Category: News (page 1 of 7)

New Year, New Writing Goals with City Writes – City Writes Competition Open

By Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone

City Writes, the showcase event for new writing coming from City’s Creative Writing Short Courses, is delighted to announce that Hannah Begbie will be its published alumna this term at our City Writes Spring 2023 online event on Wednesday 29th March at 7pm.

 Novel Studio alumna, Hannah Begbie is the author of two award-winning novels, Mother and Blurred Lines, both published by HarperCollins. For your chance to join Hannah on the virtual stage, you need only send in your best 1,000 words of creative fiction or nonfiction (no young children’s fiction or poetry please) by midnight on March 3rd to rebekah.lattin-rawstrone.2@city.ac.uk . You can find full submission details here.

Photo of author Hannah Begbie

Novel Studio alumna and City Writes guest author Hannah Begbie

There is no theme, just your most sparkling prose, and the competition is open to all current students and alumni of Creative Writing short courses at City. If your piece is chosen, you will be asked to read your work at our City Writes Spring 2023 event at 7pm on Wednesday 29th March on Zoom. You will be reading alongside the fantastic Hannah to a supportive audience of students, alumni, friends and a few industry members. Don’t miss your chance, submit now!

 For those of you keen to sign up in advance, you can register for the event here.

We can’t wait to read your submissions!

Hook, line and sinker: alumnus Conor Sneyd’s path to publishing his debut novel Future Fish

Back in 2018, Conor Sneyd took City’s Novel  Writing and Longer Works course taught by Martin Ouvry. 2023 sees the publication of his debut comedy novel, Future Fish. Read on to find out more about Conor’s writing journey.

 

Author photo of Conor Sneyd

Conor Sneyd, author of Future Fish

Conor Sneyd was born and raised in Dublin, where he studied English Literature at Trinity College. After a brief stint teaching English in Japan, he spent several years working as an environmental and animal rights activist. The larger-than-life characters he encountered in this field served as inspiration for his debut novel, Future Fish. We caught up with Conor to find out more about his experience on the course and his subsequent publishing deal.

How did you find the Novel Writing course at City?

“I really enjoyed it. The instructor was enthusiastic and encouraging, but also very laid back about homework and assignments, so it never felt like I was back at school! Every week we’d do a mixture of reading, writing and giving each other feedback, which meant each lesson was nice and varied, and the two hours always flew by.”

How did the course impact on your writing journey?

I started writing my novel Future Fish as one of the assignments for the course, so it definitely had a big impact on my journey. Besides all the technical advice and feedback, I think the most valuable part of the course was just being in an environment where I could start to take my writing seriously. Up until that point, it had just been a hobby, but suddenly it felt like finishing a novel and getting it published was actually an achievable goal.

Did you stay in touch with your classmates and continue to give each other feedback on your work?

Yes, a group of us continued to meet up regularly for several months after to share feedback and moral support on the lonely writing journey. The instructor Martin joined us on several occasions too.”

How important do you think these kinds of courses are in a writer’s evolution?

I think there are several different elements a writer needs to be successful, including technical skills, motivation, and feedback from readers. There are lots of different ways you can go about getting these, but the great thing about a writing course is that it brings them all together in a neat little ten-week package. The feedback I received from my classmates was particularly valuable. It can be scary sharing your writing with somebody you’re just getting to know, but the fact that we were all in the same boat made it a lot less daunting.”

 What was the process of finishing the novel like? How did you motivate yourself and how long did it take?

It was a long old process – about three years from starting the novel to sending it out to publishers. Then there was several months of waiting, followed by more editing work once it had been accepted. Writing the first draft was definitely the hardest part. I felt like I had no idea what I was doing and that everything I wrote was crap. But I knew I just had to keep going, and so I pushed myself to plough through it without worrying too much about the quality. Once that first draft was done, I was able to go back and polish it up on later drafts. There was still a lot of work to do, but at that point, I’d come too far to give up!”

Can you tell us a bit about your publishing experience, both pre and post publication?

It was a difficult experience, I can’t lie. I’d worked so hard to finish the book, and now the final step – actually getting it published – felt like it was out of my hands. All I could do was send out my synopsis and sample chapters and keep my fingers crossed.

I initially approached a few agents, but the feedback I received from them was that although they liked my writing, they thought the book was just a little too weird and wild for a mainstream publisher, and so they weren’t able to represent it. Eventually I changed my strategy and started approaching smaller publishers directly, figuring they’d be more willingly to take a chance on something outside the box. Lightning Books caught my eye as they’d published some similarly absurd comedies before, and I was delighted when they said they were interested.”

What’s it like to be a published novelist?

It’s exciting, but surreal! The process of getting the book out into the world is so long, there’s not really one single moment where it all hits you. I’m currently in this strange in-between stage where the preview copies have been sent out, and people have started reading them, but the book hasn’t officially been released yet. Maybe once launch day arrives on March 9th, and I see it in a bookshop for the first time, it will finally feel real!”

 And what are you working on now?

“I’ve just started working on novel number two – a modern retelling of King Lear, with an absurd comedy twist.”

 

Thanks so much, Conor, and very best of luck with publication day!

Cover picture of Conor Sneyd's debut novel Future Fish with picture of a red fish hanging from a chain

Future Fish by Conor Sneyd

Future Fish  is available to pre-order here.

City’s Novel Writing and Longer Works short course runs every evening for ten weeks and takes students through the building blocks of writing a novel from creating characters through to developing plots.

For more on all our creative writing courses, visit our home page here.

And if you’re already a current or past writing short course student, why not enter our City Writes competition. See here for more details.

City Writes Winter Warmer 2022

City Writes, our termly showcase event for the fantastic writing coming from City’s Short Courses, was a great way to begin the festive season this year. And don’t worry, if you missed it, you can read about it and see the recording, just scroll on.

This term we were incredibly lucky to have the brilliant writer and alumna, Elizabeth Chakrabarty with us to share her astounding, genre-busting debut, Lessons in Love and Other Crimes. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First up were the wonderful readings from our talented competition winners, students and alumni of multiple short courses.

Nathaniel Ashley

Kicking us off, quite literally, we entered the world of animation with Nathaniel Ashley’s story, ‘Captain Proton vs. the Deviator’. An alumnus of the Short Story Writing course, Nathaniel offered some masterful shifts between imagined onscreen action and the humdrum of the day job that made for some great contrast as the protagonist tried to manipulate his action heroes in a dramatic fight scene.

Hugo Cox

We took a non-fiction turn next with Hugo Cox, alumnus of the Narrative Non-Fiction course. He took us on a half marathon with his piece, ‘Half Over’. Filled with all the circumspection and reflection one might hope from the sensory and mental overload that comes with the distance run, Hugo’s story is a journey well worth celebrating.

Isabelle Mouttet, joining us all the way from Trinidad and Tobago, and an alumna of An Approach to Creative Writing, took us on a mythical journey next. Her story, ‘The Myth Finder’, is a spell-binding account of researcher and adventurer, Miss Marks who goes looking for, and finds, Borges’ Aleph. Nothing is quite as you imagine it might be and even over Zoom the atmosphere was altered by Isabelle’s reading.

Tunde Oyebode

We went from myth to romance next as we listened to Writers’ Workshop alumnus, Tunde Oyebode read his sultry story of holiday desire, ‘Wants’. Set in the warmth of Positano, the longing of the protagonist, written in a tantalising second person, charmed the audience, leaving them longing to jump on a plane.

Alison Halsey

Alison Halsey, a current Novel Studio student, followed Tunde with an extract from her novel-in-progress, Agnes Gets a Lift. We went headlong into the mind of octogenarian Maureen, watching for the body of her recently deceased friend to be removed from her over-seventies residence home. There’s nothing like a bit of bleak comedy and the faces of the zoom crowd were creased in amusement.

Katharine Light

Our last competition winner was Novel Studio alumna, Katharine Light, whose story ‘My Arms Are Empty’ threw us into an intense encounter between old friends that prompts a discussion about motherhood and fulfilment. An extract from her novel, Me Too, the sequel to her debut, Like Me, which is planned for publication in 2023, the story lit up the chat with admiration.

After such excellent readings by our competition winners we were nonetheless eager to hear from Elizabeth Chakrabarty whose debut novel, Lessons in Love and Other Crimes, inspired by experience of race hate crime, was published in 2021 by The Indigo Press. Shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize and longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize, the work is an incredibly rich and hybrid creation.

 

Elizabeth, alumna of the Novel Studio (Certificate in Novel Writing as it was), introduced the book and gave us a short reading examining the complexities of approaching a novel based on real experience of ongoing race hate crime in the workplace. The reading was powerful and moving and it was a real honour to hear Elizabeth share her work and then go on to answer questions from host and City Short Courses’ Tutor, Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone, and the audience.

Together we explored how Elizabeth developed the hybrid approach to the novel, her publishing journey, tips for writers and the merest hint of the work to come. The discussion was wide-ranging and fascinating. Thank you so much, Elizabeth for joining us!

What a way to end the term and the year. Thanks were extended to all the scintillating competition winners, to Elizabeth again, the audience, and of course to Emily Pedder, head of Creative Writing Short Courses.  Don’t forget to look out for City Writes next term. The competition will open again in the new year and watch this space for news on our next published alumni. As always, the display of talent at City Writes is a joy to witness. Merry Christmas everyone, and roll on more events in 2023!

City Writes Autumn 2022 Competition Winners Announced

By Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone

We’re delighted to introduce our fabulous City Writes Autumn 2022 Competition Winners, who will be reading their work alongside renowned author and alumna, Elizabeth Chakrabarty, on Wednesday 14th December at 7pm. Register to join us here.

This term’s winners, chosen from our usual weight of entries are:
Author photo of Nathaniel Ashley

Nathaniel Ashley

Short Story Writing alumnus, Nathaniel Ashley is an author and freelance journalist who has written for Neon Books Literary Magazine, The Skinny and Massive Cinema. He runs the film and television blog Natflix and you can find him on Twitter @NateAshley10. Nathaniel will be reading his story ‘Captain Proton vs. the Deviator’.

Author photo of Hugo Cox

Hugo Cox

Hugo Cox. For fifteen years Hugo has been a freelance journalist covering property, housing and investment, mainly for the Financial Times; before that he was a mediocre actor. Encouraged by the Narrative Non-Fiction course, which he has just completed, he hopes to continue bumbling around after interesting topics beyond his day job, as well as kookier ways (or outlets) in which to tell his property stories. He is fairly useless without a looming deadline and very keen for tips on writing groups or classes to help maintain his newfound momentum. Hugo will be reading his piece, ‘Half Over’.

Author phot of Alison Halsey

Alison Halsey

Alison Halsey is a fiction writer and a former financial services professional, with a career lasting over 45 years. She has also served in many roles supporting charities with a focus on young people with disabilities. A student of The Novel Studio, Alison is currently writing her second novel, Agnes Gets a Lift, from which she will be reading the first chapter. She is currently also still editing her first novel, Minta Gets Everything Wrong, for which process The Novel Studio course is proving invaluable.

Author photo of Katharine Light

Katharine Light

Katharine Light. During her year on The Novel Studio at City, University of London, Katharine worked on her novel Like Me, which she plans to publish in 2023. It is the first of a series of novels about a group of teenage friends who meet up again in their late thirties. The short story ‘My arms are empty’, to be read at City Writes, is based on an episode in the sequel, Me Too. Katharine lives in London and fits writing around a full-time job and busy family life.

An Approach to Creative Writing alumna, Isabelle Mouttet. Isabelle was born and raised in Trinidad & Tobago and has been living in London getting her Master’s in Entrepreneurship. She is an avid reader and a hopeful writer who plans to pursue a career in book publishing. Isabelle will be reading ‘The Myth Finder’.

Author photo of Tunde Oyobode

Tunde Oyebode

Writers’ Workshop alumnus, Tunde Oyebode is a London-born Nigerian, based in East London. Working primarily as an Architect in North London, he is committed to delivering inclusive projects with high social and aesthetic value. Writing is a passion that he has developed in parallel with Architecture. His creative and essay writings explore human relationships and society and have been published in anthologies and magazines. Some of these writings include ‘Explosions,’ which was published in print in the 2021 Michael Terrence Anthology, ‘Wants’ published online in Stylist Magazine and ‘Riot,’ which is pending print publication in Obsidian Magazine in December 2022. Tunde will be reading his story, ‘Wants’.

After listening to tales of magic, wonder, romance, desire, film, work, running and death, you’ll be thoroughly warmed up to hear from our guest author, the wonderful Elizabeth Chakrabarty whose novel Lessons in Love and Other Crimes is a gripping and vital novel.

Don’t miss your chance to hear all of these authors and get in the mood for the festive season. Register here for City Writes Autumn 2022 at 7pm on Zoom. See you there!

Portrait of author Elizabeth Chakrabarty by Jason Keith

Guest alumna Elizabeth Chakrabarty, photo by Jason Keith

City Writes Deadline Tomorrow 18 November!

Got 1,000 words of fantastic fiction or non-fiction ready to share? This is your chance to join award-winning writer and alumna, Elizabeth Chakrabarty on the online stage of City Writes! Send your 1,000 words (no poetry, scripts or picture books) to rebekah.lattin-rawstrone.2@city.ac.uk by midnight on Friday 18th November along with details of your current or past City Short Creative Writing Course.

City Writes is a termly event showcasing the best of City’s Short Courses Creative Writing talent and this term, alongside the readers from the termly competition (this could be you!), we are extremely excited to welcome Elizabeth Chakrabarty as our alumna guest author.

Alumna of the Novel Studio, Elizabeth Chakrabarty is an interdisciplinary writer using creative and critical writing, besides performance, to explore themes of race, gender and sexuality. Her debut novel, Lessons in Love and Other Crimesinspired by experience of race hate crime, was published in 2021 by the Indigo Press, along with her essay, On Closure and Crime. In 2022 Lessons in Love and Other Crimes was longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize, and also shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize.

Portrait of author Elizabeth Chakrabarty by Jason Keith

Author photo of Elizabeth Chakrabarty by Jason Keith

For your chance to read your work alongside this ground-breaking author, you need only send your best 1,000 words of fiction or creative non-fiction (no poetry, scripts or picture books) to rebekah.lattin-rawstrone.2@city.ac.uk by midnight on Friday 18th November along with details of your current or past City Short Creative Writing Course.

Registration for City Writes Autumn 2022 event on the 14th of December at 7pm on Zoom is open now. Simply follow this link to sign up to hear Elizabeth Chakrabarty read from her fantastic debut, Lessons in Love and Other Crimes, alongside the competition winners (possibly you?!) to be announced in just a few weeks’ time.

Full submission details can be found here.

 

We can’t wait to read your work – submit now! – and see you on the 14th December.

What is branding and why is it so important for small businesses?

Ahead of our next Introduction to Branding course run by the brilliant team at Anon Agency, we caught up with Founders Anna Tsekouras and Pete Austin to find out more about what branding really is.

Anna Tsekouras and Pete Austin, Founders of Anon Agency and Tutors on City’s Introduction to Marketing Short Course

  1. Can you describe what branding is?

 

It might sound crazy but that’s a tough question! Technically, in terms of the textbook definition, it’s the way you identify your product, service or company which sets you apart from your competitors. But in reality, it’s about much more than that. It’s more than what you can just see – it’s not just your logo, colours and font! Your brand comprises a set of personality attributes, values and beliefs that engage your audience who share those same values. Your brand might stand for body positivity, environmental sustainability or simply be about living luxuriously. Whatever it is, your brand is just like a human personality and its attributes will tell your audience who you are. How does my brand act when they go to a party? What does my brand talk to its friends about? What excites my brand? What scares my brand? Getting to know and defining your brand is integral to your success. A clear and confident brand builds trust and increases your business value.

 

  1. Why do you think an understanding of branding is so important for start-ups and SMEs?

 

Photograph of sardine tin with small shoot growing out of it planted in soil

Growing concerns, photo courtesy of Wilhelm Gunkel

Brand underpins everything you do; your Vision and Mission define why your brand exists, and who you want to reach. That relationship is integral to the success of a brand. If you don’t know who you are, what you stand for and what you believe in; then your audience won’t connect with your brand. And we all know the immense level of competition out there at the moment – now more than ever with small businesses booming since lockdown – so to get a competitive edge is vital.

 

Branding allows you to build relationships with your audience, which can turn them into loyal customers. The customer journey is a complex thing. But one thing that remains consistent, is the impact of a good brand in the process. Whether the customer is spending £1 or £10,000, branding could be the very reason to make their decision. If you had to choose between a business with clear and confident branding, and a business that hasn’t made this effort, you probably know which one you’d trust more. Branding helps you show potential customers that you’re an established, credible business.

 

  1. Can someone else create a branding strategy for your own business, or should you try and do it yourself?

 

Both! Firstly, it starts with you. You know the business you want to build and the brand you want to create. Start by defining the service and product you’re offering and think about why you exist. What motivated you to launch your business? What makes you different? Who do you want to reach? Once you start brainstorming these answers, it might then help to source external help in creating a brand strategy. Brand experts will help you define, articulate and communicate your brand’s mission and vision to your audience – those ‘next steps’ of bringing your brand strategy to life are often best achieved with the help of experienced brand experts.

 

  1. At what point in developing a business should you start to think about your brand identity?

 

As soon as you start to think about launching your business and you’ve worked out your product or service, it’s a good idea to start thinking about your brand values, attributes and its ‘personality’. The sooner you get the brand defined, the better you’ll be able to connect with your audience. A quick way to get the ball rolling with your brand identity is to focus on the ‘why’ you exist.

 

  1. Can you make changes to your brand as you go along or do you need to stick to the one you have?

 

Photograph of person in red sweatshirt holding iphone with red image of Nike tick

Nike image, courtesy of Kristian Egelund

To a degree, you can change as you go along. Your brand will probably change as your business develops, but it should always stay true to the brand values you define at the start. If you start to change those values (and there are some big companies who’ve tried, and failed, to do that) then you risk alienating your audience who connect with your values, mission and vision. Brands that endure move with their customers and consistently reflect their changing lives and concerns. Nike is an obvious but great example – Just Do It is still their overarching brand slogan (and has been since 1987) but more recently they’ve flexed their brand to move away from aspiration for athletic achievement, and embraced the way society and sport has advanced. Two examples are their 2018 campaign selecting Colin Kaepernick, an outcast American football player and civil rights activist, as the face of its new global advertising campaign, emphasising their brand’s position as a vehicle for social change. And more recently in 2022, their Play New campaign which embraces trying and failing, not just achievement. Their campaign slogan is “no matter how many times you fall down, you’re still coming out on top.” Both the 2018 and 2022 examples still keep Nike’s original brand values at their core, but they show how you can flex the brand campaigns as you go along, if it’s done carefully.

 

  1. How important is social media in supporting your brand?

 

Love it or hate it, social media is an invaluable way of talking directly to your audience. Not only can you use social media tools to identify your audience (demographic, age, location and interests), it enables you to have a two-way conversation with that audience – gathering vital feedback, intel and being able to shape and adapt your brand to build awareness, customer loyalty and increase your audience and bottom line! Unlike previous methods of advertising and branding, where the audience were simply on the receiving end of marketing campaigns – social media allows you to have real-time conversations, and actively make your audience feel part of your brand and become brand ambassadors.

 

  1. There are a ton of free online videos about branding. Why is it important to study a course with tutors available in real-time?

 

Well, that’s precisely why studying a course with tutors in real-time is so vital – the sheer quantity of brand-related videos and articles out there is insane. There’s so much information (a lot of which is just pulled together with no real expertise to get YouTube views or website hits) that it would be impossible to know which is good advice or good theory and which is not. On a course with expert tutors, you get case studies brought to life and explained to you so you can understand how successful brands have applied the theories to achieve their goals. An interactive course with tutors allows you to get tailored advice and to navigate the steps you need to bring your own brand to life in line with industry standards. And plenty of time is built in for you to ask questions – about your own brand – and tap into the years of brand experience from the tutors; something you simply can’t do with an online video.

 

  1. What are your three top tips for anyone thinking about their brand?

 

  1. Audience – it’s vital to know who you are targeting with your brand. It helps to think of them as a person (or create a ‘persona’ for them) – their age, interests, ambitions, motivations and pain points.
  2. Vision and Mission – You need to answer the ‘why’ behind your brand before anything else. If you don’t know why you exist, how can you expect your audience to connect with you and, crucially, engage with you over one of you competitors?
  3. Research how your brand fits into the market – Consider your unique selling point (USP) in helping you to think about how you’ll stand out against your competitors. It’s always good to do some competitor analysis before launching a brand; it helps you define what can make you different.

 

Thanks so much, Anna and Pete! If you’d like to find out more about all things Branding, why not join our next Introduction to Branding short course starting on 21st November. The course is aimed at start-up owners, entrepreneurs, small business owners, communications and marketing professionals or anyone interested in learning how to communicate their brand more effectively, and learn what makes up ‘a brand’.

For more on all our short courses, visit our home page

For any questions email our team on shortcourses@city.ac.uk

City Writes Autumn 2022 – Call for Submissions

By Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone
Portrait of author Elizabeth Chakrabarty by Jason Keith

Author photo of Elizabeth Chakrabarty by Jason Keith

City Writes is a termly event showcasing the best of City’s Short Courses Creative Writing talent and this term, alongside the readers from the termly competition, we are extremely excited to welcome Elizabeth Chakrabarty as our alumna guest author.

Alumna of the Novel Studio, Elizabeth Chakrabarty is an interdisciplinary writer using creative and critical writing, besides performance, to explore themes of race, gender and sexuality. Her debut novel, Lessons in Love and Other Crimesinspired by experience of race hate crime, was published in 2021 by the Indigo Press, along with her essay, On Closure and Crime. In 2022 Lessons in Love and Other Crimes was longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize, and also shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize.

Elizabeth was also shortlisted for the Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction 2022, for her story ‘That Last Summer’ published in The Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction 2022: Crime Stories by Comma Press. She was shortlisted for the Asian Writer Short Story Prize in 2016 for her story ‘Eurovision’ published in Dividing Lines (Dahlia, 2017).

Her shorter work includes poetry and creative-critical writing, and she has recently been published in Gal-Dem, New Writing DundeeWasafiri, and the anthology Imagined Spaces (Saraband, 2020), and in translation, by Glänta and Deus Ex Machina. She received an Authors’ Foundation Grant from The Society of Authors (UK) in December 2018, to support the writing of Lessons in Love and Other Crimes, and she was chosen as one of the runners up for the inaugural CrimeFest bursary for crime fiction authors of colour in 2022. She lives in London.

For your chance to read your work alongside this ground-breaking author, you need only send your best 1,000 words of fiction or creative non-fiction (no poetry, scripts or picture books) to rebekah.lattin-rawstrone.2@city.ac.uk by by midnight on Friday 18th November along with details of your current or past City Short Creative Writing Course.

Registration for City Writes Autumn 2022 event on the 14th of December at 7pm on Zoom is open now. Simply follow this link to sign up to hear Elizabeth Chakrabarty read from her fantastic debut, Lessons in Love and Other Crimes, alongside the competition winners to be announced later this term.

Full submission details can be found here.
We can’t wait to read your submissions and see you on the 14th December.

Writing Short Courses News Summer 2022

We’re incredibly proud of our writing short course alumni and tutors. Here’s the latest on their writing journeys.

Novel Studio Alumni

Following a six-figure pre-emptive bid, Bloomsbury will publish a new fantasy series by Emma Norry, The Fable House, in April 2023. Emma is the author of Amber Undercover for OUP and Son of the Circus, part of Scholastic’s Voices series. Fablehouse draws on her personal experiences as a mixed-race child and teenager growing up in the care system in Cardiff.

Elizabeth Chakrabarty’s debut novel Lessons in Love and other Crimes has been longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize and shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize.  She was also shortlisted for the Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction 2022, and her story ‘That Last Summer’ was published in The Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction 2022: Crime Stories by Comma Press. More recently she was a runner up for the inaugural 2022 CrimeFest bursary for crime fiction authors of colour.

Marissa Henderson has been awarded the prestigious Stuart Hall Foundation CHASE AHRC studentship for BAME Arts and Humanities Researchers for her PHD which will see the completion of her novel, Sugar Water, an exploration of a Caribbean-British family’s individual and collective.

Vasundhara Singh has published her debut novel, Mistress, Mother with Ukiyoto Publishers.

Author photo of Pauline Walker

Novel Studio alumna Pauline Walker

During the Pandemic, Pauline Walker set up The Amplify Project with fellow writer Patricia Crumper, a podcast which invites black writers for the stage, page and screen to talk about ‘themselves, their work, what inspires them and why they write.’ You can listen here. Pauline was also recently asked by The Guardian Saturday magazine to write a feature on the new era of Black British theatre.

Peter Forbes’ Narrative Non Fiction alumna Emma Bielecki’s piece ‘Eh-ALL-ing: Finding Poland in London’ (a former City Writes winner) has been published in Elsewhere. This is the third piece from Narrative Non-Fiction alumni to appear in the journal.

Cover picture of Cut Short by Ciaran Thapar

Writing for Social Impact tutor Ciaran Thapar’s book, Cut Short

Following rave reviews for his debut non-fiction book, Cut Short – including this from Nikesh Shukla: “An incredibly important look at the plight of Britain’s youth, delivered with clarity, honesty and an open heart” –  Ciaran Thapar (now a City tutor, see below) released his book in paperback in June.

Cover picture of The Tongue she Speaks by Emma Grae

Writers’ Workshop alumna Emma Grae’s novel The Tongue She Speaks

Cover picture of Natasha Brown's Assembly

Writers’ Workshop alumna Natasha Brown’s debut novel, Assembly

Katy Darby’s Short Story Writing and Writers’ Workshop students have been incredibly successful. Natasha Brown was shortlisted for the Orwell Political Book Fiction Prize 2022 for her debut novel Assembly, early drafts of which were workshopped in Katy’s class. Michael Mann, who published his debut Ghostcloud in 2021, has a story in The Faber Book of Bedtime Stories, due out in October. Ghostcloud will be published in the US this September with Peachtree Publishing. Helga Viegas’ novel The Arctic was “Highly Commended” by the Bridport Prize, one of five books selected from over 2,000 submissions. Emma Grae’s second novel, The Tongue She Speaks, will be published by Luath Press in October. Fiona Keating has been signed by prestigious literary agents Greene and Heaton to represent her debut novel Peking Pear.

 

 

Karl King published his debut novel A Spell of Murders in June this year. Roly Grant’s story ‘Dust’ was the Richmond borough winner in Spread the Word’s City of Stories anthology, published in June. Robin Vicary’s novel An Adoration of Beauty (2021) has been selling well. His new novel, How the Light Shines, also a historical thriller/romance, is being published later this month by The Conrad Press. Jonathan Evans published his novel The Revisionist in July this year. He has also written a free novella – Origins – which reached No. 1 in its Amazon categories in the US and UK and is currently No. 2 in Teen & Young Adult Historical Romance eBooks in the UK. Jonathan also published Queen of Mirrors, a book for teenagers about a girl who finds a magical Goblin in her schoolbag, and has relaunched his Epic Fantasy novel The Master of Carn.

Theadora Broyd was longlisted for her story ‘Her Perfect’ in the Liars’ League July competition. Theodora is now enrolled to do a PhD with King’s College London on immigrant identity in Franco-Algerians. Anna Dempsey’s story was commended by the judge in the Bath Short Story Award. Andrew Simmons got an honourable mention in the second round of the nycmidnight 100-word microfiction challenge. And last but not least, Erica Buist has been hired as one of six writers in Stockroom Theatre’s Writers Room. The first play she co-wrote, ‘How a City Can Save the World’, was recently performed in Sheffield and noted as “shockingly brilliant” in this review. Erica is starting the Cambridge Creative Writing MSt in September.

New Courses

Our new interactive Introduction to Branding, held over three consecutive Monday evenings, will explore a full introduction to making your brand a success – from identifying your audience to how to write ‘on-brand’ for press releases, social media and digital marketing. You’ll also learn the basics of how to brief designers to create ‘on-brand’ visual assets and logos. Run by Anna Tsekouras and Pete Austin from Anon Agency this promises to be a turbo-charged Brand Copywriting 101!

We’re delighted to continue to offer our new Writing for Social Impact course, taught by Narrative Non-Fiction alumnus Ciaran Thapar. Aimed at anyone who wants to learn strategic and creative ways of achieving real-world social impact through their writing, the course will explore how to conduct interviews, execute ethical and impactful storytelling, and provide a call-to-action for readers. See below for more details on the scholarship available for this course.

There are plenty of other options for anyone keen on one-day writing courses: our ever-popular Introduction to Copywriting with Maggie Richards is available monthly; while our Writing the Memoir course will be taught by the brilliant Anna Wilson next term, and our Writing for the Web and Digital Media continues to be run by the expert broadcast journalist Holly Powell-Jones.

Tutor News

Novel Writing and Longer Works tutor Martin Ouvry’s article ‘How creative writing courses benefit a writer’ is in the 2023 edition of The Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook.

Writing for Children tutor Bryony Pearce was shortlisted for a CWA Dagger Award for a short story she wrote for an anthology called Criminal Pursuits. This anthology was written to raise money for the charity POhWER. She also has a book out on submission

Opportunities

Ciaran Thapar has initiated a scholarship for one young student (18-25) from a disadvantaged background to participate on his Writing for Social Impact course. Please contact the short courses team for more information on this opportunity.

All current students of Introduction to Copywriting, Writing for Business and Narrative Non-Fiction courses are eligible to submit an idea for a blog post for short courses. If the idea is accepted, and the written piece meets our standards, it will be professionally edited and published on the blog.

That’s all for now. Keep on writing and keep your stories coming into us. We love to hear what you’ve been up to. And huge congratulations to all our alumni and tutors. We’re so proud of you all!

For more on our writing courses, visit our home page here.

For more on all our short courses, visit our main page here.

Two Published Alumni Usher City Writes Summer 2022 into the Heatwave 

By Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone

City Writes Summer 2022

Running since April 2016, it is a huge privilege to be involved in the fantastic showcase event for City’s Short Creative Writing Courses, City Writes. This term’s event was no exception. Held over Zoom on Thursday 7th July (our ears tuned briefly away from the politics of the day), City Writes Summer 2022 not only had two brilliant published alumni from the same Novel Studio cohort, Attiya Khan and Simon Culleton, it also made space for some wonderful new writing coming from the competition winners made up of current students and alumni. What a talented bunch!

 

We began with the competition winners. Jordan McGarry, Narrative Non-Fiction student kicked things off with a fantastic piece, ‘The First Spring’, about her recently deceased mother. The chat was filled with responses to her careful observations of grief and insightful turns of phrase. Her biography had told us she was planning to be braver with her work in 2022 and we hope this will mark the beginning of a habit as we all want to hear more of Jordan’s writing.

 

We headed in an entirely different direction next with a witty piece on community division, ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’, written and read by Short Story Writing alumnus, Jonathan Gallard. Giving us two perspectives and navigating the complex origins of divisive tradition, this was a wonderful piece of writing.

 

We returned to grief with the next reader, Orsolya Kiss-Toth. A Writers’ Workshop alumna, Orsolya read an extract of her second novel, Nadi Leaves, in which the main character confronts the studio of her recently deceased father and ends up painting her grief into a self-portrait in a way that mimics her father’s artistic process to moving affect.

 

Three times winner of the City Writes competition and another Short Story Writing alumna, Su Yin Yap read for us next. She gave us a non-fiction piece, ‘Notes on Pregnancy’ the form of which was much appreciated in the chat. Moving from facts about pregnancy to a personal account of their emotional and physical effects, the piece viscerally remembered what it feels like to be pregnant.

 

Recent Novel Studio graduate Richard Bowyer then took us into the world of satire with an extract from his novel, The White House. A hilarious letter to the prime minister called ‘The Manton Ultimatum’ had us all giggling as we contemplated the idea of one village in Essex forming an independent state. Roger Rowntree was a favourite character of the Novel Studio 2021/2022 cohort and he proved a hit with this City Writes audience too.

 

Following Richard, we listened to our last competition winner and Short Story Writing alumna, Lia Martin read her story about lost love, ‘Church Bells’. Such a sharp, witty, and painfully moving account of trying to process the end of a relationship. We can’t wait to read what Lia writes next.

 

The end of Lia’s piece marked a move into the second half of the City Writes event as we heard from alumni Attiya Khan and Simon Culleton. Both writers published their debuts in 2021 with exciting independent publishers. We heard two short readings and then moved into a Q&A.

 

Attiya Khan’s debut novel Ten Steps To Us

Attiya’s debut, Ten Steps to Us, is a Young Adult novel that readers have described as ‘the perfect teen romance that covers religion, romance and diversity’. She read the scene in which devout, hijab wearing, Aisha is saved from Islamophobic bullying at a bus stop by the handsome non-Muslim, Darren. Where would this encounter lead? Published by Hashtag Blak, this is a story you’re going to need to buy to get the whole story.

 

Simon Culleton’s debut novel Shadows of Fathers

Simon Culleton then read from his debut, Shadows of Fathers, published by Stairwell Books, about one father’s fight to stay close to his children in a journey across geographical, cultural and emotional borders. He took us into a difficult conversation with his children about where he had been and why he didn’t live with Mummy anymore. Had the children missed him? Why didn’t Mummy and Daddy get on anymore? When he said Mummy and Daddy got on the way that a cat and a dog did, things got complicated… Funny, poignant and moving, it was a great introduction to the complexities of the novel.

 

The Q&A explored inspirations, from Attiya’s desire to see Muslim young women represented in fiction in realistic, non-Islamophobic ways, to Simon’s need to show the father’s perspective in divorce proceedings. We looked at their publishing journeys from the courses they took to the agents that rejected them to the publishers that championed them. We explored what they had enjoyed most about getting their work into the public domain, what they were working on now and what their writing routines were like. Both Attiya and Simon had some fantastic tips for writers and spoke of how important it was to follow your passion in your work.

 

You can hear the full Q&A and all of the readings by watching a recording of the event here.

It was an inspiring night and I can’t wait for the next City Writes when we’ll be joined by the amazing writer and another Novel Studio alumna, Elizabeth Chakrabarty whose debut novel, Lessons in Love and Other Crimes, published by The Indigo Press in 2021, was longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2022. Look out for competition and event dates coming soon to this blog.

Novel Studio 2022 Showcase: A Night to Remember

by Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone

What a pleasure to be writing once again about another fantastic Novel Studio Showcase event, this time for the cohort of 2021/2022. The reading event marks the end of a year of hard and creative work for students who have been planning, writing, workshopping and editing their novels throughout the course. Finally they get a chance to show off all that hard work to an audience of industry, friends and family guests. This year’s event was no exception in its display of exciting new writing in a wide range of literary styles and genres.

Our third year of hosting the event on Zoom, we had 50 attendees in our rapt audience. It’s amazing what the online space can offer as a meeting point of people from diverse geographical locations and this being the second year of the Novel Studio being fully delivered online, it was a fitting end to a year that showed just how supportive online writing communities can be. For those of you there, the chat really testified to this year group’s investment in their cohort’s writing journeys.

As host for the evening, I began by outlining the fantastic history of the Novel Studio course which, having developed from the Certificate in Novel Writing, has been going in its current format since 2012. The course allows students to focus solely on developing their novels for a year. You can find out more about the course here.

I went on to explore just some of the publishing successes of our amazing Novel Studio alumni (click here for more details) and we were very lucky to have present Novel Studio alumna, sponsor of the Novel Studio Scholarship (now in its fourth year!) and Sunday Times and Kindle #1 Bestseller, Harriet Tyce. Harriet offered a few words of wisdom and inspiration for the students as they embarked on their readings and looked forward to writing beyond the course. She shared her memories of reading at her Showcase event and wished the students luck.

Encouraging the audience to develop an atmosphere in the chat, the readings from the students began and what a set of readings they were.

We started with Darren Pininski and an extract from his novel, Forgive Me Father, set across London and South Africa. The extract offered an atmospheric description of a small South African town and the first meeting between two men who will go on to change each other’s lives. Forgive Me Father follows the lives of Kenneth, Nico and Dominee Paul as they navigate love, loss, forgiveness and the bizarre and dangerous world of high end sneaker crime. We were left wondering what this meeting of Kenneth and Dominee Paul would lead to.

 

We jumped onto a plane next with Clare Bunning who read from the opening of her novel, Work Trip. Fast-paced, funny and acutely observed, we followed Franny Phillips as she walked into her initial experience of first class. Who should follow her? Only the A-list celebrity and sex-god, Leo Rossi. Titillating in more than one way, the audience was left wondering how this fortuitous meeting might develop.

 

England of the noughties was waiting to greet us next as we listened to Miranda Weindling read an extract from her novel, Love + Strife. We were treated to the first real contact between two ten-year-old girls, Phoebe and Gemma. A master of the eloquent long sentence with deft descriptions of the turns of consciousness, Miranda dropped us right back into those awkward pre-teen years.

 

We headed for the Essex coast next and struggled to contain wry smiles and giggles as we listened to Richard Bowyer read from his satirical novel, The White House. With some hilarious one-liners and sharp dialogue, this is one of those timely novels that really has something to say about modern Britain. One of the main character’s Roger Rowntree was proposed for Prime Minister in the chat. We were definitely left wanting more.

 

Ammarah Ahmad took us back to early adolescence next as we listened to her read an excerpt from her novel, The Nightfall Gatherings. We joined her main character, Zara, as she experienced her first ever cult gathering. It was a very unnerving experience of darkness and chanting that young Zara could not easily navigate. We could see some difficult but fascinating times ahead for Zara.

 

Zeke McLeod read next, sharing an extract from the opening of his novel, Poseable, in which his narrator describes breaking up with his girlfriend. Painfully honest and read from the heart the novel goes on to explore the complex world of online pornographic role play. The audience was visibly attentive and left eager for more.

 

We went from the end of a relationship to the tantalising beginnings of another next with Natalie Bray as she read from her novel, Sexy Witch. Natalie took us on a whirlwind, motorcycle date with first name, surname guy, Adam Dale. Enraptured by her cutting observation and crisp dialogue and text talk, we were completely taken into her protagonist’s world.

 

Staying on a relationship run, we were treated to another remembered teenage entanglement next as Dominic Hayes read from his novel, Mean Time. With some great observations and hilarious Freudian slips, we were offered the beginnings of a multiple perspective novel of epic proportions.

 

Galaxy O’Sullivan took us into unchartered territory next as we headed for a wild science-fiction, fantasy ride through the virtual world of Galaxy’s novel, The Poltergeist Aquarium. We listened as Bishop Crowther attempted to shove souls into the unwilling bodies of one of the main characters and her colleagues. Galaxy gave us a fantastically voiced and dramatic reading with a heady mix of profanity and philosophy.

 

We went from the virtual to the very real next with a story about the vibrant hidden UK community circumscribed by immigration, patriarchy and faith as Novel Studio Scholarship winner, Hawa Maua, read an extract from her novel, The Church for Disciplined Women. Tasting just two of the novel’s engrossing four main characters, the audience got a sense of the richness of voice Hawa delivers in the novel. We left the characters in their deportation van on the way to Heathrow and headed back into fantasy with our next reader, Angus Cameron.

 

Angus delivered us into the distant country of Kizna with an extract from the first novel in his epic fantasy trilogy, A Broken Web. We listened aghast as two young men – one still a boy – were forced to watch their fathers’ executed and then kneel in the blood of their fathers and swear an oath of allegiance to the conquering empire. Read with the professional delivery of an audiobook, we were hooked into the complex politics of this distant land.

 

We stayed with the bloody mess families can be as our next writer, Sam Miller read an extract from her novel, The Last Weekend. Thinking we were in the happy domestic sphere of a mother-daughter reunion, we soon had our assumptions upturned as the narrator’s mother takes a knife to one of the chickens. Both funny and horrific, Sam plunged us into the depth and psychological complexity of mother-daughter relations. As the last reader of the evening, a dead, bloody chicken presented for dinner was a dramatic way to end the night.

 

Wrapping up with congratulations and thanks all round. Particular mention was given to the sterling work of the Novel Studio director, Emily Pedder, as well as tutors Kiare Ladner and me, and the Short Courses staff at City University, especially Josie Gleave, Sathya Narayanan and Robert Lastman. It only remained to thank the hard work of the students, to congratulate them on a highly enjoyable and productive year, and to thank the audience for their avid participation in the chat. What a fantastic night with some truly mind-blowing readings. Congratulations Novel Studio cohort 2021/2022! We feel sure we’ll soon be adding you to the list of published alumni. What a talented group.

 

For those of you who missed the night, you can watch the recordings here, or download a copy of the Novel Studio Anthology here. You won’t regret it.

 

 

 

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