Future Hero — Meet a Storymix Storyliner

10 min readMay 12, 2022


by Jackie Lui

Another inclusive fiction series has just landed, and all of us at Storymix are incredibly excited. Not only has Future Hero: Race to Fire Mountain just been released, it has been elected Book of the Month by Scholastic UK!

This is the first book in a major new series for readers aged 7–11 and above: FUTURE HERO — featuring high-octane adventure, perfect for fans of Black Panther, Beast Quest, and Kid Normal.

Recently, I have been lucky enough to speak with booksellers, librarians, and teachers about a bunch of new Children’s and YA releases, and can confirm there’s been a significant buzz around Future Hero. (Not only that, but the series creator, Jasmine Richards, has just had her book, The Unmorrow Curse, published in the UK. Those with their fingers on the pulse about Children’s fiction have expressed their enthusiasm about that book, too, as well as the upcoming Lizzie and Belle Mysteries and the next instalments in the Granny Jinks and Aziza’s Secret Fairy Door series.)

So, what is Future Hero about? Jarell, an ordinary boy who loves to draw, is the chosen one to save the world of Ulfrika. When Jarell discovers that the fantasy world he is obsessed with doodling is actually real, he is launched into an incredible adventure. It turns out that Ulfrika, the land of his ancestors, is in trouble and he is the hero they need.

The series is exciting for kids and adults alike; it has a winning blend of future tech gadgets and a fantasy world inspired by the mythology of Africa and its diaspora. Future Hero also contains a vivacious cast of characters. With the help of brave and smart Kimisi, Jarell must stop the evil Ikala. The future of Ulfrika depends on it…

‘Future Hero: Race to Fire Mountain’ is out now. Image: Jackie Lui/Storymix©

Told in accessible short chapters, filled with action and humour, this is a fun and fast-paced adventure — with plenty more books in the series coming soon!

Storymix has worked with a great team to bring this project to life using a collaborative methodology to create inclusive books. But what does ‘collaborative writing’ mean? And how does the storylining and editing work on a series like this one? Benjamin Scott is one of the storyliners and editors on Future Hero; he has kindly taken the time to talk to me about his work on this series and his own journey as a writer. I wanted to uncover some of the mystery surrounding this way of making books. Read the insightful interview below!

JL: How did you get involved with Future Hero and what was special about the project that drew you in?

BS: What I love about reading is the chance to experience another world through someone else’s eyes. When Jasmine [Richards] approached me to help with [the storyline for] Future Hero, I knew instantly the series was going to be a hit with young readers — and I wanted to be part of the team that brought it to life.

Jasmine’s mission for Storymix was also really important — to create great fiction that reflects the diversity around us. Writing for book packagers has helped me develop my craft, so I’m grateful for the opportunity to pass that knowledge on talented emerging writers who might [have faced barriers] because of their backgrounds.

And, last but not least, there’s Jarell, our hero. He’s always felt like a bit of an outsider and disconnected with the world around him, yet he’s got this passion for drawing that only one person, his cousin, thinks is worth pursuing. Then one day he discovers a family history that he never knew existed. And his [mysterious] Afrofuturistic drawings turn out to be of a real place — Ulfrika, the land of the ancient-future. As the descendent of Ulfrika’s once most powerful ruler, Kundi, Jarell quickly need to find allies and his own power in a strange yet familiar land to save both Ulfrika and his world. I’m certain young readers will want to be him every bit as much as I do!

JL: Future Hero is a series written collaboratively, with the authors named collectively as ‘Remi Blackwood’. Could you briefly explain the collaborative writing process?

BS: Collaborative writing is all about creating something that’s greater than the sum of all its parts — where the talent and creativity of the team is directed towards one ultimate end, creating a book that young readers can’t put down. We start with an idea for a book and then develop the pitch. At this stage, we’re all about the concept — why is this book going excite readers and what will keep them reading? Then it’s time to start the story-lining process — building the story of each book in stages until we have a chapter-by-chapter outline for our writers.

When a writer gets given the outline, this is where the real magic happens. The writer needs to get inside the story as quickly as possible and bring it to life on the page. It’s a really fine art — it’s a bit like making a movie. Imagine the outline is just the script. You need set builders, art directors, actors, camera operators, special effects experts, etc, to make the actual movie. That’s what our writers’ do — they’re building a world on the bones of the outline.

Once a first draft is written there’s a lengthy revision process — to make sure every line is working as hard as it can and that the finished text feels like a Remi Blackwood book. It’s a very exciting way to work.

JL: That’s super interesting! How does this method of writing affect your role as a storyliner and editor on the series?

BS: In many ways, and this might surprise you, I find it easier to storyline and edit collaborative fiction than my own stories. I once heard Jasmine say, ‘editing is a superpower that easier to use on others’ work than your own’, and it’s stuck with me ever since. And, for me, it’s true because the really big decisions (especially the concept) are locked down early. It’s then about bringing those to life.

As I’ve been on the receiving end of outlines as a writer, I always think about what the writer needs to know to bring the story to life as I storyline. Unlike an outline for my own work, I’m consciously thinking about the spaces where the writer can really enjoy their part of the process and dazzle the reader with something amazing. We’ve always got that young reader in mind at every stage.

Editing on a collaborative project brings a unique set of challenges. We want as much of writer’s magic to come through into the story, and at the same time, the voice of Remi Blackwood needs to be consistent across all the books. There’s a tight-rope to walk between when to leave things alone, ask the writer to revise something or to offer more direct suggestions. More so than editing someone’s own book. But, my guiding thought is that our readers have an expectation of the experience of reading a Future Hero book — so, we have to deliver for them. Everyone knows we’re trying to deliver the best book and because it’s collaborative everyone is very good natured about changes.

JL: I’ve noticed that many ‘book people’ have variously winding paths in their careers. I’d like to hear about your background as a writer and the journey that’s led you to storylining and editing, if you’d like to share?

BS: Yes, definitely a winding path — and I’ve done all sorts outside writing too. Because we’re talking about storylining, perhaps it’s easier to talk about the big turning points for me (those key moments in the plot that take the story in a whole new direction).

Turning point 1. I spent years re-writing the first three chapters of a novel and getting nowhere. I was really lucky to have a deadline when I knew I’d struggle to write again for a while, so I challenged myself to finish the book. I wrote my first, and very rough, outline for the novel and a colour-coded time-table. Completing that first draft made me realise that I could be a writer (one day).

Turning point 2. After editing the same book countless times (over 23 complete redrafts), I entered SCBWI British Isles Undiscovered Voices competition. I joined the SCBWI to enter, then met an editor from a book packager — and eventually I tried out for a series. That lead to work on another series — and then work with an educational publisher. I also met Jasmine through the SCBWI and many other brilliant writing friends.

Turning point 3. Working with Storymix. This is definitely another one of those turning points, but like all good stories, we’ve got to see what happens next.

Benjamin Scott, a white man with brown hair, smiling and holding two of his books
Benjamin Scott is a storyliner and editor on the fantastic new Children’s fiction series from Storymix, Future Hero.

JL: We’ll be following what happens next, for sure! I’m wondering — why did you go into Children’s and YA Fiction over other categories?

BS: It was either entirely by accident or there’s something about children’s fiction that just resonates with me. It might even be a mixture of both. The first novel I ever managed to complete (that first turning point I mentioned), turned out to be a children’s novel. It changed from middle-grade to YA over several edits, but always remained for young readers.

It surprised me because when I was a teenager, I thought there had to be nothing worse that writing for children. I wrote a sit-com with a friend and I was most offended when a producer said I should think about writing for children. Of course, I spent most of my time as a teenager trying to get people to treat me as an adult — so I failed to recognise good advice when I got it! The sit-com never got accepted, but I always wonder what would have been if I had followed that advice.

Children’s and YA fiction is incredible. As a writer there’s so much opportunity to do interesting things with characters, stories and genres. And, for me, there’s something powerful about being there at the start of another person’s life-long love of stories. What we read shapes us. It’s not something that should be dismissed or taken lightly, but it’s a huge responsibility while also entertaining some of the world’s most demanding readers.

JL: I agree! I think it’s very important to recognise that responsibility. What, in your experience, is unique about working with book packagers? Is there anything in particular about Storymix that encouraged you to work with them?

BS: When I fell in love with reading it was through series fiction. There’s something powerful in being able to keep returning to the same characters and world time and time again in new stories. And creating series fiction is what book packagers do best — it’s all about finding an enduring story that can work across five, ten, or even hundreds of books.

I love the collaborative process and working towards a common goal — I love the focus and drive that it inspires. It’s also really amazing just how much work goes into each book — and how passionate we all are about doing the best for our readers. And, you learn a lot from working with other writers and editors. Each bringing their own skills, experience and backgrounds which is such a motivating and inspiring way to work.

Plus, its lovely working with Storymix on a personal level. Having known Jasmine for a long time, I’ve always wanted to work with her. Jasmine has a unique vision for Storymix — amazing stories that are diverse from the start and supporting the long-term careers of writers and illustrators from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds. Children deserve the best stories from the best writers — and that’s only true when talent writers can excel regardless of their background.

JL: Lastly, I know you must be very busy as someone working in the book industry! Is there anything of yours that you’d like to tell our readers about?

BS: I’ve got a background as a commercial copywriter, so its second nature to me to write for others — one of the reasons why I’ve enjoyed writing for book packagers and in educational publishing. My own writing isn’t getting the attention it deserves at the moment — however, stories and characters are still popping into my head. I’m still jotting down notes and feeding my creativity — watch this space.

If I was going to give one shout out for something I’ve worked on then, I’d have to mention Star Fighters (written as Max Chase). I was lead author as I wrote five out of the ten book — the stories are about three eleven-year-olds (and an alien bounty hunter) who are onboard the fastest, most amazing spacecraft ever. They have to battle moon-bats and fleets of alien war-ships to save the Milky Way. I’ve had some great experience talking about the books in schools (another reason why children’s fiction is amazing!) and I’m very fond of the characters: Peri, Diesel, Selene and Otto the Meigwor Bounty Hunter.

Thanks for sharing such informative stuff, Benjamin!

If you enjoyed this interview and found Benjamin’s insight helpful, you can find him on Twitter @Benjamin_Scott and on Instagram @benjaminscottwriter. I am @jackieluibooks on Twitter and @joyjackie.art on Instagram. Whilst you’re there, why not follow @storymixstudio for updates on Future Hero and much more? Might as well!

Future Hero: Race to Fire Mountain is available to buy now.