Tag: City Writes (page 3 of 3)

City Writes Spring 2019 event

by Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone

City Writes Spring 2019 Event was busier than ever, the room filled with writers and their friends sharing conversation and blood orange gin cocktails, all to suit the theme of our professional writer, Harriet Tyce, whose debut thriller Blood Orange has taken the publishing world by storm.

Before we heard from Harriet, the City Writes competition winners treated us to five short creative pieces that took us from distributing ashes, through war zones, lazy summers and an imagined meat-free future, to the humble garden trampoline.

Competition winners

Harriet Pavey

We began with Harriet Pavey’s story ‘Dad’, telling the history of her character’s relationship with her father as she distributed his ashes. A recent graduate of An Approach to Creative Writing, Harriet Pavey filled her story with poignant detail from both present and past that set a contemplative tone for the night.

Next up, we heard from Ursula Hirschkorn, a current Novel Studio student whose story ‘Summer Time’ took us through three characters’ experiences of one summer: the adolescent on summer holidays, desperate to avoid her set texts and talk up foreign encounters with boys; the working mother exhausted by the efforts to manage a holiday with her family; the patient, adept at understanding the terminal nature of their illness.

Not quite ready to dispel the sombre mood, Jake Leyland, an alumnus of Peter Forbes’ brilliantNarrative Non-Fiction course, took us into a war zone in his character study, ‘Portrait of the Technician in a War Zone’. Hidden beneath their desks, the writer considers the technician he is meant to be managing as gun-fire rattles outside their thin walls.

Stephanie Pride

Taking a different turn, Stephanie Pride, who had just finished Cherry Pott’s Approach to Creative Writing course, took us to the future in her story ‘The best way to a man’s mind is through his stomach’. The story asked more questions than it answered as the narrator walked above the grids of groaning meateaters. I’ll just leave you to imagine this one.

Our final competition winner was Ben O’Donnell Bourke, most recently an alumnus of Katy Darby’s Short Story Writing course, whose ‘Negative Habits’ told of another father and child relationship spun around the demise of the garden trampoline. Like the tip of an iceberg, the trampoline gives us access to the depths of the family relationships stretched deep below the surface.

The audience, their minds already filled with the fascinating tales of our competition winners, were then eager to hear from Harriet Tyce, Novel Studio alumna and fierce supporter of the creative writing short courses at City.

Harriet Tyce on Blood Orange

Fresh from a whirlwind book tour for her debut psychological thriller, Blood Orange, that took her through England, Scotland and into America, Harriet decided to side step the opening bang of the novel to give us the morning after when her heroine, Alison, is woken by her husband and daughter as she sleeps slumped in her office chair.

As well as whetting our appetites for the rest of the book which explores what it means to have it and risk it all, Harriet gave us an insight into what it was like to bring a novel into the world and happily shared stories and answered questions afterwards as the audience queued to buy signed copies of Blood Orange. It was a fantastic night. A real example of what City Writes was set up to be: a supportive space for writers from City’s Creative Short Courses to share their experience and success.

Now well into its second year of events, City Writes is a termly event that 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. Out guest reader for next term’s City Writes, which on the 17th July, is Anna Mazzola. Anna is a Novel Studio alumna whose debut novel, The Unseeing, won the Edgar Award in the US, and whose second novel, The Story Keeper, has recently been longlisted for the Highland Book Prize. Watch this space for this term’s entry details.

The Novel Studio Scholarship

For full details on the incredibly generous Novel Studio scholarship set up by Harriet Tyce to support a talented writer from a low-income household; the deadline for the scholarship is 30th May 2019.

Read more about The Novel Studio Scholarship

Sci-Fi, folk songs and mince pies at City Writes Autumn 2018

Competition winners and visiting lecturers perform and read their work at this year’s City Writes Autumn event.

by Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone

With our headline act, visiting lecturer Cherry Potts, bringing along performers from her Solstice Shorts literature and music Festival, the City Writes Autumn 2018 Event was always going to be a bumper and festive night, but the quality of the work being read and performed really exceeded expectations.

First, we had our wonderful competition winners, chosen from a fantastic group of submissions. Angelita Bradney began the evening with her story, ‘A Chance to make things better’, that beautifully depicted the memory of a British seaside town after environmental meltdown. Evocative and moving, the closing setting sun offered some hope for the future.

From there we moved to Italy with Kate Henderson’s meticulously weighted rendering of the mundane minutiae of relationships, ‘The Bay of Naples’, as a woman on holiday tried not to think about her feelings for her husband. It’s amazing what a cup of tea can do for love.

As we contemplated the intricacies of long-term relationships, Debz Hobbs-Wyatt stood up and took us to America in her story, ‘Four Minutes in April’. Different characters and voices were expertly wound together to give us a story of love and loss in different generations and across racial boundaries.

Meera Betab was our final competition winner, taking us into the near future AC (After Copies), with her story, ‘Copy’, in which a professor has created a copying machine capable of created a perfect duplicate of a human right down to its memories, to every thought and feeling that makes us most individual. The twist at the end gave us all something to think about as Cherry Potts took to the stage.

Cherry read us a tantalising extract from her story ‘The Midwinter Wife’ from the Shortest Day Longest Night anthology, the second of the Solstice Shorts anthologies. We were left wondering what the strange woman, taken in, clothed and fed by a 15-year-old boy, would do next. He found her naked and scratched being hissed at by the local cats. Though his friend and neighbour helps him by lending a coat, the boy is soon left on his own with this woman who appears to be shifting, transforming in front of him every time he returns to his bedroom where she has curled herself in his sheets.

Leaving us hanging, keen to buy a copy of the anthology to find out what happened next, Cherry then introduced Katarina Watson who performed her story ‘Threshold’, mesmerising us with a memorised performance about a young woman preparing to open the door to her home and her famous lover, not knowing what weather front he would confront her with once she’d turned the key and stepped over the threshold.

Finally, Ian Kennedy and Sarah Lloyd sang a beautiful folk song Cherry herself had translated and set to music. Their harmonies perfectly transported us to distant times and opened up a field of debate as Cherry fielded questions from the audience.

With book buying and signing and wine and mince pies to follow, City Writes Autumn 2018 event was a brilliantly seasonal night. Thanks to all involved.

For those unfamiliar with City Writes, it is an exciting termly event that showcases the best of City’s Short Courses Creative Writing talent. 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. Our guest reader for next term is Harriet Tyce whose debut Blood Orange will be published in February 2019 and has been toasted as the most talked about thriller of 2019. Harriet was a criminal barrister for ten years before starting her writing career. A graduate of the Novel Studio in 2010, she is now part way through a PhD in Creative Writing at UEA. The next event will be held on the 9th April 2019 and tickets will go on sale next term. Details of the upcoming competition can be found here.

In the mood for City Writes

by Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone

City Writes, our termly writing competition open to all current and former short course alumni, hit new heights this summer term as one of its previous competition winners, C. G. Menon, came back as a professional reader to celebrate the launch of her debut short story collection, Subjunctive Moods, (Dahlia Publishing). Hot off the heels of her launch party, Catherine was an inspiration to us all.

C. G. Menon, author of Subjunctive Moods

Before we were treated to a story from her collection, we had four readings from this term’s competition winners.

In another first for City Writes, two of the readers, Jacob Bigio and Su Yin Yap, submitted creative non-fiction through travel and memoir writing, widening our horizons on the world geographically and psychologically. Both had recently completed the Narrative Non-Fiction course taught by Peter Forbes.

First to read was Jacob Bigio who took us to Quebec in an extract, ‘On Northern Roads’, from his work-in-progress travel book.

Having just hitchhiked from the Alaskan Arctic to the south of Chile, in a journey of three parts spread over three years, Jacob transported us to an out-of-the-way town in Quebec, where we were taken into a circus tent, waiting with the locals for the arrival of a spiritual leader.

Jane Clancy Reid, a recent Novel Studio graduate, then read an extract from her novel, Take Five, which looks at how differences matter but our common humanity matters most. In a Sydney suburb, Kevin gets up to mow the lawn despite his hangover.

He looks over at Sydney harbour and thinks about when he was first dating his wife, now deceased.Following Jane we heard a harrowing tale, ‘Did He Buy A Single Or A Return?’ by K. L. Jefford, a former Approach to Creative Writing short course student, in which a character travels down to Beachy Head, following her brother’s suicide journey.An extract from her novel, Dr Di, left the audience very quiet, ready to be shaken up by our next reader, Su Yin Yap.

Su Yin Yap

Su Yin read ‘The Unsaid’ a story about how difficult we find it to talk about sex. We laughed as a nun refused to read aloud a passage from Shakespeare’s Macbeth to her students. She didn’t want to say ‘unsex me here’.

We then heard that memory of adult embarrassment flow over into a clinic room where a patient didn’t want to talk about his erectile dysfunction.

With an amused audience ready to hear more, Catherine then read ‘Watermelon Seeds’, one of the stories in her Subjunctive Moods collection. We heard of a childhood friendship that began in a love of drama, that explored the nuances of social and cultural difference, and ended in a world of make-believe that carefully uncovered the truth of early love and its consequent shame and embarrassment.

Beautifully evocative of the collection as a whole, the story embraces the slippages between real and imagined, and had the whole audience holding its breath.

With time to buy books, get them signed by Catherine and drink a little wine, the audience, comprised of teachers, students, editors and friends, discussed writing, publication and the different short courses available at City.

A warm and supportive environment to share stories and successes, City Writes is a great place to be if you love creative writing.

City Writes catches a mermaid

by Rebekah Latin-Rawstrone

City Writes of Spring 2018 was a riotous success. Not only did we have four exciting competition winners proudly sharing their latest work with the crowd, we also managed to snare Imogen Hermes Gowar whose novel, The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock, is a Sunday Times bestseller and has been shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Desmond Elliott Prize 2018.

Rushiv Nayee was the first of our competition winners to read. His story, ‘Literally Having An Existential Crisis’ made the audience laugh at the thought of the working life of words whose changing status leads them from elite literary circles to ‘literally’ teaming up with ‘amazeballs’. Rushiv’s was a funny and self-reflexive piece.

He was followed by Kate Vine who read us an extract from her novel Fireflies in which an unexpected visitor turns up at the house of a young mother who has only just returned to her work as a painter. There was a hush as the audience realised they would have to wait for the novel to be published for them to find out the significance of this visitor. Keep writing, Kate!

Sue Lovett followed Kate’s extract with a short story about two boys called ‘Fiery Mortals’. A sparkling gem of a story, the narrative followed one boy’s friendship with another as they each bore the burdens of their home lives. At one point the boys share licks from a stolen gobstopper taken from under the shelves of the local convenience shop. The idea of this caused an audible groan from Sue’s listeners.

Our final competition reader was Aliyah Kim Keshani reading from her novel, Who Will Uphold the House? Staring at her father’s unconscious form, trussed in hospital sheets, Sara replays her father’s favourite anecdote from his school days in Pakistan, told to teach her perseverance. He managed not to lose or damage his glasses for a whole year in order to win the prize of an engraved pencil. When Sara cleans his current, cracked glasses, discarded on the bedside hospital table, one of the lenses breaks.

Taking us from hospital bed to a counting-house in Victorian London, Imogen Hermes Gowar gave us a glimpse into the three voice characters of The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock. We heard from Johan Hancock perching on his stool at the counting-house and musing on the family he never had while waiting for his ship to come in; Angelica Neal, a courtesan at her dressing table, whose protector has just died and who is therefore looking for a new man to keep her in the state to which she has become accustomed; and the many-voiced dance of the mermaid.

Having teased us with her reading, Imogen signed copies of her book and offered some very helpful tips to City students in the audience. She offered her experience of research and gave ideas on how to build historical knowledge of the time and language into a novel. We were very lucky to have her.

Glasses of wine in hand, the audience and readers chatted and networked – yes, there was at least one agent in the house – until the university closed. How wonderful to see so many students and alumni sharing their journeys and successes. City Writes goes from strength to strength.

We’re delighted to announce that City Writes Summer 2018 event will host Catherine Menon whose short story collection, Subjunctive Moods, will be published by Dahlia Publishing in June of this year.

City Writes autumn event success

by Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone

With our headline act, CWA Debut Dagger Award Winner Greg Keen to look forward to, a wonderful crowd of people braved the cold and rain to listen to and support City’s showcase of its short creative writing course talent. And what talent there was.

Campaspe Lloyd-Jacob

Amidst a buzz of audience excitement, we were treated to four readings from the City Writes Competition winners. Campaspe Lloyd-Jacob, Novel Studio alumna, was first, reading from her novel in progress The Fall. Taking us into the world of reality television gone wrong, a boy’s life was left hanging in the balance, sending a ripple of anxiety and silence through the listeners.

 

Second, we heard Elena Alston’s wonderful short story, ‘The Cuckoo Broadcast’. Having just finished the Short Story Writing course with Katy Darby, Elena’s story cast its spell over us all. We laughed as the clever young character fought to be creative despite the difficulties of her family life and the constraints of her conformist school.

Elena Alston

Following Elena, another talented Novel Studio alumna Angela Dove took to the stage reading from her novel For One Night Only. A mysterious package arrived at the character’s door. How did they find her address? Could she remember how to process celluloid? When a woman appeared in one of the photographs, against a backdrop of 1940s Amsterdam, closer inspection revealed her own face.

Our last competition winner to read was Sophia Rainbow Haddad who had just completed the Novel Writing and Longer Works course with Martin Ouvry. Sophia read her story ‘Heart on your sleeve’ taking us on a journey with her father’s denim jacket, originally bought for her brother. As her parents split up and her father moved away back to Algeria, the jacket became the warm hug of her father now so far away.

Sophia Rainbow Haddad

Emotionally charged from these fantastic competition winning pieces, the audience was now ready to hear from Greg Keen whose novel, Soho Dead, won the CWA Debut Dagger Award in 2015 and who is already working on edits for the third novel in the Kenny Gabriel crime series. Another Novel Studio alumnus, Greg read from part way through the novel where his main character questions a nightclub owner about a young murdered girl. We were treated to some witty and illuminating dialogue between Kenny and the owner who has cancer, swaps between cigarettes and her oxygen tubes and talks freely about her sexual desires and the development of her club. She offers him information in exchange for something you’ll need to read the book to find out about.

After the readings, there was lots of discussion about the stories and extracts, about writing, reading and City’s short creative writing courses over drinks and mince pies.You can find out more about City Writes and the termly competition here.

Our event next term is on the 28th March. Put the date in your diaries now.

City Writes summer showcase

by Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone

Set up to showcase the wonderful creative writing talent coming from City’s Short Creative Writing courses, City Writes held its second event on the balmy evening of the 12th July to an intimate and attentive audience in City’s Convocation Suite.

Katy Darby, our first competition winner, City Short Courses VL and one of the founders of Liars’ League, began the evening with her story ‘Knock Knock’. A dark and disturbing voice-piece, ‘Knock Knock’ presented the audience with the terrible notion of a baby speaking to its mother in the womb through a series of intense and painful kicks.

Next, we had Bren Gosling reading ‘Meatballs’. An alumnus of The Novel Studio, Bren’s story took us onto a bed in A&E where the protagonist pondered his relationship with his boyfriend while getting his anal cyst lanced. It was as funny and uncomfortable as it sounds.

Our final competition winner was Becky Danks who had just completed the Children’s Fiction course with Caroline Green. Her story, ‘The Anniversary’ was inspired by the painting of the same name and dealt with a couple trying to heal after the stillbirth of their first child. Beautifully poised between the two viewpoints, ‘The Anniversary’ was thought-provoking and quiet in its contemplation of grief and the possibility of recovery.

Our headline act was the wonderful Luiza Sauma, a short courses alumna who was reading from her debut novel, Flesh and Bone and Water, published earlier this year to great acclaim. The novel is set in London and Brazil and explores, through memory, that intense period of early adulthood, lived with such abandon and without the knowledge of the lifelong effects it may have. Heady with Brazilian humidity and the lure of memory, Flesh and Bone and Water unravels the mysteries of Andre’s early youth to great effect, bringing the beauty and heat of Brazil to life.Luiza treated us to a wonderful reading before selling and signing some of her books.

Please do get involved in the next City Writes. If you are an alumni with a novel to promote, get in touch via rebekahlattinr@gmail.com or if you would like to enter the City Writes competition and stand alongside our next professional reader (to be announced in September), the deadline for the Autumn City Writes competition is 17th November. The next event will be held on Wednesday 13th December.

City Writes launch

by Novel Studio alumnus, Arun Das

The inaugural City Writes event was held on 29th March 2016. Along with author of Owl Song at Dawn, Emma Claire Sweeney, four writers, alumni and students from City’s creative writing short courses read out their work. Each writer was chosen through a competition run by creative writing tutor Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone.

First to read her story was Evleen Mann, with a piece developed as part of the Novel Studio course. Titled Elvis and the Bear, Evleen fictionalised a humorous but poignant conversation between Rock ‘n’ Roll star Elvis Presley and a bear. Evleen is working on a novel as part of the Novel Studio programme.

Eileen Church Riley, a 2010 graduate of the Novel Studio read an extract from her novel The Tumbledown. Set in Western Nevada, United States, The Tumbledown follows Screeching Eagle and Delicate Bird, members of the Paiute-Shoshone Native American Indian tribe.

Lesley Jones, presented an extract The Worst Day, from a supernatural YA novel. Lesley is also working on a fantasy adventure novel for 9 to 12 year-olds and is a current student of the Novel Studio.

C. G. Menon, who’s pursuing an MA in Creative Writing at City, University of London read the short story I see you in Triplicate. Menon has been published in two short story anthologies, Fugue Press’ Siren II and Dahlia Publishing’s Love Across A Broken Map. Menon has also won the Bare Fiction short story prize, the Asian Writer prize, The Short Story award and the Winchester Writers Festival short story prize. She’s been shortlisted for a number of others, including the Fish short story award, the Short Fiction Journal prize, the Willesden Herald prize and two Words and Women awards.

Emma Claire Sweeney read extracts from her novel Owl Song at Dawn. Published by Legend Press in 2016, Owl Song at Dawn, her debut novel, was inspired by her sister who has cerebral palsy and autism.

Emma is a Novel Studio tutor. Her forthcoming book, A Secret Sisterhood: The Hidden Literary Friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot and Virginia Woolf, is a non-fiction book, which she has co-written with her friend and Novel Studio colleague, Emily Midorikawa. With a foreword by Margaret Atwood, the book will come out in June 2017 with Aurum Press in the UK and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in the USA.

City Writes will run every term and will return in the summer on Wednesday 12th July to showcase more of City’s short courses creative writing talent. The deadline for submissions for the summer term is Friday 16th June and readers will be joined by Novel Studio alumna Luiza Sauma who will be reading from her novel Flesh and Bone and Water published by Viking in February 2017.

Arun Das spent ten years working as a journalist and television producer. He moved to England to join his wife and is currently working on a novel as part of the Novel Studio programme.

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