Tag: creative writing

Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve

On Valentine’s Day we pay homage to love, both real and imagined. Read on for how one City writing student found love on a short creative writing course, and five more published debut novels exploring the complexities of love.

 

Back in 1987 a young woman called Philippa enrolled on a creative writing short course at City. She wanted to learn about writing, but she was also hoping to meet someone special. As it turned out, she got both.

Author photograph of Philippa Perry

Philippa Perry

Philippa has now written three best-selling books and is an internationally renowned psychotherapist and agony aunt. As for that special someone? Attracted to another classmate on the course—the blonde ‘show-off’ in the red leather jacket—she began going to the pub with him after class.

That ‘show off’ turned out to be Grayson Perry.

That’s right, reader, she married him.

And if that’s not romantic enough for you on Valentine’s Day, how about treating yourself to one of these love stories, all from the pens of our talented writing short course alumni:


Rachael’s Gift
by Alexandra Cameron, Novel Studio alumna

Book cover of Alexandra Cameron's novel Rachael's Gift

Rachael’s Gift, debut novel by Alexandra Cameron

A skilfully plotted, continent-crossing literary thriller which explores a mother’s love for her troubled daughter and the lengths she will go to protect her.

Dona Nicanora’s Hat Shop by Kirstan Hawkins, Novel Studio alumna

Book cover of Dona Nicanora's Hat Shop

Dona Nicanora’s Hat Shop, by Kirstan Hawkins

Doña Nicanora has her heart set on turning Don Bosco’s barbers into a hat shop, but Don Bosco has his heart set on her. A wonderfully warm-hearted comedy of errors set in a backwoods South American town.

Ten Steps To Us by Attiya Khan, Novel Studio alumna

Book cover of Ten Steps to Us

Ten Steps to Us by Attiya Khan

A compelling and timely YA story about a teenage Muslim girl navigating love, identity and faith in the UK.

Butterfly Ranch by Remy Salters, Novel Studio alumnus

In a remote jungle lodge in Southern Belize, a local policeman investigates the mysterious disappearance of a world-famous reclusive author. A masterful tale of obsessive love, self-destruction and unexpected redemption.

Flesh and Bone and Water by Luiza Sauma, Short Story and Writers’ Workshop alumna

A letter delivered to Dr Andre Cabal in London catapults him back to his 17-year-old self in 1980s Brazil and begins the devastating and mesmerizing story of one man’s secret infatuation for the daughter of his family’s maid.

Book cover of Flesh and Bone and Water

Flesh and Bone and Water by Luiza Sauma

To find out more about our writing short courses visit our home page here.

Or join us on 28 March for our online Open Evening where you can sample free taster classes, speak to our writing coordinator and find out more about all City’s short courses. Register here.

 

Narrative or Therapeutic Non-fiction: does it really matter?

By Raviakash Deu

Doctors, nurses, scientists have all played their roles this past year, but for narrative non-fiction writers, what does it mean to serve on the front-line? I knew, without really knowing, the answer to that for some time. When done well, any writing grounded in the facts as much as in the imagination has a way of inspiring, energising and in some cases healing the minds of its readers. On deciding to pick up the pen, one begins to take control of those transformations not only in others but crucially within oneself.

I experienced this phenomenon in company and in spirit on City’s Narrative Non-Fiction Short Course, which might just as easily be termed ‘Therapeutic Non-Fiction’ – and not just because the group boasted a psychologist. In the wake of artistic absence in the world, City’s virtual offering brings together traditional storytellers, reporters and scholars from across the globe who, while seeking guidance on an outer narrative, inevitably end up fulfilling part of their inner one too.

Creative writing is a soul-bearing business. Setting weekly classes in the digital sphere might present students with additional complexities against the larger editorial goal of stripping them away. Yet this hasn’t stopped City, who’ve plenty of reason to trust in tutor-extraordinaires like Peter Forbes. As one of those under Peter’s stewardship over the last three months, I’ve been glad to convert a fairly demanding hobby into a more thoughtful practice, and beyond that, develop a confidence that had been desperately missing prior to week one. Starting out as a nervy penman amongst some sophisticated scribes, by week eight, I presented my changed state in the following journal entry:

A rare environment. One which appears to value personal growth, indeed community, over competition. In reading aloud our compositions, it’s a unique opportunity to bring alive the material for a bright-eyed audience, of which I too am an avid member. The talents of the group are unlike anything you’d expect. I sink into Roli’’s delicate depiction of makeshift graves on the banks of the Ganges, Monica’s rich reflections on ‘room-travel’ and Roz’s masterful musings on imitation, a lyrical style translated effortlessly into her diction. There’s Imran’s artful sketches on humans in the age of machines, and Robert’s endlessly entertaining travelogues.

The academics, meanwhile, seem to keep us honest. Both Katherine and Claire are as faithful to their subject areas as they are to the business of elegantly unfolding them for us mere mortals. Oh, and amidst all this, I’ve perhaps discovered my own capacity for spinning a good yarn.’

‘Good’ writing is, of course, subjective, and arguably, my hopes going into the programme were of unearthing something ‘real’ rather than ‘good’, a readiness – as spoken by Hesse –  to ‘gaze into the fire, into the clouds and as soon as the inner voices begin to speak… surrender to them’. It’s thanks to City’s new expression of ‘bookbinding’ or a sharp sense of literary unity, I’ve been able to take meaningful strides toward that free and fearless outlook, and all its potentialities.

 

Raviakash Deu is a freelance writer from Birmingham. He holds an undergraduate degree in English Literature from the University of Nottingham and a Master’s in Shakespeare Studies from King’s College London. His regular features appear at ‘The Lipstick Politico’ where he is interested in bringing light to daring South Asian narratives across culture and the arts.

Narrative Non-Fiction runs on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from October 2021.

 

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