Thursday, March 19, 2015

POSTPONED: MA Creative Writing coffee morning

STOP PRESS: Due to unforeseen circumstances we have had to postpone the MA Creative Writing coffee morning, which was scheduled to happen tomorrow - Saturday, March 28th. We're hoping to reschedule the event for later in the summer, so watch this space for details.

But if you'd like to know more about our unique MA course, you don't have to wait. Get in touch with programme leader Sam Kelly and she'll be delighted to have an informal private meeting with you face-to-face or via Skype.

To arrange an appointment, email Sam - - or phone her on 0131 455 6381.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

2015 success stories for MA students, graduates

The cover of prestigious literary magazine Ambit's issue 219
Only a few weeks into 2015 and we're already celebrating success stories achieved by current students and recent graduates of the Creative Writing MA at Edinburgh Napier University. For example, a story by part-timer Sasha Callaghan is featured in prestigious literary quarterly Ambit. Those Steps Ahead was developed through the MA's unique mentoring module.

Recent graduate Anne Hogg had her first professional production as a playwright last month when Glasgow's Oran Mor selected her two-hander Butterfly as the lead-off show for a new season of A Play, A Pie and A Pint. The play is a black comedy about complicated lives, loves, buried secrets and a geriatric baby with an extreme fear of heights.

Final covers have been released for two graduates' novels being published this year. Wasp Or, A Very Sweet Power by Ian Garbutt is due out in March from Polygon. Here's the official blurb for the novel:

For a gentleman seeking more prestigious company amidst the bawdy houses of an eighteenth-century city, the House of Masques provides the perfect no-touch escorts. Girls, highly educated and socially trained, are geisha-like status symbols for politicians, bankers and royalty alike. Into this world comes Bethany Harris, a disgraced governess who has been rescued from a madhouse and transformed into the Masque named Wasp. She soon discovers that personal horrors, coupled with dark ambition, are leading to a crisis that threatens to destroy the House and everyone in it...

Catherine Simpson's Truestory is due out in September from Sandstone. Like Wasp, it started life as a major project on the Creative Writing MA. Here is the official blurb for the novel:

Alice's life is dictated by her autistic son, Sam, who refuses to leave their remote farm. With money running out and marriage to Duncan foundering, it seems Alice's life is shrinking to a vanishing point. But the arrival of a rootless wanderer creates fresh opportunities and dangers for everyone. Truestory examines how we are all trapped in our own ways but still have the power to can rewrite our lives. It looks at what happens when sacrifice slithers towards martyrdom, but ultimately will fill you with hope...

Thursday, January 22, 2015

We're going to AWP 2015 in Minneapolis

It's official! The entire programme team for Edinburgh Napier University's unique Creative Writing MA is attending AWP 2015 this April in Minneapolis. What's AWP? Just the world's largest creative writing conference, attracting thirteen thousand people to more than 500 events. In the past our programme has sent individual observers - this year, we're all going.

If you are planning to visit AWP 2015 in Minneapolis, make sure you come along to see us at Table 754 in the official conference bookfair. Programme leader Sam Kelly will be happy to talk about our course and its unique approach to postgrad creative writing. [Spoilers: we love and teach genre fiction, graphic novels, creative non-fiction; and we don't have workshops.]

What's more, lecturer David Bishop has had a panel discussion accepted into the official AWP programme. "When worlds collide: how creative programs address popular fiction" will feature four speakers from different universities - three US, one UK - discussing the burning issue of how they approach the writing and teaching of genre fiction. Here's the pitch:
"Popular fiction and creative writing programs have long been worlds apart on both sides of the Atlantic. But what happens when students on such programs aspire to write popular fiction? This panel will discuss the challenges of opportunities of working with genre writing in an academic context, with speakers drawn from programs that tend to eschew popular fiction and those that embrace it."
The panel discussion is one of the first events at this year's AWP conference, starting at 9am on Thursday April 9th in Room 208 A&B, on Level 2. Alongside David on the panel will be Nicole Peeler from Seton Hill University, Barbara Duffey from Dakota Wesleyan University, and Vicki Stiefel from Clark University. It should be a blast - hope to see you there!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Twice as many writing options now open to students on the Edinburgh Napier MA

The Creative Writing MA programme at Edinburgh Napier University has just doubled the number of options you can take on the course. In the past students at the Scottish university were offered five writing practice options - Genre Fiction, Graphic Fiction, Creative Non-Fiction, Screenwriting, and Interactive Media - but were only allowed to select one.

From this year students will be picking two options from among the five, enabling them to experience and experiment in different narrative forms instead of being restricted to a single choice.  This change has just been approved by the university, so the current cohort have chosen their options and will start both their new modules next month in Trimester 2.

"This is an exciting new innovation for the MA and for our students," says lecturer David Bishop. "Feedback from previous cohorts said how much they enjoyed the course, but many of them wished they could have taken more than one option. Now everyone on the MA gets to broaden their range as a writer, to experience different narrative forms."

The Creative Writing MA team s proud to have unique options for prospective students. "We were the first university in the world to offer a module in Graphic Fiction - writing the scripts for comics and graphic novels," says Bishop. "Our Genre Fiction module covers crime, fantasy, horror and science fiction - areas sneered at by most MA courses.

"Interactive Media is a massive growth area, but one that's ignored by nearly every other postgrad Creative Writing programme. The Screenwriting option gives our students a chance to pitch their stories to industry professionals. Creative Non-Fiction students have gotten an agent before finishing our course, thanks to that  module."

To make room for the change, an old module called Narrative Practice has been retired. "We won't be teaching it anymore, but we're relocating the core vocational skills into our other modules. For example, adaptation and working with pre-created characters go into Graphic and Genre Fiction, while networking goes into Authorship."

The current cohort is only just finishing its first trimester, but the programme team is already offering unconditional places for starting in September 2015. "Doubling the number of writing options means our Creative Writing MA is even more innovative," says Bishop. "We advise anyone thinking of applying to start the process now."

There are links for applying at the top right hand corner of this blog, and you can read more about the Edinburgh Napier MA's unique applications and selections process here.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Two MA Creative Writing graduates' major project novels to be published in 2015

Hearty congratulations to Catherine Simpson, whose novel Truestory will be published next year by Sandstone Press - the second graduate of the Edinburgh Napier Creative Writing MA to have their major project published in 2015! 

Catherine's debut novel tells the story of a mother trapped on a remote Lancashire farm because her autistic son refuses to leave it, and what happens when her husband brings home rootless wanderer Larry to help on the farm. 

The opening chapters of Truestory secured a Distinction for Catherine's major project on the MA, and subsequently won her a Creative Scotland New Writers Award for Fiction. The deal with Sandstone Press was negotiated by Catherine's agent, Joanna Swainson of Hardman & Swainson.

Cover artwork has just been released for Wasp by Ian Garbutt, which is being published by Polygon Books next March. Like Truestory, Wasp was created as a major project on our MA programme. It secured a Distinction for Ian, and also brought him representation by Jenny Brown at Jenny Brown Associates.

Wasp tells the story of a disgraced governess who is brought to the mysterious House of Masques, a sanctuary for young women on the margins of society. But her arrival triggers a power struggle that threatens to destroy the house.

Alison Rae at Polygon describes Wasp as 'a tour de force of storytelling which will appeal to readers of Perfume and The Crimson Petal and the White.' It will be published on March 15th.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Even more success for Edinburgh Napier Creative Writing MA graduates, students

Yesterday we waved goodbye to the 2013/14 cohort from the Creative Writing MA programme at Edinburgh Napier University. Those leaving us had a final face-to-face tutorial to discuss their personal development plan and the path ahead. Happily, we have plenty of graduates already out in the world, setting a great example with their successes.

Congratulations to Katrina Leno, whose first YA novel The Half Life of Molly Bloom has just been published by HarperTeen in the US. Katrino had already written her book before joining our programme in 2012, but we still want to celebrate her success. Reviews for the novel have been strong and she has another on the way - congratulations!

Georgina Bruce has had her short story Cat World selected for inclusion in The Best British Fantasy 2014 anthology, published by Salt. [The story was originally published in issue 246 of prestigious science fiction and fantasy magazine Interzone]. Like Katrina, Georgina was also part of the 2012/13 cohort and is having great success with her short stories.

Shona Cook was runner-up in the Bloody Scotland Flash Fiction Competition with her 100-word entry, run in conjunction with the Scottish Book Trust. Bloody Scotland is Scotland's international crime writing festival, taking place in Stirling from September 19-21 this year. Shona just finished her studies as part of the 2013/14 cohort, so this is a great start to life after the programme.

Speaking of Bloody Scotland... graduate Catherine Simpson has been shortlisted for the Bloody Scotland Short Story Competition. Go here to read all six tales on the shortlist and then vote for your favourite [we voted for Old Man Lundy, but we may be biased]. Voting closes at midday next Wednesday, September 3rd 2014. Congratulations to Catherine for making the shortlist!

Last but not least, we have a fond farewell to make. The legend that is Ken MacLeod [above, right] leaves the programme after two years as writer in residence. An award-winning science fiction author of high regard, Ken has been a fantastic asset to the MA and our students, so we're very sad to see him go. Happily, he'll be back in a few weeks as a guest speaker, so all is not lost!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

MA graduates performing at 2014 Edinburgh International Book Festival this week

Graduates from the Creative Writing MA at Edinburgh Napier University continue our proud tradition of former students performing their work at the city's prestigious international book festival.

Alison Summers [a graduate from our very first cohort, the class of 2009/10] and Nicole Brandon [2012/13 cohort are both part of Story Shop, a showcase for emerging writers at the Spiegeltent that's run by the Edinburgh City of Literature. Alison will be on stage 4pm this Monday, August 11st, while Nicole is performing at the same time next Saturday, August 16th.

Each of them will have a ten-minute slot to give reading of one or two short works of fiction. Story Shop events are free and unticketed, but always begin 4pm sharp at the Spiegeltent in Charlotte Square. This is the eighth year that Story Shop has run at the book festival.

More than 100 writers apply to be part of Story Shop each year, but only 17 are chosen. Graduates from the Edinburgh Napier MA have been selected almost every year since our course began, a testament to the quality of their writing and professionalism!