Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ken MacLeod is our new Writer in Residence

Ken MacLeod photo © Chris Scott
Multi-award winning author Ken MacLeod aims to inspire the next generation of genre fiction writers after being appointed Writer in Residence at Edinburgh Napier University.
The science fiction specialist, described by one critic as the ‘modern day George Orwell’, will provide guidance and advice to students on the university’s innovative MA in Creative Writing course.

“I’m delighted and honoured to be chosen for this amazing post,” says MacLeod. “Over the years I have been hugely impressed with the quality and commitment of the creative writing students, and by the theoretical depth, practical focus and wide knowledge the lecturers and course leaders bring to it.”

One of the most respected authors in British science fiction, MacLeod has won three Prometheus Awards and numerous accolades from the British Science Fiction Association. 

His thirteen published novels have ranged from hard SF space operas like The Star Fraction (1995) to his much-acclaimed new novel Intrusion (2012), described as ‘thoughtful, plausible and scary’ by the Sunday Telegraph and as a ‘disturbingly real socialist dystopia’ by the Guardian. 

Former literary agent Sam Kelly - who runs the MA course alongside acclaimed screenwriter and author David Bishop - says MacLeod’s appointment is perfect: “Ken has tackled many of the biggest ethical and political dilemmas of our age, through artistically ambitious speculative fiction. His work closely reflects our commitment to intellectual radicalism and genre writing.”

She adds: “The role of the writer-in-residence is to challenge and inspire the teachers as well as the students and it’s a great privilege to be able to house our chosen influences on campus.”

The year-long writer in residence role was created in 2010, with Scots novelist James Robertson first in the job, following a major funding gift from The Binks Trust. MacLeod will succeed Doctor Who writer Robert Shearman, who has described his year in the post as one of huge pride.

“My principle joy at Edinburgh Napier has been watching how the writers interact,” says Shearman, “seeing how the enthusiasm for one person’s project can inspire someone else’s. I’ve watched the students grow in confidence and can’t wait to see what the new friends I’ve been working with are going to write next, next week and in the years to come.”

MacLeod, who was born in Stornoway, says it’s a pleasure to be next in line: “James Robertson and Rob Shearman have left me giant footprints to step into. I look forward to the journey with trepidation and excitement.”

The novelist will spend an average of two days a week at Edinburgh Napier mentoring MA Creative Writing students. The course was the first in Britain to offer a specialist module in writing for graphic fiction. It also embraces genre writing, especially science fiction, fantasy, horror and crime writing. 

Edinburgh Napier takes an innovative approach to the training and support of Creative Writing MA students, replacing traditional workshop-based teaching with one to one mentoring. The Times called the programme ‘a radical departure in creative writing’. The course also has a unique reader-in-residence post, currently held by Scottish literary editor and author, Stuart Kelly.

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