Breakthrough Mentoring Programme
We’re delighted to offer a nine-month mentoring programme for under-represented writers, fully funded by the Curtis Brown Group and Curtis Brown’s literary agents. The programme provides in-depth one-to-one tuition and feedback from published authors to help talented writers progress their long-form writing projects (see below for details). And each mentee also gets a one-to-one meeting with an agent, who will read the opening of their work-in-progress plus a one-page synopsis.
Mentoring will run several times a year, with a different eligibility criteria each time. Each time, five mentees will be selected from applicants by the Curtis Brown Creative team, based on the quality of their writing and of the central idea driving their writing project. If you’re not chosen as one of the five mentees, don’t be discouraged – we offer lots of writing opportunities.
Is it right for me?
This mentoring programme is for you if you are a talented writer who fulfils the eligibility criteria (see below) and if you are seeking targeted, detailed one-to-one feedback on your work-in-progress, plus industry advice. You can apply for mentoring with respect to a project at any stage of writing (from just starting to redrafting) and for a work written in any of the following genres/categories:
- Novel written for adults
- Novel written for children (older than 7) or young adults
- Collection of short stories
- Narrative non-fiction
(We may extend the range of genres in future years of the Breakthrough Writers’ Programme but this will be the offer for 2021).
How it works
If you’re selected for mentoring, we will match you with a mentor from our experienced team of author-tutors whose area of expertise/interest matches the kind of project you’re working on.
On three occasions over a nine-month period, you can send up to 10,000 words from your work-in-progress to your mentor, who will read it and meet with you on Zoom for one hour (on a mutually agreeable date) to discuss it in-depth, providing valuable and constructive verbal feedback plus 500 words of notes each time. You can also use a mentoring session to have an in-depth discussion about plot issues, by instead sending a synopsis plus an 8,000-word extract – or just a synopsis and a sheet of issues and questions to put to the mentor.
The three sessions should be spread so that they happen approximately every three months across the nine-month period (though if you want to have the sessions across a shorter time period – e.g. six months, that’s usually possible if agreed in advance).
At the end of the nine-month mentoring period (or earlier, at your request), each mentee will receive a 45-minute one-to-one Zoom tutorial with a Curtis Brown or C&W literary agent. The agent will read the opening 3,000-word extract from your novel-in-progress plus your synopsis. They will provide detailed feedback as well as answering questions about your writing more generally and your potential next steps.
Help with submitting your work
For all our mentees – when you’re ready to send the project you’re working on to agents, an experienced member of the CBC team will help you submit your work to the agents at Curtis Brown and C&W.
Eligibility and applications
This mentoring is part of the Breakthrough Writers’ Programme, an initiative offering funded opportunities to under-represented writers.
We are now accepting applications for our nine-month mentoring programme for LGBTQIA+ Writers.
This mentoring will run from July 2022 to April 2023 and seeks to support five aspiring authors with one-to-one guidance from a published author-mentor, plus a tutorial with a literary agent.
Applications close end of day, Sunday 12 June. We will get in touch with all applicants by Thursday 16 June.
Meet our author-mentors
Our mentoring team are all published authors.
Julia Armfield, Author
Julia Armfield is a fiction writer with a Master’s in Victorian Art and Literature from Royal Holloway University. She is the author of the short story collection salt slow and the novel Our Wives Under the Sea. Her work has been published in Granta, Lighthouse, Analog Magazine, Neon Magazine and Best British Short Stories 2019 and 2021. She was longlisted for the Deborah Rogers Prize 2018 and was the winner of The White Review Short Story Prize 2018. In 2019, she was shortlisted for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year award. Her debut collection, salt slow, was longlisted for the Polari Prize 2020 and the Edge Hill Prize 2020 and was shortlisted for the London Magazine Prize for Debut Fiction 2020. Her story ‘Longshore Drift’ won a Pushcart Prize in 2020.
Jake Arnott, Author
Jake is the author of seven highly acclaimed novels. The Long Firm was the bestselling debut novel of 1999, and was followed by He Kills Coppers, Truecrime, Johnny Come Home, The Devil’s Paintbrush, The House of Rumour and his latest novel The Fatal Tree was published in February 2017. In 2006, The Long Firm was made into a four-part, BAFTA-nominated series for BBC 2 starring Sir Derek Jacobi and Mark Strong. In 2008, He Kills Coppers was made into a three-part series for ITV1, starring Rafe Spall and Kelly Reilly.
Kirsty Logan, Author
Kirsty Logan is a Scottish novelist, poet, performer, literary editor, and writer of short fiction. Her short story collection The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales was awarded the Polari First Book Prize as well as the Saboteur Award for Best Short Story Collection. Her debut novel The Gracekeepers won a Lambda Literary Award and its prequel, The Gloaming, was published by Vintage in April 2018. Her third short fiction book, Things We Say in the Dark, is a collection of feminist, literary horror stories.
Laura Kay, Author
Laura Kay is a London based writer whose work has appeared in Diva Magazine and the Guardian. She has a Masters degree in History from the University of Sheffield where she received the Sir Ian Kershaw Dissertation Prize. Laura was one of ten writers selected for Penguin’s 2018 WriteNow programme, during which she developed her debut novel, The Split, which was be published by Quercus in 2021. Her second book, Tell Me Everything, will be published in May 2022.
Crystal Jeans, Author
Crystal Jeans has had two novels published by Welsh women’s independent Honno Press. Her first novel, The Vegetarian Tigers of Paradise, was shortlisted for the Polari Prize and is currently in development for film. Her second novel, Light Switches are my Kryptonite, won Wales Book of the Year in the English language. Her breakout novel, The Inverts, was published by The Borough Press in 2021. Crystal lives in Pontypridd with her partner and their two children.
Catherine Johnson, Author
Catherine Johnson has written over 20 books for children and young adults, including Sawbones, which won the Young Quills Prize for best Historical Fiction in the 12+ category and was nominated for the Carnegie medal in 2015. Her book Freedom won the 2019 Little Rebels Award for Radical Children’s Fiction.
Catherine writes for film, television and radio. In 2005, she co-wrote the highly acclaimed feature film Bullet Boy. This was followed by commissions for Century Films, Working Title and Channel 4.
Catherine was Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of the Arts London, Writer in Residence at Holloway Prison and Reader in Residence at the Royal Festival Hall as part of the Children’s Literature Festival ‘Imagine’. She was awarded an Arts Council of England Writer’s Grant in 2004. Catherine has taught Creative Writing at Kingston University and London Metropolitan University.
‘Catherine wants us to be the best writers we can be and her passion was clear throughout’ Ian Brooks, Writing YA & Children’s Fiction student
Nikita Lalwani, Author
Nikita Lalwani’s first novel Gifted was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2007, shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year, and was the winner of the Desmond Elliot Prize for New Fiction. Her second novel was The Village (2012) and her third is You People (2020). Nikita was a judge for the RSL Encore prize and the Rathbones Folio prize 19/20. She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Photograph: Vik Sharma.
Yvvette Edwards, Author
Yvvette Edwards is a British East Londoner of Montserratian origin and author of two novels, A Cupboard Full of Coats and The Mother. She has written a number of short stories which have been broadcast on radio and published in anthologies, including New Daughters of Africa. She was a judge for the inaugural Jhalak Prize for Writers of Colour and the George Floyd Short Story Competition. Her work has been nominated for a number of literary awards including the Man Booker Prize.
She has wide experience of mentoring emerging writers, including on the National Centre for Writing’s Escalator programme and the Common People project, and she is particularly passionate about writing which challenges the single narrative and gives voice to those who are absent, misrepresented and/or underrepresented in fiction.
Cathy Rentzenbrink, Author
Cathy Rentzenbrink is the author of The Last Act of Love which was a Sunday Times bestseller and was shortlisted for the Wellcome Prize. She followed it with A Manual for Heartache and Dear Reader: The Comfort and Joy of Books. Her first novel Everyone Is Still Alive is out now and Write It All Down: How to put your life on the page will be out in January 2022. Cathy regularly chairs literary events, interviews authors, reviews books and runs creative writing workshops. In previous lives, Cathy worked for Waterstones for ten years, ran the literacy charity Quick Reads, and was Books Editor at The Bookseller.