Tag: Luiza Sauma

All you need is love

By Emily Pedder

From Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice to Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood, the question of love has long fascinated writers and readers across the world.

The American editor Shawn Coyne has a theory about this: ‘Love stories are so popular because people not only go to them for the entertainment value but subconsciously they’re watching a love story and they’re trying to track ways that they can become more lovable and form bonds and relationships…People don’t want to be alone.” Love stories, Coyne argues, like all stories, are ‘metaphors that help us know how to behave.’

Our creative writing short course alumni are no slouches in this ‘story’ department and also happen to know a thing or two about love. In celebration of Valentine’s Day this year, we pay tribute to some of their novels which explore the eternal quest for love.

Rachael’s Gift by Alexandra Cameron

A skillfully 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

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.

Foolish Lessons in Life and Love by Penny Rudge

Join Taras, the hapless hero stuck in a futile job and still living with his overbearing mother, as he tries to win back the enchanting Katya. Brilliantly observed and very funny.

Butterfly Ranch by Remy Salters

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

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.

Creative Writing short courses at City

City runs short courses on everything from novel writing to writing for children.

Many of our students have gone on to publish books after completing one of our creative writing short courses. Deepa Anappara published her debut novel, Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line, last month after completing our one-year course, The Novel Studio.

 

Short Courses Alumna, Luiza Sauma, on National Writing Day

By Emily Pedder

This year City’s Short Courses have partnered with National Writing Day, an initiative designed to  inspire people across the UK to get writing. To  celebrate we are bringing you an interview with one of our most successful alumni, the novelist Luiza Sauma.

Luiza took several short courses at City before she began her career as a novelist. Her first novel, Flesh and Bone and Water, was published in 2017 by Viking to great acclaim. Tomorrow sees the launch of her second novel, Everything You Ever Wanted. Set on a perfect parallel planet the book explores our ‘age of anxiety’. This interview was conducted by Emily Pedder, Course Director for the Novel Studio

EP: Luiza, thank you so much for being part of this year’s National Writing Day. We’re thrilled to be involved with such an important initiative which aims to inspire creative writing from the very earliest stages.

Can I start by asking whether there was a teacher or adult who you got you interested in storytelling at a young age?

LS: Sometimes I feel like I’m the only author who didn’t have an inspiring English teacher. I loved literature, but I didn’t thrive at school. Luckily I grew up in a house full of books and my parents encouraged me to read widely from an early age. They’re both psychoanalysts, so storytelling is central to their work – psychoanalysis is all about stories.

EP: What was the first book to make you cry?

LS: Books don’t often make me cry. I think I shed a tear when the dog died in Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being, which I read when I was a teenager. I found that scene unbearably tender.

EP: Who were your favourite authors as a child?

LS: Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, Louisa May Alcott, C S Lewis, Beatrix Potter, Mark Twain and Hans Christian Andersen. Dahl in particular. I used to re-read Matilda every couple of weeks.

EP: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

LS: I would say, ‘Believe in yourself,’ because I wasted too many years on anxiety and self-doubt. But believing in yourself is easier said than done when you’re surrounded by critical voices. Our society is very hard on young women.

EP: What is it about writing that motivates or inspires you?

LS: Sometimes it feels involuntary – I write in my head all the time. Both reading and writing are a comfort to me; they help me to understand the world.

EP: You recently became a mum. How has that experience affected your writing?

LS: I’m not able to write at the moment – my baby occupies all of my time. But I’m still writing in my head, like always. I’m very sleep-deprived, but the ideas are percolating. Motherhood has been so challenging, intense and joyful. I feel utterly changed. I’ve never had so many ideas.

EP: Your latest novel is a dystopian take on the modern world. What prompted you to set it in an imagined future?

LS: Everything You Ever Wanted is set in the near future – a world that everyone would recognise, apart from the fact that people are being sent to live on another planet. When I came up with the idea, I was writing my first novel, working full-time in an office and feeling quite trapped. This was before Brexit, before Donald Trump became president, but there was a sense of increasing anger and anxiety in the world, and social media seemed to be making it worse. I knew I wanted to explore these things.

Then I heard an episode of the podcast Love + Radio about a woman who wanted to take part in the Mars One mission – which would involve leaving Earth, never to return – and suddenly there was my idea. A lot of people have been joking, lately, about leaving Earth, because things are so awful right now – but what would it take to actually do it? I was feeling stuck, so I thought I might as well try and write something completely wild. At the very least, I thought it would be fun.

EP: Do you see your novels as completely separate or is there a thread that links them for you?

LS: One of the things that excited me about Everything You Ever Wanted was that it felt completely different to my first novel, which was deeply rooted in Brazilian culture, the immigrant experience and the real world. But when I finished writing it, I realised I had written another novel about immigration – just on a larger, cosmic scale. I was born in Brazil and I come from a long line of immigrants from various countries. It’s the defining story of my family, and quite hard to shake off.

EP: Finally, if your daughter grows up and says she wants to be a writer, what would your advice be?!

LS: I would tell her to find a day job that doesn’t eat up all her time and energy, to be ambitious in her work, but also to look after herself – both mentally and physically. Writing is an unstable career, so it’s important to find stability elsewhere.

EP: Thank you so much for taking the time to do this, Luiza, and so much luck with the next novel!

Everything You Ever Wanted is published by Viking on 27th June 2019.

For more about the short courses Luiza took at City, visit our short course writing home page.

Luiza Sauma, image by Tim Goalem

 

 

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.

Short course alumna to publish first book

By Emily Pedder

City short course alumna Luiza Sauma’s first novel, Flesh and Bone and Water, will be published by Viking/Penguin in February 2017. To celebrate her brilliant achievement, we asked her to tell us more about how she writes.

What got you started with writing?

I realised that I wanted to be a writer when I was around fifteen. It was an incredibly cheesy epiphany: I was reading Jack Kerouac’s On the Road on a bus in north London, and suddenly the possibilities of literature opened up to me – you could experiment and you could write about anything, not just upper-class English people. I haven’t re-read the book since then, but I suspect it’s best experienced when you’re fifteen.

After that, I started writing obsessively: mostly diaries and a short-lived music zine, but also terrible poetry and fiction. After university I became a journalist and fiction fell by the wayside, but I returned to it in my late twenties.

What do you enjoy about writing?

The same things I enjoyed when I was a child: creating a world from scratch, and playing with characters, ideas and words. When it’s going well, it’s so much fun. David Foster Wallace said that writing used 97 percent of himself, while his other work used just 50 percent. I can relate to that – writing is so completely involving.

What do you find challenging?

The first draft is very challenging for me. I don’t like to plan too much, so it often feels like I don’t know what I’m doing – which is exciting, but scary. Like a lot of writers, I also struggle with procrastination and self-flagellation.

Which writers have inspired you?

I’m still inspired by some of my favourites from my teens, such as Truman Capote, Vladimir Nabokov, Ralph Ellison and Albert Camus, but also Toni Morrison, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Carson McCullers, Elena Ferrante, Junot Díaz, Edward St Aubyn, Marlon James, Colm Tóibín, Kazuo Ishiguro, Lorrie Moore and many others.

Do you have any writing rituals?

I usually write at the library, because I’m prone to laziness when I’m at home. I can write at any time of day, but I never do it late at night, because it exacerbates my insomnia. I just write on a laptop – nothing too unusual. When I’m out and about, I take notes on my phone. I don’t write much by hand; my handwriting is so terrible, I can barely read it.

Which writing courses did you do at City and what did you gain from them?

I got quite addicted to City’s courses – I did Short Story Writing, Writers’ Workshop) and Screenwriting: First Steps. They gave me a much-needed escape from my day job, a safe place to play with ideas and, more than anything, the confidence to carry on writing. I went on to do the Creative and Life Writing MA at Goldsmiths, which I loved.

How did you get your novel published?

For me, it was all about finding a brilliant agent; things moved pretty quickly after that. I had dalliances with various agents – some had approached me, others I had approached – before I signed with Emma Paterson at RCW last summer. She helped me to do a few edits and then submitted the book to publishers in November. I received a few offers and decided to go with Viking/Penguin.

What would your advice for a new writer be?

Don’t pay too much attention to ‘rules of writing’ and don’t take criticism to heart. All writers can benefit from editorial advice; no one is a perfect genius. Not even Fitzgerald; Susan Bell’s book The Artful Edit provides a fascinating insight into how his editor, Max Perkins, helped him to improve The Great Gatsby. You don’t need to take on board everyone’s ideas, though – just the ones that resonate with you.

Most of all, just get on with it. As Dorothy Parker said, ‘Writing is the art of applying the ass to the seat.’

What are you working on now?

I’m working on some short stories and also a second novel, which is completely different to the first. I’m still feeling my way through the story.

Have you given up the day job?

I’ve just left my day job, because I needed a break to focus on my second novel. It’s definitely possible to write and work full-time (not just possible, but necessary – you’ve got to eat!), but it can be challenging. I don’t think work is the enemy, though; even the dullest office is rich with drama. I’m sure I’ll be back at another job sometime soon, but for now I’m just going to enjoy writing.

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