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SPEAKER NIGHT, Maisie Chan – Wednesday 24th January 2024

 I assumed I would make the meeting on time, but the stormy weather made that tough.

The well-filled room welcomed our guest speaker Maisie Chan who writes for children, teens, and adults, and resides in Glasgow.

Her debut novel DANNY CHUNG DOES NOT DO MATHS won the Branford Boase Award and the Jhalak Prize in 2022. Her latest novel KEEP DANCING, LIZZIE CHU has been entered for the Diverse Book Awards 2023. She also writes TIGER WARRIOR series and manages the Bubble Tea Writers Network to support writers of East and Southeast Asian (ESEA) descent.

Maisie described her early life, her love of story writing and reading, her duties as a young carer, and how different jobs gave her good life experience, with the chance to observe people closely. A chance encounter with a librarian prompted her to write children’s fiction, as her narrative voice would suit this genre. Maisie then read from “DANNY CHUNG DOES NOT DO MATHS” before addressing key questions such as: “Who Are the Gate Keepers?”

Answer: parents, teachers, and librarians as they encourage reading, buying, supplying, or suggesting worthy books.She outlined the structure of a children’s novel which should:

– be set in the ordinary world.

– have an inciting incident.

– contain obstacles or an antagonist, with mid points to keep readers interested.

Writers find writing the end or the middle first, makes it easier to finish speedily. Word count is important as paper is expensive. Authors should also strictly adhere to word count recommendations depending on the age of the child and genre.

We were then given two exercises. The first scenario was a bushfire. We were asked to write with the voice of a koala bear, a 6-year-old and a 12-year-old, after which members shared their work.

Secondly, we were given four locations in which to imagine and describe how two characters would react if they were lost – their gestures, behaviour, and interactions. Members’ work was lauded by the author which led to the final segment of the evening, the Q & A session which included good advice and useful information regarding getting published:

  • A publishing house should care about your voice and not change it.
  • An agent should help get you a good book deal.
  • Edit extensively to avoid cramped print on minimal pages.
  • Invest in your writing, either in short courses or purchasing materials.
  • Invest in mentors.
  • Recycle old material. Your personality, perspective and thought processes change as you age.

As she finished, I was touched profoundly by her story and her strength in realising her dreams in the absence of a support system. This was indeed a self-made woman who knew what she wanted in life and worked hard to achieve it!


Javeria Atif


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