I’m Helen Harvey and this is my third year as a #WriteMentor mentor. I’ll be mentoring a middle grade novel or chapter book, looking at a full manuscript, synopsis and cover letter.
I like most genres, especially contemporary, fantasy, mystery, historical and dystopia. I particularly love books that blend genres or play with tropes. I’m not the right person for gothic or horror.
Things I particularly like in books: witches, emotions, underdogs, real life, gentle humour, video games, clever twists, retold fairy tales, stories about finding out who you are or fighting injustice. If your story features any (or all!) of these things, please consider submitting to me. I would rather read a tense conversation than a dramatic fight scene, and I love to identify with a flawed but ultimately sympathetic main character who is fighting against the odds.
My absolute favourite author is Diana Wynne Jones. Recent reads I’ve really enjoyed include A Pocketful of Stars by Aisha Bushby, The Strangeworlds Travel Agency by L.D. Lapinski and A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll.
My Mentoring Style
I like face-to-face feedback. For me, both as a mentor giving feedback and as an author receiving it, having a conversation where both parties discuss the story and how to develop it is much better than receiving an email with a list of things to change. So expect phone or video calls!
I know that when giving feedback the most important thing is to recognise where the heart of the story lies for you as the writer, and to help you write the best version of that story. I think identifying a story's strengths is just as useful as discussing areas for development.
The mentoring I provide really depends on where your manuscript is at, but we’ll start with the big, plot/structure/character-arc stuff, work our way towards line edits and see how far we get.
My debut MG novel, Emmy Levels Up, is about a girl who beats her bullies with the skills she’s learnt from videogames. It comes out on April 1st 2021 with Oxford University Press and won the 2017 United Agents/Bath Spa prize for most promising writing for young people. I also worked for two years writing chapter books for educational publisher Twinkl.
I have taught creative writing for over ten years and recently completed the Bath Spa MA in Writing for Young People, which placed a lot of emphasis on both giving and receiving feedback through workshops. This was a fabulous experience and really gave me a better understanding of how to feed back effectively. I now participate in a regular SCBWI critique group.
What I expect from you
I want you to be passionate about working to make your story the best it can be.
I expect you to be open-minded and willing to edit based on my feedback. However, that doesn't mean I'm expecting you to do everything I suggest. You are the author, and this is your story - I'm just trying to help you find the best version of it.
I'm expecting you to find time to commit to working on your story, but I'm also expecting you to communicate with me (and I will do the same with you) if you need more time. We are all humans with complex lives!
I really looking forward to reading your stories!