Mentoring: Our 2017 Mentees

Our mentoring programme provides professional writers with a sustained period of support devoted to developing a particular writing project. Meet the four writers who'll be working with mentors to explore new avenues, make new breakthroughs and hone their skills in 2017 - Angela Jackson, Geoff Barker, Catherine Simpson and William Goldsmith.

Find out more about mentoring or check out the 2017 mentors.


Angela Jackson Portrait
Angela Jackson | Mentored by Sophy Dale

Angela Jackson was named one of Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature’s emerging writers in 2010, and again in 2011. She was invited to read from her debut novel, The Emergence of Judy Taylor, as part of the Story Shop programme at Edinburgh International Book Festival in August 2010. In November of the same year, she accepted an award from Bidisha at Oxford Union for her short story, Poker Face. The following year, she was invited to read at Edinburgh Book Festival again. And in 2013, she was named overall winner of Edinburgh International Book Festival First Book Award.

The Emergence of Judy Taylor, published by Constable and Robinson, was also selected as Edinburgh Waterstones Scottish Book of The Year 2013, and Angela was named an Amazon Rising Star.

After taking time out since to do an MSc in Creative Writing at Edinburgh Uni and an MA in Scriptwriting at Salford, Angela is currently editing her second novel, The Darlings, and writing a one-woman show that she will perform at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, in Edinburgh’s Princes Street Waterstones venue. The show comprises three monologues based on characters from both her first and second novels.

Angela also runs a local writing group and creates and delivers short courses and workshops in Psychology at Edinburgh University. She lives in Edinburgh with her family and two cats.

The project
The Darlings is a novel about how childhood experience can affect how we behave as adults. It’s a story about betrayal, infidelity and how we tend to blinker ourselves to see a version of the truth that is more palatable to us. It’s a story about all of us.

Angela Says:
"It’s easy to feel you’re struggling uphill alone when the pressure is on to produce a second novel, even if you have the support of other writers, so I am enormously grateful to Scottish Book Trust for selecting me to receive this mentorship. I plan to submit The Darlings this year and am so excited that I’ll be able to do what it takes to complete it with the help and support of Sophy Dale."


Geoff Barker Portrait
Geoff Barker | Mentored by Claire Wingfield

Geoff Barker is the author of The Shang Dynasty of Ancient China and Jack the Ripper, and has written another 40 non-fiction books. As a Consultant Fellow for the Royal Literary Fund, he delivers workshops in schools and universities to help pupils, students and staff with their writing. Geoff is an active member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Southeast Scotland: he runs the Middle Grade/Young Adult critique group in Fife. He also founded the creative writing group 'Write Up Your Street' in 2013, based in Anstruther, Fife.

In 2014, he received an award from Emergents/Fraser Ross Associates for 'Today's Writers for Today's Children' for his first novel, The Mysterious Case of the Disappearing Monkey (inspired by his younger daughter's favourite soft toy vanishing without a trace). Although he has written on all sorts of fascinating topics, such as rockets, monster trucks, fast cars and raspberry trifles, he believes the real joy is to be found sitting in his shed all day conjuring up strange stories for children about fictitious animal characters. His current work-in-progress, On the Run, a comic caper for 8–12 year-olds, marks his transition from non-fiction writer to children's fiction writer.

The project

Geoff's work-in-progress is On the Run, a quirky, funny adventure story – with animals – for children aged 8–12. It just doesn't add up:
  1 accidental theft
+1 crazy decision
= 3 amigos On the Run?

Geoff says:

"I always suspected that my transition (from non-fiction) to children's fiction writer would benefit from the help of a mentor. But this was just the best surprise! To receive this award from the Scottish Book Trust – and to be paired with literary consultant Claire Wingfield – is immeasurable."


Catherine Simpson Portrait

Catherine Simpson | Mentored by Kapka Kassabova

Catherine Simpson’s debut novel, Truestory, was published by Sandstone Press in 2015. It tells the story of a mother raising a child with autism and was inspired by Catherine’s experience of raising her own autistic daughter, Nina. Catherine received a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award in 2013. Her work has been included in New Writing Scotland, Gutter, New Writing Dundee, The Grind, the Scotsman, Edinburgh University’s ‘Dangerous Women’ project and the Journeys and Family Legends anthologies produced by Scottish Book Trust. Her story ‘Giuseppe and Rosa go up in the World’ will be turned into a podcast as part of the ‘Echoes of the City’ project.

She has been shortlisted in the Bloody Scotland Short Story competition, the Mslexia Women’s Novel Competition, and the Asham Award. She performed at the Edinburgh International Book Festival Story Shop in 2012 and 2013, and in Unbound, 2016. She has also performed at Aye Write, Dundee Lit Fest, Pitlochry and Portobello Book Festivals. She is 2017 Coastword Festival Writer in Residence and the current Tyne & Esk Writers Creative Writing Fellow. She recently received a Hawthornden Fellowship.

Catherine mentored two young writers  as part of the What’s Your Story? programme.

The project

Catherine is writing a full-length memoir called When I had a Little Sister.

Catherine says:

"I’m delighted to be accepted onto the Scottish Book Trust mentoring programme. I am writing a memoir that explores difficult subject matter and to have an experienced memoirist to discuss it with will be invaluable. Kapka Kassabova writes with clarity and a dry humour and I am excited to have the opportunity to work with her."


William Goldsmith Portrait
William Goldsmith | Mentored by Pamela Butchart

William Goldsmith studied illustration at Glasgow School of Art, and his comics have since appeared in a range of publications and exhibitions, both in the UK and overseas.

Published by Jonathan Cape, his graphic novels include The Bind and Vignettes of Ystov, which was nominated for a Newton First Book Award at Edinburgh Book Festival. He has also illustrated a graphic novel biography of John Muir, written by Julie Bertagna and published by Scottish Book Trust.

William recently worked with the Goethe Institut in Glasgow and Stockholm on a series of comics tackling the rise of nationalism in Europe. He was awarded a residency in Brussels with literary house Pasa Porta and was included in Canongate’s list of Top 40 Future Storytellers working in Scotland.

The project

For the mentorship, William is writing and illustrating a chapter book for 9 - 12 year olds.

William says:

"This is a completely new way of working for me, and I’m very grateful that Scottish Book Trust have supported me in this venture by providing the expert eye of a mentor. I’m really looking forward to working with a brilliant storyteller in Pamela."


William Goldsmith photo credit Alexey Sovertkov