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Meet Theresa Tully, winner of the Breakthrough YA & Children's Fiction Scholarship

BY Katie Smart
24th Mar 2022

We are pleased to introduce Theresa Tully, who has been awarded the Breakthrough YA & Children's Fiction Scholarship for Writers of Colour for her middle-grade novel-in-progress Hilda Saves the Multiverse. Theresa won a place on our three-month online Writing YA & Children's Fiction course led by Catherine Johnson. We are extremely grateful to the Curtis Brown literary agency for providing this scholarship, and for their support of our Breakthrough Writers' Programme.

The CBC team loved the eponymous 10-year-old Hilda's fantastical science fiction adventure. We are delighted that she is currently studying with us, and can't wait to see how her novel progresses.

Please could you tell us a bit about yourself and your novel-in-progress Hilda Saves the Multiverse?

I’m a writer based in Melbourne, Australia. At the moment, I’m writing a middle-grade fantasy/sci-fi called Hilda Saves the Multiverse. It is about a 10-year-old pugilist and physicist named Hilda who, along with a cinnamon-scented baker, a proboscis monkey and twin replicas, sets out to save the multiverse. There is knitting, gallons of mushroom soup and more contraptions than you can spray a can of WD-40 at.

Thanks to Curtis Brown Creative, I’ve had the opportunity to share Hilda Saves the Multiverse more widely. It’s been a privilege working alongside the talented Catherine Johnson and a wonderful group of writers from around the world.

What does winning this scholarship place mean to you?

Not all writers are white. Not all writers are middle class. Yet most stories are told through a white, middle-class lens.

With an estimated 79% of the publishing industry identifying as white,* many writers of colour experience barriers to access and often earn less than their white counterparts.

As a POC, I believe in inclusivity. Just as publishing gatekeepers should reflect the variety of people we encounter in day-to-day life, so too should the books we read. After all, what we consume shapes our perception of the world and our place within it. If people like me are the ‘bad guys’ or the sidekicks or, worse yet, invisible, how can we truly feel like we matter?

The positive is that there has been a shift. More and more publishers are championing diverse voices and diversity within the workplace. In Curtis Brown Creative offering me this scholarship, they have shown a commitment to balancing the narrative on who gets to tell their story – on who matters, on who gets to be seen.

If you're a writer from an under-represented background and want to study with us, check out the Breakthrough Writers’ Programme. This is our exciting programme of free courses, mentoring and scholarships for under-represented writers, funded by Curtis Brown Literary Agency and partners. More 2022 opportunities will be announced very soon.

*Statistic taken from The Diversity Baseline Survey, created by Lee & Low Books (2015).