Francesca Best, Senior Commissioning Editor at Transworld, has acquired world rights in two novels from Charlene Allcott, one of Penguin Random House UK’s 2016 WriteNow mentees and the first of the group to be offered a publishing contract.
Born and raised in London and now living in Brighton, Charlene works part-time with young people in a residential care home as well as caring for her three-year-old son who has autism. Her debut novel, currently titled The Reinvention of Martha Ross, is a raw, honest and hilarious re-coming of age story about call-centre worker Martha, who must come to terms with the breakdown of her marriage and get her life back on track. It will be published in summer 2018 with a second novel coming out the following year.
Charlene is one of twelve exceptional writers selected for the inaugural WriteNow mentoring programme, which was launched in 2016 by Penguin Random House UK to find, mentor and publish new voices from communities under-represented on the UK’s bookshelves. Charlene has worked closely with Francesca in a mentoring capacity over the last six months to develop her manuscript for The Reinvention of Martha Ross.
Francesca said: “This novel has a uniquely fresh, surprising and self-deprecating voice; one of the most captivating I’ve encountered in ages. Charlene’s comedic skill is masterful, but her debut novel also contains moments of huge poignancy as all the big themes of life – marriage, divorce, family, parenting, friendship and what it means to be an adult – are drawn into play. I am incredibly excited about bringing Charlene’s writing to a wide audience.”
Charlene said: “This book is about starting over and finding the confidence and conviction to be who you want to be, and WriteNow has helped me to do just that. Participating in the mentoring programme hasn’t only opened a door for me; it has blown that door clean off its hinges.”
Tom Weldon, CEO of Penguin Random House UK added: “When we launched WriteNow it was a leap of faith into the unknown for us. We wanted to open up our world of publishing and books, which too often can seem out of reach for so many people. We wanted to inspire and inform writers across the country about how to get their book published. Perhaps most importantly we wanted to find new talent.
“That’s why it’s so exciting to see an acquisition so early in the WriteNow process, especially as we are only about six months into our first year-long mentoring programme. We are confident this will be the first of many acquisitions from this cohort of incredibly talented writers and I can’t wait to see their books on shelves in the near future.”
Now in its second year, WriteNow has to date welcomed 300 writers to six regional events across the UK, from Newcastle to Bristol, and received nearly 5,000 applications from writers around the country. This includes writers from a socio-economically marginalised background, LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer) or BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) communities, as well as writers with a disability. In 2016, 95% of writers said that participating in WriteNow made them feel more confident and positive about their future as a writer. This increased to 98% in 2017.
Those writers selected for the 2017 mentoring programme will be announced in December.
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