Welcome to a catch-up with the lovely writer and teacher of writing, Leila Rasheed. I’ve known Leila personally for almost ten years, and I got her into this interview series right back at the start, in July 2011 and then did updates in September 2012, October 2013. and October 2014, so I think she’s the first person to reach five interviews! Leila always has lots going on in her life – this is where she wanted to be by now – “Hopefully with some of my own books published and doing well, and with some more teaching work established.” and she’s of course gone in a slightly different direction, as most of my interviewees seem to, with exciting plans with writing development schemes and training courses afoot. Let’s check in with Leila and see what she’s up to … And read to the bottom for details of an exciting short course on writing children’s and teenage fiction, starting soon!
Hello, Leila! Dare I ask, are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?
Not really – but I’m very pleased with where I am! I have been awarded funding from Arts Council England and from the Publishers’ Association to run a year-long writer development scheme aimed at challenging the lack of diversity in children’s publishing. It’s called Megaphone and all information is at www.megaphonewrite.com There are five places on the scheme, available to writers from ethnic minorities who haven’t yet published a book for children. Over the course of the year, they will write a novel for children, with support in the form of masterclasses with experienced children’s authors, one-to-one feedback on their manuscript from me, input from some of the best and most exciting editors working in children’s publishing today, and finally a big promotional push for their manuscripts, to the publishing industry. I’m so excited about it – the ideal scenario would be to discover five amazing new authors who’ll be on the shelves of Waterstone’s in the next five years. From my own point of view, I’ve been able to develop skills in project development, management and fundraising, which is excellent.
What has changed and what has stayed the same?
Definitely, what has changed is Megaphone – plus the Writing for Children module I teach at Warwick has recruited very well this year, so that’s nice.
What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?
I’ve learned a huge amount putting Megaphone together: the basics of project planning, project management, how to successfully fill in an Arts Council application form…!
Any more hints and tips for people?
Just be ready to diversify and challenge yourself, I suppose, although that’s not exactly original!
And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?
I hope Megaphone will be coming towards the end of the project, and that I’ll have gained some insight into how to go forward in making the children’s publishing world more diverse and equal.
This is such an exciting project and I’m proud to be able to tell you about it and share the information Leila’s given us here. Do get in touch if you’re interested in the Megaphone programme or the short course in writing children’s and teenage fiction.
Leila’s own website is at www.leilarasheed.com
Any writers keen to apply to Megaphone, please see www.megaphonewrite.com – Megaphone is a new writer development scheme, funded by the Arts Council and the Publishers’ Association, making Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic voices heard in British children’s literature.
Short Course: Writing Children’s and Teenage Fiction.
Running in Birmingham from 23 Oct 2014.
TO BOOK: 0121 245 4455 / www.writingwestmidlands.org
If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources.