What I've been up to: HarperCollins Author Academy

So I've been meaning to write a post about this for ages, but have also been really enjoying that secret, sneaky feeling of keeping something to myself for a little bit ... BUT, really exciting news! I found out last month that I've been offered a place on one of the inaugural programmes at the HarperCollins Author Academy, a not-for-profit foundation that helps to support and promote BAME authors.

This is really exciting for me personally, as an author and illustrator, but more importantly it's also a fantastic opportunity for authors from underrepresented ethnic backgrounds to develop confidence and learn valuable new skills. I genuinely didn't even think I'd get through the first round, so to be awarded a place on the Writing for Children course was just the most incredible news.

I am half-Malaysian and, growing up, I experienced the type of racism that is unfortunately still typical in modern society: name-calling, well-meaning but ultimately upsetting racial slurs about my culture and heritage, even people telling me to 'go back home' (deeply ironic as that was, in fact, where I was headed at the time).

Kids' books are so important as a way that we introduce young people to the world around them, and I've become more and more aware of a startling lack of ethnic diversity in children's literature. I hope that my time at the Author Academy will help me to play my part in the movement to set this right.

(Remote) School's in session from Monday (18th Jan) so watch this space as I plan to share key tips and any useful advice that I pick up during my time at the Academy.

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