Mentoring scheme for would-be histfic writers

Making a living as a historical fiction author is tough – and I should know. I’ve been doing this gig for more than a decade now and it hasn’t been a picnic by any means. It is, though, by far the best job in the world – like being a superhero but with lashings of gin and plenty of naps. And if you want to take the day off and go fishing – hey, who’s going to stop you?

But when I was starting out, I could really have used some help. I knew nothing about the industry; I barely understood the difference between an agent and a publisher. I didn’t really know how to write – despite many years as a journalist. (Actually, my time as a newspaper subeditor was the most valuable, it taught me how to be utterly ruthless with poor writing.)

So I would have jumped at the chance to join a mentoring scheme such as the one now being offered by The History Quill, and which I am gladly taking part. The mentors, all of whom are veteran authors, help you learn how to become a successful historical fiction author – dispensing advice and wisdom on the process of writing a novel, the research, the structure, the pacing, as well as insider tips on breaking into the industry*.

I’ve been mentoring for about six months now, and one of my mentees is about to publish his first novel, which I took great pleasure in helping to shape. He has now finished his apprenticeship with me and so I have a slot available to mentor someone else. It works like this: I have one Zoom meeting a month with my mentee, of an hour to 90 mins in length, during which we discuss whatever the mentee likes, from the structure of the novel, to the chapter he/she is working on, to character development, or to the best way to get a publisher. We also correspond (with some word-length restrictions) over the course of the month by email – I think you get up to two emails a week, but please check that on The History Quill website.

If you want to know my qualifications for this mentoring role, here is a potted biography for you to peruse:

Angus Donald is the author of the bestselling Outlaw Chronicles, a historical fiction series that has so far sold more than half a million copies worldwide. His set of nine adventure novels about gangster-like Robin Hood and his loyal lieutenant Sir Alan Dale, which is played out against a meticulously researched political backdrop of late 12th-century and early 13th-century Europe, has been translated in Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Polish, Dutch and German. The final book in the series, The Death of Robin Hood, was one of The Times Books of the Year in 2016. 

Angus has also written the acclaimed Blood trilogy of historical novels about Holcroft Blood, a mildly autistic 17th-century English artillery officer, who was the son of the notorious Crown Jewels thief Colonel Thomas Blood. The first book in the series, Blood’s Game, was shortlisted for the HWA Sharpe Books Gold Crown Award in 2018. Before becoming a full-time author in 2008, Angus was a journalist for 18 years, working for international publications including the FTThe Times, the Hong Kong Standard and the Sunday Telegraph Magazine

If you are interested in applying to be mentored by me or any other distinguished mentors on the list, here’s the History Quill link. But applications close soon – on Tuesday, November 2nd, so hurry, hurry . . .

*In publishing, as in life, there are no guarantees of success. But we can help you make your historical fiction novel the best it can possibly be.

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