In April this year, Killer Women launched a new initiative to support emerging female crime writers from BAME and working-class/low income backgrounds. The scheme offers the opportunity for four women seeking to write crime fiction to be expertly mentored by four successful, published authors.

Kahlia Bakosi, Louise Cannon, Laura Mace and Veena Muthuraman have now been selected from over 50 applicants to the scheme. They will be mentored by Killer Women authors, Jane Casey, Tammy Cohen, Emma Kavanagh-Jones and Colette McBeth. Each mentor will read work in progress, and offer advice and support, including up to 12 hours of one-to-one contact time.

Melanie McGrath and Louise Millar, co-founders of Killer Women: ‘Killer Women was set up to amplify and support female voices in crime fiction. We are thrilled to be able to support four new writers on their path to publication.’

The Killer Women mentors said: 'The standard of submissions was impressive and covered a hugely diverse range of subjects. With such an array of raw talent, it was hard to whittle the entries down but we're very happy with our final choices - four very different writers, each with their own individual style and voice, informed by their particular backgrounds. Publishing can sometimes appear to be homogeneously middle class and we feel that each of our four mentees has the potential to produce something uniquely fresh and exciting and we can't wait to start working with them to further hone their ideas and see where the coming year might take them.'

Kahlia Bakosi drew on her experiences as a young black woman of Nigerian heritage, born and raised in Brixton south London for her proposal.

She says: ‘Growing up I rarely read narratives that coincided with my experience, instead, I was constantly confronted with the same guns and gangs narrative or tales of poverty.’

She will be working with Jane Casey. 

Louise Cannon’s proposal is a dark, high-tension, family psychological thriller packed with heart-thumping plot twists. Louise will be working with Tammy Coen and said: ‘Despite growing up with a love of reading and creative writing, somewhere along the line I had assumed that ordinary working-class people didn’t write novels. After my second son was born, I decided to start a blog to document the highs and lows of being a parent and to flex my (now dormant) writing skills.

Having people enjoy and comment on my writing gave me a renewed sense of confidence and I started to wonder if I could actually write a whole novel, imagining it was my book on the shelf I was relabelling while working at my part-time Tesco job. After several false starts, I was fortunate to spot this opportunity with Killer Women, giving voices to women from backgrounds that aren’t always heard.

I’m thrilled to be working with such an experienced writer as Tammy and excited to see what doors the scheme could open for all of us mentees.’ 

Laura Mace said: ‘I was so excited to hear about the Killer Women mentoring scheme – as a huge fan of crime writing and an aspiring author myself, it sounded perfect! I would have loved to begin a career in publishing, but unfortunately the opportunities in the north are few and far between and there seemed no way I could afford to live in London even if I wanted to.

I found myself working with words in a different way at a greeting card company. Finding the time to really get stuck into my own writing can be difficult sometimes and I felt I had no idea who I would approach if I did write something worthwhile, which is why this scheme sounds ideal.’

Laura lives in Leeds and will be mentored by Colette McBeth.

Veena Muthuraman was born and raised in Kerala and now lives in Edinburgh. She has written a set of contemporary short stories based in a place reminiscent of her roots in rural India but says her heart remains in genre fiction, particularly crime and historical fiction.

She will be working with Emma Kavanagh-Jones to develop the first of a series of crime novels set in Kerala. 

THE SCHEME OFFERS

  • A year's free mentoring by an experienced, published crime writer, taking the mentee from synopsis to first draft manuscript.
  • Two tickets to the Killer Women Festival of Crime Writing and Drama in London in March 2020 (worth approx £100); a great opportunity to network with leading crime writers, publishers, editors and agents. UK travel and accommodation to be paid where appropriate.
  • The Good Literary Agency will read and comment on mentees’ work.
  • A commissioning editor from HQ, an imprint of HarperCollins, will read and comment on mentees’ work with a view to possible publication.
  • Exclusive workshops from The Good Literary Agency, Anne Cleeves and others.

THE MENTORS

Each mentor will read work in progress, and offer advice and support, including up to 12 hours of one-to-one contact time.

THE SCHEME IS SUPPORTED BY

Ann Cleeves: ‘’I’m all for this Killer Women initiative to encourage and support underrepresented voices in crime fiction.’

Martina Cole: ‘It’s nearly thirty years ago but I can vividly remember how nervous I was at my first meetings with my publisher Headline; this was a completely new and alien world to me and although I’d daydreamed for years about becoming a successful author, it took me a very long time to build up the confidence to do something about it, my friends would say “working class people like us don’t write books”.

Publishing has changed enormously since then and there are more authors from diverse backgrounds being published, but I know to many writers trying to break through it can still seem like an intimidating industry which is why the Killer Women Mentoring Scheme is so timely and I am delighted to support it’.

Val McDermid: ‘I grew up in a working-class home, well aware that people like me didn’t become writers. I was lucky enough to break out thanks to a first rate — free — university education, but when I started writing, I knew nobody in the publishing business.

Restricting access impoverishes our culture, and I’m delighted and excited at this initiative from the accomplished and innovative Killer Women. I can’t wait to read the results!’

J. K. Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith: ‘For me, writing crime fiction behind the pseudonym Robert Galbraith was a way to ensure that my books be judged on the merit of the writing alone, but I know how hard it is when you first hit the scene as an unrecognised author.

I’m supporting the Killer Women mentoring scheme, because it helps open doors to new and as yet undiscovered voices in crime fiction, from backgrounds that often find it hard to break through.’

WITH THANKS TO OUR SUPPORTERS

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