I started writing my novel, Demelza Clock & The Spectre Detectors, in early 2016 and very quickly I knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life writing children’s fiction. I’d wake up thinking about what my protagonist would do next, about the inventions she would create, and the spectres that would inhabit her world. I’d go to bed still wondering how I could make my antagonist more frightening, if my plot was original enough and whether I had enough ideas for a sequel. In short, I was hooked.
Having finished my (ridiculously long, 85,000 word) first draft, but not really having a clue what to do next, I got to work researching children’s writing courses that would hopefully help whip my MS into better shape.
As soon as I found out about Golden Egg Academy I knew I wanted to be part of the nest. Led by Imogen Cooper (formerly Editorial Director for The Chicken House), it offers study programmes, editorial support, networking opportunities, socials and a passionate community of lovely writers and mentors. With so many success stories I knew I had to apply, and was lucky enough to be accepted onto their foundation year. Hoozah!
I can’t recommend the foundation year enough. It’s structured, informative, supportive, and really helps to squeeze out every drop of creative brain juice you have! If it hadn’t been for the encouragement and wise, wise words of my wonderful mentors Emma and Charlotte, then I’d probably be rocking back and forth in a library corner somewhere, still clutching my awful first draft and hoping that I’d somehow spontaneously turn into Roald Dahl.
So, here is what you can expect from the foundation year:
Golden Egg Foundations runs over three terms. Each term starts with a full-day workshop at Scholastic, London, held on either a Saturday or a Sunday. There will then follow eight, weekly, online group sessions per term with your tutor. Towards the end of each term you will book a one2one with your assigned Golden Egg Editor. One2ones will take place either face to face (on one of the scheduled one2one days) or via Skype. At your one2one you will discuss 10,000 words of your manuscript and/or your Golden Egg Story Foundation Sheets in relation to the term’s topic. All workshops will be a mix of teaching, working on your own or in groups, and workshopping a section of your manuscript.
I’ve also found myself with a circle of new pals—I’d never met anyone who geeked-out about MG literature as much as me before—and we are all still in touch and supporting each other on our inky adventures.
Listening to the delightfully macabre Frances Hardinge, giving a talk at the Autumn Social
Foundation Year 2017
Golden Egg Academy also have loads of contacts throughout the children’s lit industry:
We work closely with Barry Cunningham, Publisher and Managing Director of The Chicken House, Klaus Flugge, Founder of Andersen Press and Kate Shaw, co-Director of The Viney Shaw Agency. Through our well connected and highly experienced editors, we also have strong links with a number of other publishing houses including Scholastic, Barefoot Books, David Fickling Books, Firefly Press, Little Tiger Press, Simon & Schuster, Nosy Crow and Hot Key Books. We have close relationships with numerous literary agents including Amber Caraveo and Joanna Moult of Skylark Literary, Kirsty McLachlan from David Godwin Associates, Ben Illis of the Ben Illis Agency and Jenny Savill from Andrew Nurnberg Associates.
So, if you want to take the next step on your ‘hero’s journey’, I’d whole-heartedly recommend applying for Golden Egg’s next intake. Writing and honing a novel is finger-blisteringly hard work and a long old slog, but if your serious about writing for children then I couldn’t think of better eggs to help you get cracking.