Gold Dust and me
When I look back on my journey to novel publication choosing to embark on the Gold Dust mentoring scheme was an important milestone.
Up to that point I’d had several ideas for novels, some of which I had started but abandoned (I have drawers and boxes full of opening chapters, character profiles, passages of dialogue, roughly sketched plots). When I heard about Gold Dust I was intrigued, but wasn’t sure if it was for me, as although I had a new idea and a couple of chapters written, I didn’t yet have a novel to be mentored through. But then I realised that having someone to send my work-in-progress to on a regular basis for feedback was actually exactly what I needed, otherwise another year would go by and my prospective novel would remain just another collection of scribbled notes in a drawer.
So I embarked on Gold Dust with Jill Dawson as my mentor, and each month or so wrote 10,000 words and sent them to her. It was exactly what I needed, to get the words down on paper. But the experience was about much more than just deadlines and word counts. Jill was so lovely to work with – supportive and constructively critical. With her help I learned to fully develop my characters, use dialogue more effectively and work on the structure and pace of my novel. I wrote my first draft in seven months and then continued to work with Jill through the editing stage. She also gave me some excellent tips when it came to writing my synopsis and pitching my novel to agents.
The novel that I wrote in my Gold Dust year has not been published, however the experience made me realise that I could do it: I could write and edit a full-length novel. And I was able to put everything I had learned with Jill into practice again when I sat down to write another novel, The Companion, which is to be published this year by Orion.
We are delighted that Guinevere Glasfurd, mentored by Louise Doughty for Gold Dust with her novel The Words in my Hand, is on the Costa Prize Debut Novelist’s shortlist. We’ve all got our fingers crossed for her!
Sarah Dunnakey, mentored by Jill Dawson, will have her first novel published in 2017. The Companion will be published by Orion in May 2017. Although this is not the novel that she worked on with Jill Dawson, Sarah writes: ‘Thank you for your faith in me during the mentoring process and helping me to learn how to develop my ideas into a structured novel. It really was an invaluable experience.’ We are thrilled for Sarah and wish her many congratulations.
More congratulations are due to another Gold Dust graduate, Miranda Doyle. Taught by Jill Dawson and mentored by Kathryn Heyman, Miranda will have A book of Untruths – a family story told through a series of lies – published by Faber in February 2017. Miranda writes: ‘Jill Dawson’s generosity in supporting new writers led to the escalator talent development scheme. Making it onto the programme in its first year made me feel like a writer, although I was still overwhelmed by nappies, poster paint and meh. Kathryn Heyman became an incredible mentor and gave me the key to understanding story, pace, and conflict, the most fundamental ingredients to story telling that there are. It’s such a relief that more than a decade on, I can reassure them both that they were not wasting their time.’
Lastly, we have much to celebrate in another Gold Dust graduate, Charlotte Mcleod. Charlotte was mentored by Louise Doughty and went on to win The Arvon Jerwood Playwright Award. She was then selected for The Criterion New Writers Programme, for The Criterion Theatre, Piccadilly. An extract from her latest play: Girl-dem was performed at The Criterion Piccadilly and she has been selected to go onto their Development Programme to develop a new play in 2017. Charlotte writes: ‘All this is a result of Louise’s help, advice and encouragement!’ Bravo to that, and here’s to many more in 2017.
The beginning of the year saw not one but three book launches for Gold Dust graduates. Guinevere Glasfurd – mentored by Louise Doughty, Shelley Weiner and Sally Cline – launched her first novel The Words in my Hand at Heffers, Cambridge; Joyce Gould, mentored by Sally Cline, launched her book Witchfinder General in the House of Lords and Rosie Nixon (taught by Jill Dawson) will be launching her new novel The Stylist at Soho House in February. There was further good news: Louisa Carter, mentored by Jill Dawson, has her novel shortlisted for the prestigious Mslexia Novel Award. Congratulations to Louisa, who has now been approached by several agents. Gold Dust graduates continue to go from strength to strength.
Some lovely advance praise for the soon to be published novel The Words in my Hand by Guinevere Glasfurd, who was mentored for Gold Dust by Louise Doughty. This will be published by Two Roads (an imprint of John Murray Press) on 14th January 2016.
The Words in My Hand is the reimagined true story of Helena Jans, a Dutch maid in 17th-century Amsterdam, who works for Mr Sergeant the English bookseller. When a mysterious and reclusive lodger arrives – the Monsieur – Mr Sergeant insists everything must be just so. It transpires that the Monsieur is René Descartes.
‘17th-century Amsterdam sparkles into life in this delightful, playful and beautifully written debut. I loved it!’ Rachel Hore, bestselling author of A Week In Paris
‘Guinevere Glasfurd’s writing is fresh and elegant. I loved the subject and the way she brings Amsterdam in the 1600s into vivid, believable life. A lovely book’ Dinah Jefferies, bestselling author of The Tea Planter’s Wife
Some terrific news this month of book deals and short-listings for our Gold Dust graduates.
Five of Jill Dawson’s mentees have had good news this month. Sarah Duguid, mentored by Jill Dawson in 2010, has become a published novelist. Her novel Look at Me (previously called The Visitor) will be published by Tinder Press in 2016. Sarah says of writing the novel; ‘it was a long road but I got there in the end!’ Rory Dunlop, mentored by Jill in 2012, has had his novel What We (Didn’t) Say accepted for publication by Twenty7 and emailed Jill to say: ‘Thanks very much for all your help. I would never have got anywhere near a book deal without your guidance.’ Our congratulations to both debut authors.
Another of Jill’s writers, Avril Lapin, has been long-listed for the Bridport Prize for Novels. Avril writes:
‘I am working on the second draft of my novel ‘Searching for Elizabeth Loaming’ and Jill suggested I entered it for the Bridport Prize. This would never have occurred to me. I did not think I would stand a chance, but I sent off the required first five thousand words and was delighted to be long listed. I am now almost at the end of my year of being mentored by Jill, during which I have finished my second draft and I think it will soon be time for me to take a deep breath and approach agents. I will miss my meetings will Jill. Each month I look forward to them. She is a very perceptive reader and her encouragement and support has focused my mind on my writing, raised the quality of what I write and given me the confidence to persist. I am so glad I decided to be mentored by Gold Dust.’
Yet another of Jill’s ‘mentees’ has a prize placing. A.Y. Chao, based in Hong Kong, and using Skype mentoring, A.Y. Chao’s first novel Soul-Thrall was written under the mentorship of Jill and placed second in the Urban Fantasy category of the RWA Fantasy Futuristic and Paranormal “On the Far Side”contest.
A.Y. says of her mentoring with Gold Dust: “Without Jill, I wouldn’t have even thought of entering contests, let alone complete a 100K word novel. Regular Skype meetings with Jill gave me the little push I needed to get writing and her seasoned advice gave me the confidence to keep writing.”
And lastly, a student Jill taught at University of East Anglia, over ten years ago, Emma Sweeney, writes to say she has a book deal. ‘I wanted you to be one of the first to know. Your continuing encouragement and belief has meant so much to me during this long slog.’ Emma Sweeney’s novel will be published in 2016. More details soon!
Guinevere Glasfurd-Brown, mentored by Louise Doughty, is publishing her novel, The Words in My Hand. It will be published by Two Roads in January 2016 (Two Roads is an imprint of John Murray Press). Rights sold separately to Ullstein Buchverlage in a major deal, and the novel was published by them in translation on August 7th this year. Rights have since sold in the Netherlands, Spain and France, and an edition is being published in Australia and New Zealand too.
Guinevere says of her mentoring with Gold Dust: ‘I remember meeting Louise for the first time — I was a bundle of nerves and felt my work had no merit. Louise read the first draft and was hugely encouraging. No first draft is perfect, I realise now and Louise gave me the confidence to carry on and has been unstinting in her support ever since.’
Joyce Gould, mentored by Sally Cline, has had her memoir of a life in politics (provisionally called Witchfinder General) accepted for publication by Backbite in January 2016. She writes: ‘Sally made me realise that I was capable of writing my memoirs even when at times I wanted to give up, and as time went on I felt more confident to continue, thanks to her patience and understanding’.
Louisa Carter, mentored by Jill Dawson, has had her novel, The Table Laid Bare, shortlisted for the 2015 Yeovil Literary Prize. An earlier draft was longlisted for the Mslexia Women’s Novel Award in 2013.
Louisa says of her Gold Dust mentoring: “Jill gave me the confidence I needed to keep going with my novel, as well as practical tools that massively improved my writing – cliches were flagged up, my plot tightened and my characters interrogated! Her constructive critiquing, together with regular deadlines, helped me turn a rough, unfinished story into a strong first draft. Jill was honest, encouraging and generous, both with her writing and her industry knowledge.”
Kirstin Zhang, mentored for Gold Dust by Romesh Gunesekera, has won the Harpers Bazaar short story competition 2015. She has also been signed to an agent at AM Heath and says of being mentored by Romesh: ‘Gold Dust Mentoring is really worth its weight in gold’.
Rosie Nixon, taught by Jill Dawson on a week’s course in Morrocco, has signed a two-book deal for her first novel, The Stylist to be published by (Harlequin, now part of Harper Collins).
Vanessa Nicolson, who approached Gold Dust with an early draft of her memoir which was guided by Shelley Weiner, published that memoir Have you been Good? (Granta) to much acclaim. The Guardian said of it: ‘In recording her own roles as both daughter and mother, Nicolson has penned a double helix to motherhood. It accounts for the many shades of experience that shouldn’t be, but so frequently are, endured in families, irrelevant of privilege.’
Alex Hourston’s novel In My House (Faber) also received some excellent review coverage and was launched at Daunts Bookshop, Cheapside. Three Gold Dust mentors were there to share the celebrations: Louise Doughty, Shelley Weiner, and Alex’s mentor, Jill Dawson.
Gold Dust student on Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize shortlist.
For the second year in a row, a Gold Dust writer being mentored by Jill Dawson is on the shortlist for the Lucy Cavendish Prize. Annette Gordon has been invited to an event at the Cambridge college on May 22nd to meet the judges and agents and editors who are seeking a début woman novelist.
Congratulations to Annette and all the shortlisted writers http://www.lucy-cav.cam.ac.uk/fictionprize/2014-shortlist-announced.
(Last year’s Gold Dust mentee Alex Hourston, also mentored by Jill, got an agent and book deal as a result, so we have high hopes!)
Two Gold Dust graduates announce exciting book deals: Alex Hourston, mentored by Jill Dawson, writes: “Jill and I have worked together on everything I’ve written, from my first paragraph to the last drafts of my second novel, due to published next summer.
“Amongst many other things, she has helped me with voice, taught me how to critique my own work, and kept me straight when I threatened to lose sight of what I was trying to do!
“Put simply, she made my writing the best that it could be, and gave lots of support and advice about the process and the business along the way.”
The novel is called Then, But Not Now, due to be published summer 2015 as part of a two book deal bought at auction by Faber.
Another mentee of Jill’s – Alexandra Cameron – also wrote this month to let Jill know of her new book deal in her native Australia. Alex writes: “I thought I would let you know that my book, Rachael’s Gift, which you helped me with is being published by Picador in Australia/ NZ this August 26th. The mentorship was a while ago now but you were immensely helpful in assisting me to get to the next stage. The book, of course, barely resembles anything you read, way back when, but the characters Camille and Wolfe have survived and the major themes are still present.
“It’s been a long road and I’m sure there’s another longer one ahead for the next one. But thank you all the same.’
We hope to add their book covers to our website soon!
Gold Dust Mentor – and distinguished biographer – Sally Cline has a phenomenal track record in getting her ‘mentees’ published and shortlisted for awards, and this year is no exception. For the fourth year running she has a mentee on the prestigious Tony Lothian Prize, theonly UK prize for an un-commissioned first time biographer or memoirist. This year the lucky shortlisted mentee is FELIX BECHTOLSHEIMER and his memoir is Cornflakes for Breakfast – a literary memoir about bullying, heroin addiction and finding salvation in the music of the American Deep South. The memoir, written in a mixture of street slang and analytic literary prose, presents an unflinching account of the brutal reality of heroin addiction and the struggle to get clean. But the dark subject matter is constantly enlivened by sharp humour and the humanity of the supporting characters.
The prize of £2000 is administered by The Biographers Club. Last year it was won by another of Sally Cline’s mentees, so we have fingers crossed for Felix. The judges are Tracy Borman, Helen Fry and Andrew Lycett. The winner and the runner-up from the shortlist will be announced at the Savile Club, London, on November 20th.
July 2013: Gold Dust mentees win book deals and prizes
Antonia Honeywell, ex-student of Jill Dawson, and of two other of our mentors, has just signed a book deal with Orion for her novel The Ship. Antonia was mentored on Writers Pool, a mentoring scheme Jill set up in 2004, a fore-runner to Gold Dust, where Antonia was mentored for a year by the novelist Katharine McMahon. Antonia went on to do Faber Academy courses where she was taught by two of the Gold Dust mentors – Jill Dawson and Louise Doughty, and a 9-month Guardian Masterclass course with a third Gold Dust writer and mentor, Costa-winning novelist Andrew Miller.
Deborah Meyler, mentored by Jill Dawson (and taught first by Jill and Kathryn Heyman on an Arvon course) on her novel The Bookstore, has had the novel published by Bloomsbury. Congratulations!
Doreen Massey – mentored by Jill – has won $400 for her story She Hath Done What She Could in the Tom Howard Short Story Competition. The judges commented: “It is difficult to write convincing dialogue in various dialects but your brilliantly accomplished entry simply overwhelmed me.”
(‘There must be a good mentor around somewhere!’ Doreen said).
Gold Dust writer’s work makes the airwaves
Charlotte Macleod, mentored by novelist and playwright Louise Doughty, is having another play broadcasted on Radio Four. Charlotte’s second play, Dotty Rogers: My Life in Movies will be broadcast on 24th May 2013.
Charlotte says of her time with Gold Dust, being mentored by Louise: ‘Louise is a professional and has demanded the same professionalism of me. When my work had finally reached a point when it was ready to show to the industry, Louise used her personal contacts to get my work read. Over the past couple of years, Louise has made our work together feel like a collaboration, an exploration, and a glorious journey in a resolute and unremitting search for honest and good writing. I feel astoundingly privileged to have had Louise in my writing life, and any success I have achieved is directly a result of working with her.’
Doreen and Alex taste publishing success
Two writers mentored by novelist Jill Dawson have found success this month. Doreen Massey has had her short story The Upside Down Trees, set in Alaska, accepted for publication in the anthology Love on the Road. Love on the Road 2013 will be an anthology of stories about love and travel. The organisers write: ‘In April, we chose the 12 we plan to publish. In May, we sent them to our panel of judges, which includes writers and literary agents. By July, the judges will pick their favorite three stories, which will win cash prizes of $200 (first place), $100 (second place) and $50 (third place).’
And Alex Hourston, another mentee of Jill’s, has had her novel Intersection, the story of a strange and powerful friendship between two very different women, shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Prize. This is a national prize to be “awarded to a remarkable, unpublished female fiction writer over the age of 21 who successfully combines literary merit with “unputdownability” in their entry.” The winner of the prize is announced at the end of May.
Prizes for Jacqui
Jacqui Haskell – mentored by novelist Jill Dawson – won third prize in the 2012/13 FISH Short Story competition with a short story called ‘One for hello, one for goodbye’. Also won Second prize in The New Writer’s poetry competition (judge Pascale Petit) with a poem about the Japanese earthquake called Hagoromo. Jacqui also got to meet Gold Dust mentor Louise Doughty at the Telegraph short story prize giving event in February 2013 where she was one of the winners.
Lesley Gray, mentored by Jill Dawson, publishes her first novel, The King’s Jockey, published by Solis Press.
Lesley writes in the acknowledgements: ‘Jill Dawson and the brilliant Gold Dust programme put me on track with my first draft’ – ‘thank you, I don’t think I could have got this far without you.’
Jane Willis won the Tony Lothian Prize for a first time biographer. Well done to Jane and her mentor Sally Cline.
For the second year in a row, distinguished biographer Sally Cline has helped a writer she mentored to reach the shortlist of the prestigious Tony Lothian prize, for first time biographers, organised by the Biographers’ Club. Recent Gold Dust graduate Jane Willis’s proposed biography, Marguerite, Byron and the Literary Factory, focuses on the life and writings of the scandalous and artistic Countess of Blessington, novelist, travel writer, poet and editor. Congratulations to Sally Cline and to Jane Willis and best of luck for the prize – announced on November 13th.
September 2012 update: Two Book Deal for Gold Dust Graduate
Rosie Rowell, mentored by Sally Cline, has been offered a 2 book deal for her novel Leopold. The publisher is Hot Key Books, an inprint of Bonnier Publshing. Rosie, speaking of her mentor Sal, wrote: ‘Thank you again for all your energy and advice that went into our sessions and that made the book so very much better.’
Congratulations to Rosie and to Sal.
Gold Dust graduate wins competition
A Gold Dust graduate, Jacqui Haskell has won the July Telegraph Short Story club competition. Jacqui, who was mentored by Jill Dawson and taught by Jill on an Arvon course, has also had success in the Cinnamon Press anthology ‘Jericho’ with her story High, and was long-listed for this year’s Virginia Warbey Poetry Prize and for the Fish Poetry and Flash Fiction Prizes (twice!). Plus Hampshire View Magazine has accepted two of her stories for publication early next year.
Jane’s new novel garners great reviews
Jane Rusbridge, one of the first Gold Dust graduates (mentored by Kathryn Heyman) has a new novel out which is gathering great reviews: Rook, published by Bloomsbury, Summer 2012.
Competition victory for Gold Dust author
Joanna Parry-Gokce, mentored by Gold Dust mentor Jill Dawson and taught by Louise Doughty at the Faber Academy, was recently runner-up in the Luke Bitmead/ Legend Press novel competition which offers a bursary and publication by Legend Press to first-time novelists.
Gold Dust author lands top agent and book deal
Martha Lea was taught by two Gold Dust mentors, Kathryn Heyman and Jill Dawson this summer on an a residential course. She has been taken on by agent Peter Straus and already received an offer from Canongate for her novel. She writes to thank both tutors for theiir encouragement:
‘Dear Kathryn and Jill,
I just wanted to thank you both again for a fantastic week at the Hurst in June this year. Most especially, I want to thank you both for all your encouraging words and helpful advice about my novel, The Specimen. As you may know, I sent my first pages to Peter at RC&W and he passed them on to Jennifer Hewson. Jennifer has been wonderful, and I have had an offer for The Specimen. Truly, this wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been for you two telling me to get it out there again. So thank you.
wishing you the best
Not one but two Gold Dust new writers up for major biography prize!
The Biographers’ Club has announced the 2011 short lists for the Tony Lothian Prize and the HW Fisher Best First Biography Prize – and two of those on the five peson shortlist for the former have been mentored by our phenomenal Gold Dust mentor, the biographer and writer Sally Cline.
In alphabetical order, the two mentees shortlisted for the Tony Lothian Prize are: Elaine Cusack for Chas Chandler: The Man Who Made Hendrix and Katherine MacInnes for Snow Widows.
There are three others on the shortlist.
The judges are: Valerie Grove, journalist and biographer of Laurie Lee and John Mortimer, among others; Jane Mays, consulting literary editor at the Daily Mail; and David Waller, author of The Magnificent Mrs Tennant.
The winner will be announced at the Prize Dinner on 25 October, 6.30pm at the Oriental Club, Stratford Place, London W1C 1ES. Sally Cline and Jill Dawson will both attend in order to wish our mentees their warmest congratulations and good luck.
Gold Dust author shortlisted for prize
Charlotte Macleod, mentored by Louise Doughty has been short-listed for The 2010 Westminster Prize at the Soho Theatre for her play Falling. She also won a place on the The Jerwood/Arvon Scheme 2011. She has been commissioned by David Hunter at Radio 4, for her afternoon play: The Womb-Whisperer. To be broadcast 2012 Her first short play, Wasted, was performed in Coventry in June 2011.
Publishing success for Gold Dust author
Ed Siegle, mentored by Kathryn Heyman, has just had his first novel Invisibles published by Myriad Editions.
Says Ed, ”Kathryn undertook to mentor me through the first 25,000 words of Invisibles, and her input into the early stages of the novel was invaluable to its development. Her intuition for character and guidance regarding structure helped to give Invisibles a solid foundation on which to build the rest of the novel – and at the same time her enthusiasm and sensitive feedback gave me great confidence in my growing voice. Kathryn went far beyond the initial remit, retaining an interest in the novel’s development right to the end and was always available as a sounding board or to lend a critical eye. All in all, Kathryn’s encouragement and sharp creative insight were vital to the shaping of my debut novel, and it was a great pleasure and privilege to be under her wing.’
Soon to be publishing her second novelTwitcher, Cherise Saywell is fulsome in her praise of Gold Dust mentor Lesley Glaister: ‘When I applied to Gold Dust I had written a novel and was struggling to find an agent,’ says Cherise. ‘I didn’t know if my novel was any good, or if I should just put it away and start another. I was accepted in October 2009 and I found an agent in Australia at around the same time so I decided to leave the first novel alone and use the mentorship to progress with a second.
‘I liked Lesley Glaister as soon as I met her and it’s been wonderful having someone so experienced to work with. My novel was at a very early stage when I began the mentorship, and I’ve been stuck several times already – I really struggle with first drafts. But Lesley’s brilliant, always ready with suggestions and reassurance. I usually sense when something’s working, but when things go wrong can take me ages to recognise why. Lesley will tell me when she can’t ‘see’ a character I’m working on, or if the voice isn’t right. But crucially, she also has an instinct for when to simply leave it to me – the novel is still very much mine and there are some things I need to figure out through trial and error.
‘In April I signed a two book deal with Random House Australia. My first novel,Desert Fish, was published early in 2011 in their Vintage imprint, and Twitcher will be my second book.
‘I felt completely stuck when I applied to Gold Dust and it was a real step forward. Getting a publishing deal has been brilliant, but it’s a beginning, not an arrival, and I’m finding Lesley’s guidance and support invaluable. Gold Dust is for people who take their writing seriously. It’s been a brilliant investment for me, worth every penny.’
Award for Gold Dust author
Bronx-born Pamela Vincent (who divides her time between London and Hove in Sussex) mentored by Gold Dust founder Jill Dawson, has won a Brit Writers Award for her novel Swamps and Marshes, it was recently announced at a glitzy O2 ceremony. Warm congratulations to Pamela from everyone at Gold Dust!
Gold Dust author lands publishing deal
Writer Jane Rusbridge is to publish her first novel, following her experience of Gold Dust mentoring by Kathryn Heyman.
Jane Rusbridge’s novel The Devil’s Music will be published in July by Bloomsbury. Fans of Sadie Jones will delight in Jane’s haunting and lyrical debut about love, betrayal and family secrets. In the acknowledgments Jane thanks her Gold Dust mentor novelist Kathryn Heyman ‘who, with her gift for language and trademark energy and humour, has been such an inspirational mentor and friend.’
Jane applied for a Gold Dust award after meeting Jill Dawson who was the tutor on Jane’s Arvon course.
Here is Jane’s response to the mentoring, written a few months before her publishing deal:
‘I found this mentorship invaluable. When I first met Kathryn last May, I had been working on my novel on and off for three years, struggling to make the transition from short stories. I was wallowing around in almost 70,000 words which were not really going anywhere and I’d given myself one last year to sink or swim. Kathryn and I made a plan, set deadlines to keep up the impetus and – with wonderful brio and humour – she encouraged me to be brave, to put aside sentence by sentence fiddling until I had tackled the larger structure of my novel. The focus on plot and structure was just what I needed and, with her consistent support and guidance over the months, I grew confident enough to cut away great chunks and rearrange others, and to keep pushing on. Kathryn is a stimulating and inspirational teacher. At each stage, with clear thinking, infectious energy and enthusiasm, she provided detailed verbal and written constructive criticism, mixed with praise, and she was particularly skilful at prompting me to ask myself questions, about each character and their role in the narrative, about tension and the ordering of scenes. It was exactly what I needed. Kathryn’s guidance helped me to ‘discover’ what my novel was actually about. Well within my target year, the novel was out there in the real world, with an agent.’