Tag: The Novel Studio (page 2 of 5)

City Writes Summer 2023 Event: A Braw Night to Remember

By Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone

There’s nothing like an evening of readings from brilliant writers to make a summer evening special and this term’s City Writes on the 5th July was a festival of writing filled with moments of tension, terror and tenderness.

 

We kicked off the evening with the first of our competition winners, Novel Writing and Longer Works alumnus, Richard Hastings, who read from his novel-in-progress. The extract, ‘Jumble’, took us into old boxes in his character’s mother’s cupboard where it turns out she’d kept the right half of several pairs of his old childhood shoes, right down to one tiny little wellington boot. The whole audience were drawn into that moment of connection between mother and son.

 

From the importance of one set of objects to the embodied resonance of a piano, we took a step into memoir and the importance of the matrilineal connection of music next with Novel Studio alumna, Helen Ferguson, who read from her memoir-in-progress. We were lucky enough to see, in the background of Helen’s screen, the very piano her extract, ‘My Grandmother’s Piano’, spoke so eloquently about. The words were music to our ears and we look forward to hearing more about this project.

 

We took a step into the dark and unpredictable world of the social media alias next, in an extract from another Novel Studio alumna, Lana Younis, reading from her revenge comedy, Play The Long Game. The chat buzzed with delight at the northern, scathing voice of the protagonist as she went over her day and discovered some salacious news in her evening bath with her glass of merlot. This is another novel-in-progress we’re eager to read more of.

 

We stepped away from the horrors in one mind, to the dangers of airport security next with an emotionally taut and affecting short story by Introduction to Copywriting alumna Camille Poole, ‘Brown Male’. Along with Camille the whole audience were moved by sharing the character’s experience of watching her brave, young superhero son face the humiliation of institutional racism, whilst shaming herself for daring to call it out. Such a powerful story that there was a real sense of pause before we could move on.

 

Novel Studio alumna, Emily Shamma had the difficult task of following Camille, but she took us on her own emotional journey in her piece, ‘Kate’, an extract from her novel-in-progress, The Complicit. The extract followed Kate as she navigated the complexities of a miscarriage that was initially an unintended pregnancy turned from happy uncertainty to grief.

 

Our audience were certainly on a rollercoaster of feeling that our final competition winner and Novel Studio alumna, Kate Henderson, refused to let us get off. She read her short story, ‘What Happened at Judith’s’, a masterful account of a young girl’s afternoon play date that ended with a painful revelation and a broken arm. Told in spars

e and meticulously navigated prose, it was a fabulous way to end the readers from this extremely talented bunch of City’s Creative Writing short course alumni.

 

Luckily, we had the joy of hearing from Writers’ Workshop alumna and prize-winning writer, Emma Grae next. Emma read short extracts from both her novels: her Scots Book of the Year 2022 debut, Be Guid tae yer Mammy, published by Unbound in 2021 and her second novel, The Tongue She Speaks published by Luath Press in October 2022.

 

Emma’s writing is rich with Scots and it was brilliant to get the chance to hear the writing come alive in her voice. Following these extracts, we were treated to a Q&A in which Emma explored not only the inspirations behind her work, but also her publishing journey. Teasing out the importance of valuing all voices and entering into the publishing industry with one’s eyes wide open, Emma gave us much to think about. She also shared great news about her new works, a book in Scots for children and a third novel. We can’t wait to read them.

 

City Writes Summer 2023 Event was a braw night indeed. If you missed it, you can watch the event HERE. And don’t forget City Writes is a termly event. Find out more and watch out for competition dates on this blog. If this term is anything to go by, the work at City Writes goes from strength to strength.

Novel Studio Showcase 2023

By Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone

 

There’s nothing quite like listening to new writing talent and this year’s 2022/23 cohort of Novel Studio students held their own in a fantastic showcase event of their writing, reading their extracts with professional aplomb.

 

The evening began with an overview of the unbelievable list of published alumni including Novel Studio tutor, Kiare Ladner, Deepa Anappara, Hannah Begbie, Harriet Tyce, Elizabeth Chakrabarty, Attiyah Khan, Anna Mazzola and Greg Keen. Next year will also see alumna Lara Haworth’s debut, Monumenta, which will be published in June 2024 and just this week a new announcement about another alumna, Jo Cunningham, whose murder mystery, Death By Numbers, will be out with Constable in August 2024. The Novel Studio is incredibly proud of its alumni and their ongoing successes. You can find out even more about the alumni here.

 

2019 saw the introduction of the Novel Studio scholarship, generously funded by alumna Harriet Tyce. The scholarship provided a fully funded place for one successful applicant to the course from a low-income household. We’re immensely grateful to Harriet for this brilliant scheme which ran for the fourth time this year, and excited that The Book Edit will be continuing the scholarship for a fifth year for the 2023/24 Novel Studio cohort.

 

Alison Halsley

This year was a difficult one emotionally for students and staff. We were all devastated earlier this year when one of our treasured students, Alison Halsley, tragically died. Alison had a darkly comic sense of humour and her lively prose and personality has been missed in class and was missed at the showcase. This year’s showcase anthology is dedicated to her memory. She never failed to make us laugh with her work and we’re very sorry for her loss.

 

In spite of these difficult circumstances, the students managed to remain incredibly focussed and dedicated to their writing as the readings were soon to show.

 

Inspiring them on, we were lucky enough to hear from alumna, Lara Haworth, who joined the event to wish the students well with their ongoing careers, encouraging them to appreciate the nurture and support offered by the Novel Studio during and after the completion of the course. We couldn’t be happier for Lara and we will hold her to the invitation she made to all of the attendees to celebrate at the launch party of her debut in 2024.

Lara Haworth

Filled with Lara’s enthusiasm, the students’ readings kicked off to a fiery start with our first reader, Emily Shamma whose novel The Complicit, moves between London in 2010 and Oxford in the nineties, unravelling a darkly comic tale of love, damage and betrayal. Emily left us reeling from her character’s discovery of his car, burnt and marked by ominous graffiti on the wall behind it. An unnerving but dramatic opening for the talent to come.

 

We left the dodgy North London back street for a tale of two friends in 2000s West England next as author Marc-Anthony Hurr read from his novel, The Millennials. The chat lit up with enthusiasm for Marc-Anthony’s description of childhood friendship and the dizzy descriptions of the onset of epilepsy.

We left love and friendship behind for the acerbic and dangerously anonymous world of social media where a desire for revenge allows an alter ego to take increasing control in the tangible world as Lana Younis read from her novel, Play The Long Game.

 

Lana’s discovery ringing in our ears, we headed to London’s future next, taking a psychic journey into Heidi Ng’s novel, Divination. The idea of a futuristic novel with its roots in the Oracle of Delphi excited us all and we were dazed by our trip into the psychic realm.

Abim Tayo read for us next, sharing an extract from his novel, Dancing in the Snow, set in Lagos. The audience was terrified by the childhood memory of a man shaking a car and smearing it with faeces. It certainly made us all excited to hear what would happen next.

 

Transporting us to the Bucharest Ring Road, we heard from Nico Bechis next as she read from her novel Horse With No Rider, introducing us to casual prostitution and the delights of swearing in Romanian. A haunting and eloquent portrait, we were all hooked.

 

We went from the transactional to the tender mesh of relationships forged in teenage years next as we heard Matthew Triggs read from his novel, ST16. A sentimental kiss in the swirl of light snowfall caught by the soft glow of the street lamps, held us all in unfulfilled longing.

Following the relationship theme, we found ourselves contemplating the possible political complexities of love in Monica Bathiya’s extract from her novel, Middle Ground, next. The subtle shifts of inner thought had us all wondering what would happen to Monica’s characters, whether there was real love between them and even then if it was enough to survive the complexities of post-pandemic Mumbai.

 

Taking us into the glamorous world of the celebrity and business elite next, Gayle Killilea threw us right into the middle of her fast-paced romantic thriller, The Heart Wants What The Heart Wants, as she shared her character Walter’s typical morning routine. The audience chat revealed a rather desperate desire for a night out with Walter, as long as he was paying.

 

We went from fast cars to a more sedate 60th in a pub garden next with Ben O’Donnell as he read from his novel, Sweet Caroline. A wonderfully pitched extract that gave us all Caroline was thinking whilst revealing so much more to the audience, we were left eager to find out what would happen to this seemingly happy family, sensing all was not as it seemed.

 

From family celebration to late night clubbing, we hit the dance floor with Marta Ramos next as she read from her novel, Spaghetti Meatballs. Filled with the energy and rush of youth, we couldn’t get enough of Marta’s extract and were sorry to see her character fall into bed, wishing instead we were speeding through the night on the back of a scooter.

 

Novel Studio Scholarship Winner Sonia Hope read next, taking us from the dance floor to the more sedately curated space of the Library, as she read from her novel, The Archivist. What would happen to these two characters whose first meeting was tinged with the awkwardness of intrigue and desire?

 

Taking us from one archive to another, we went headlong into the digital archive next with our final reader, Charles Williams. He read an extract from his novel, The London Project, giving us a filmic view into the first meeting of two lovers-to-be. Voyeuristic? Perhaps. But he reassured us that it was really ok to watch and listen, afterall, we needed to understand that these characters were all dead.

 

It was an enigmatic and poignant ending to a scintillating night of readings from some extremely talented writers. Thanking the students, the tutors Kiare Ladner and Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone, and the Novel Studio Director, Emily Pedder, we also thanked the staff at City, particularly Josie Gleave and Robert Lastman. The audience was also thanked for their great contribution to the night.

 

What a fantastic showcase for the bestselling and prize-winning writers of the future. Go Novel Studio Cohort 2022/23!

And for anyone who wasn’t able to be there you can now watch a recording from the event HERE.

Novel Studio Deadline 30th June 2023

The deadline for the Novel Studio is fast approaching! You have until 5pm on June 30th to send in your application.

Tick Tock

This flagship year-long course has been instrumental in launching the careers of many novelists. From bestselling crime writer Harriet Tyce to award-winning novelist Deepa Anappara, the Novel Studio is the place to develop and grow as a writer.
From researching your ideas, plotting and planning to writing, editing and familiarising yourself with the publishing industry, the programme will guide you through the tricky terrain of novel writing.
Taught by established writers and editors, with opportunities to meet literary agents and publishing professionals, if you’re ready to take your novel writing to the next level, this course is for you.
Apply directly with 2000 words of your fiction and a CV to Emily.Pedder.1@city.ac.uk
Deadline 30th June 5pm.
We look forward to reading your applications!

City Writes Summer 2023 Event Competition Winners Announced

We’re delighted to share the winners of this term’s City Writes Competition who will be reading their work alongside the fantastic, Emma Grae at 7pm on the 5th July, on Zoom. You can register to come along and listen to them here.

 

This term’s winners are:

 Helen Ferguson for ‘My Grandmother’s Piano’, an extract from her translation memoir.

Helen Ferguson

Helen is a translator of Russian and German. Her first piece of writing was published in the Lighthouse Literary Journal. She completed The Novel Studio in 2020 and is now working on a translator memoir under the mentorship of Megan Bradbury.

Richard Hastings

Richard Hastings for ‘Jumble’, an extract from his novel-in-progress.

Richard had a successful career in TV (BBC, ITV, C4) before the City Novel Writing and Longer Works short course in summer 2021 inspired him to embark on a major life change. He left the television industry and returned to university (after a 31-year gap!) to take the First Novel MA at St. Mary’s University, London, graduating in Spring 2023 with distinction. Richard is currently working on the third draft of his first novel, which he is hoping to submit to literary agents (sometime!) in the Autumn.

Kate Henderson

Kate Henderson for her story ‘What Happened at Judith’s’.

Kate is an alumna of the Certificate in Novel Writing (now The Novel Studio) and Writers’ Workshop. Growing up in quiet streets in towns where nothing much happened, her writing likes to ask what might be going on unseen next door, or across the way, and casts an eye on the unexpected in the seemingly everyday. Her novel-in-progress, All We Have to Go On is set in a luxury retreat for the cryogenically frozen and follows an artist as she tries to remember who she is and comply with her rehabilitation in a world where she can’t be sure she’s safe.

Kate works in professional services and lives in Surrey with her partner and daughters.

Camille Poole

Camille Poole for her story, ‘Brown Male’.

Camille found her way to City Writes through the Introduction to Copywriting course. She works for a Milton Keynes’ based community charity whilst drafting her WIP, a new adult novel which explores themes of othering and generational curses.

Emily Shamma for ‘Kate’, an extract from her novel-in-progress,

Emily Shamma

Emily is a City periodical journalism and Novel Studio graduate. A former Vogue Talent Contest winner, she started her career as a fashion journalist, before moving into business journalism. Following this, Emily worked in the City, then as a Director at Tesco for seventeen years. But her passion has always been writing, and she now writes creatively for pleasure—alongside running her own business, navigating a hectic London family life, and stoking a serious restaurant, theatre and gallery addiction.

Lana Younis for an extract from her novel-in-progress, Play The Long Game.

Lana, a proud native of Yorkshire and coincidentally born on National Yorkshire Day, embarked on her writing journey during her rebellious teenage years. In 2022, she embraced her passion by enrolling on the Novel Writing and Longer Works course at City University. She swiftly joined The Novel Studio to explore the realms of literary dark humour. Her debut novel, Play The Long Game, serves as a testament to her love for writing unreliable narrators and morally ambiguous characters driven by their relentless pursuit of personal gain.

Lana Younis

These talented authors will all be reading their winning pieces on the 5th July over Z  oom at 7pm. Register here to join them and hear from prize-winning alumna, Emma Grae. From revenge through carefully preserved mementos all the way to the casually observed affairs of the neighbours, City Writes Summer Event 2023 promises to have you on the edge of your seat. We can’t wait to see you there.

City Writes Springs Into Its Seventh Year!

By Rebekah Latin-Rawstrone

Every term the City Writes event brings a sense of excitement at the prospect of listening to fantastic writers and alumni both new and established. This term was no different and remarkably, this Spring City Writes marked six years of the event. What a celebration of that landmark this event was, really showcasing the excellent writing coming out of the short courses here at City

We began with City Writes veteran and fantasy writer, Adam Zunker. An alumnus of An Approach to Creative Writing and Writers’ Workshop, Adam read an extract from his novel-in-progress, The Perfectation(loosely) based on the experiences of his Viennese grandmother as a refugee. He is pitching it as ‘Amadeus, but with alchemists’ and we were lucky enough to hear a moment of drama as one woman and her daughter, long in hiding, were captured but not by those they were expecting. The audience was left on tenterhooks wondering quite what this moment would bring for the characters. Bring on the rest of the book!

Next we took a completely different turn. Though staying with fiction inspired by real life, Angel Witney, alumna of Novel Writing and Longer Works, took us into the waiting room as her character played ‘a never-ending game of tag with the present moment’, time bending out of proportion and distorting her sense of wellbeing. Her extract ‘The Waiting Room’ was an excruciating but eloquent account of how our minds can alter reality, whetting our appetites for more of this work-in-progress.

Grayson Anderson, Novel Studio graduate, author and poet (and another City Writes alumnus!), read for us next, taking us into the passionate and dangerous world of the extra-marital affair. Fast-paced and filled with deftly observed detail and dialogue, Grayson brought the initial fall out of an affair’s discovery to brilliant and gritty light. We can’t wait to find out more about ‘Wayne’s Night Out’, another extract from a longer piece the audience couldn’t wait to read.

Moving from one kind of love to another, we journeyed down nostalgia lane with  Narrative Non-Fiction alumnus, Bruce O’Brien, next. Bruce’s story ‘The Eels of Wrath’ mixed memory, narrative and poetry to moving effect, giving us an account of an old couple who used to live in the East End of London. There were some definite signs of eyes being wiped in the Zoom windows of our audience. We hope to hear more of these stories soon.

From fiction to elegant non-fiction, we slipped into a different kind of elegy with Philipp Sandmann, another  Narrative Non-Fiction alumnus, who read his article, ‘Germans No Longer Score Penalties and That’s a Problem Or: Why the Only Thing We’ve Got Left is Bloody Great bBread…’. There were so many comments in the chat through this piece, mostly worrying that Germany couldn’t really have similar problems to our own! Philipp joined us from Berlin and is busy working on a book for a UK audience about the modern German soul and the myth of German efficiency. Judging by the City Writes reception, he has a very ready audience waiting to read it.

Aaron Payne, a Writer’s Workshop alumnus, read for us next. Aaron gave us an extract from his novel-in-progress, Our Man in the Clouds, in which a disgruntled meteorologist tries, but fails, to stay out of the global tussle for climate control. His extract took us to a remembered journey to Provence in 2015 when the narrator and his colleague, Siobhan, visited Professor Merryweather to discuss the possibility of setting up a climate school. More about the sexual encounter between Tony and Siobhan than the disastrous visit with the Merryweathers, the extract had us hooked. Another novel to look out for.

After these fantastic competition winners, we had the joy of listening to Hannah Begbie read from the opening of her second, prize-winning novel, Blurred Lines (HarperCollins, 2020), which tackles the film industry’s darker truths and the difficulties of speaking out in a pre MeToo era. We followed Becky as she attempted to impress her boss with a gift of some expensive wine before a trip to Cannes. Once at his house, having always been encouraged just to come on in through the open door, she witnessed something she wished she hadn’t. Thankfully, this time, audience members could go right out and buy the novel to find out what happened next. You can do the same here!

Alumna of the Novel Studio, Hannah was very generous in her answers to questions and particularly eloquent on the importance of writing from the heart. She shared writing tips, emphasised the importance of maintaining your writing allies, and gave a sneaky insight into her next novel.

You can hear the whole City Writes event and listen to the full Q&A with Hannah Begbie, by watching the video of the event HERE.

Don’t forget to look out for details of next term’s City Writes event and competition. Our guest writer next term will be the wonderful, Emma Grae whose debut novel, Be Guid tae yer Mammy (Unbound, 2021), won the Scots Book of the Year 2022.

City Writes Spring 2023 Competition Winners Announced

By Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone

 

 

We’re delighted to announce the winners of this term’s City Writes Competition, who will be joining our fantastic author and alumna, Hannah Begbie, on the virtual stage at 7pm on the 29th March. You can book your tickets here.

This term’s winners will be taking us on a journey from a consultant’s waiting room, through two different explorations of love in London, a moment’s passion in a car, a kidnapping in a fantasy world, all the way through to a contemplation of the myth of German efficiency. There’s football, alcohol, sex, fighting, nostalgia and altered states of consciousness. What’s not to like?

The author biographies of these wonderful winning stories and extracts follow:

Grayson Anderson is a British born Jamaican author and poet. A graduate from City’s Novel Studio, Grayson was shortlisted for the Spread The Word emerging writers programme and long listed for the Book Edit Writers’ Prize. His catalogue of work contains songs, poetry, a science fiction trilogy, and an opinion-based non-fiction book relating to the idiosyncrasies of gender in society.

Grayson Anderson

Hailing from the East End of London, Bruce O’Brien is a fledgling but passionate writer. Having dabbled with minor success, Bruce enrolled on the Narrative Non-Fiction course, where he has found added confidence to pursue his love of writing. Colourful life experience provides a rich backdrop for Bruce’s writing. Despite such a tapestry, his story ‘The Eels of Wrath’ was discovered by digging around his roots, where he found a nostalgic yet topical socio-political love story.

Bruce O’Brien

Aaron Payne is a new writer and alumnus of City University’s Writer’s

Aaron Payne

Workshop. He is writing a novel and a short story collection. Last year Cranked Anvil shortlisted his flash piece, ‘Postcard’ and Flash 500 is considering another, ‘Flowers’. In Aaron’s novel-in-progress, Our Man in the Clouds, the climate is collapsing and global powers tussle for control of the weather. A disgruntled meteorologist tries, but fails, to stay out of it.

Narrative Non-Fiction alumnus, Philipp Sandmann

is a political journalist and commentator working for Germany’s broadcaster RTL. Philipp is based in Berlin and reports on international topics such as the war in Ukraine. Having lived and studied in the UK for six years, Philipp learnt about the unique relationship between Germans and Brits. He is working on a book for a UK audience about the modern German soul and the myth of German efficiency.

Angel Witney, alumna of Novel Writing and Longer Works, is a writer, spoken word poet, actor and dancer based in London. Her writing is inspired by her personal experiences, looking particularly at topics like mental health, sexuality, and relationships. As well as longer-form fiction, Angel writes poetry and performs her pieces at open mic events. She is also an actor with professional credits in TV and film such as ‘In Bruges’, ‘Atonement’ and ‘Poirot’.

Angel Witney

Adam Zunker’s background is in journalism and politics and he’s had many articles published in national newspapers. He lives in London with his wife and daughter, though he is also fighting a losing battle restoring a thatched cottage in Dorset. His historical fantasy, The Perfectation, is (very loosely) based on the experiences of his Viennese grandmother as a refugee. Adam is an alumnus of An Approach to Creative Writing and the Writers’ Workshop.

Adam Zunker

For your chance to hear these exciting emerging authors alongside the award-winning Hannah Begbie, just register for the City Writes Spring 2023 event here. It’s at 7pm on the 29th March and we can’t wait to see you there.

 

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.

Growth Spurt: Why It’s Never Too Late to Start Learning

Learning something new doesn’t have to stop when you leave school, or even university. Whether you choose a completely new path or up skill within your chosen field, more and more people are discovering the benefits – and joys – of lifelong learning.

Read on for the impact a City Short Course has had on these students’ lives…

Nathaniel Ashley took City’s Short Story Writing course, led by Katy Darby. As he puts it ‘I had tried numerous times to write a novel, and had often found myself developing ideas for sequels in my head long before I got anywhere near finishing the book. The short story course gave me the opportunity to create a finished piece of work, and gave me a better sense of story structure.’

‘Katy gave us exercises that really helped us experiment with a variety of different formats, all the while building up the skills that would help write a completed short story. It was also lovely to meet a group of like-minded people, and get more comfortable giving and receiving feedback.

‘The course made me much more confident showing my work to other people. For instance, I submitted an extract from my short story to the City Writes competition, and was lucky enough to win. This was the first time I ever read my creative writing to an audience, and it gave me

Author photo of Nathaniel Ashley

Nathaniel Ashley

a huge boost.’

Nathaniel thinks these kind of courses are really important in a writer’s evolution. ‘They’re so useful… Not only do they improve your writing skills, but they also broaden your understanding of the wider publishing industry and how to build a career in it.’ His advice to others starting out on their writing journeys? ‘Don’t be afraid to show others your work. It will only make you a better writer.’

Nathaniel works as a freelance journalist and can be found on twitter @NateAshley10

David Thornton took City’s Immigration and Asylum Law short course with Nasreen Choudhury. He was attracted to the course as he already worked in this field and ‘wanted a broader knowledge than I could acquire in my work. I also wanted to be able to explain to others.

Author photo of David Thornton

David Thornton

‘The course gave us the opportunity to ask questions as we went along. The tutor took time to answer our questions…My knowledge and understanding of this topic was greatly developed with instruction on how to self-learn in this field in future.’

David says the course has had a very positive impact on his life: ‘I am much happier and motivated at work and have received praise for my knowledge and diligence recently. I learned what I don’t want to do career-wise and was set on a future quest for knowledge by my tutor who sign posted me to my next steps.’

Abimbola Fashola was a student on City’s Writing for Children short course in 2020 (then taught by Sophia Bennett, now by Bryony Pearce). ‘I was attracted to this course because it was in the evening, which worked for me as I am working full time,’ says Abimbola. ‘I also liked that it was a short course and the price was affordable.’

‘The course was incredibly helpful as it taught me the importance of things like “Voice” and “Showing and Telling”. We also did peer feedback which was incredibly useful.’

Author photo of Abimbola Fashola

Abimbola Fashola

The course had a big impact on Abimbola’s writing. ‘It gave me the confidence to start my manuscript and I worked on the manuscript whilst on the course.’ Since leaving the course she has been chosen as one of the seven mentees on 2021/2022 Megaphone Writer Development Scheme and was commended for the 2022 FAB Prize. Most recently signed Abimbola has signed with Ash Literary agency and is currently working on her first book. As Abimbola puts it ‘Courses like this are extremely important, especially for writers who are brand new to novel writing.’ Her advice for anyone starting out writing for children? ‘It is difficult working full time and writing so it is important to set time aside to work on your manuscript even if it is a couple of hours on a Saturday. I would also advise new writers to apply for development schemes such as Megaphone or All Stories as they give new writers invaluable time and support.

Jazz Lintott took City’s Screenwriting: First Steps short course with Maeve Murphy in 2021. Jazz says ‘The course was invaluable to me. It helped me structure my idea the correct way, giving it tension and a heartbeat. It has since been aired on TV and we have just finished writing the play for the next stage of this journey. That’s the final step before converting it into a feature film!’

Author photo of Jazz Lintott

Jazz Lintott

Jazz’s short film, Going for Gold, was broadcast on London Live in 2022 and has appeared at various film festivals. The film follows three imagined conversations based on the career of Frankie Lucas, a black British Boxer from 1970s London. Jazz is now writing a longer screenplay using tools from the work he did on the course. Speaking of his tutor, he says ‘Maeve’s leadership was thorough and informative and she was always available for advice.’

Justine Solomons is the founder of digital publishing network Byte the Book. She started studying at City because she wanted to try and improve her writing skills. She was also interested in getting involved in the publishing industry. ‘I thought that if I did a course at City – which has an excellent reputation – it might help me make useful contacts.’

‘The first course I took was Novel Writing and Longer Works, which got me started on a draft of a novel. I then attended several other short courses just one night a week, which helped me finish a draft of my novel. I eventually applied to The Novel Studio, an intensive year-long programme for aspiring novelists. It was there I learned to redraft my novel.

‘In total I studied at City for three years. The courses were great, the teaching excellent and the standard of my fellow students was particularly high. I loved working with them all and still retain the strong friendships I made during my year on The Novel Studio.

‘City was a fantastic experience for me. Not only did it help me improve my writing, but I met some great people and got inspired by the courses to get more involved in the publishing industry… After working on the end-of-term reading event for The Novel Studio, I had the idea to set up Byte the Book. When asked, I always say Byte was born at City!

Author photo of Justine Solomons

Justine Solomons

Justine originally  set up Byte the Book to help her fellow students get published and also for them to make connections in the publishing world. She has developed the business into an an established membership organization now with 400 members, 5000 subscribers, and three main aims: to help authors get published; to educate publishers and authors on technology; and to connect people within publishing and to other industries. She continues to be in touch with her fellow coursemates, some of whom have guest blogged for Byte, or written articles and book reviews on the site. Many more attend their vibrant events programme. You can find out more about Byte the Book on their site, or email justine@bytethebook.com.

 

 

Inspired? See where a short course could take you. Visit our website for full details of all our courses. Or come along to our Open Evening in March where you can take a free taster course, or talk to one of our friendly coordinators about anything from computing, business and creative industries to languages or writing courses.

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 Spring 2022 Competition Winners Announced

By Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone

We’re delighted to announce the winners of this term’s competition who will be reading their winning entries alongside debut author, Michael Mann at this term’s virtual event on Wednesday, March 30th at 7pm. Register now to join them

Spring 2022 winners

This term’s winners (in alphabetical order) are:

James Baxter

James Baxter is a long-term resident of Hackney and has been London-based since graduating from the LSE in the early 90s’. His career has been spent in the media and film sectors, including a 15-year stint as a journalist and magazine editor. James founded the PR consultancy JBM in 2010 and the film production company Mean Time Films in 2012. He is currently writing his debut short story collection. He is an alumnus of the Short Story Writing course. He will be reading an extract from ‘The Drop’.

 

Emma Bielecki

Emma Bielecki, a Narrative Non-Fiction student, is a cultural historian who splits her time between London and nineteenth-century France. She has written about things that interest her (Bob Dylan, French Belle Epoque crimes serials, pet cemeteries) for outlets such as The Junket and The Conversation, as well as in fanzine form (at www.misfitsisters.com). Emma will be reading her nonfiction short, ‘Eh-ALL-ing’.

 

Stephanie Donowho

A student of Novel Writing and Longer Works, Stephanie Donowho is from Austin, Texas, where she worked as a video editor before moving to London in 2017 to pursue a Masters in Shakespeare Studies at the Globe theatre. She has acted in over a dozen plays, co-founded a theatre company, and currently works in financial services in London. Her work was published in Mslexia‘s 2021 anthology Best Women’s Short Fiction as a runner-up in the Flash Fiction competition. She will be reading ‘Once a daughter of Eve’.

 

Sini Downing

Sini Downing (Short Story Writing and Writers’ Workshop alumna) often finds her international experiences worming their way into her creative writing. The novel, from which her excerpt, ‘The Stink of Money’ is taken, and from which she will read at City Writes, was inspired by an intense 19 months living in downtown Baltimore. Now based in London, she is Head of Studio at a production company specialising in character performances for video games. She is currently seeking representation.

 

Alison Halsey

Alison Halsey is a fiction writer and a former financial services professional, with a career lasting over 40 years. She has also served in many roles supporting charities with a focus on young people with learning disabilities. A student of An Approach to Creative Writing, Alison is currently editing her first novel Minta Gets Everything Wrong, for which she feels she has far too much personal research material, resulting in an elongated editing process. She will be reading an extract from this novel.

 

Adam Zunker

Adam Zunker has taken several short courses in creative writing at City University and is working on his first novel, a fantasy story about death, faith and hallucinogenic frogs from which he will be reading an extract for City Writes. He has spent far too many years working in politics and journalism, though both have probably provided some grounding in creative writing. He lives in London with his wife and daughter.

 

These fantastic authors will take you on a journey of frog-licking, London exploring, drug dealing, funeral attending (with chicken), feminist Bible reading, healing wonder. Reading alongside debut author, Michael Mann whose middle grade novel, Ghostcloud, set in the smoky underworld beneath Battersea Power Station, is causing quite a stir, this will be an unmissable event. Sign up here now! We’ll look forward to seeing you there!

 

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