Blog, For Writers 2 years ago

What we’ve learned from the Steph Bowe Mentorship

Ellie Casey and Emilie Morscheck were the dual winners of the inaugural Steph Bowe Mentorship for Young Writers in 2021. With the mentorship open to applications again, Ellie and Emilie share a bit about their experience as mentees before the honour and opportunity passes to 2022’s winner(s).

In a nutshell, taking part in the Steph Bowe Mentorship has involved…

Ellie: Learning from someone with immense experience, but also learning more about myself. I’ve learnt that embracing change in the editing phase can be really liberating. When someone with so much experience is helping to guide you, you may find that your story develops in a way you didn’t expect. Most importantly, however, I’ve learnt that it’s ultimately my work, and my story, and while standing up for the parts of your work that you love can be difficult (especially when someone more qualified than you is suggesting something different) it’s also incredibly important. This is your work; it comes for your heart and soul. All that matters is that you’re telling the story that’s important to you.

Receiving the inaugural Steph Bowe Mentorship was…

Emilie: Such as surprise and an honour. I have loved working with Amie and the team from Text have been so supportive. I have been working at my writing since I was a teenager, and it has been such a validating experience to see my hard work come to fruition.

Steph Bowe’s work has influenced me as a writer insofar as…

Emilie: She showed that the words on the page were more important than your age or perceived life experience. Steph Bowe captured so much in her work and never shied away from the fact that she was writing about teenagers for teenagers.

The manuscript I’m working on through the Steph Bowe Mentorship is about…

Ellie: Zashya is a Caster, an individual with the ability to control one of the four Facets: Light, Water, Fire, or Darkness. The monastery she grew up in is full of people like her, kids who were taken by the Tsieraskov before they could walk or talk and are being trained to join the Zorovan military. Zashya’s best friend, Taexiang, grew up at the monastery with her. At the point this story starts he had already initiated as a Caster and had begun working with the Zorovan military. But Tae doesn’t trust the Tsieraskov, and after telling Zashya as much, his entire squad goes missing.

When Zashya can’t find any answers about Tae’s disappearance, she escapes the monastery to find him herself. Vostroska, the capital city of Zorova, is the last place she knew Tae would be. There she meets a small band of criminals: Zuri, the son of a Pirate King; Tomlin, an alchemist with a penchant for explosives; and Vikya, an assassin and thief that Zashya can’t seem to take her eyes off.

Despite all their reservations, the small group of thieves agree to help Zashya find her friend. But as the four of them begin to solve his disappearance, they find themselves winding deeper into a world of corrupt governments and colonial power, and all the while something monstrous is lurking in the shadows.

Emilie: A young woman learning to take responsibility for her actions while dealing with grief of losing her best friend. She also must hunt down a monster and break an intergenerational curse—just in case being a teenager wasn’t hard enough.

The biggest takeaway from the Steph Bowe Mentorship , so far, in terms of the craft of writing for young adults is…

Ellie: Writing is about passion. It’s not about your skill, or your ability to tell a story that makes sense. Those things can be learnt. You can teach yourself to write well, you can teach yourself about narrative structure and how to draw out certain emotions from readers, but none of that is going to matter if you don’t have passion. Young adult works require immense love, not just for your story, but for the people you’re writing for. If you love YA, if you love your potential readership, if you love your story, you can learn the rest.

The biggest personal take away from the Steph Bowe Mentorship, so far, is…

Emilie: That it has been really scary showing my work to other people outside of my regular critique circle but being open to change has taken me a long way. There are so many aspects of me in my main characters and this manuscript has been mine for so long that it feels really odd to share it with others. I’m hoping that this is something I will experience more in the future!

I didn’t expect the Steph Bowe Mentorship to be so…

Ellie: Easy! I have such an amazing relationship with Rebecca now. We talk about my work, about life, about the world of publication and being an author. She’s also extremely accommodating. I was diagnosed with Autism late last year, and Rebecca has done everything in her power to accommodate my needs. She’s thorough with her feedback and is always open to answering any questions I have at any time of day.

Not only that, but Sophie Mannix, the publishing assistant at Text, has been extremely supportive and open to long conversations about my fears and doubts. She’s taught me a lot about how publishing houses function, and how to stand up for my work and my dreams. Whether I get acquired by Text in the end or not, it’s nice to know there’s someone in the massive world of this industry who has my back.

My advice to the next recipient(s) of the Steph Bowe Mentorship would be…

Emilie: To accept that your mentor is always working in your best interests. They just want to see you and your work grow. Ask them the tricky questions and don’t be embarrassed. Your work is probably a lot better than you think it is!

Ellie: Enjoy it. Please, I beg you, just have fun. This is an amazing experience. I was so lucky to have submitted to the prize before I turned 25, because I would’ve hated to miss out on this opportunity. I’ve grown so much within this mentorship, as a writer and as a reader. Sophie has taught me how to start reading for joy again, instead of for academia. Rebecca has taught me how to look at my work as a reader, instead of as a writer. I’m surrounded by incredible and supportive women, and I truly hope you cherish this as much as I have.

The Steph Bowe Mentorship for Young Writers is open until 21 February.



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