Previous mentees

2021 mentees

If you're an agent or editor who'd like to get in touch with any of the mentees, please email catherine@allstories.org.uk

Alison Dunne

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Alison is based in Leicester and has wanted to be a writer since she realised that people wrote books – aged 4. She hasn’t stopped writing since her parents bought her a Petite typewriter for Christmas when she was 8, although other things have had to take priority, especially raising three children as a single parent.

The book Alison has been working on her mentor, Jenny Glencross, is The Mum Strike, a middle grade book which takes a comic look at Frankie’s life with his three talented sisters when he’s not really good at anything. Things take a turn for Frankie when his mum meets a new friend at pottery class and they decide to go on mum strike. For Frankie everything hinges on winning the school talent show with Amazing Performing Sausage – Frankie’s dog who won’t do what she’s told and the mum strike really gets in his way. Alison loves Frankie and he’s been insisting for a while that his story is told. She’s looking forward to his antics making young readers laugh.

Twitter: @ivoryfishbone
Instagram: @ivoryfishbone

Dawn Amesbury

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Since winning a writing competition aged eight, Dawn Amesbury has attended and volunteered at many literary events, writing workshops, retreats, courses and writing groups. While these improved her craft and knowledge of what it takes to be a writer, becoming an ‘All Stories’ mentee gave her the chance to fly with her MG historical mystery. Dawn is also an active member of SCBWI and writes children’s narrative non-fiction about exciting events and inspiring individuals from key periods in history.

Village of Spies: Yorkshire, 1940. As Britain prepares for invasion, 14-year-old Connie discovers her estranged dad has died at Dunkirk. Sick of being ostracised, Connie secretly plans to leave her village. But, when her younger brother has an accident, she sees her grieving mum can’t manage and puts her plans on hold. Connie decides to help two new friends: Freddie, whose brother was murdered (the police called it suicide) and Ingrid, a German-Jewish girl whose family is targeted by racial abuse. Just as the friends uncover a plot to destroy the nearby munitions factory, Ingrid’s parents are wrongly arrested. Connie and her friends must clear their names and avert disaster. But how can they succeed, when the traitors could be anyone in their village?

Twitter: @DawnAmesbury

Ikuko Ishiwaki

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Ikuko Ishiwaki is a Japanese writer living in London. “Writing for children is an extension of my fascination and appreciation of children,” she says. She would like to show there is an exciting world of different cultures and backgrounds out there and wonderful opportunities waiting for them. She writes picture books that include a little of her 'Japanese-ness' while tackling subjects that will engage readers. After Covid, she left her job in tourism and now has started a career in social care. Her mantra is write more and read more.

Ikuko is from Osaka, a city famous for its comedians, and this says a lot about her work – funny and quirky. She likes children to 'ooh' or 'aahh' when they read her stories, which she keeps short and simple. Her work includes a story about a cat’s ear, a child learning to ride a bike, a son of thunder, a cat who wants to have a dog’s tail, the adventure of a pencil, and more. She adored and still adores the Japanese author Miyako Matsutani, a prolific author who wrote board books to middle grade books. Her way of containing twists of Japanese folklore inspires her.

Hannah Ekekwe

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Hannah is a British-Nigerian writer of Young Adult fiction based in Glasgow with a particular love for queer fiction that centres Black and African characters. She’s been writing for as long as she’s been reading but didn’t discover nuanced Black stories in children's fiction until her late teens. Hannah is so glad to see an increase in representation in recent years and wants to be a part of it.

GUM is a young adult mystery novel about friendship, first love, and family secrets. Nellie’s best friend Gum is missing from their quiet suburb but when he sends her a cryptic clue, she sets off on a revelatory cross-country road trip to find him along with her ex-crush and Gum’s girlfriend who she just so happens to be in love with.

Twitter: @smithadachi

Jo Dearden

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Jo is a working class mum-of-two based in North West England. She writes picture book texts (in rhyme and prose) and is also working on some illustrated non-fiction ideas for 7 to 11 year olds. Jo enjoys writing for primary age children because it’s a stage of life where anything is – or should be – possible.

Jo writes about weird, small, quirky things, usually in a humorous way. Sometimes she writes about themes of powerlessness and unfairness, and her stories often contain the message that it’s okay to be a bit different or do things a bit differently. Jo thinks that when your life is constrained for whatever reason, it can be liberating and empowering to behave in a surprising or transgressive way! In 2022 Jo’s picture book text A Lovely Fluffy Bunny Kind of Story won the Writing Magazine Picture Book Prize. She has also had other picture book texts shortlisted for the Salariya-Stratford Picture Book Prize, the Winchester Writers' Picture Book Prize and longlisted for the WriteMentor Picture Book Prize.

Twitter: @its_Jo_Dearden
Instagram: @jodeardeninsta

Lio Maddigan

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Lio Maddigan lives by the sea in Devon and works as a school librarian. They have always wanted to write for children and, as non-binary autistic person, they are especially keen to write #ownvoices stories about and for young people whose identities they share. Lio writes in a range of genres, including contemporary, mystery, fantasy, and adventure, from MG to Adult. Their work centres around themes of identity, family histories, memory, and mental health.

Nowhere Like Home (MG): Maisie and Dylan have both just moved to Dudwick, a rural Norfolk village full of folkloric history and hidden secrets. But for Maisie, she’s coming home. Now, she hopes, her life will return to how it used to be and her family will be whole again. But when, instead of her dad, she discovers Dylan living in her old house, she’s heartbroken and also confused: where is her dad? Why won’t anyone talk about him? Determined to find him, Maisie, her survival-obsessed brother Arthur, and shy Dylan band together to crack the mystery. Along the way, Dylan discovers a mystery of his own – his late mum had another child, long before he was born – but where is his lost sister now? Together, Maisie, Dylan and Arthur must unravel their family histories to find their missing family members.

Twitter: @llykaios

Melissa Abraham

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Melissa Abraham is a London-based writer of Ghanaian heritage who writes fantastical picture books. She particularly enjoys writing picture books because it allows her to be wildly imaginative and eccentric. Melissa takes inspiration from many places, but especially references from family fantasy/adventure films from the 1980s where extraordinary things happen to ordinary people.

Melissa's picture books feature diverse human protagonists living in non-traditional family structures with adventure as one of the main themes. She is currently working on stories with traditional fairy tale characters in contemporary settings.

Twitter: @mmensah4
Instagram: @wordspicturesbymelissa

Mitchell Kamen

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Being mixed-race places you firmly in the middle; in the ‘other’. Childhood is hard enough, but when you look and feel different it can be a whole lot harder. Mitchell wants to write stories for anyone out there who feels like they don’t belong.

Mitchell is currently working on a middle grade fantasy story with a working title of Old World Magic, a British-mythology-inspired magical adventure set in North London. A young boy makes an eyelash wish which unleashes the fairy world on to an unsuspecting North London town. Can Charlie undo his wish and stop a war between the human world and the fairy one? He needs the help of his sister, best friend and a mysterious old woman who is older than the city they live in.

Twitter: @NAA_Mitch
Instagram: @mitchellkamen

Reba Khatun

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Reba Khatun is a forty-something British Muslim of Bangladeshi origin. She is the mother of two girls, librarian by day and aspiring children’s author by night. She has had a short story, poems and artwork published in various anthologies and in 2018 won the FAB Prize. In 2020 she made the top twenty in Chicken House’s Open Coop. Reba was shortlisted for WriteNow in 2021 and was also accepted on to the All Stories mentoring programme. She is currently working on a horror story set in Bangladesh.

When thirteen-year-old Hafsa travels to Bangladesh with her family to bury her father she sees the monsters and ghouls from the stories he told her everywhere. Are they real or just her imagination, brought on by the effects of grief. At the burial, the village witch, possessed by an evil djinn, turns up. She rages at the injustice she feels she’s suffered from Hafsa’s family, and later, when Hafsa’s little sister Bisma disappears, the family fear the worst. When the villagers who have been searching for Bisma return empty-handed, Hafsa decides to take matters into her own hands and find Bisma herself. And so she embarks on a daring rescue which will involve confronting the witch and facing the monsters of her childhood stories.

Twitter: @RebaKhatun

Rebecca Ferrier

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Rebecca is based in Edinburgh, where she balances a chronic illness (autoimmune disease) with working as a freelance ghostwriter. In 2020 she won Moniack Mhor’s Emerging Writer Award (formerly the Bridge Award) for her magical realist short story Mulch.

Rebecca writes lyrical prose for children and adults, blending folklore and feminism. She has a penchant for action-adventure stories in pre-Industrial settings.

Twitter: @rmlferrier
Instagram: @rmlferrier

Suad Kamardeen

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Suad Kamardeen is a British-Nigerian Muslim writer. Based in Essex, she would love to use her writing to show that this world is so diverse; there are so many different ways people live their lives. Her writing is fuelled by her desire to impact people’s lives positively, especially through storytelling. She hopes to show black girls, Muslim girls and assault survivors that they are not alone in their stories. Her young adult novel-in-progress, Never Enough, made the shortlist for FAB Prize 2021, and her adult novel-in-progress was shortlisted for Stylist Prize for Feminist Fiction 2021. She co-hosts the Bookversations podcast with her friend, where they have reflective conversations inspired by books. You can find her at suadkamardeen.squarespace.com

Never Enough (YA): A Black Muslim girl is sexually assaulted by a religious family friend, but her mum doesn’t believe her and orders her never to broach the subject again. Will she find the courage to stand up for herself or suffer in silence? Perfect for YA readers of Saints and Misfits and The Poet X as well as those who enjoyed the Netflix movie Rocks.

The Stories We Told Ourselves (Adult): Follows the lives of twin sisters, Finance Manager Bisi and sex-worker Bola, who are forced to confront their past when they are reunited due to their father’s illness. Positioned alongside Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi, Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi and Black Sunday by Tola Rotimi Abraham.

Twitter: @suadkamardeen
Instagram: @suadkamardeen

Tasmia Tahia

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Tasmia Tahia is a British Bangladeshi poet, writer and theatre performer from London, UK. Her playwriting credits include “Nemesis 2 – The Gamechanger” (Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2019); “Hostile Environment” (Season of Bangla Drama 2019) and “Daal-Bhaat: Us Two Bengali Girls” (SOBD – Home Seasoning – 2020). Her poetry has previously been published in the Brown Girl magazine, and she was one of the 6 Poets in Residence at Bok Bok Books UK, working on the Sensing Bangladesh: A Children’s Guidebook to Art from Bangladesh project.

The intersectional mosaic of her identity inspires her work, with particular focus on gender, belonging, activism and mental wellbeing. Her YA novel-in-progress Up, Rising (which she calls #HashtagBook on Twitter) was one of the Highly Commended Winners at the FAB Prize 2021 and runner-up for the Golden Egg Award.

Up, Rising is Gossip Girl meets The Hate U Give, in a fictional contemporary South-Asian setting. Londoner Saliha, 17, can’t let go of the man who died holding her hand as violent riots engulf her trip to her grandmother’s ancestral home. But with vigilantes, opportunist politicians, dubious media, and anonymous tips from the mysteriously familiar blogger “Puppets Without Strings”, asking #WhoKilledMiraj may prove deadly, especially when online battles spill onto the roads.

Twitter: @tasmia_tahia
Instagram: @tasmiat

Thomas Thomasson

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Thomas Thomasson is a meditation workshop leader with a physical disability (cerebral palsy). He’s based in Essex and is writing a comedic middle grade adventure. Formerly a freelance actor with companies such as the Graeae Theatre Company, Thomas particularly enjoys creating characters – building their histories and exploring their attitudes. He finds that whether writing or reading, the right combination of words can completely transport, uplift and encourage him to keep moving forwards. He wants to do the same for others.

Thomas is writing an action adventure novel for children aged 8 to 10 years. Angry fruit, strange gadgets and 'Moo Jitsu' (the martial art style of Highland Cows) are all part of this story.
Alien tourist, Jut'za, knows that a good holiday on earth means doing lots of new things, like:

  • Letting a duck drive you around in a stolen sports car
  • Watching a pineapple walk
  • Doing something about the grumpy lady with a flamethrower

But now he is stuck and home is 957 worlds away. Can the mysterious mallard in the Ferrari help Jut'za find a way back to his planet?

To learn more about Tom's workshops and services please see: www.ahoytherefun.wordpress.com
Check out his crowdfunding project regarding mindfulness and creativity.
Visit Tom's YouTube channel for tips on living with more joy and authenticity. Includes guided meditations and self-care ‘how to’ videos.

Tracy Curran

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Tracy is a primary school teacher turned carer who lives by the sea in Cornwall. When she's not out running along the beach, you can find her curled up with a book or parenting her three children. Tracy runs a children's book review blog, The Breadcrumb Forest, and was recently appointed as Production Editor for SCBWI's Words & Pictures online magazine – a voluntary position she really enjoys.

Tracy writes picture books, series fiction and lower middle grade. Her debut picture book, Pumpkin's Fairytale, was published by small indie publisher Final Chapter in September 2021, which she has enjoyed sharing with local schools. In 2019, Tracy was shortlisted for Writing Magazine's Picture Book Prize. She has also been longlisted or shortlisted for WriteMentor's Children's Novel Award 2020, 2021 and 2022 and Guppy Publishing's MG competition 2021. Tracy has the following projects ready for submission:

Series fiction
Unicorns in Uniforms: Five emergency service unicorns protect the Sunshine Realm.

Picture books
The Gingerbread House: Stale Sale: The three little pigs buy the Gingerbread House.
How Not to Share Pizza: A river otter and an alligator struggle to share a pizza equally.

Twitter: @WriterCornish
Instagram: @LittleCornishWriter
Facebook: @LittleCornishWriter

2021 programme evaluation

Click the link below to download a pdf of the evaluation report for the 2021 All Stories programme.