Tag: nonfiction (page 1 of 4)

Controlling the Narrative Non-Fiction

Peter Forbes on the success of City’s Narrative Non-Fiction short course

Author photograph of writer and editor Peter Forbes

Tutor, science writer and editor, Peter Forbes

For over fifteen years, City has run its Narrative Non-Fiction short course. For almost a decade, one tutor has been at the helm.  Peter Forbes is a science writer with a special interest in the relationship between art and science. He initially trained as a chemist and worked in pharmaceutical and popular natural history publishing, whilst writing poems and articles for magazines such as New Scientist and World Medicine.

He has written numerous articles and reviews – many specialising in the relationship between the arts and science – for the GuardianIndependentThe TimesDaily MailFinancial TimesScientific AmericanNew ScientistWorld MedicineModern PaintersNew Statesman and many others.

Peter is also an editor. As editor of the Poetry Society’s Poetry Review from 1986-2002, he played a major role in the rise of the New Generation Poets. He has edited three anthologies: Scanning the Century: The Penguin Book of the Twentieth Century in Poetry (Viking, 1999), We Have Come Through (Bloodaxe, 2003) and The Picador Book of Wedding Poems (Picador, 2012). His book, The Gecko’s Foot, about the new science of bio-inspired materials, was published by Fourth Estate in 2005 and was long-listed for the Royal Society Prize. Dazzled and Deceived: Mimicry and Camouflage (Yale University Press, 2009) won the 2011 Warwick Prize for Writing. He was Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Queen Mary University of London (2004-7) and at St George’s, University of London (2010-12).

“I loved science as a child,” Peter explains. “But fell out of love with it at university, so poetry took over for a long time. What thrills me about science now is that all of the naive questions I used to ask as a student – about the origin of life; about the development of form in living creatures – are well on the way to being answered, if they haven’t been already. I can’t resist trying to tell the world about all these discoveries.

“I owe my entree into teaching to the Royal Literary Fund (RLF). The RLF scheme involves one-to-one tutoring of university students and I discovered that I enjoyed this very much. It was through the RLF that I came to City. I then discovered that I enjoy teaching a class even more than one-to-one.

“Teaching is an animated, sociable activity, unlike the solitariness of a writer’s work. I enjoy seeing people grow in confidence. As everyone gets to know each other, our classes develop into a lively discussion group from which everyone learns from each other.

“The standard at City is high and many of the students have the potential to publish successfully. Success, though, requires more than talent and I try to inculcate the attitude necessary to cope with the frustrations and setbacks that dog any published writer’s life.”

Cover picture of Dee Peyok's book Away from Beloved Lover

Away from Beloved Lover by Dee Peyok

It would seem Peter’s advice has paid off. Alumni from the course have been phenomenally successful. This year alone sees the publication of three alumni books: Dee Peyok’s Away From Beloved Lover (Granta); Claire Martin’s Heirs of Ambition (The History Press); and Aniefiok Ekpoudom’s Where We Come From (Faber). (As Dee herself tweeted recently in response to Peter’s message of congratulation on her book: “Your class really set me on my path. I can’t recommend Peter and the course enough to anyone considering it.”) Other notable alumni successes include Ciaran Thapar’s acclaimed Cut Short (Penguin) (Ciaran now teaches his own course for City: Writing for Social Impact); Deidre Finnerty’s book Bessborough (Hachette); and Jack Price’s book on Stem Cell Therapy, The Future of Brain Repair (MIT).

Cover picture of Deidre Finnerty's book

Bessborough by Deidre Finnerty

So what’s the key to the course’s success? Peter explains: “In the first half of the course we work mainly with set topics and in the second half with the students’ own work. Besides the class sessions, every student gets individual written feedback on several assignments during the course. This is professional, hands-on editing that is hard to come by elsewhere.

“The 10-week course is an ideal format in which to develop your writing skills. The friendly, enabling environment of the class takes the sting out of the anxiety of offering up your thoughts for scrutiny. It is, in fact, a milieu that many writers, at a computer or alone in a library, pine for.”

Since the pandemic the course has been delivered online and can be joined remotely from anywhere in the world. Students have been known to log in from the UK, USA, India, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Ethiopia, Haiti, Uganda, and Malaysia. And from this term City are offering the course on two nights – Tuesdays with Peter and Thursdays with acclaimed writer and teacher Holly Rigby.

For more on the course visit the home page.

For more on our other writing short courses visit our page here.

The next course starts on 17 or 19 January.

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.

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.

City Writes Summer 2022 Competition Winners Announced

We’re delighted to announce the competition winners for 2022 summer term’s City Writes event showcasing the fabulous talent coming from City’s Short Courses. These wonderful winners will be joining debut writers and alumni of the Novel StudioAttiya Khan and Simon Culleton. You can register for the Zoom event on Thursday 7th July at 7pm here.

Our winners this term are:

Richard Bowyer

Richard Bowyer for his extract, ‘The Manton Ultimatum’.

Richard Bowyer is just completing City University’s Novel Studio course. The characters and setting in ‘The Manton Ultimatum’ are drawn from The White House, his novel in development. He likes to write about the nature of community and belonging, friendship and obligation, everyday heroes, inclusion and exclusion, and how decisions get made. Richard was born and brought up in Essex and now lives in West London with his demanding cat and understanding wife.

Jonathan Gallard

Jonathan Gallard for his story, ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’.

Alumnus of the Short Story Writing course, Jonathan Gallard is a writer whose style and approach defies categorisation.  Mostly because he hasn’t written much, yet.

 

Orsolya Kiss-Toth for her extract from Nadi Leaves

Originally from Hungary, Orsolya moved to Leeds about 15 years ago where she lives with her partner. She is an HR professional and whilst she loves the challenges of her role, writing is something she’s passionate about.

Orsolya Kiss-Toth

She first joined a writing group in November 2020, is an alumna of the Writers’ Workshop, and her first novel, 24 Windows, was long listed in the Stylist Prize for Feminist Fiction 2021. She’s currently working on her second novel, Nadi Leaves.

Jordan McGarry for her creative piece, ‘The First Spring’.

Jordan McGarry

Jordan McGarry has worked in the screen industries for 20 years, initially as a journalist covering the industry, and then as a programmer, a producer and now as an executive. Jordan is endlessly interested in story, but more used to helping other people write theirs than telling her own. She is trying to be braver in 2022 (though will never be comfortable with writing about herself in the third person). She is just completing the Narrative Non-Fiction course.

Lia Martin for her story, ‘Church Bells’.

Lia Martin

Lia Martin is a Londoner completing her Creative Writing MA at Birkbeck University and was enrolled on City’s Short Story Writing course back in 2014. She started her career in the media but became a secondary teacher in 2015, working in both London and Norfolk-based schools. She now leads on English for a national network of schools and is currently working on a short story collection.

 

Su Yin Yap for her creative piece, ‘Notes on a Pregnancy’.

Su Yin Yap

​​Su Yin Yap is a psychologist and writer. Her work has been published in literary magazines and websites such as Popshot Quarterly and Litro Online, as well as various anthologies of flash fiction and creative non-fiction. She has written for the psychology section of the award winning Arts and Culture website Headstuff.org. She is currently working on a collection of essays. She is an alumna of the Short Story Writing course.

These fantastic authors will be reading online at City Writes alongside Attiya Khan and Simon Culleton on Thursday 7th July at 7pm. From village referendums through lost loves and historical feuds to the anticipation of life to come, City Writes Summer 2022 will be a night of readings to remember. You can register here. We look forward to seeing you there.

A Cautionary Tale of ‘Reply All’

We’ve all been there… you were either the recipient or the sender of an accidental reply-all email. It may have made you cringe. It may have made you wonder whether you should acknowledge your mistake. Should you apologise? Should you notify the sender? One thing is certain, it looks unprofessional. Writing for Business student, Karen Young, gives her top three reply-all blunders: how to deal with them, and how to avoid them.

 

Ready to send?

1.The time you didn’t check your email before replying all. The result: you’ve sent a comment that was meant specifically for one colleague and ended up offending the other external recipients.

We’ve all done it: hit reply-all by accident, whether it’s on your mobile or desktop, and not checked that all-important email before sending. You may have made a comment to your colleague and cc’d the external recipients. It could have been a response meant only for your colleagues.

What should you do? Acknowledge that you sent the email to the external recipients by mistake. And apologise: they could have been customers or third-party suppliers.

My advice: always triple-check your email before sending. Check the recipients and cc’s, the subject, and the body text. You will never regret doing so.

 

2.When a flurry of people reply-all to the whole company

A company-wide email is sent. The topic could be an upcoming event, a milestone, or a financial goal reached. If senior management acknowledge this, fine. But there’s no need for everyone to say “Fantastic”, or “Okay”, or “Thanks”. This type of reply-all clogs up inboxes and the server.

My advice: if you have a meaningful reply, select only those who need to hear it.

Think before you click?

3.You’ve accidentally replied all, and then those in copy purposefully reply-all to let you know you’ve replied all!

My advice: If you need to let the person know they’ve made the mistake of replying all, let them know. Everyone else on copy will already know. Reply to the sender only.

To aid the fight against the reply-all annoyance, Microsoft have helpfully enabled a feature to deal with email storms – a Reply All Storm Protection Feature. Check whether your organisation has this. It could save many headaches.

Above all, consider whether a reply-all is necessary and always triple-check your emails. It may take a few minutes when time is precious but it is always worthwhile!

Triple check before you hit send

About the author

Karen Young has worked in secretarial / assistant roles for 24 years in three different industries – law, private equity, and most recently mining. She holds a Level 3 Professional Diploma in Law through the Institute of Legal Executives. Karen enjoys learning to maintain her professional development, including the very rewarding City’s Writing for Business short course.

For more on the Writing for Business course Karen took, visit our webpage.

We are also running our Writing for Business course this summer as a one-week intensive. For more information visit the course page here.

To find out more about our vibrant writing short course portfolio, including our summer schools, visit our website here.

 

Business as Usual?

Do we create our own business stereotypes and, if so, where do these  misconceptions come from?  Writing for Business student, Stacey Steele, investigates.

Business As Usual?

I’m going to be completely honest. If you had said the word business to me three years ago, I would have visualised a group of people sat round a large table wearing smart, but monotonous, clothing. The group would mostly be men (I’m ashamed to say) and they would be listening and nodding along to their leader without question. For some reason, I always thought the environment would be tense and uptight, and personalities or fresh ideas were best left at the door if business was going to get done.

Why on earth I had these misconceptions, I do not know. I certainly never thought businesses should be run like that. I can only assume my own life experiences, which were probably hugely contributed to by certain TV shows like ‘The Apprentice’, had moulded a fixed stereotype of business settings. Based on my own knowledge and skills, it didn’t feel like it was a world I was qualified to be in and therefore definitely best left to the ‘experts’.

The dictionary definition of business is very loose. Dictionary.com describes it as ‘an occupation, profession, or trade’, ‘the purchase and sale of goods in an attempt to make a profit’ or a ‘person, partnership, or corporation engaged in commerce, manufacturing, or a service; profit-seeking enterprise or concern’. So, my own fixed view of what was basically Mr Banks at work (from the 1964 film, Mary Poppins) was restrictive, and had major potential to hold me back.

Business Revelations

Transferable skills: easy as A, B, C

Before my current role (as an Operations Manager), and for most of my adult life, I worked in education. Not strictly a business, but I would argue I gained most of my transferable skillset there. Experience quickly taught me that managing a class of children, all with different learning targets, and being able to adapt and develop to meet individual needs are all invaluable skills in a business setting. Prior to that I had various jobs in an office, shops, and a photography studio – all of which were clearly businesses. Places where goods or services were offered in exchange for payment and with the intent to make a profit. But why had I hastily dismissed these settings as being part of the business world, and therefore myself included?

It seems when we think about stereotypes and fixed ideas, we may not be self-reflecting enough. Although it is important to recognise that our own unconscious biases and stereotypical thinking can be reinforced by structural inequalities and prejudices, are we also restricting ourselves? By leaving teaching and joining the business world I suddenly had to address my own ignorance. I quickly discovered that these fixed notions of working in business were causing me to limit myself. But is it any easier to challenge misconceptions when they are our own?

What’s in a Job Title Anyway?

A possible route to feeling intimidated by business is the array of officious-sounding job titles floating around in businesses. These have the potential to create a fixed mindset of the type of character a role requires. People in senior roles may be expected to behave in a certain way, with a system of hierarchy affecting how colleagues interact with each other. But this behaviour may be assumed rather than anticipated and by continuing the cycle, rather than challenging stereotypes, nothing changes.

Doing it Differently

There are many outliers in business. Those that don’t worry about what has gone before. Industry pioneers we read about and by whom we’re inspired. I sometimes wonder if ‘imposter syndrome’ is commonplace for potential trailblazers. Are the ones who would dare to do it differently, the very people who don’t feel they belong?

Blaze your own trail

There is a risk that individuals with a unique approach could feel intimidated and dissuaded from entering a profession because of the barriers they interpret are there. Many factors can affect our opportunities, including education, gender, race, disabilities and social background. But the drive for greater diversity is gathering pace and blinkered views of who sits in the boardroom are slowly being cast out. Nevertheless, we also need to address our own self-limiting and obstructive attitudes.

Smashing Stereotypes

Create your own possible

So how do we avoid becoming victims of a perpetual self-fulfilling prophecy? What can we do to stop our preconceptions of the business world and ‘how it’s done’ from leading us to believe we don’t have a place in it? Essentially, be the change. Don’t be influenced by unwritten rules or intimidated by grand job titles. Becoming a CEO doesn’t mean you have to stay in your office and taking a trainee role shouldn’t mean others can’t learn from your ideas. Breaking conforms and challenging expectations takes bravery, but it’s the only way outdated stereotypes (even fictional ones) can become a thing of the past.

About the author

After becoming a mum at 18, Stacey Steele studied part-time whilst working in education and eventually became a qualified teacher. She decided to change direction after her husband took on his own business, and moved into a role managing operations within the company. Stacey took City’s Writing for Business Short Course with Jenny Stallard.

City are running a week-long Writing for Business Summer School in August. For more information visit our webpage.

To find out more about our vibrant short writing course portfolio, visit our website.

Older posts

© 2023 City Short Courses

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

Skip to toolbar