Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Freight Books to publish major project novel GOBLIN by MA graduate Ever Dundas in 2017

Ever Dundas signing her contract (photo © Jenny Brown Associates)
Hearty congratulations to Edinburgh Napier MA Creative Writing graduate Ever Dundas, whose debut novel Goblin will be published by Freight Books next spring.

It has been a long journey for this unique story. Ever wrote the opening chapters of Goblin as her major project while a part-time student on the MA between 2009 and 2011. She pitched it to Scotland's leading literary agent Jenny Brown in 2013, and completed Goblin 18 months later.

Now it has been contracted for 2017 by Glasgow's Freight Books, which was recently named Scottish Publisher of the Year at the Saltire Awards. We asked Ever how she felt after so many years of hard work to reach this point.

“I’m thrilled to be on Team Freight and I’m very much looking forward to unleashing Goblin on the world," she said. "It’s been a long and difficult journey to get here – I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia a few years ago, and trying to cope with chronic illness as I pursue a writing career has been a challenge. I wouldn’t have made it this far without the love and support of my amazing husband, Cinn.”

Goblin will become the third novel published that was a major project novel by a graduate from the Creative Writing MA at Edinburgh Napier University, following on from Wasp by Ian Garbutt and Catherine Simpson's Truestory. Here's a synopsis of the novel:
GOBLIN opens during the London Blitz and nine year old Goblin is running amok over the bomb sites, dog at heel, with her ragged gang of friends. One day she witnesses an atrocity. A fervent animal lover, Goblin is appalled by the piled up mounds of dead pets, the pet massacre, and she takes photographs – but she also captures on film an incident which leaves her traumatised. Goblin buries the camera in a cemetery and erases the episode from her mind.

She’s evacuated to the country and on her return finds her house standing but parents and beloved brother gone. She creates her own family from stray animals, and her imaginary friends, Queen Isabella, the Lizard Queen and Monsta who stay with her even into adulthood. She tells stories to herself (and anyone who will listen) to try to make sense of her chaotic world, she joins a circus, grows up and, wherever she goes, she searches for her missing brother.

In 2011 London is again alight during the Riots, and by this time Goblin is an old woman, living in Edinburgh with her menagerie. The camera is discovered by a cemetery caretaker, the photographs are developed and released to the press, and Britain is outraged to learn about the massacre of pets seventy years before. But the police also discover the last photograph, and the nation’s shock changes to a murder investigation.

The hunt is on for the adult who took those photographs as a child, the only one who can help police with enquiries. Should Goblin turn herself in and force herself to remember the event which changed her life forever? Only by writing down her memories can she come to terms with the past.

Monday, April 11, 2016

National Library hosts @EdinburghNapier MA Creative Writing graduate's event, May 10th

Catherine Simpson
On May 10th the National Library of Scotland is hosting an event about the debut novel by Catherine Simpson, a first for a graduate of the Creative Writing MA programme at Edinburgh Napier University.

Catherine's novel Truestory was originally written as her major project while studying for her MA part-time. She continued working on the book after graduating and it was published by Sandstone Press last September.

Catherine will be talking about her novel with BBC Arts producer Serena Field at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh from 6pm on Tuesday, May 10th - tickets are free, available online here.

Her novel Truestory
Truestory is the wry and moving tale of a Lancashire farmer's wife whose life is dictated by caring for her autistic son Sam. Catherine has participated in numerous events to promote the book, such the Aye Write! Literary Festival in Glasgow last month.

She has not been resting on her laurels. A short story Catherine developed while studying on the MA has been selected for the next volume of prestigious annual anthology New Writing Scotland, and she's already hard at work on her second novel.

Friday, February 19, 2016

MA Creative Writing graduate Sasha Callaghan wins Emerging Writer Fellowship in USA

A Public Space - cover of Winter 2015 edition
A 2015 graduate from the Creative Writing MA programme at Edinburgh Napier has been selected as an Emerging Writer Fellow by A Public Space, an independent magazine of literature and culture published in New York.

Sasha Callaghan was one of three winners for this prestigious accolade, selected from more than 1100 entries submitted by writers around the world - the other two winners were from California and Botswana.

Each of them will receive mentoring from an established writer and contributor to A Public Space magazine, $1000 and their prize-winning stories will be published in a future issue.

Sasha's entry - A List of Some Things That Martin Knows - was originally written as homework for the First Person Narrative module at Edinburgh Napier, and developed into an assessment submission.

"I was amazed to find out that a story I'd written ... was one of the winners," Sasha says. She had submitted with few expectations, having been turned down for other mentoring opportunities closer to home in the UK. Sasha takes this as proof that persistence pays off: "Just keep going."

A part-time student on our Creative Writing MA, she graduated with a Distinction and also received the Edinburgh Napier University medal for her outstanding results. Since then Sasha has continued work on her major project, a graphic novel about the short but remarkable life of Adelaide Foltinowicz and her relationship with decadent poet Ernest Dowson.

Massive congratulations to Sasha - we can't wait to see what you do next!

Friday, February 12, 2016

@EdinburghNapier MA Creative Writing graduate Dee Raspin wins science fiction prize

Edinburgh Napier MA graduate Dee Raspin
Congratulations to one of our MA Creative Writing graduates on winning her first writing competition. Dee Raspin took first prize in a contest run by Shoreline of Infinity, a groundbreaking Scottish magazine devoted to innovative science fiction stories and illustration.

Entrants were challenged to craft a tale that took its inspiration from specially commissioned images by Scottish artist Stephen Pickering. Dee won for her story The Great Golden Fish, which Shoreline of Infinity calls 'an enchanting blend of Scottish folk tale and science fiction'.

Dee graduated as part of the 2013-14 cohort on the MA Creative Writing programme at Edinburgh Napier University. You can follow her on Twitter, and read her prize-winning story in Shoreline of Infinity #3, due out next month in PDF and print formats.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

TRUESTORY by MA Creative Writing graduate launches with masses of media coverage

Catherine Simpson signing Truestory
Hearty congratulations are overdue for Catherine Simpson, whose debut novel Truestory had a standing room only launch last month. The book started life as Catherine's major project when she was a student on our Creative Writing MA programme at Edinburgh Napier University, and we couldn't be prouder of her achievement with this novel.

Catherine and the publishing team at Sandstone have done an amazing job generating media coverage for the paperback, with related pieces in the Daily Telegraph, the Glasgow Herald and numerous other places [e.g. here, here and here]. Having just graced the Portobello Book Festival, she's talking at the Dundee Literary Festival later this month - 5.30pm on Friday Oct. 23rd, to be precise.

The official launch event at Waterstones in central Edinburgh was one of the best attended in years, according to staff at the central city bookstore. The numbers were swollen by Catherine's friends and family who came from far and wide for the launch.

Standing room only at the Truestory launch in Edinburgh
But it was also gratifying to see more than a few students past and present from the Creative Writing MA along to support the new book. Since graduating from the programme Catherine has kept building on what she learned with us. Her work has been shortlisted in prestigious competitions, and she has performed several times at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

The success of Truestory is proof that talent, strategy and graft do reap rewards, if not always as fast as most writers would like. Catherine's book is the second major project from the MA programme at Edinburgh Napier to be published, following on from Wasp by Ian Garbutt earlier this year. We look forward to seeing more of our graduates achieve this breakthrough!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Graduate Shona Cook performed at the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2015

Graduate Shona Cook performed one of her stories at the 2015 Edinburgh International Book Festival on Sunday August 23rd in the Spiegeltent, as part of the ever-popular Story Shop strand run by the City of Literate.

These free events see an emerging writer give a reading of their work for about ten minutes, with 17 scribes performing at this acclaimed festival in Charlotte Square. [Get a sneak preview of Shona's work at Audioboom.]

Shona graduated from the Creative Writing MA programme at Edinburgh Napier University last autumn, and since then has been hard at work finishing her major project novel.

Her appearance as part of Story Shop followed in the footsteps of past graduates from our MA, for whom this event has been a great showcase over the years. 2012 saw Ever Dundas, Sean Martin, Matthew Nadelhaft and Catherine Simpson take to the microphone as part of Story Shop.

The following year Catherine was back again, along with fellow graduate Mark Craddock. Last year Nicole Brandon and Alison Summers - a graduate from our very first cohort, the class of 2009-10 - did us proud in the Spiegeltent. We look forward to seeing more Edinburgh Napier students and graduates being part of Story Shop in years to come - long may it continue!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Updated: Admissions process for MA Creative Writing at Edinburgh Napier University

The original version of this post is the most popular page on our blog, but we figured it was time to update the information - here's the 2016 version...

Unique is a good way to describe the postgrad creative writing programme at Edinburgh Napier University in Scotland. For a start, we put genre fiction front and centre in our course. If you love writing and reading science fiction, fantasy, crime or horror, most MFAs and MAs don't want to know - but we embrace great genre writing.

Another unique focus at Edinburgh Napier is comics and graphic novels, which most other programmes ignore. In fact, 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 creative non-fiction, applying the techniques for developing and writing a novel to a research-based narrative.

Edinburgh Napier's postgraduate creative writing MA does not offer a poetry option. I repeat, poetry is not a requirement. There are plenty of other great courses with brilliant poets on the faculty - if you want to study poetry, seek them 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, there are no peer review workshops. This boggles the mind of some people, as such workshops are the bedrock of creative writing pretty much everywhere else. But we don't have them in our classes. Not one!

Instead, we set weekly writing assignments and expect you to bring the results to class. You're 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 thinking, 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 people 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 paste in your usual personal statement. We always look to see if applicants have done their research on the course and have enthusiasm for our specialisms.

Do your homework. Google us to read interviews we've given about our ethos, our approach to  creative writing. Read the other entries on this blog. If you want your application taken seriously, show us you've taken our course seriously. Plus: that statement is a first chance to showcase your ability to write. Blow our socks off!

All being well, we'll progress you to the next stage of our admissions process. We don't ask for a writing sample with your application. Instead - if we like your application form - we'll invite you to undertake a writing challenge. We ask you to write us an original short story of up to 1000 words, and you'll have two weeks to submit it.

To make this a challenge, we give you a choice of first sentences. You select one and use that as the opening for your story. We also let you decide when we send the brief, so you choose the two weeks that best suit you. We even include the criteria we'll be using to assess your submission, so the process is more 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]. If your story shows promise, we will invite you to a selection interview - face to face or via Skype if you live a long way from Edinburgh.

The interview is the last stage. It can last up to an hour. During that time we use one or two teaching and learning activities from our course to assess you as an applicants. This  gives you insight into our programme and how we teach it. Rest assured, 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 to the course, 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, feel free to get in touch before you formally apply. Email programme leader Sam Kelly: . The sooner you apply, the better your chances...