By Rose Deniz
Photos by Candy Gourlay, www.candygourlay.com
|The Undiscovered Voices 2016 Writers|
The excitement in the air was palpable as the heavy wooden door swung open onto 06 St. Chad’s Place at King’s Cross. A buzz of voices reached my ears and my heart skipped a beat. Here I was about to attend the launch party of the 5th SCBWI Undiscovered Voices contest, an event I had been anticipating for weeks since the announcement that an excerpt from my young adult novel, THE EVOLUTION OF YOU AND ME, would be printed in the 2016 anthology. A handful of artists and writers I had bumped into on my way to the venue trickled in beside me. They were volunteers and alumni from previous anthologies that I had never met in person, but recognized on sight from being in touch on social media.
I am not sure if I was breathing as I walked across the threshold. It wasn’t even the official start time for the party and the room was already crowded with literary agents and editors. Before I could shrug off my coat and practice my pitch in my head for the hundredth time, I was handed my very own copy of the anthology and a badge with my name on it so industry professionals could find me in the crowd. That they would want to talk to me felt astounding and surreal.
|The UV mothers: Sara Grant and Sara O'Connor|
After being longlisted for UV in 2014, I had never in a million years imagined that I would be a finalist in 2016. My critique partners, SCBWI members scattered around the globe, hadn’t let me weasel out of submitting last summer. Accepting a glass of champagne, I raised the glass in thanks to my far-flung writing buddies. Clutching the glass to my chest all night like an anchor, I hardly drank a drop as I found myself mingling with people who had poured over the anthology’s twelve story extracts and nine gorgeous illustrations. The feeling was overwhelming as I shook hands with publishers and agents that I had only dreamed of one day meeting.
|SCBWI-BI's RA Natasha Biebow|
Glancing across the room, I caught the eye of my fellow UV’ers. Fast becoming friends, we gave each other encouraging smiles. Natasha Biebow, SCBWI-BI’s regional advisor introduced the finalists. The illustrators waved a printed image of their artwork, and the writers shyly waved their hands. Bolstered by UV 2008 Sarwat Chadda’s insights into being a ‘discovered voice,’ and pep-talked by Chris Snowden, director of UV sponsor Working Partners, we stepped into the crowd. UV coordinators Sara Grant and Sara O’Connor were swift to make introductions. Regional SCBWI advisors swooped in with boundless excitement. Pushing past nervousness, we chatted with people that had their finger on the pulse of what makes children’s literature and illustration tick.
Like the kismet of running into SCBWI members on a street corner, SCBWI has amazed me by forging friendships and long-lasting connections, and I can’t thank the organizers enough for an opportunity and evening that still makes my heart skip a beat now that I am home.
|Photo credit: Journey Collective, Julia Forsman |
Farm-girl turned expat Rose Margaret Deniz is originally from Wisconsin and now lives in Turkey. Her YA novel The Evolution of You and Me was a finalist for Undiscovered Voices 2016 and she is now thrilled to share that she is represented by Jo Williamson at Antony Harwood. Rose is an international SCBWI member and is co-editing an anthology of foreign women's stories on Turkish food and expathood. She loves coffee, grapefruit, and CrossFit. When Rose is not writing, she's plotting her escape to a Turkish village where she can raise chickens. Find her at www.rosedeniz.com. Follow her on Twitter @rosedeniz.
Download for free a copy of the 2016 Undiscovered Voices anthology.