Friday, May 17, 2019

Edinburgh Napier lecturer Daniel Shand gets shortlisted for presitigous 2019 Encore Award

Massive congratulations to our MA Creative Writing team member Daniel Shand, whose latest book Crocodile has just been shortlisted for the prestigious Encore Award.

First presented in 1990, the Encore Award celebrates outstanding second novels with the winner receiving £10,000. Joining Daniel's novel Crocodile on the 2019 shortlist are Perfidious Albion by Sam Byers; Gamble by Kerry Hadley-Pryce; Kitch by Anthony Joseph; Normal People by Sally Rooney; and Jott by Sam Thompson. Award judge Edmund Gordon had this to say:
In Crocodile, Daniel Shand has created some of the most hauntingly damaged characters I’ve encountered for a long time. This is a riveting, heart-breaking, consistently unpredictable novel by an enormously gifted young writer.
Published by Sandstone Press, Crocodile is set in the summer before Chloe goes to high school and she’s been sent to her grandparents because her mother can’t cope. At first, all Chloe wants is to go home, but when she falls in with a feral gang of local boys, life takes a darker turn. By the time summer ends, Chloe will have learned where the greater danger lies.

The winner of the 2019 Encore Award will be announced on Thursday 13 June. Past recipients of the prize administered by the Royal Society of Literature include Colm Tóibín, Ali Smith, and Neel Mukherjee.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Success on page and stage for MA Creative Writing graduates from Edinburgh Napier

We're always delighted to see graduates from our Creative Writing MA getting noticed, and this month has already brought a trinity of success stories from alumni of the programme, spanning page and stage.

Anna Ibbotson's short story Do No Harm has been selected for the Best of British Science Fiction 2018 anthology being published next month by Newcon Press. Her work will be rubbing shoulders with stories by acclaimed and best-selling SF authors such as Alistair Reynolds, Aliya Whiteley and Lavie Tidhar.

Anna's story was first published in Shoreline of Infinity issue 11, but was originally written for an assessment on the MA. 'It was written as part of the genre fiction module,' Anna recalled on Twitter last week, 'and the feedback as part of that made it infinitely stronger!'

Crime fiction is another area when alumni have been making their mark. Each May the Crime Writers' Association announces longlists for its prestigious Dagger Awards at Crimefest in Bristol, and this year's longlists include a graduate of Edinburgh Napier's programme.

Mairi Campbell-Jack is one of ten writers longlisted for the 2019 Debut Dagger, for the opening of a crime novel by an author without a traditional publishing contract. Her book is the wittily entitled Self-Help for Serial Killers: Let Your Creativity Bloom.

She says completing the MA was an important step on her writing journey: 'I used so much of the learning in writing the synopsis and constructing the plot, used a character from my major project and more.' The Dagger Award shortlists are announced in the summer, we'll keep our fingers crossed.

Grant O'Rourke on stage in Jocky Wilson Said
But graduate success is not always on the page. This week the celebrated A Play, A Pie and A Pint theatre season at Oran Mor in Glasgow features a revival of Jocky Wilson Said, a play written by MA Creative Writing graduate Jane Livingstone and her sibling Jonathan Cairney.

The one-man play celebrates legendary Scottish darts champion Jocky Wilson, brought back to life on stage by Outlander actor Grant O'Rourke. The play is one of three Jane has written for A Play, A Pie and A Pint, but her successes haven't stopped there.

She is among the writers chosen for the Scottish Voices development drama group by the BBC writersroom. She had two scripts optioned last year, and another play commissioned, all while being a director of the Outwith Festival in Dunfermline.

Massive congratulations to all three of these alumni!

Monday, February 25, 2019

Selection process for MA Creative Writing at Edinburgh Napier University 2019-20

Unique is a great way to describe our creative writing MA at Edinburgh Napier University in Scotland. For a start, we put genre fiction front and centre in our course. If you love science fiction, fantasy, crime or horror, many creative writing MFAs and MAs don't want to know - but we embrace great genre writing and people who want to write it.

Another unique focus at Edinburgh Napier is graphic novels and comics, which most programmes ignore. We love this medium so much we devote an entire module about it, Writing Graphic Fiction. [Good news: no talent for drawing required!] We also specialise in Young Adult fiction, with acclaimed YA author Laura Lam leading a great module on this.

Edinburgh Napier's creative writing MA does not offer a poetry option. I repeat, we do not teach poetry. There are plenty of great courses with brilliant poets on their faculty - if you want to study poetry, seek those out. We have had prize-winning poets as students on our programme, but we don't teach or critique poetry.

There are no peer review workshops in Creative Writing MA classes at Edinburgh Napier. I repeat, no peer review workshops. This boggles the mind of some people, as such workshops are the dominant teaching style for creative writing pretty much everywhere else. But we don't have them in our classes. Not one!

Instead, you are encouraged to critically self-reflect on your work [with prompts from us], and to share that thinking. You get professional editorial feedback on your writing and your self-reflection skills, delivered masterclass-style in class. And you get six hours of one-to-one mentoring.

If that sounds enticing, here's how you apply for our course. Like so much of our programme, the admissions process we use to select students also seems to be unique...

First, you fill in and submit an application form [there are links to an online version top right of this page]. We welcome applicants who already have a degree - it doesn't have to be in English, English literature or some form of creative writing. We also recognise prior learning and writing experience in those who don't have a degree yet.

The crucial section of your form is the personal statement. This is where you tell us about your aspirations as a writer, and why our programme can help. Here's a hint: don't just copy and paste in your usual personal statement. We look to see if applicants have done their research on the course and have enthusiasm for our specialisms.

Do your homework and research our programme. Read the other entries on this blog. If you want your application taken seriously, show us you've taken our course seriously. Remember, your personal statement is also a chance to showcase your ability as a writer. So blow our socks off!

All being well, we'll progress you to the next stage of our selection process. We don't expect a writing sample with your application. Instead we'll invite you to undertake a writing challenge. We ask you to write us an original short story of up to 500 words, and you'll have a week to submit. This matches the writing challenges students face many weeks on our MA.

We give you a choice of first sentences. You select one and use that as the opening for your story. We let you decide when to receive the brief, so you can choose a week to suit you. And we include the criteria used to assess your story, so the process is transparent.

Once you've sent in your story, we read and assess it. Some applicants get turned away at this stage - we take roughly one out of every five people who apply. But if your story shows promise, we will invite you to an interview - face to face or via Skype.

The interview lasts about an hour. During that time we use a teaching and learning activity from our course to assess you. This also gives you insight into our programme and how we teach. Your interview should be an enjoyable experience, and not an interrogation!

We let you know within a day if we're offering you a place - no waiting for months to find out [and no fee to apply, either!]. We use a rolling admissions process: once we're full, we're full. Our course takes a maximum of 16 full-time students a year, and up to four part-timers who are with us for two years.

If you still have any questions, get in touch before you apply. Email lecturer David Bishop here: The sooner you apply, the better your chances...

Monday, January 14, 2019

Stunning new books and literary zines coming from MA Creative Writing graduates in 2019

We couldn't be prouder to welcome news of two stunning books from graduates of the Creative Writing MA at Edinburgh Napier University, both coming your way in 2019!

February sees the launch of When I Had a Little Sister, a memoir by Catherine Simpson. She started work on an early version of this compelling narrative while studying on the MA programme.

Publisher Fourth Estate describes the book as "a searingly honest and heartbreaking account of growing up in a farming family, and of Catherine's search for understanding into what led a younger sister to kill herself at 46. It's a story of sisters and sacrifice, grief and reclamation, and of the need to speak the unspeakable."

When I Had a Little Sister is already attracting amazing blurbs from noted authors. Janice Galloway writes that "this book’s secret weapon - alongside the strength and power of its story - is the remarkable voice that fires from the page to the heart with no hesitation at all. Just Wonderful."

James Robertson saus "Catherine Simpson’s memoir of her sister Tricia’s suicide mixes the coolness of her journalistic training with the subjective pain of loss in dreadful circumstances. But something else is on these pages: frustration and anger – with Tricia, with herself and with other relatives – that if only the family tradition of silence and the suppression of feelings had been challenged earlier things might have been different. In analysing the inherited values and habits of a lifetime, Simpson breaks the silence and liberates herself."

June sees the launch of This House of Wounds, the first collection by MA graduate Georgina Bruce. Published by Undertow, it features incredible cover art by Catrin Welz-Stein.

Since graduating Georgina's powerful and often perturbing narratives have been published in numerous titles, including Interzone, Black Static and many other notable fiction journals. Georgina's story White Rabbit won the 2017 British Fantasy Award for short fiction - a stunning achievement. Now Undertow is gathering a hand-picked selection of these memorable narratives.

Last Halloween we celebrated the launch of Blood Bath Literary Zine. Created and edited by another MA graduate, Katy Lennon, Blood Bath is dedicated to exposing Scottish fiction’s weird horror underbelly, publishing horror/genre poetry, short stories and illustrations.

The first issue was devoted to BODIES, and featured work by Kristy Falconer - a currnet student on our MA programme - alongside that of one of our award-winning graduates, Ever Dundas. Blood Bath is now accepting submissions on the theme of DEMONS for its second issue - deadline if February 14th, 2019. Click here to find out more about this disturbing new literary zine!

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

MA Creative Writing prepares to welcome 10th cohort @EdinburghNapier University

This is the calm between the cohorts. We had final tutorials with students from our 2017-18 cohort last week, and they are now venturing out into the wider community of writing and reading. Meanwhile Edinburgh has bid a fond farewell to the world's largest arts festival, giving the city a chance to breath a sigh of relief and collapse on the nearest sofa or bench for a while.

It's been an amazing summer, topped off by the majestic Edinburgh International Book Festival. Best-selling book at the festival this year was Scotland's literary journal Gutter, whose 18th issue came bound with a collection of essays called The Freedom Papers. Two graduates from our MA had work in that mighty tome, Catherine Simpson in Gutter 18 ad Ever Dundas in The Freedom papers.

From left: Robin Spinks, Ever Dundas, and Ali Millar-McMeeken
Ever was a guest speaker at the book festival, debating the intersections of freedom, technology and disability with Robin Spinks of the RNIB. This fascinating event was chaired by another graduate of Edinburgh Napier's Creative Writing MA, Ali Millar-McMeeken [see photo above]. Across town a current MA student, Noelle Harrison, read from her newly published novel The Gravity of Love in a book fringe festival at Blackwell's Bookshop.

With the festival over and temperatures turning toward the autumnal, the programme team are being preparing for the 2018-19 academic year - and our tenth cohort! Hard to believe the Creative Writing MA has been running since 2009, but it's also a joy to see so many graduates being published, winning prizes, and going on to complete PhDs.

The class of 2018-19 is going to be our biggest cohort ever, with close to 20 full-time students, many of them joining us from across the Atlantic. It's always exciting to welcome a new cohort, to see what stories they want to write, the themes they want to explore and the genres they want to challenge. For now, as ever, there is only one thing left to say: onwards!

Monday, May 28, 2018

We are now wait-listing new applicants for our Creative Writing MA September 2018 cohort!

The MA Creative Writing programme at Edinburgh Napier University in Scotland is now wait-listing new applicants for our September 2018 cohort. The programme is proving incredibly popular this year, with an amazingly high standard of applications.

As a result, we have already offered all the full-time and part-time places available for the coming academic year, which starts in September 2018. That doesn't mean we are closed to new applications - not yet! But we believe it is only fair to warn people about the waiting list.

Much as we hope to work with all the applicants to whom we make an offer, one or two are unable to take up their place most years - often due to a change in their personal or financial circumstances. Some defer starting for a year, others withdraw their application.

If and when some with an offer lets us know they can't take their place this year, we offer it to the next successful applicant on the waiting list. So if you are thinking about applying to our MA this year, don't delay any longer!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Successes for our MA Creative Writing students

The Creative Writing MA programme at Edinburgh Napier is celebrating successes for two of our current cohort - one is having a novel published this money, while the other got to the final twelve for a prestigious crime writing contest.

Noëlle Harrison is a first-year part-time student on the MA, but that hasn't stopped her getting a novel published by Edinburgh imprint Black and White. The Gravity of Love [due out May 24th] is a tale about love, loss and the search for answers, moving between the Swinging Sixties in London and late 1980s life in Arizona and Ireland.

This isn't Noëlle's first published novel, but she joined the Creative Writing MA at Edinburgh Napier to challenge herself creatively. 'This book was written before I joined the course, but I changed the last chapter after taking the First Person Narrative.'

Author Sandra Ireland described The Gravity of Love as 'a vivid, gripping tale of family secrets and lost love', while writer Liz Nugent says 'Noëlle Harrison connects her beautifully drawn characters and weaves them into a story that entangled, enchanted and entranced this reader' - high praise!

The First Person Narrative module also proved fruitful for full-time student Vicki Ridley. She used feedback to revise a short story she wrote for that class, and entered it into the prestigious Margery Allingham Short Story Competition. Run by the Crime Writers' Association, this contest attracts hundreds of entries from around the world, many by published authors.

Vicki's story Dead Coral was one of twelve longlisted from all the 2018 entries - not bad for a module assessment! 'It's a huge honour,' Vicki said on Twitter when the final twelve were announced, 'I am so excited!'

Alas, Vicki's tale of a murderous diving trip didn't make the shortlist but getting on the longlist is a notable achievement for someone still completing their Masters in Creative Writing. We can't wait to read what nefarious narratives Vicki and all our other talented students write next!