Literacy Project

CENMAC and young author Lillie-Ann

There’s no way round it: writing is hard. I know because I write. It can be a painful and frustrating process. It takes determination, perseverance and self-belief. There is always room for improvement and you have to be a willing to continually reflect upon and rewrite your work in response to critical feedback.


Children in particular often find writing a real struggle, so it was a privilege to be invited to work with a pupil who loves writing and is committed to engaging with all the joys and challenges it brings. Lillie-Ann has an ambition: to write a book. My job is to facilitate that. In fact, at our first meeting, she informed me that she had a series of seven books up her sleeve!  

Together, we have started on her first mid-grade novel. The ideas are all hers and when I sometimes question the logic of her thinking, she tells me to be patient as she has it all mapped out in her head and I must trust that it will all make sense in the end. It always does! 

We decided to post draft versions of her work on the website and ask for your constructive feedback as we develop this story. Please take the time to respond. Knowing you have a real audience out there reading your work is a great motivator! 

Feedback to Zoe or tweet us @CENMAC

Zoë Tillotson 
English Advisory Teacher, CENMAC 

Start reading, (Untitled) Prologue and Chapter One are below…

Portrait of a young author

Hi there, my name is Lillie-Ann. I am 12 years old and a year 7 pupil in a South-East London school.

My dream since I was seven years old has been to become an author. I love to read and always have my head in a book. My favourite books are the Harry Potter series, Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow and anything by Jaqueline Wilson.

I have just started writing my first book which is about a girl called Oliva who wakes up one day to find herself in a room with a talking cat and bunch of problems. I’m going to be posting certain chapters on Twitter and it would mean the world to me if I could have some feedback on my first drafts.

Chapter Two

“Help!” I shouted, banging on the metal door. My chest felt really tight. I had to get out of there before I had a full blown asthma attack, and shouting wasn’t going to help. I searched my pockets for my asthma pump but then I remembered it was in my school bag which I’d left in my English classroom. I tried not to panic which was exceedingly difficult in a situation like this.  

I heard footsteps. I hoped it wasn’t Ruby turning round and coming back. I started banging on the door frantically then I heard the lock click and the door swung open and Miss Sheridan was staring at me. 


“Olivia, what on earth are you doing in there?” 

“Ruby,” I choked, my asthma fully kicking in now. 

“Oh dear, where’s your pump?” 

“In my bag in the English room,” I said breathlessly. 

Miss Sheridan took me by the arm and led me to the English room and got the pump out of my bag and gave it to me. I inhaled it gratefully. 

“Thank you,” I said when I’d finished. 

“Olivia, you should be more careful, you know you are prone to asthma attacks and don’t blame fellow students for things they haven’t done. As a matter of fact I saw Ruby moments before I found you in the courtyard with Evie and Poppy gossiping with each other. So tell me this: how exactly did you get locked in that locker?” 

“I told you Miss; Ruby pushed me in there and locked the door then ran off.” 

“Don’t be ridiculous Olivia, Ruby would never do something like that!” 

Well, your impression of Ruby is far from the truth, I thought. 

“Go to your Maths lesson, you’re late as it is. Come and see me at lunchtime in my office.” 

I stormed off. Why does Miss Sheridan always side with Ruby just because she gets perfect marks in every test? I thought to myself. The injustice of it made my skin crawl.  


After school I headed home. Mum didn’t pick me up because she works late on a Monday.  

“Hello,” Ruby said as she jumped out from behind a Willow tree. 

“What now, Ruby?” I replied in a voice as quiet as a mouse. 

It was nice to see you at break time – Not!!” 

“Hey where are your side kicks? I said sarcastically.” 

Nunya,” replied Ruby. 

“Ha ha, very funny, pretending to be Jupiter North are we? 

“Who?” said Ruby. 

“Oh, I forgot, you wouldn’t know because you can’t read I replied. If you must know, Jupiter North is a character from Nevermoor. “Maybe if you didn’t spend so much time with your head in a book you would be as pretty as me,” said Ruby. 

“Yeah, yeah.” 

Ruby shoved me hard in the back. I tripped, banged my head on the willow tree as I fell backwards and then everything went black. 

Chapter 3 coming soon …

Illustration by Lillie-Ann