THE HISTORY QUILL MENTORING SCHEME
Introducing the mentoring scheme…
The History Quill’s mentoring scheme matches historical fiction writers with experienced, successful historical fiction authors. Our mentors include bestselling and award-winning novelists, and they are ready to share their insider knowledge, experience, and expertise to help you achieve your writing goals and support you on your journey.
This scheme is for people who are working on a historical novel or about to start, have clear writing goals and ambitions, and are looking for dedicated one-to-one support from someone who has trodden the same path, dealt with the same challenges, and can help guide you to success. Your mentor is there to provide feedback, support, and advice in a structured monthly format.
Below, you’ll find information on what the scheme offers, who the mentors are, and a detailed FAQ section.
This scheme is currently closed for applications, but we encourage you to join the waiting list using the button below, and we’ll let you know as soon as it opens again.
Monthly video call
Every month, you’ll have a 60–90 minute video call with your mentor, during which you can discuss whatever you need help with. It could be feedback on a short piece of writing, help developing your story concept, advice on seeking representation, marketing strategies, or anything else!
Feedback and critique
You can submit a short piece of work to your mentor each month for feedback during your video call. This could be a section of writing, a synopsis, character profiles, a query letter, a blurb, or anything else you would like to go over together.
You’ll have direct access to your mentor via email between your monthly calls. If you have a question you need help with or an idea you would like to run past them, just drop them an email and they’ll be able to assist. You’ll be able to ask two rounds of questions per week.
From the outside, the publishing world can seem dauntingly inaccessible. Your mentor will be able to help you navigate it, giving you advice on who to pitch to and how to go about it. We can’t guarantee introductions, publishing deals, or future endorsements for your books, but your mentor can guide you so that you can open the right doors for yourself. They can also help you decide whether traditional or independent publishing is the right route for you.
Matthew Harffy is the author of the action-packed, historically accurate series of novels, the Bernicia Chronicles. Set in seventh century Britain, the first book, The Serpent Sword, was independently published to great acclaim in 2015 before being snapped up by publisher, Head of Zeus. With the seventh novel, Fortress of Fury, due for publication in the summer of 2020 and a TV production in the works, the series continues to go from strength to strength.
Matthew’s most recent novel, Wolf of Wessex, was his first departure from the seventh century. It takes place a couple of centuries later in the early years of the Viking Age and follows the tale of ageing warrior, Dunston, as he tries to find a man’s vicious murderers, keep the victim’s orphaned daughter alive and uncover the dark secret that threatens to plunge the kingdom into war. The book has been very well received, with The Times calling it “a treat of a book”.
Before becoming a full-time author, Matthew worked in the IT industry, where he spent most of his day writing and editing, just not the words that most interested him! Prior to that, he worked in Spain as an English teacher and translator.
Matthew lives in Wiltshire, England, with his wife and their two daughters.
Matthew is primarily looking to mentor historical fiction writers writing in the action/adventure subgenre.
Abir Mukherjee is the Times bestselling author of the Wyndham & Banerjee series of crime novels set in Raj-era India. His awards include the CWA Sapere Dagger for best Historical Novel (2020 and 2017), the Prix du Polar Européen (2020), the Amazon Publishing Readers Award for E-book for the Year (2020), and the Wilbur Smith Award for Adventure Writing (2018). He has also been shortlisted for HWA Gold Crown, twice for the MWA Edgar for Best Novel, and three times for the CWA Gold Dagger.
Abir’s novels, A Rising Man and Smoke and Ashes were both selected as Waterstones Thriller of the Month. Smoke and Ashes was also chosen as one of The Times’ 100 Best Crime and Thriller novels since 1945.
Abir grew up in Scotland and now lives in Surrey with his wife and two sons.
Abir is primarily looking to mentor historical fiction writers writing in the mystery, crime, and thriller subgenres.
Charlotte Betts is a multi-award-winning author of eight romantic historical novels published by Piatkus. Her books are set in various eras between the Restoration and the Great War, and she draws inspiration from the stories of strong women at turning points in history. Careful historical research enriches her writing with an evocative sense of time and place. Charlotte’s current work in progress is the second volume of the Spindrift Trilogy, set in an artists’ community in Cornwall at the beginning of the twentieth century.
A member of The Romantic Novelists’ Association, The Society of Authors and The Historical Novel Society, Charlotte loves to share her knowledge and has given talks and workshops on writing, both at conferences and to smaller groups.
Charlotte lives on the Hampshire/Berkshire borders in a C17th cottage in the woods. A daydreamer and a bookworm, she enjoyed careers in fashion, interior design and property before discovering her passion for writing historical novels.
Charlotte is primarily looking to mentor writers writing in the romantic historical fiction subgenre.
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 the meticulously researched political backdrop of late 12th-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 FT, The Times, the Hong Kong Standard and the Sunday Telegraph Magazine.
Angus is primarily looking to mentor historical fiction writers writing in the action/adventure subgenre.
Louise Hare is the debut author of This Lovely City, a post-WWII mystery centred on the Windrush community in Brixton, south London. This Lovely City was written while completing the MA Creative Writing at Birkbeck, University of London. An early draft was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish College Fiction Prize in 2017. Since publication in March 2020 it has been critically acclaimed and recently featured on BBC2’s Between the Covers book show.
Chosen for The Observer’s 10 best debut novelists of 2020, Louise was also longlisted for the HWA Debut Crown 2020. Her second novel will be a murder mystery set on the Queen Mary ocean liner in 1936, due for publication late 2021. Currently she is researching the Black community of 18th century London.
Louise is the current Deputy Features Editor at MIROnline, a literary journal. She has taught a Masterclass in Historical Fiction for Writers & Artists and is a founding member of Debut 20, a group of novelists who all published their first novels during 2020.
Originally from Warrington, Louise now lives in south London and loves exploring the capital in real life as much as in her writing.
Louise is primarily looking to mentor historical fiction writers writing in the mystery, crime, and thriller subgenres or the drama subgenre.
Deborah Swift is a USA Today bestselling author who has written twelve historical novels to date. Her first novel, The Lady’s Slipper, set in 17th Century England, was shortlisted for the Impress Prize, and her WW2 novel Past Encounters was a BookViral Millennium Award winner. Deborah has been published by Pan Macmillan, St Martin’s Press, Headline Accent, and Sapere Books.
Deborah enjoys discussing themes and issues in books, and most of her novels have been published in reading group editions. As well as adult fiction, Deborah has had a young adult series published by Lume Books. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University and enjoys teaching writing skills and offering editorial advice from her home in the North of England.
Deborah’s most recent novel is The Occupation, set in Jersey and Paris during the Nazi Occupation, and she is currently working on a series set in 17th Century Italy.
Deborah is primarily looking to mentor historical fiction writers writing in the drama subgenre, including but not limited to biographical fiction, literary fiction, and women’s fiction.
I found the whole experience of The History Quill’s mentoring scheme amazing. From the point of application to choosing and working with a mentor, I felt that I was being listened to and supported. My mentor quickly picked up on the main issues in my writing that needed to be addressed, and we worked out an action plan that proved to be enjoyable and fulfilling.
My confidence was flagging when I made the decision to join the scheme, but by the time I finished I was re-energised and focused. I feel that my writing skills have been further developed and honed for the particular genre which motivates me most. I thoroughly recommend the scheme to anyone who wants to write good historical fiction.
Every aspiring writer needs this: a mentor who has actually done the job and can tell you from experience what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong. In the past, I’ve turned to various social media groups to get some insight into the process of writing and publishing, but I’ve been frustrated by the fact most people in those groups have no more experience than I have.
The mentoring scheme at The History Quill has been incredibly useful for me. The fact the scheme is well organized and run with clear expectations on both sides ensures the sessions are productive, and there’s nothing like getting first-hand information from a mentor who is successfully doing the job. I strongly recommend it.
As a published author of contemporary fiction, I have always wanted to make the move into historical fiction but was apprehensive about doing so without support. The History Quill’s mentoring scheme gave me exactly what I was looking for: the guidance of an experienced historical fiction author who could help set me on the right path. My wonderful mentor quickly identified ways I could improve my historical novel and equipped me with the tools I needed to move forward.
Frequently asked questions
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What is the exact structure of the scheme, and how long do the mentorships last?
The scheme structures your mentor–mentee relationship around a monthly format. Each month, you will be able to submit a piece of work for feedback, participate in a video call with your mentor, and benefit from regular email support.
There are no rules on how long a mentorship should last. It could last three months, six months, twelve months, or more. You might want to agree a length of time with your mentor in advance, or you might want to just see how it goes.
Whatever you prefer, both you and the mentor always retain the option of cancelling at any time.
Is this one-to-one or group mentoring?
This is completely one-to-one. There is no group element.
Is the scheme conducted in person or online?
This scheme is conducted entirely online.
Can I choose which mentor I work with?
Absolutely! When you apply, you’ll be given a first and second preference for which mentor you would like to work with. We’ll let you know whether your application has been successful with your first-preference mentor and, if not, with your second-preference mentor, and then you can choose whether or not to proceed.
When you’re choosing your preferences, consider the particular experience and interests of the mentors and who they’re looking to work with.
What's the time commitment?
You’ll need to be available for your 60–90 minute call each month. Aside from that, there is no set time commitment.
Will I have to be available at certain times of the day?
You and your mentor will work out a mutually convenient time for your video calls. All our mentors are based in the United Kingdom so are in the GMT/BST time zone, but they will be as flexible as possible in accommodating your time zone and your other commitments (just don’t expect them to do video calls in the middle of the night!).
What can I submit for feedback?
You can submit a piece of writing up to 5,000 words or an alternative piece of work (e.g. a set of character profiles, a synopsis, part of your story outline, or whatever else you like) of up to 2,500 words each month. Choose one thing to focus on – you won’t be able to submit multiple items in the same month.
Will my mentor help me get published?
Your mentor will try their very best to help you achieve your writing goals, including getting published. However, there are no guarantees of achieving representation or getting a publishing deal as a result of this scheme. Mentors are under no obligation to introduce you to their industry contacts, recommend you for publication, publicly endorse your book, or anything similar. They would only do so at their own discretion if it’s right for you and for them. The primary purpose of this scheme is for your mentor to show you how to open the right doors for yourself.
What are the eligibility requirements?
The scheme is for historical fiction writers. Most sub-genres are fine, but we won’t accept erotic fiction or children’s fiction. Multiple-timeline and time-slip novels where some of the story is set in the modern day and some in a historical period are very welcome.
The programme is carried out in English, so you’ll need to be able to write and communicate proficiently in English. You’ll also need to be at least 18 years old and over – as is the case for all of our programmes and services.
We do reserve the right to make other exclusions on a case-by-case basis.
Do you accept international mentees?
Yes! We welcome applications from people resident in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and any EU country. If you are not resident in one of these countries, unfortunately we won’t be able to accept your application at this time. You’ll be able to pay your monthly fee in either GBP or USD. Payments in other currencies will be converted to either GBP or USD as part of the payment process.
How do I book? Is there an application process?
Yes, there is an application process. When we next open for applications, there will be a link to an application form on this page. It will ask for your details and which mentor/s you want to work with. We will also ask for a synopsis of the story you want to work on with your mentor (or multiple synopses if you have more than one story) and a writing sample of between 2,000 and 3,000 words (this should be fiction, but it doesn’t have to be from your current project). You should prepare the synopsis and the writing sample in a single Word or PDF document.
When will the mentoring scheme open for applications?
We don’t have a precise time frame for this, but we expect it to open again at some point in 2021.
How will the video calls and submissions work?
The video calls will be over Skype, Zoom, or whatever software is mutually agreeable between you and your mentor. If video calls are not possible, you will default to audio calls.
You will submit your work for feedback directly to your mentor via email.
What if I'm away/on holiday for a period? Or what if the mentor is away?
Your mentor will be as flexible as possible in accommodating you if you are not available for a period. If they’re not able to provide the bulk of the service for the month that you’re away, you won’t pay for that month.
Equally, it’s expected that mentors will also be unavailable for some periods. Again, if they’re not able to provide the bulk of the service for the month concerned, you won’t pay for that month.
Can I change my mind?
If you change your mind within 14 days of agreeing to accept a mentorship, you can cancel and you will receive a refund for any payment you have made, unless part of the service has already been provided, in which case appropriate expenses will be deducted.
After the 14 day period, you can still cancel at any time, but you will forfeit the payment you have made for the current month’s mentoring. You will not have to make any further payments. If you have paid for the next month’s mentoring, that will be refunded.
Your mentor can also cancel at any time, but you will be refunded your payment for the current month’s mentoring, plus any payment you have made for the following month, if they do.
Can I do this and join one of your other coaching programmes at the same time?
Yes! The focus of the mentoring scheme is on quality of feedback and support rather an intensive schedule of work. This should leave you with plenty of time to join another programme at the same time if you wish to do so.
How do I pay?
Payments will be taken on a recurring monthly basis prior to each month of mentoring. You can pay by credit or debit card.
What are the full terms and conditions?
You can view our full terms and conditions here.
If you have any additional questions, or if you want to discuss whether the mentoring scheme would be right for you, don’t hesitate to get in touch by emailing us at email@example.com.