Hellie Ogden

YA Speculative

OUT OF THE BLUE (Roaring Brook/Macmillan)
Spring 2017

Sophie Cameron is a Scottish YA writer. She has a PGCert in Creative Writing at Newcastle University, was featured in SCBWI’s Undiscovered Voices anthology and has been shortlisted for the Bath Children’s Novel Award and the Caledonia Novel Award. She is currently based in Spain, where she works an an editor for an events magazine. Her first novel, OUT OF THE BLUE, will be published by Macmillan Children’s Books/Roaring Brook in Spring 2018.

My publishing journey was a little different and very lucky: I was featured in SCBWI British Isles’ Undiscovered Voices anthology and was contacted by agents who were interested in my writing, so I didn’t have to query, and my first novel sold at auction. I did have a lot of contact with different agents and publishers throughout the process, however, so I think I’d be able to offer some insight into how to make a submission as strong as possible.

I wrote two manuscripts before submitting OUT OF THE BLUE and have finished another two since, so I’ve also learnt a lot from the process of writing (and rewriting and rewriting and rewriting!) those.

I haven’t mentored before but I’ve been involved in critique groups, both on and offline, and have both given and received feedback at countless writing workshops. I think I’m good at understanding what the writer is hoping to achieve through their story, and balancing this with my own suggestions on how to improve it. I’m an avid reader, especially of YA, and have a good sense of pacing and what makes a character come to life. I also work as a magazine editor as my day job, so my attention to detail is quite good too!

I’m interested in reading diverse/LGBTQ+ YA that blends or blurs genres.

I was mentored by Julie Mayhew as part of the WoMentoring Program, which offers free mentoring to female writers. I found it hugely helpful, and while I didn’t query the book we worked on together, her feedback gave me a huge confidence boost and helped me identify both strengths and weaknesses in my writing. Similarly, the feedback I’ve had from tutors on writing courses has often renewed my enthusiam for a manuscript or even encouraged me to continue with it when I thought it wasn’t working – I’d like to help and encourage another writer in a similar way.

As a debut author, talking to other writers has also been a huge help while going through the publishing process, so I’d be happy to help a mentee out with any questions or issues they might while they’re querying or afterwards, too.

  • Contemporary
  • Mystery/Thriller
  • Magical Realism/Fabulism
  • ownvoices
  • Urban/Contemporary Fantasy
  • Speculative Fiction

My favourite books often blend or combine genres, usually contemporary settings with a sci-fi, fantastical or speculative element – some of my favourites in YA are ‘Release’, ‘More Than This’, ‘They Both Die at the End’, ‘Teeth’, ‘The Age of Miracles’, ‘American Street’, ‘Lorali’, ‘We Are the Ants’ and ‘The Boy in the Tower’.

I also really enjoy all types of contemporary, particularly with diverse characters or LGBTQIA+ storylines. Some of my favourites are ‘You Know Me Well’, ‘The Hate U Give’, ‘Pointe’, ‘Troublemakers’, ‘Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda’ and ‘Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe’.

I won’t rule out most tropes as I think there’s usually scope to do something interesting with them, but I’m definitely not a fan of ‘Bury Your Gays’ or ‘Not Like Other Girls’ storylines.


  • Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
  • Line edit (dropping notes into a Word Document)
  • Skype or phone call

My approach would probably be to talk over what the mentee hopes to gain from the experience, read their manuscript and give both big picture and more detailed feedback about what I feel is and isn’t working in the MS, and then discuss this over Skype or email, as they prefer. But this is totally flexible depending on what works best for the mentee.

It’d be great to work with an LGBTQ+ author, whether or not they’re working on an ownvoices story, but this isn’t at all obligatory – ideally, just someone with vaguely similar tastes to mine, who is passionate about what they’re working on and who is open to criticism and to considering my suggestions on how to make their manuscript stronger.


  • An f/f version of ‘Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda’ – or any light, fun f/f stories
  • An f/f version of ‘The Versions of Us’
  • Stories focusing on LGBTQIA+ friendship groups (I particularly love gay boy/gay girl friendships, such as ‘You Know Me Well’ by Nina LaCour/David Levithan)
  • Diverse modern retellings of classic novels or folktales
  • Personal stories set to the backdrop of a global phenomenon – ‘Mirror in the Sky’ or ‘The Age of Miracles’
  • Anything where bilingualism or foreign language learning plays an important role in the story
  • Anything similar to or inspired by the books mentioned on my profile!

Paranormal romance, high fantasy, pre-18th century historical fiction – I don’t feel I know enough about those genres to provide helpful feedback.

Authors: Ruth Ozeki, Phillip Pullman, Patrick Ness, Ali Smith, Nicola Yoon, Adam Silvera, Michel Faber

TV shows: The Leftovers, The Affair, Parks & Rec, Arrested Development, Flowers, Insecure, Atlanta, Terrace House

Films: Moulin Rouge!, I Killed My Mother, Spirited Away, The Fall, Notting Hill, Your Name