Priscilla Mante is a London based Scottish writer of Ghanaian heritage. She left her hometown Glasgow when she was 19, and has since lived in a variety of cities including Philadelphia, Liverpool and Seoul . She was selected for the inaugural London Writers Awards (LWA) 2018, an 8 month writing development scheme delivered by Spread the Word. Priscilla used to manage arts, literacy and academic programmes for children, but now works in communications and policy. When she isn’t working, writing, or reading you might find her travelling to a new spot on the globe or trying out a new cake recipe.
Growing up, I wrote many short stories and knew I wanted to be an author from a very young age. I told stories orally (mainly to myself) before I could write in full sentences, so you might say I was a storyteller before a writer. I completed my first book in 2013, and entered it into a competition the same year. I was one of the 5 finalists shortlisted and as a runner-up I received a manuscript assessment. Back then, I had little knowledge about how to navigating the world of publishing and where to go next once I had completed my second draft. Over the next couple of years I queried a handful of randomly picked agents with, what I can now see as, poorly written queries and received form rejections. Then I sat on the story for a couple of more years, pulling it out now and again to fiddle with the first three chapters . In 2018 I successfully applied for the London Writers Awards (LWA) in the MG/YA category with the same manuscript. LWA is an 8 month writing development scheme for under-represented writers which ends with an in-person agents showcase where you get the chance to pitch and connect with agents. I reworked the entire manuscript throughout the course of LWA. Towards the end of the scheme, I queried a few agents who contacted me after seeing an extract of my manuscript in the LWA anthology. In May 2019, I received and happily accepted an offer from Sallyanne Sweeney of MMB Creative Agency with my MG contemporary story.
As part of LWA, I met regularly with a YA/MG critical feedback group, and I also attended LWA craft and publishing masterclasses where I learnt heaps about the industry and the querying process from agents, published writers and editors. Currently, I’m part of a critique circle that was formed after attending a writing weekend in London so I am used to giving and receiving feedback. I was mentored briefly on WriteMentor Spark by a published writer where I worked on polishing my opening chapters, before I queried the agents who had requested to see it via LWA. I’ve also worked on multiple drafts of my manuscript with my agent to prepare it for submission.
Previously, I’ve undertaken freelance work as a beta-reader and taught creative writing to young people. I’ve also written opinion pieces and conducted interviews for Elite Daily and other online platforms.
I’m a huge champion of emerging writing talent, with a particular interest in those whose work has strong potential but may be described as rough round the edges. I feel one-on-one mentoring with someone who has read and loves your manuscript, is super important and valuable. It’s something I wish I had access when I first set out on my publishing journey, so I’m excited to give that to someone else. I’ve had many great opportunities as an emerging writer and would like to pass on to the writing community. I’d love to help someone to reach the next stage of their journey to achieving their writing dreams. I also believe mentoring is always a learning opportunity for the mentor because we learn as we ‘teach’.
There’s more than one way to craft a great story, so I’m looking for a mentee who knows/is willing to learn the ‘rules’ of children’s writing, but isn’t afraid to bend them too if necessary. I don’t need to see a polished manuscript – just a writer with a great voice and a story I love who is committed to doing the work to get it ready for querying. I’m open to a wide range of stories across multiple genres but I love books that can make me laugh or cry (or both). Basically – a story that touches my heart that I’ll be delighted to champion.
- Magical Realism/Fabulism
- Urban/Contemporary Fantasy
I’m open to a wide range of stories across these genres, but I tend to love books which are character or issue driven. I particularly like historical fiction that presents a non-western perspective. For MG fantasy I prefer magic systems that are not too complex.
I WILL PROVIDE:
- Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
- Line edit (dropping notes into a Word Document)
- Skype or phone call
- Freestyle in chat
I tend to focus on big picture edits. I’ll provide a detailed comprehensive edit letter which will include what I think has worked well and what hasn’t in terms of plot, character arcs and pacing . During the line edit I’ll leave general in-text comments about the language at sentence and paragraph levels, working towards ensuring consistency of voice, great natural sounding dialogue and enhancing the overall language . While I’ll make specific suggestions where appropriate, I’ll also pose questions designed to help you create your own ways to address things such as plot holes, or unclear character arcs. I’m also really keen to provide hands-on help with the query letter and synopsis and happy to stick around to give advice and/or encouragement throughout the querying process and beyond! I’m probably not the mentor to apply to, if you want someone to focus on copy-editing (punctuation, grammar). Happy to have Skype calls or messaging for questions and brainstorming. We can set those up as a regular thing, or as and when needed.
Someone who is :
- willing to honestly reflect on critique and their writing in general
- bold enough to make deep structural edits, if necessary, while retaining a clear creative vision for their book.
- good at making the deadlines we agree between us, or able to let me know in advance if they need to change (This will go both ways).
- willing to communicate if they don’t like/understand anything I’ve said.
- willing to read widely in the genre they are writing
- Stories that pack a deep emotional punch.
- Books which demonstrate strong friendships.
- Absurdly funny stories like Louis Sachar’s HOLES or SIDEWAYS STORIES FROM WAYSIDE SCHOOL.
- Character-driven with multi-faceted characters.
- Own voice stories especially with neuro-divergent main characters
- Disability representation.
- Books that take on tough issues.
- ‘Light,’ fun books with super happy endings.
- Stories with bittersweet endings.
- Authentic representation of cultural and socio-economic diversity.
- Enemies to friends tropes.
- Unreliable narrators, multi POV, epistolatory books, ‘clever’ plots with a twist.
- Books that are thought-provoking.
DO NOT SEND ME:
Stories where it appears that ‘diversity’ has been shoehorned in and token characters appear inauthentic and unconvincing.
Adult fiction: THE BLUEST EYE, A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNSETS, GOD OF THE SMALL THINGS, AMERICANAH, PURPLE HIBISCUS, THE MILL ON THE FLOSS, WUTHERING HEIGHTS, NEVER LET ME GO
YOU, Unbreakable, Derry Girls, Community, Eastenders
Cats, Matilda, The Convert
Thai and Vietnamese