The Future Bookshelf is delighted to announce that it has paired nine writers with nine Hachette UK editors as part of its mentoring strand for 2021. The Future Bookshelf forms part of Hachette UK’s Changing the Story programme and was set up to help and discover unpublished authors from underrepresented backgrounds. The mentees were chosen from over 700 submissions.
The mentees have written books that cover a wide range of fiction including sci-fi, YA, crime and thriller, fantasy, reading group fiction, historical fiction, which were received through The Future Bookshelf’s open submission scheme.
The scheme, which was previously operated through the Hodder, Headline, JMP, and Quercus (HHJQ) divisions, has expanded to include all of Hachette UK’s divisions and so mentors this year include editors from Bookouture and Hachette Children’s Group in order to cater for the varied group of mentees and their work.
The mentoring, which will last six months, will consist of feedback on the mentee’s manuscript, followed by one-on-one sessions and a final sign-off call to discuss how to find an agent and build a writing support network. Each mentee will also receive package of creative writing books from Hachette UK.
This year, The Future Bookshelf has also teamed up with Curtis Brown Creative to give each mentee free access to one of Curtis Brown Creative’s short online courses which cover the stages of writing a book, but also genre specific courses. Curtis Brown Creative alumni include Jessie Burton, Jane Harper, Kate Hamer and Janet Ellis.
The nine mentees and their work for 2021 are:
- Inigo Purcell (An Entirely Different Person) will be mentored by Amy Perkins, Assistant Editor, Tinder Press
- Suzy Aspley (One for Sorrow) will be mentored by Jo Dickinson, Crime and Thriller Publisher, Hodder & Stoughton
- Mara Patraiko (Six and a Half’) will be mentored by Ella Gordon, Senior Commissioning Editor, Wildfire Books
- Elliot Sweeney (The Greater Good) will be mentored by Therese Keating, Commissioning Editor, Bookouture
- Claire Dangerfield (Plexus: North One) will be mentored by Tig Wallace, Senior Commissioning Editor, Hachette Children’s Group
- David Parkin (Tea Bags. Soap, Be Normal) will be mentored by Kate Craigie, Senior Editor, John Murray Press
- Danielle Devlin (Burnt Offerings) will be mentored by Lily Cooper, Editor, Hodder & Stoughton
- Suzanne Parsons (Secrets in the Sky) will be mentored by Abigail Scruby, Assistant Editor, John Murray Press
- Kat Humphreys (Blackout) will be mentored by Rachel Wade, Senior Commissioning Editor, Hachette Children’s Group
The Future Bookshelf has helped to discover two talented debut authors who have gone on to secure full book contracts at Hachette UK. Elizabeth Wong and her debut novel We Could Not See The Stars, which traces a boy’s journey to discover what became of his mother, was discovered through the latest Future Bookshelf programme. It was acquired by Becky Walsh at John Murray Press and is out in July 2021 from JM Originals, a list which has published Jessie Greengrass, Fiona Mozley and Oisin Fagan.
Orion’s Gollancz imprint has also acquired a debut fantasy novel by Rebecca Zahabi. The novel was originally submitted and spotted through The Future Bookshelf and then formally re-submitted to Gollancz by Ben Fowler at Abner Stein. It was acquired by Rachel Winterbottom and Marcus Gipps.
2020 saw the book launches of two of The Future Bookshelf’s ‘class of 2018’: Eleni Kyriacou and Elizabeth Okoh. Kyriacou’s novel, She Came to Stay, was named as one of Woman & Home‘s Best Historical Fiction Reads of 2020, while Okoh’s debut, The Returnees, was hailed as ‘[An] evocative tale of identity, friendship and unexpected love’ by the Mail on Sunday. Both were published by Hodder & Stoughton.
Finally, Robert Hamberger, who was one of the first authors to be signed up through The Future Bookshelf, will have his memoir, A Length of Road, which sees him follow in the footsteps of the poet John Clare, published in June 2021 by JM Originals.
Last autumn, The Future Bookshelf became a partner of ‘Grow Your Story’ – a free fiction development programme for unpublished and unagented writers from BAME backgrounds, which was launched by Hachette UK’s network for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) employees, THRIVE. The Future Bookshelf will support Grow Your Story with its website and writing resources. Grow Your Story is also partnering with David Higham Associates, Spread the Word and Hachette UK’s adult trade divisions.
Nick Davies, chair of The Future Bookshelf, said: “We’re delighted to be able to evolve and expand our mentoring scheme for these nine talented authors, and we’re thrilled to see Elizabeth and Rebecca’s debuts make it all the way to contract. It’s a great way to mark Changing the Story’s 5th Anniversary. A big thank you to colleagues across Hachette UK for their hard work and passion for the project, and for the continued support across the agenting community and wider industry. We look forward to announcing new collaborations and exciting new initiatives in the near future.”
Anna Davis, founder and Managing Director of Curtis Brown Creative, said: “Organisations like Curtis Brown Creative have a responsibility to reach out to talented, under-represented writers, to help them to achieve their full potential and to demonstrate to them that the publishing industry wants to hear from them. We are delighted to be a part of this excellent programme from Hachette UK.”