TWO unpublished writers have been signed up by a UK literary agent after their work caught the eye at Manx Litfest 2012.
Rachel Green and Fiona McKenna were two of 10 local writers who attended a one-on-one with agent Joanna Swainson from London-based Hardman & Swainson Literacy Agency.
Joanna spent 20 minutes with each writer, reviewing the early pages of their manuscripts and giving feedback.
She was so impressed with Rachel and Fiona’s work she asked each to submit their full manuscripts – and both writers have now been signed up by the agency.
Manx Litfest took place in September and saw 19 authors, poets, performers, agents and publishers from around the UK take part in a series of events alongside island authors and poets.
Festival organisers have announced the dates for Litfest 2013 – September 26-29, and are in talks with a number of authors, poets and performers
Rachel, 36, is a qualified English teacher and freelance journalist who tutors privately in the evenings and weekends to dedicate her time to writing.
Her manuscript – Stacey Stargazer and The Girl from Nowhere – is aimed at nine- to 12-year-olds.
Rachel said: ‘It’s an issues-based middle grade novel, with plenty of humour and pathos – think Ab Fab with ponies!
‘I’m still pinching myself that Joanna was interested – I’d been writing fiction seriously for about five years, but this was the first time I’d submitted anything.
‘It’s an exciting time, and a little daunting to know that publishers will be reading my work. It’s a case of sitting tight and hoping!’
She added: ‘Being signed by an agent is no guarantee of a publishing deal, but it’s said to be the hardest part in getting published – they are the gate-keepers to an otherwise locked door.’
Fiona, 26, has two degrees in English literature and describes her manuscript as ‘suspenseful women’s fiction’.
She explained: ‘I’ve always been a bookworm, and I used to experiment with writing a lot as a teenager.
‘However, it wasn’t until I left a job in the early part of last year that I had the idea for my novel and decided to give it another go. I now juggle my writing with an eclectic mix of day jobs, working as a barmaid, artists’ model and receptionist for a local motoring business.
‘Last year’s Manx Litfest provided island-based writers with an unmissable opportunity to make contact with each other and get their work out there.’
Joanna said the level of writing she saw in the island was ‘very impressive’, adding that signing two authors was ‘an endorsement of the writing talent on the island and the festival organisers showed great foresight in getting Manx Litfest off the ground’.
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