Books for All: Writing Characters of Colour for Children

Published Mon 13 Dec 2021 - By Literature Wales
Books for All: Writing Characters of Colour for Children

Literature Wales is inviting applications from Wales-based writers of colour for an opportunity to take part in a residential course at Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre. Led by experienced writers Patience Agbabi and Jasbinder Bilan, the course will offer workshops, talks and discussions to help you develop your creative writing for children and young people. We welcome applications from new and emerging writers, and more experienced writers looking to improve their craft. 12 spaces will be available.


Key dates:

The course will run from Monday 21 – Friday 25 March 2022.

Closing date for applications is: Friday 28 January 2022, at 5.00 pm.

 The Tutors

Patience Agbabi FRSL is a celebrated poet and children’s novelist. She is a Fellow in Creative Writing at Oxford Brookes University and has taught in a broad range of settings from primary schools to prisons. She read English Literature at Oxford University and has an MA in Creative Writing, the Arts and Education from Sussex University. Her latest book is The Time-Thief (Canongate, 2021), the second novel of The Leap Cycle, a time-travel adventure series for everyone aged 8 to ∞. The Infinite (Canongate, 2020), the first novel of the series was CBBC Book of the Month in July 2020 and was shortlisted for several prestigious prizes including The Arthur C. Clarke Award for Science Fiction Book of the Year 2021. It was winner of the Children and Young People’s Category at Wales Book of the Year in 2021.

Jasbinder Bilan is the Costa Award winning author of Asha and the Spirit Bird (2019), Tamarind and the Star of Ishta (2020) and Aarti and the Blue Gods (2021), all published by Chicken House. Her books have been nominated for the Carnegie Medal, long listed for the Blue Peter Award, shortlisted for the Waterstone’s Prize and won The Indie Book Awards. In her writing she loves creating magical worlds inspired by her love of nature and wild places. Jasbinder’s books are both a window and a mirror – she writes characters she would love to have seen in the books she read as a young girl. Jasbinder has an MA Creative Writing from Bath Spa University. She has been asked to speak at many literature festivals such as Hay, Edinburgh, Bath and Cheltenham amongst others. She is a teacher and loves talking to children about her writing and hopes to inspire the next generation of writers.


Why are we running this course?

The children and young people of Wales should be able to identify with the books they read, to see families and situations that are similar to their own lives, and to find role models in their favourite characters. Only 9% of the children’s books published in the UK over the last four years feature characters of colour*. Together with strategic partners, Literature Wales will continue to address this inequality and under-representation within Wales’ literary culture by offering training courses and mentoring, platforming opportunities, career advice, and signposting to under-represented writers.

*CLPE’s Reflecting Realities Reports:


What will happen during the course?

Starting on the Monday afternoon, the group of writers and the tutors will begin the course by discussing their favourite diverse books for children and young people. Exploring the qualities of the best, and most popular books written by writers of colour for young audiences, we will set the bar for our own writing during the week.

Through group workshops, one-to-one tutorials, readings and guest talks by industry experts we will spend the week building characters and settings, and creating a useful toolkit to use to develop our own ideas into books. There will also be plenty of free time to enjoy walks in the area, to concentrate on your writing, or to read in Tŷ Newydd’s famous library.

Focusing in particular at books aimed at middle grade (8–12-year-olds) and younger YA literature (12-15), we will encourage the writers to arrive with an idea for a character – and by departure on the Friday afternoon, everyone will have the first few pages of a new story, and the energy and ambition to continue with the writing at home.

After the course, Literature Wales will encourage the new network of writers to stay in touch through regular virtual meetings to discuss ideas, challenges and to share work in progress. Further opportunities will also be shared, including workshop facilitator training opportunities, to ensure that all the writers continue to write, develop their skills, and perhaps even aim towards publication.

A note on terminology

We recognise that terminology to do with race is changing and evolving, and that different individuals and communities will have different views and preference on terms. For this course, Literature Wales have decided on the term “writers of colour” following a consultation process in 2020. During the process of developing and running projects and activities we as an organisation hope to learn more about the under-represented voices and communities of Wales, and we will be listening carefully to our writers and stakeholders’ advice about language, terms, and more – and adapting as we go to ensure that we treat our audiences and communities with respect.

How do I apply?

To apply, read our Eligibility and FAQs below, and then fill out this short Application Form.

Applicants will be notified of the outcome of the application process within two weeks of the closing date, and six weeks before the start of the course.



Eligibility and FAQs (PDF Document)
Language: EnglishFile Type: PDFSize: 85KB
Eligibility and FAQs (Word Document)
Language: EnglishFile Type: WordSize: 57KB
Eligibility and FAQs (Large Print)
Language: EnglishFile Type: WordSize: 26KB