Tag: Anna Mazzola

Writing Short Courses Newsletter Spring 2023

The bluebells are here and the days are getting just that bit longer. Here to bring even more joy is the latest news from our wonderful writing short course alumni and tutors.

Alumni News

Novel Studio alumni news: Award-winning author Deepa Anappara will publish Letters to a Writer of Colour later this year. Edited with Taymour Soomro, it’s a collection of essays on fiction, race, and culture. Deepa has also recently joined the MA Creative Writing teaching team at City where she teaches Literary Journalism. There will be a launch for the book at City on March 13th. It’s free but you’ll need to register HERE.

Book cover of Letters to a Writer of Colour

Letters to a Writer of Colour, edited by Deepa Anappara

 

Book cover for The House of Whispers

The House of Whispers, Anna Mazzola’s new novel

Anna Mazzola’s new historical thriller, The House of Whispers, will launch in March 2023. Ian Rankin has described Anna’s work as ‘Historical fiction with a fantastical twist, done with verve and skill’.

Janet Philips has published her debut book, Great Literary Friendships, with Bodleian Library, described by Publisher’s Weekly as a ‘fun spin on literary analysis’.

Rachel Mann has published her short story, The Things We Grew, with Passengers Journal. She has also published a column in the Rumpus called Things I Wish I Could Workshop other than my Novel.

Katy Darby’s Writers’ Workshop and Short Story Writing students continue to shine. Emma Guinness (Grae) has won Scots book of the Year 2022 for her novel Be Guid Tae Yer Mammy. Her second novel, The tongue she speaks15k of which was workshopped on her City course — was published last year with Luath Press. Sue Hann has a publishing deal with Neem Tree Press for a non-fiction book due out in 2025.  Kate Gilby Smith has published two middle-grade children’s books with Hachette since taking the course in 2017, the first was The Astonishing Future of Alex Nobody and the second is Olive Jones and the Memory Thief, which came out in June 2022.

Book cover for OliverJones and the Memory Thief

Olive Jones and the Memory Thief by Kate Gilby Smith

Joe Gallard has won the Ilkley International 8x8x8 playwriting competition. His play, This is Not a Drill, will be performed at the Ilkley Playhouse this April. Tickets available here. Helen Harjak was shortlisted for the 2022 Willesden Herald Short Story Prize. Former Times literary editor Erica Wagner will publish a new book, The Vocal + Fiction Awards Anthology, with Unbound in February 2023. The anthology is a collection of stories chosen from over 13,000 entries submitted to the Vocal+ Fiction Awards. Roly Grant’s 500 word story ‘Dust’ was the Richmond borough winner in Spread the Word’s ‘City of Stories’ anthology, published in June 2022.

Martin Ouvry’s Novel Writing and Longer Works’ alumnus Conor Sneyd has published his debut novel, Future Fish, with Lightning Books. You can read more about Conor’s path to publication on our blog here. Two of Martin’s other students, Angelita Bradney and Kate Vine, have been taken on by top literaryn agents — Catherine Cho at Paper Literary, and Johnson & Alcock, respectively.

2023 looks like being a great year for Peter Forbes’ Narrative Non Fiction alumni. Dee Peyok brought her pitch for a book about Cambodian rock music in the 1960s to the

Author photo of Aniefiok Ekpoudom

Aniefiok Ekpoudom

course back in 2013. The book, Away from Beloved Lover, was published by Granta in January, to rave reviews. More recent alumni include Claire Martin’s (2021) Heirs of Ambition, a history of the Boleyn family before they became famous, which will be published by The History Press; and Aniefiok Ekpoudom’s (2015) Where We Come From: How Grime and Rap gave voice to a generation is due from Faber in August. In other news, Alice Kent has been longlisted for the Observer/Burgess Prize for Arts Journalism 2023.

Opportunities

The Novel Studio, our flagship year-long course for aspiring novelists, has opened for applications. For more details on the course and how to apply follow the link to our home page. To find out more about our extensive list of published alumni, take a look here.

If you want to talk to me in person about the Novel Studio or any other writing short course, I’ll be at the virtual Open Evening on 28 March. Sign up HERE.

City Writes

Our termly writing competition open to all writing short course students, past and present, is seeking submissions for its spring event. This term’s guest alumna will be award-winning author Hannah Begbie, author of two 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.

Hannah Begbie

Or just come along to hear some fantastic new writing on the night itself, 29th March. It’s all on Zoom and you can register here.

Scholarships

We continue to offer a fully funded place for a young adult (18-25) from an underrepresented background and/or facing financial difficulty on our Writing for Social Impact course. To apply, please contact the tutor Ciaran Thapar explaining why you’d like to attend. This course is now offered monthly to reflect the increased demand.

Please see below for more information on our Novel Studio scholarship.

New Courses

Pete Austin and Anna Tsekouras, aka Anon agency, have hit the ground running on our new Branding 101 course for small businesses, creatives, entrepreneurs or anyone who wants to know more about how to create and foster their own brand. Feedback so far has been very positive with one student describing it as ‘the perfect blend of foundational theory and tangible takeaways.’

Tutor News

Holly Rigby joins the teaching team as Thursday night’s Narrative Non Fiction tutor. A former student on Peter Forbes’ course, she is a passionate advocate for the course and a brilliant writer and teacher in her own right. Holly worked as an English teacher in inner London schools for almost a decade, and is currently working on a book about the UK education system, published by Repeater Books in early 2024. Welcome, Holly!

Writing for Social Impact tutor, author and youth worker Ciaran Thapar has launched his own newsletter, ALL CITY, through Substack. Pitched as the ‘diary of a youth worker, with the pen of an author’, the newsletter will be a weekly dive into the challenges of inner city youth work and education. You can sign up and find out more here.

Anna Wilson is now teaching our Writing the Memoir course. Most of Anna’s books have been for children and teens, but more recently she has turned her hand to writing for adults. Her memoir A Place for Everything – my mother, autism and me has been reviewed as “a seminal work in this area” by the world expert in autism in women, Professor Tony Attwood. Welcome back, Anna!

Paris writing retreat, 12-16 April 2023. Former Novel Studio tutor and award-winning author Dr Emma Claire Sweeney and literary agent Jonathan Ruppin will host five days of mentoring and group writing sessions in a stunning private residence a short walk from the Eiffel Tower. Planning and follow-up sessions on Zoom. Quote CITY10 for 10% discount for bookings made by 13th March 2023.

Paris Writing Retreat

And finally…

We wanted to say a huge thank you to Harriet Tyce. Harriet has funded and supported our Novel Studio scholarship for the past four years. A former barrister and Novel Studio alumna, Harriet is now a Sunday Times best-selling crime novelist. Her three novels, all published by Wildfire, have been runaway successes and her reputation as a leading crime writer is now firmly established. We have been so lucky to have Harriet’s backing for the Novel Studio, not only through the scholarship program — a program she initiated — but also through her ongoing mentoring support for the scholarship recipients and her generous introductions to the annual showcase. We very much hope to keep the scholarship alive — so do watch this space for more on this — but in the meantime, thank you so much, Harriet!

That’s all for this term. Congratulations and thanks to all our wonderful students and tutors.

To find out more about all our creative writing short courses visit our home page HERE.

And for more on all City’s short courses, look HERE.

City Writes summer sizzler

By Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone

The City Writes Summer event of 2019 was a glorious July evening with a number of exciting firsts: our first reading from a Novel Studio Scholarship winner; two readers who had already shared work at previous City Writes events; and a visit from the wonderful Novel Studio alumna Anna Mazzola whose energy and storytelling charm are a delight to share.

We started the evening with a very funny short story about a dreadful first date, ‘Bird’s Nest’, written and read by Su Yin Yap. If you can picture a presumptuous, entitled man biting into the wicker basket his Chinese meal was delivered in, you’ve got an idea of the kind of laughter the story invoked in the audience. This was Su Yin Yap’s second story to be chosen for City Writes and it was great to have her back.

Lola Okolosie

Next Ruth Thorlby, who is currently completing an MA focussing on short stories, but whose journey began on a short course at City, read her poignant and rather haunting story, ‘Passing’, about a young person returning home to try and see her Grandmother before she dies and being unable to make it over the threshold. To say more would spoil it. With beautiful descriptions and a contemplative air, there’s a lot going on under the surface of this story that left the audience with much to think about.

Lola OkolosieOur Novel Studio Scholarship winner, Lola Okolosie, was next. The inaugural winner of the schola rship sponsored by Novel Studio alumna Harriet Tyce, who read from her novel Blood Orange at our Spring City Writes, Lola’s extract ‘Seun’, from a novel-in-progress, took us into the heart of a traffic jam in Lagos where Seun struggles to make sense of his itinerant identity. The audience were entranced. What a start to Lola’s Novel Studio career.

Bren Gosling

Bren Gosling read his story ‘Let Me Pay’ next. Another author returning to grace the City Writes stage, Bren’s tale brought an ex-soldier and a refugee together around a cafe table, their mutual romantic interest fraught with old, unspoken tensions. A taut story exploring the fall out of war on the individual even in peacetime.

Finally, we were delighted to hear from author and Novel Studio alumna, Anna Mazzola who shared some of her latest work-in-progress set in Paris in the 1700s. Not only were we transported to 18th Century France, we were also swept up in Anna’s enthusiasm for storytelling.

Her question and answer session gave us plenty of tips and food for thought – Anna’s productivity is very impressive – about how to write and work and look after children, as well as how to think about writing historical fiction as well as crime fiction. A truly enlightening reading and talk that inspired much interest in Anna’s published and prize-winning novels, The Unseeing and The Story Keeper.

City Writes ended with a little more wine, some networking, some book signing and a general sense of writing camaraderie.

For those of you who don’t know about City Writes, it is an exciting event that showcases the best of City’s Short Courses Creative Writing talent. Held once a term at the University, City Writes hosts readings from alumni, students and tutors. One reader offers a professional perspective, reading from a new or award-winning publication, and the other readers are selected on the basis of a 1,000 word submission to a termly fiction writing competition open to all current and previous students of a City Creative Writing Short Course.

We are doing something a little different with our 2019 Winter City Writes event: our guest readers are all in the wonderful Story Cities anthology edited by Rosamund Davies (Novel Studio alumna), Cherry Potts (City Visiting Lecturer) and Kam Rehal, published by Arachne Press. We will have several shorts read by alumni who have been published in the anthology and will be seeking flash fiction submissions of 500 words or less, meaning we will have a bumper number of readers in December. It’s going to be a flash fiction extravaganza! Do check the website for further details.

 

 

Criminal Justice Lawyer secures debut historical novel deal after her creative writing course

By Anna Mazzola

Human rights and criminal justice solicitor, Anna Mazzola, studied English Literature at City and has always loved reading.

“Four years ago I began writing fiction; first short stories and then a novel. I wanted some assistance with the novel, especially in terms of structure, as well as support. So I researched the various novel-writing courses available.

“The tutorials and group sessions offered by The Novel Studio at City, University of London particularly appealed to me and I knew after my interview that I had found the right course.

“The Novel Studio lived up to its high reputation. I had some fantastic tutors and their input in my novel has been invaluable. By working with them on my synopsis in the early part of the course, I developed a clear structure for my novel together along with the tools for writing it. I then used the structure of the course itself to ensure that I finished my first draft by the end of the summer term.

“The group sessions are great for getting you accustomed to the criticism necessary during the editing process and provide a useful sounding board for your ideas and work. I continue to meet with the friends I made on the course and I know the same is true of many previous years’ students. Writing can be a lonely business and finding people who will give candid but constructive feedback was, for me, a highlight of the course.

“Another useful aspect of the course was the section on publishing, which gets you thinking about your novel’s possible place in the commercial world and how to go about seeking a literary agent.

“At the end of the course, we hosted an event for literary agents showcasing our work, and sent out an anthology subsequently. It was on the back of this that I signed with my wonderful agent. I know that many other of my colleagues on the course were also contacted by agents who heard them speak at the end of term event, or saw their written work in the anthology – work that they had honed during the course.

“I still have a long way to go, but I feel that the Novel Studio gave me a very firm start in novel writing. The fictional techniques that I picked up have been valuable not just for novel-writing, but for my short story writing and for the children’s fiction that I have begun to work on. The course also introduced me to a talented bunch of authors with whom I continue to share my work. I will certainly be back for more creative writing courses.”

Not long after finishing her City writing course, Anna’s agent, Juliet Mushens, sold her debut novel, The Unseeing, developed while on the course, to Tinder Press. Due out in 2016, Mushens said “The Unseeing is a wonderfully gripping and atmospheric crime novel.”

Rewriting History: How Historical Fiction Works

By Emily Pedder

From Brooklyn to Wolf Hall, historical fiction is enjoying a boom moment. But how do you go about writing an historical novel? How ‘true’ to the past should a novelist be? And what can historical novels tell us about the world we are living in today? Last month we were given the insider’s guide to all this and more by two of City short courses’ star alumni: Anna Mazzola, author of The Unseeing, out with Tinder Press next month and Melissa Bailey, author of The Medici Mirror and Beyond The Sea, Arrow Press.

Both authors clearly shared a passion for research and saw it as one of the most absorbing parts of the historical novel writing. Both were also clear that the story had to take precedence: it didn’t matter how much research had been done, or how historically accurate the depiction of period might be, if the story wasn’t working the novelist had to go back to the drawing board.

There was also broad agreement on other characteristics of writing historical fiction. Anna spoke of the importance of giving voice to the voiceless and of uncovering voices from the past that hadn’t been heard before. Melissa highlighted the enjoyable difficulty in trying to imagine what her characters were thinking and feeling, and then imagining what was different about the way those characters might have perceived things at that time.

Well attended and with positive feedback after the event, this writing short course event gave us all food for thought. As novelist Andrew Miller put it, “at its best, historical fiction is never a turning away from the now but one of the ways in which our experience of the contemporary is revived.” Thank you to Anna and Melissa for a thoroughly enjoyable evening. For more info on our short courses, go to our website or follow us on twitter @cityshortcourses. For more on the authors and their books visit: Anna Mazzola and Melissa Bailey.

 

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