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Meet the women giving teen fiction a much-needed makeover

‘NEW AND EXCITING VOICE’: Up-and-coming author Patrice Lawrence

THE YOUNG adult literature scene is set to receive some refreshing additions as two women prepare to make their debut after securing lucrative book deals.

Receptionist Michelle Lowe said the Atlanta-based publishing house UrbanEdge has accepted a proposal from her to write a teen novel. Lowe said it was the encouragement of friends and family that inspired her to approach a number of American publishers, including Atlanta-based powerhouse UrbanEdge, with her idea for a teen novel.

“Within 24 hours of me submitting two sample chapters to them, UrbanEdge responded, telling me how intrigued they were by my novel and were very keen to read more. Two months later, they signed me,” she said.

Lowe is the first UK author to be endorsed by the US firm.

The talented writer shared that she first started writing at the tender age of six years old. She said: “I started writing as a way of escaping from difficult family circumstances. Over time, my deep passion for writing grew and my story characters found a life of their own.”

Her debut novel, Unshatter Me tells the story of two troubled teenagers, Alena Pavlis and Phillip Gregson, who meet and fall in love at the University of Leicester. The tale is set to feature a number of dramatic twists and turns and will be released in spring of this year.

But Lowe is not the only up-and-coming British author set to make her mark in the literary sphere. Charity worker Patrice Lawrence, also from east London, has secured a two-book deal with Hodder Children’s Books.

Lawrence said: “From the moment I met the team, I felt they had the understanding and energy to take my book out into the world.”

Described by the publishing company as an “exceptional talent and an exciting voice in the UK”, Lawrence’s debut novel Last Man Standing is promoted as a gritty coming-of-age urban thriller with a powerful message and an irresistible central character.

The book is set for release in 2016 followed by a second book in 2017.

Emma Goldhawk, senior editor for Hodder Children’s Books, added: “I knew I wanted to acquire Last Man Standing before I’d finished the first chapter. Part urban thriller, part moving family drama, part coming-of-age story, the action is uncompromising and powerful, yet punctuated by moments of extraordinary tenderness. Patrice is going to be a new star, and I can’t wait to get this exceptional book into the hands of readers.”

With the present make-up of the industry revealing a distinct lack of ethnic minority writers, Lowe urged those with story ideas to fulfil their ambition.

She added: “I want to encourage others, especially black authors, to strive for their dreams. If you have a passion to write and want to get into the industry, never give up. Believe in yourself and work hard at your craft, and you can get signed by the right publisher, for your work and genre. No dream is unreachable. No dream is impossible.”

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