – the strange tales, the fantastical and sublime. It is only through hearing these stories that we can see how much we all share. The more diversity we have in our literature the more diversity we have in our thinking.”
Having moved from journalism to writing non-fiction, Hirsch said: “It’s really important to get away from theidea that there is just one kind of writer from one kind of background. I thought I couldn’t be a writer because I didn’t fit the profile of what I expected a writer should be. But I was wrong anyone can write and there are sso manyways of being creative.”
Further workshops are set to take place in Bristol and Newcastle over the coming weeks.