Published 23.02.2023
by Kids’ Own

Young Writers Group Book Pre-Launch Meeting in Derry

Sarah O’Keeffe writes about the upcoming book release by the Young Writers Group

On February 4th, members of the Young Writers Group met to discuss their exciting new book launch on March 25th at the Derry Verbal Arts Centre. This meeting was a follow up to a recent Zoom call with lead writer and mentor Mary Branley, and writer Susanna Galbraith. The launch of the next book by the Young Writers Group (YWG) is the second in what hopes to be a series of books created by the young writers. The first book On the Brink, published in 2021, was a huge hit and received very warm responses from adolescents and teens alike. The next book is expected to be even better.

The meeting was held in the second-floor conference room of Derry Central Library. A bright, spacious area where participants were at ease. There was an immediate rapport amongst the group. Many of them had been a part of the YWG for several years, however as the pandemic did not permit face-to-face meetups, they were confined to Zoom calls. There was consensus that being together again, in person, was a welcome change. As participants arrived, there was excitement. They were greeted by Mary and Susanna, and a laptop displaying the draft design of their upcoming book. As each participant took turns scrolling the Mac laptop screen, their eyes grew with fascination and pride. A common remark was, ‘This looks AMAZING.’ One participant, who originally decided to not send in her artwork had a quick change of heart after seeing the beautiful imagery. She eagerly asked Mary if there was still time, to which Mary responded, ‘The clock is almost at midnight, but yes.’

Mary asked each participant how they were doing; a popular answer was something quirky about school and mock exams. With everyone settled, Mary and Susanna suggested a bit of housekeeping. The main piece of Admin: The Book Title. This was clearly a difficult topic, how to decide? Susanna suggested that each participant take three minutes to write down any titles they could think of. With the clock ticking, the participants wrote and giggled to themselves – this would be interesting. Once the timer beeped, the participants took turns sharing their ideas: An anagram of the first letters of each of the writer’s names, The Mary Complex, Morbs, Shards, The Branley Bunch, Over the Edge, On the Brink 2, Under the Brink, Through the Brink, Breaking the Brink… It was decided to park the naming of the book for the time being.

Next, they discussed the book launch workshop. It will be facilitated by the YWG from 2:00pm – 4:00pm. The participants decided the best way to approach this was to contribute to the suitability of their skills. For example, one participant has great comedic writing, whereas one deals with mental health, and another has a strong sense of mysticism and fantasy, etc. This should inspire the attendees of the workshop and give them a sense of ease. The conversation finished with a mention of quills, red ink and robes to which Mary responded, ‘I’ll make a note of that and check the budget.’

The discussion then led to future projects for the YWG. Could their third book be a different form of collaboration? Perhaps a project where one begins a story, and another writer continues, before it gets passed on from there? Or possibly an event, where each writer takes a different character’s perspective of their version of the event? These options were intriguing, but the agreement was clear, they wanted to do a third book – together.

Lastly, the YWG had an opportunity to do some writing. Susanna set the timer for twenty minutes. The participants began writing, some in journals or notebooks, some typing on their phones to be later saved as Word docs. After the session, the participants took turns reading their work aloud. Each had their own skill and style which was clear in their writing. Themes of comedy, mystic, darkness, heritage, and fantasy. Before saying their goodbyes, the group agreed to meet on Zoom on March 23rd to finalize the details for the book launch. Between all the laughter, the connection between the YWG is undeniable. This group has formed friendships that will remain long after the March 25thbook launch, and for many more book launches to come.