Here are some highlights from our many favourable testimonials from mentees. To read an individual mentor’s testimonials, click on their name below.
Jill Dawson Stephanie Cross Louise Doughty Midge Gillies Lesley Glaister Mike Harris Kathryn Heyman Liz Jensen Sarah May Tim Pears Jane Rogers Michelle Spring Lee Weatherly Shelley Weiner Oliver Harris
‘Working with Oliver Harris went far beyond my expectations. I have written professionally for many years, but was seeking a new direction in my writing. So I was a little uncertain about working with another writer. However, Oliver was immensely helpful and provided excellent guidance without ever encroaching on the creative process. Our discussions were fascinating and he took a genuine interest in the work. In the end he achieved the near miracle of helping me to write a novel which I love, and yet feel is entirely my own! Not an easy task. Oliver is an immensely talented writer and an equally inspired mentor. I am hugely grateful to him.’
– Conor Corderoy
‘Oliver Harris is one of those rare professional writers who are also able to communicate their skills through teaching. Oliver focused on the task of making my work commercial and I will be forever grateful to him.’
– Myrna Croome
‘I first met Shelley when I worked with her on the Faber Writing a Novel course. I thought she was brilliant – inspiring, direct and honest – and was delighted when she later agreed to mentor me through GoldDust. We’ve worked together for nine months on my novel Solo; I am now completing a third and (hopefully) final draft, and have agents ready and interested to read when it’s ready. I haven’t always liked what Shelley’s said at the time, as I’ve realised it will mean a lot more work. But without exception I’ve later realised she’s right, and have followed her advice. I feel that Solo is a very much stronger work as a result. I have come to regard Shelley as a friend. I’m sure we’ll keep in touch as my writing journey develops. I couldn’t recommend her more highly.’
– Caroline Swinburne, mentored by Shelley Weiner
‘I simply would not be where I am without the mentorship of Sarah May under the Gold Dust mentors program. It was my equivalent of doing an MA in creative writing, we spent a year and by the end we had a novel. Not only that, but I learnt so much about what is expected of me as a writer and also the publishing world in general. You come away with a much wider knowledge of how to keep going no matter how tough it gets (a much needed skill in creative writing!). I also liked that the course doesn’t mean having to give and receive feedback from peers, to some this is hugely helpful, but I’m not good at doing that and also, selfishly, I just wanted to concentrate on my book. Sarah supported me through the querying and submission process, always there if I need to chat about anything at all. I couldn’t find another scheme of this quality where you will actually finish the book, and to me, that really is why I would always point potential writers to them. It really is the best thing I have done.’
– Sally-Anne Martyn, author of The Clinic, mentored by Sarah May
‘Working with Shelley Weiner provided me with momentum to complete my first draft, all the while exploring the motives and inner lives of the characters and thus deepening my core story. Shelley is relentless in her pursuit of writing from the inside. Her feedback is always sensitive and the process is encouraging, albeit demanding, throughout. The system of deadlines is hugely helpful and Shelley’s unfailing instinct for when the story is going astray, combined with her humour, generosity and kindness have made my writing journey a richer learning experience than it would ever have been alone. My regular Gold Dust sessions with Shelley were the silver lining during a year of lockdowns.’
— Sita Schutt, mentored by Shelley Weiner
‘Jill Dawson is a phenomenal mentor and was supportive, encouraging and motivating both during my mentoring and afterwards. Jill was able to pinpoint the exact elements of my writing that needed improving and gave me fantastic advice on how to achieve this, without ever making me feel as though I’d done it wrong.
‘Jill is an incredibly talented author and her way of mentoring is truly inspirational. After every session I was on a high and couldn’t wait to get back to my desk to continue writing. In fact, I didn’t wait – I’d head into the nearest café or write on the train home!
‘Jill worked with me on my debut novel, Wife Support System, which has now been published with Hera Books. I don’t think it would ever have been published without Jill’s mentoring. The constant flashbacks would have put everyone off for one thing! I wrote my next novel, Second Wife Syndrome, alone (although I wish I could have done it with Jill) and it was much easier to write than the first, which I credit to the knowledge Jill gave me during my mentoring.
‘I can’t thank Jill enough and urge anyone in two minds about using Gold Dust to do it. You won’t regret it.’
– Kathleen Whyman, author ofWife Support System
‘…the best service is the one that reads and feedbacks your entire manuscript…as Gold Dust does!…I love working with Sarah. Writing is very lonely and having her (now on zoom) kind and constructive feedback was so welcome.’
– Sally-Anne Bedford, now represented by Katie Fulford at Bell Lomax Moreton agency, mentored by Sarah May
Read the full testimonial here.
‘What a dedicated mentor Shelley is. When you are so close to your writing sometimes it’s hard to see the bigger picture, and Shelley’s expert advice was immensely helpful in embracing the full potential of my novel.’
– Ashley Pegg, mentored by Shelley Weiner
‘A first book can be a lonely journey and Gold Dust is a brilliant way for new writers to work closely with a skilled mentor and get that invaluable one to one support and guidance throughout the process. I worked with Jane Rogers who is a very talented writer herself, and a warm and encouraging mentor with years of experience of working with new writers. Together we got the book into a good enough shape for me to find an agent and he got two competing offers for me. The book is coming out on August 6the with Fourth Estate, Harper Collins. I’d warmly recommend Gold Dust to anyone starting out, or struggling with any stage of their work.’
– Sarah Aspinall, mentored by Jane Rogers
‘On Louise Doughty – words simply fail me. She is the most wonderful mentor I could ever have hoped to have. She gave me the courage to take myself seriously as a writer and to write professionally. I am more grateful than I can ever say.’
– Stephanie Scott on her Gold Dust mentor Louise Doughty.
‘Tim said: “Write the novel you want to write…..Tim gave me so much throughout the mentoring process. His extreme talent as a writer and experience as a mentor meant that he could reach in among all the flailing sentences and pull out the essence of my work and point me in the direction I wanted to go…….. Tim was generous, supportive and totally committed. Thank you Tim.’
– Alicia Drake, author, on her Gold Dust mentor Tim Pears.
‘Jill and I have worked together on everything I’ve written, from my first paragraph to the last drafts of my second novel, due to published next summer….“Amongst many other things, she has helped me with voice, taught me how to critique my own work, and kept me straight when I threatened to lose sight of what I was trying to do!’
– Alex Hourston, author of two published novels (Faber) on her Gold Dust mentor Jill Dawson
‘Having Michelle Spring as a mentor was essential to my creative development but, just as crucially, she gave me the confidence to persevere in the face of rejections and set-backs. Writing is such an uncertain occupation, and having the support and guidance of a mentor can make all the difference. I was fortunate enough to work with Michelle for a year whilst I completed THE SACRIFICIAL MAN and both novel and author went through many improvements under her watchful supervision.’
– Ruth Dugdall, mentored by Michelle Spring
‘Well within my target year, the novel was out there in the real world, with an agent.’
– Jane Rusbridge, author of The Devil’s Music (Bloomsbury), mentored by Kathryn Heyman.
“Sarah started guiding me as a writer in 2015, and because of her insight, time and energy, my concept for a novel transformed into a bestseller.”
– Darren O’Sullivan, author of Our Little Secret and Close Your Eyes, mentored by Sarah May.
‘I should have emailed sooner to say thank you – it’s been very overwhelming and I’m only getting my head round it a bit now. Anyway, I really appreciate your support and it’s great to have got to this point!
– Harriet Tyce, author of Blood Orange, mentored by Jill Dawson for Gold Dust.
‘What makes her an exceptional mentor, though, is her sensitive yet thought-provoking style, and her generous and empowering ability to unleash her mentee’s potential, and to encourage full devotion to the task in order to gain better skills and confidence as a writer.’
– Julieta Timane, mentored by Shelley Weiner
‘Over the past couple of years, Louise has made our work together feel like a collaboration, an exploration, and a glorious journey in a resolute and unremitting search for honest and good writing.’
– Charlotte Macleod, mentored by Louise Doughty
‘Gold Dust is for people who take their writing seriously. It’s been a brilliant investment for me, worth every penny.’
– Cherise Saywell, author of Desert Fish (Vintage) mentored by Lesley Glaister.
‘Gold Dust Mentoring is really worth its weight in gold’.
– Kirstin Zhang, mentored for Gold Dust by Romesh Gunesekera, who won the Harpers Bazaar short story competition in 2015 and is now represented by AM Heath.
‘After every session I’ve felt energised and with a renewed sense of direction. As well as giving guidance on structuring and writing, she has given me very helpful advice about research. She has been a wonderful teacher guiding me to see things for myself with the result that I’ve learnt a huge amount’
– Nicola Bennetts, mentored by Midge Gillies
‘Gold Dust has been a brilliant choice for me. Working with Jane Rogers has been both a pleasure and a privilege. Her patience has been immense as everything took me longer than I’d expected. But to have such an intelligent, generous and experienced first reader of tender drafts has given me the courage to persevere. . I often find myself thinking – yes of course, of course as I read her responses. ‘I would recommend the Gold Dust mentoring scheme to any first time novelist and am grateful to you for giving the opportunity of working with such a great writer and teacher.’
– Sally-Anne Lomas, mentored by Jane Rogers
To read an individual mentor’s testimonials, click on their name below.
“Liz is a very engaging and supportive mentor with a wealth of technical expertise.”
– Stephanie Scott, mentored by Liz Jensen
‘At times I felt I’d lost my mojo but Shelley was supportive and positive. She was a quiet, calm force and her constructive criticism allowed the creative process to develop. I highly recommend Shelley as a mentor to guide, challenge and support you in your writing.’ Anni Townend, mentored by Shelley Weiner.’
‘Kathryn has been a fantastic mentor to me. Our conversations are full of warmth and good humour and she just keeps spurring me on. My clearest words of recommendation: if I had the chance to do it all over again, I would do so in a heartbeat.’ Joel Graham, mentored by Kathryn Heyman
‘Without Louise’s guidance, support and friendship, I think I’d still be muddling around in a quagmire of multi-narratives, cloying clichés and brain-numbing superlatives. It’s been a wonderful and rewarding year working together, and if I achieve any success, it will be all thanks to Louise’s skill and patience.’
– Paula Yare, mentored by Louise Doughty
Michelle dispensed constructive criticism, editorial advice and warm encouragement throughout, the end result being a much leaner first novel, on the basis of which I soon found an agent and publisher. However, just as important as this success, Michelle’s mentoring skills helped to cement a quiet self belief that I could continue to develop as a writer, something for which I shall always be immensely grateful.’
– Sarah Ridgard, author of Seldom Seen Random House, 2013, mentored by Michelle Spring
‘My Gold Dust mentoring with Sally Cline finished on Thursday and my entry for the Tony Lothian Prize will be ready when I have made the final changes. It has been great to have the opportunity to work on this with the knowledge and support of such an experienced writer. Sally has been a great source of information and encouragement and my memoir has developed and strengthened a great deal over the past year.’
– Lucy Whetman, mentored by Sally Cline
‘Her sensitive guidance has transformed the book I am writing and my ability to write in general – both on a technical level and the mysterious way she has elicited my voice and given me confidence in it. I feel as though I have been on an MA in creative writing.’
– Helena Partridge, mentored by Shelley Weiner.
‘Sally was relaxed, friendly and humorous, essential qualities in a good teacher. There is also the inspirational side of Sally’s teaching. After a lesson with her I would go away, not only with a renewed determination and desire to write, but a new belief in my ability. Sally’s own writing has been another factor in my progress, for not only does she make her subject matter compulsive reading, but she also writes with a moving eloquence. I cannot emulate that but I can learn from it.’
– Vivien Gilliard, mentored by Sally Cline, November 2014
‘I will always be grateful for the generous advice and wisdom I have received from Sally and for the privilege of knowing such a warm, gifted, altruistic woman. My one hope is that she will agree to mentor me on my next project.’
– Judy Darby, mentored by Sally Cline
‘I had considered trying for an MA in Creative Writing. I’m so glad I didn’t. An MA is fine if you wish to gain a degree, but if you want to get published, go to Gold Dust. From the start I knew I had made the right choice. Shelley helped me to find and fully explore my protagonist’s voice, and my own voice as a writer.’
– Mya Roberts, mentored by Shelley Weiner.
‘What did Gold Dust do for me? Everything. Before I met Jill Dawson I had totally lost confidence in my writing ability. Jill not only got me back on track – her warmth, encouragement and guidance during our sessions helped me to hone and shape my novel. I now have a New York agent and my book is two thirds completed. Gold Dust is one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. A million thanks to dear Jill. Without her, this novel would never be flying. ‘
– Rita Dallas, mentored by Jill Dawson
It’s the end of my year on the gold dust scheme, and I now have the rough first draft of my novel. I will freely admit that without Jill, that would not be the case. Instead, it would have been more like this: start, re-start, delete, re-start, cry, re-start, delete……repeat until dead, really. So I’m very glad that I signed up, and send an inordinately large thank you to Jill for her honesty and encouragement, as well as for lighting fires underneath me every six weeks or so.’
– Nicola Hoskins mentored by Jill Dawson
‘The advice and support I received from Michelle laid the best possible foundations for all that’s happened since. Her patience and encouragement gave me the confidence to develop my own voice, and her belief in my writing created a safe place in which to experiment. To work with someone who is so insightful about the genre of crime fiction and the industry as a whole was a wonderful experience, and one which continues to inspire me.’
– Nicola Upson, author of An Expert in Murder and other novels featuring Golden-Age mystery writer Josephine Tey, mentored by Michelle Spring
‘Jill’s intuition on every level is astounding. Her delicately balanced comments have given me the confidence I’d always hoped for. More than anything, she has made me believe that there is an audience out there ready and waiting to enjoy my writing.’
– Ruby Speechley, mentored by Jill Dawson and about to publish her first novel in 2019.
‘The structure that Jill gave to my writing – with deadline and tasks – was invaluable in keeping me on track, while her insightful questions and laser-like pinpointing of holes in the plot made my book a thousand times better than I could have managed alone.’
– Susan Grossey, mentored by Jill Dawson
‘Rather like a fast-track MA in Creative Writing only better.’
Lesley Gray, mentored by Jill Dawson.
To read an individual mentor’s testimonials, click on their name below.
‘Sal has more physical, mental and creative energy than anyone I’ve ever met. She’s a magical mentor and wonderful woman.’
– Elaine Cusack, mentored by Sally Cline
‘Put simply, Michelle Spring helped me to transform a creaky outline into a polished first draft.’
– Kathryn Skoyles, mentored by Michelle Spring.
‘She has restored my self-belief and rekindled my passion for writing and that alone is enough for me to be forever indebted to her.’
– Anne Catchpole, mentored by Jill Dawson
‘Sal was utterly brilliant; I found her no nonsense approach exactly what I needed and to have found somebody who appreciated my sense of humour was a wonderful bonus.’
– Jacqueline Cloake, mentored by Sally Cline.
‘Being mentored by Michelle Spring was a wonderfully rich and rewarding experience. The whole experience of being mentored by Michelle was like having a really great friend reading my work, but one who happened to be terrifically experienced and insightful, and a widely-published and successful author to boot.’
– Martin Ungless, mentored by Michelle Spring
‘In Shelley I have found a personal trainer for my brain. She challenges me to use mental muscles that have been dormant for too long and perhaps ones that I’d be too lazy to use on my own in my writing.’
– Aliya Ali-Afzal, mentored by Shelley Weiner.
‘The ‘infection of courage’ is her speciality. It is difficult to work without deadlines, critical reading and encouragement – Sal provided all three, the latter, particularly, in bucket loads.’
– Katherine McInnes, mentored by Sally Cline
‘I have had a wonderful year with Sally Cline as my mentor. It has been a really exciting process writing the play and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I found her to be very supportive and encouraging and would recommend this scheme to other writers.
‘Many thanks again.’
Tessa Dixon, mentored by Sally Cline
‘It has been a great privilege to work with Sally. Her thoroughness was incredible – and like nothing I had encountered during my MA. Her insight was amazing and always proved correct. She seemed to know my own doubts about a particular character or scene before I knew them myself! ‘Jen Morgan, mentored by – Sally Cline
‘Shelley was hugely encouraging and supportive throughout – calm, authoritative and sympathetic. I really felt that I had her full support, belief and understanding in the sometimes lonely and frustrating task of writing on such a scale.’
– Richard Marson, mentored by Shelley Weiner
‘Sally Cline’s energy and drive is an inspiration and Gold Dust as a scheme has been instrumental in nurturing the skills and confidence I needed to progress as a writer. This has just been proved by my securing literary representation last week from my first choice agency on my first mail out.’
– Sarah Gibson Yates, mentored by Sally Cline