On the same day that The Writers’ Alliance of NL (WANL) released the names of this year’s Mentorship Program winners, news has broken that a previous product of WANL’s Mentorship Program for Emerging Writers — Sharon Bala — landed a big league book deal with Double Day and McClelland & Stewart. 

Every spring, local emerging writers apply, free of charge, to be paired up with a local established writer (who is paid handsomely by WANL) so the duo can work together for five months on the apprentice’s craft and latest work in progress.

This spring’s four pairs are: Leslie Vryenhoek mentoring Sasha Boczkowski (short fiction collection); Claire Wilkshire mentoring Chloe Edbrooke (creative non fiction collection); Frank Holden mentoring David Benson (play), and Paul Butler mentoring Lee Burton (novel).

The program is aimed at writers who are on the cusp of professional publication and who have a substantial work-in-progress. Emphasis is on the craft of writing, but also focuses on the daunting business end of the trade, and on producing a work ready for the marketplace.

Previously funded by the Canada Council for the Arts, this year RBC Royal Bank stepped up to co-fund the program. “We recognize that the arts play an important role in building vibrant communities and strong economies,” says Mike James, VP, Commercial Financial Services, RBC Royal Bank. “We are pleased to partner with the Writers’ Alliance on this great opportunity for emerging writers to advance their careers.”

“WANL’s mentorship program is an investment in the future careers of our writers and in local literature,” says WANL executive director Alison Dyer. “It’s a great day for WANL to announce four new mentorship pairings on both the east and west coast of the island.”