Sunday, October 8, 2017

More success for MA Creatve Writing alumni: graduating student wins short story contest

Anna Haldane • photo © David Bishop
We're delighted to reveal another accolade for alumni of the Edinburgh Napier University MA Creative Writing programme!

Following on from Georgina Bruce winning a British Fantasy Award for short fiction, graduating student Anna Haldane has won the 1000 Word Challenge for her entry The Tiller's Challenge.

Anna's tale was chosen ahead of numerous entries from around the world and she describes herself as 'pretty damn happy' about the coming first in a kiss-themed challenge. 'Strictly speaking it's a new story,' Anna says, 'but I used elements from two of my assignments on the MA programme, including world-building and linguistic innovation.'

Anna was part of our 2016-17 cohort and will be formally graduate from the MA at a ceremony in Edinburgh's Usher Hall later this month.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

MA graduate wins a 2017 British Fantasy Award

Georgina Bruce - a graduate of Edinburgh Napier University's acclaimed MA Creative Writing programme - has won the Best Short Fiction trophy at the 2017 British Fantasy Awards.

The winners were announced at FantasyCon 2017 in Peterborough, with Georgina being awarded the accolade for her short story White Rabbit, originally published in issue 50 of Black Static magazine.

Since graduating from the MA four years ago, Georgina has had short stories published in many of Britain's bestselling genre fiction magazines, such as Interzone and Black Static. She is currently working on a novel with the working title The Mirror Book.

"I'm delighted to see Georgina's talents as a storyteller recognised," says David Bishop, programme leader for the Creative Writing MA at Edinburgh Napier. "Winning this British Fantasy Award is thoroughly deserved, and will be a great boost for her career. I can't wait to read her novel!"

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Selection process for MA Creative Writing @ Edinburgh Napier University, 2017-18

Unique is a great way to describe the postgraduate 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 science fiction, fantasy, crime or horror, most 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 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 Young Adult fiction, with acclaimed YA author Laura Lam leading a new module on this.

Edinburgh Napier's 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 also 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 method for creative writing pretty much everywhere else. But we don't have them in our classes. Not one!

Instead, we set frequent 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 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 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 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.

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

Monday, May 29, 2017

MA Creative Writing tutor David Bishop given a prestigious Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship

David Bishop • photo © Chris Scott
Edinburgh Napier creative writing tutor David Bishop is one of four writers awarded a prestigious 2017 Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship by Creative Scotland and the Scottish Book Trust.

The fellowship includes a four-week residency at the Hôtel Chevillon International Arts Centre at Grez-sur-Loing, France, enabling each writer chosen to devote themselves to a nominated project. Renowned author Stevenson visited Grez-sur-Loing for four successive summers in the 1870s, attracted by the area and its creative community. He met his future wife Fanny Osborne at the Hôtel Chevillon.

The RLS Fellowship has been running for almost quarter of a century, with past recipient including such as award-winning writers as Janice Galloway, James Robertson and Louise Welsh. Scotland's renowned playwright and poet Liz Lochhead is among the RLS Fellows for 2017.

David Bishop describes the award as a precious gift. 'I've spent more than a decade researching a historical novel that refused to leave my imagination, but have never been able to set aside the time for it. The fellowship gives me a whole month to write and read and think about nothing else. It’s a gift beyond words, but one I plan to repay with as many words as possible.'

More details about the RLS Fellowship can be found here.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Goblin launch a smash hit for MA graduate; reviewers call the novel a "captivating debut"

Photo © Chris Scott
MA Creative Writing graduate Ever Dundas launched her novel Goblin to a packed audience at Edinburgh City Central Library last Thursday, with people queuing down the road to get in. More than a hundred people poured into the event, where Ever talked about starting the novel as her major project while studying for her MA with us at Edinburgh Napier University.

Ever Dundas [photo © Chris Scott]
After reading from the book, Ever had her first signing for Goblin - but the book sold out long before the back of the queue had reached her. The event was a brilliant launch for an novel already attracting glowing reviews both online and in newspapers.

In the Glasgow Herald, Alistair Mabbott considers Goblin "a captivating debut." He describes the novel as an enthralling account and says the writer "presents us with an iconic protagonist: a powerful imaginative force who looks beyond the façade of 20th Century Britain."

Writing for Shiny New Books , novelist Isabel Blackthorn praises the book as "a masterpiece." She calls it a story of the fringes; "it dwells in the cracks in the pavement, in underground places, in netherworlds existing in the ordinary world, in wounds, open or scarred. Normality is a side show."

Published by Freight Books, Goblin is available now from all good booksellers. You can find out more about Ever at her blog, or read a recent fascinating essay she wrote about gender and language at The Skinny.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

This is what 2000+ pages of marking looks like...

We've just finished an epic round of marking, double-marking and moderation for the Creative Writing MA at Edinburgh Napier University in Scotland. The photo above captures all the student work we read, thought about, marked and for which we wrote feedback - more than 2000 pages!

Today, tomorrow and Friday are devoted to end of trimester tutorials, plus we're interviewing six different applicants seeking to join our cohort this September. Next week, we have Major Project induction for the seventeen students undertaking the creating capstone of their MA work.

After that, we're looking forward to a week or two of holidays. Onwards!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Student success in crime writing contest; MA graduates staging live show in Edinburgh Fringe

Stuart MacBride performs
MA Creative Writing students from Edinburgh Napier University have won two prizes in the Crime Writers' Association short story competition, run last month to coincide with the CWA conference in Edinburgh.

Anna Ibbotson and Sarah Saville were both runners-up for their stories inspired by the Robert Louis Stevenson quote, The Cruelest Lie. The context was open to students from three different universities with all entry blind-judged, but Edinburgh Napier entries dominated the prizes.

Anna Ibbotson gets her prize
The winning entries were read out by bestselling authors to a rapt crowd at Blackwell's Bookshop in Edinburgh, with Sara Sheridan reading Anna Ibbotson's chilling tale of sibling murder and Stuart MacBride performing Sarah Saville's creepy dramatic monologue with aplomb, before Christopher Brookmyre announced the winners.

The CWA conference is a members only event, but students from our MA cohort were volunteer helpers for the weekend, giving them a rare chance to meet and talk with professional crime writers and agents from across the country.

MA graduate Stuart Pyper
In other news two graduates from the MA are writing and performing a live show about disability in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this August. Unwritten collects the poignant but often comical stories of three disabled individuals with wide-ranging impairments.  

Stuart Pyper and Sasha Callaghan are collaborating with David Nicol on the new show, which has been granted £10,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the HLF’s Stories, Stones & Bones initiative as part of the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.

Unwritten will break new ground at this year’s Fringe as it places disabled people at the heart of the production from the very beginnings to the final performance,’ says Sasha. ‘The support of the HLF has been invaluable to us in telling the story of how disabled people have helped to shape Scotland.’

The production will premiere at Theatre 3, The Space @ Surgeon’s Hall (Venue 53), with previews on Friday 4th and Saturday 5th August 2017, followed by a main run from Monday 7th – Saturday 12th August.