Your Writing Mentor Neema Shah
Work on your novel alongside an award-winning author.
Neema Shah is an award-winning author and marketer. Her debut novel Kololo Hill was published in 2021 by Picador and has featured in The Independent, The Irish Times, Marie Claire and Daily Mail among others.
Neema’s work won the Pen Factor Live and was shortlisted for the Bath Novel Award, First Novel Prize and York Festival of Writing Best Opening Chapter competitions. Kololo Hill was also longlisted for the Retreat West Novel Prize, Exeter Novel Prize, SI Leeds Literary Prize and York Festival of Writing Pitch Perfect awards.
Her flash fiction won the Curtis Brown #WriteCBC competition and came second prize in the Casket of Fictional Delights, judged by Kit de Waal. Neema developed her writing through the University of East Anglia Writing Fiction course and Jericho Writers Self Edit Your Novel course among others.
Specialises in: Literary fiction, historical fiction, crime and thriller.
Neema provides tuition for our Mentoring Service.
Why we love Neema
Neema first joined Jericho Writers as a Self-Edit Your Novel student and a Festival of Writing attendee. Now, she’s an award-winning author with a two-book deal with Picador and wants to help other writers on their journey. We’re excited to see our alumni giving back and helping others use the tools and tricks they’ve learnt along the way.
What Neema says about Mentoring
I’ve been lucky to have all kinds of support from individuals and organisations who were able to help me with writing and getting published. I’ve seen first-hand what the kind of support can do and want to help other writers to excel.
While there’s a lot of advice out there about developing writing skills at a fundamental level, it’s far more difficult to bring so many elements together over 100,000 or so words. Balancing character, plot, structure, point of view, narration, style and voice across not only a manuscript but also in each and every scene takes time, skill and effort. Each manuscript comes with its own set of problems that will need a very particular set of solutions that can’t always be found in writing book or course. It’s also difficult to find the support you need when first starting out in the industry. I’d like to support other writers with the help that I would have liked myself.
There’s also the emotional aspect of writing a book. It requires stamina, dedication and focus. From overcoming writer’s block to sustaining your own interest through multiple drafts to dealing with self-doubt, I often say that writing a novel is as much a psychological endeavour as it is a creative feat.
Writing is of course also often a lonely pursuit and while there is a lot that can be worked on alone, there always comes a juncture when it’s difficult to see how the manuscript can be improved or moved forward. Sometimes, just talking through a plot problem or a characterisation challenge with someone else who understands novel-writing can unlock something that might not have been clear before. I know first-hand that it can be incredibly helpful to get an objective point of view when you’re neck-deep in your own words!
In terms of how I like to work, I think it’s important to discuss and set objectives and agree priorities from the beginning. It’s also a good way to check in on progress throughout the sessions and to assess where things have got to at the end. I’m happy to discuss both technical aspects of the writing process as well as the emotional side. Zoom, Skype or even a phone call is fine with me, depending on preference.
It’s important to me to use my writing skills, under-represented background and first-hand experience of publishing to help other writers on their paths. I already mentor writers from under-represented backgrounds and am passionate about building a more diverse publishing industry. I’d love to support others from all walks of life in navigating their way through the writing and publishing process.
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Get expert one-to-one advice from Mandy Berman as you write and edit your manuscript.