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Mel Darbon – Bath Spa University

Personal statement

Mel Darbon is delighted to be joining Bath Spa as an Associate Lecturer on the MA in Writing for Young People. Having undertaken the MA herself in 2013, she knows what a privilege it will be to help nurture the next generation of children's writers.

As an author Mel is passionate about representing Learning Disability in books, as it can only prompt an understanding and empathy of people's lives and help young people feel validated, which is so important. She felt she had to do something, or people would continue to make assumptions about disability and perpetuate its invisibility in society. Mel wants everyone to see that people with learning disabilities are not unworthy of story and that we need to look beyond their disability to the fully rounded individuals they are with complex and interesting lives.

Mel's first two books are both YA and are published by Usborne Books, with a third, Middle Grade novel going out on submission in 2024.

Rosie Loves Jack has sold to six countries and been on twenty-two award listings including nominations for the Carnegie Medal and IBBY International List. It won a Malka Penn Award for Human Rights in Children’s Literature in America, was shortlisted for The Branford Boase, The Best Book for Young People in the Netherlands, and The Northern Ireland Book Award. It was also a Sunday Times Book of the Year, a World Book Night Choice, and an EmpathyLab Reading for Empathy Collection.

What the World Doesn’t See came out in March 2023 and has been nominated for the Yoto Carnegie, selected as a World Book Day Pick Up by UCP, featured as YA Book of the Month on ReadingZone and a BookTrust feature in March 2023.

Her third book is a MG Historical Adventure co-written with a young woman with Down Syndrome, which they hope will be a game changer in people’s understanding of this condition. She has a variety of other projects in the pipeline.

She always wanted to be a writer and spent a large part of her childhood telling stories to her brother to keep him happy on car journeys. Her career has taken numerous turns. She has worked as a theatre designer, freelance artist, and a teacher for adults with learning disabilities and run innovative workshops for teenage mums and young offenders.

Mel lives in Bradford-on-Avon, on top of a hill, looking out over the town to Salisbury Plain and the Westbury White Horse. She lives with her husband and a Norfolk terrier called Reggie.

Academic qualifications

  • BA English Literature and Drama
  • MA Creative Writing for Young People

Professional memberships

  • ALCS
  • PLR
  • Society of Authors

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