By Emily Pedder

Before embarking on a novel writing course at City, University of London, Steve Young worked as a freelance comedian and theatre director: “I toured the UK performing, and directed several times with the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival. I had a personal interest in writing and wanted to explore it. I had written thousands of jokes and vignettes, but was looking for a forum to go into more serious writing.”

Steve chose to pursue his love of writing in London, “the heart of literature central.” But it was a WWII veteran, and literature graduate from Oxford, who suggested City. “His professors were JR Tolkien and CS Lewis,” says Steve, “he told me I reminded him of CS Lewis…unfortunately, having more to do with my physical size than talent. He heard me read a bit of a novel-in-progress at a local social event, and we met.  I used to come by his home, have a few scotches or schnapps, and I’d read aloud whatever I was working on. When it came time to look for a course, we considered the possibilities, but agreed City, University of London was the right fit, I was impressed that the faculty were all writers and editors.”

Steve started by completing two short story courses, and was advised to apply for The Novel Studio, which he felt helped his work enormously, “I had excellent instructors working in the field. They pushed and challenged me.  I loved the fact that they were direct and honest about my work. The rigorous student selection process created a group of extremely talented beginning novelists, who made a huge contribution to my work.  I always felt there was a vested interest in my work and my classmates were committed to my success and I to theirs.”

Since completing The Novel Studio at City, Steve has found great success as an award-winning playwright. Under the Overpass won the TeCo New Play Competition literary award, and The Wal*Mart-ians was a finalist for the Reva Shiner Comedy Awards at the Bloomington Playwright Project out of a thousand entrants. The King’s Face won both the FutureFest and Southwest Playwriting Competitions, and is currently a live semi-finalist at the Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte, receiving a staged reading in May at the Blank Theatre in Los Angeles. A few amongst many other varying accolades. Steve’s new play, The Night Witches, will be performed at the Brighton Fringe Festival in May.

“I had some mild success as a writer prior to the course, but The Novel Studio really launched me forward.  It made me brave on the page. It gave me a discerning eye.  I loved every minute of it.”

For more on the course and our growing list of published alumni visit our home page here.

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