Friday, October 25, 2013

Happy graduation day for class of 2012/13

From left: Nicole Brandon, Laura Clements, Griff Williams, S-J McGeachy, Sean Bell.
Yesterday was graduation for the class of 2012/13. Not all of the class made it to the official ceremony - some are already busy working, or have returned to their home countries. But it was great to celebrate the collective success of the class. Today: back to teaching the class of 2013/14!

Monday, September 30, 2013

MA programme invades Wigtown Book Festival

Edinburgh Napier's MA Creative Writing programme is making its presence felt at the fabled Wigtown Book Festival and its offshoots this week. Current student Anni Telford [above] is reading and discussing her work from 1.30pm on Wednesday, October 2nd at Reading Lasses:

It's Crime Time (Anni Telford): What makes good people do bad things? After 30 years as a psychotherapist working with paedophiles, rapists and violent criminals, Anni Telford puts that experience to good use in her crime fiction. She will discuss her psychotherapy career and how it has inspired a collection of crime short stories.

Tutor David Bishop was in Wigtown on Sunday to run a packed workshop on creating comics, part of Wigtown The Festival. The MA Creative Writing programme's reader in residence Stuart Kelly is chairing events at Wigtown almost every day, while writer in residence Ken MacLeod is at Wigtown this Saturday [Oct 5th] to discuss his work.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Admissions process for MA Creative Writing at Edinburgh Napier University in Scotland

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. [You don't have to be an artist to write comics, but a passion for collaboration helps.] 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 postgraduate creative writing classes at Edinburgh Napier. I repeat, no peer review workshops. This boggles the mind of some people, as such workshops are the bedrock of postgrad creative writing pretty much everywhere else. But we don't have peer review workshops in our classes. Yes, really.

We do set weekly writing assignments and expect you to bring the results to class. You're also expected to critically self-reflect on your work [with prompts from us], and to share that thinking. You'll receive professional editorial feedback, delivered in front of other students in a masterclass style. And you'll get six hours of one-to-one mentoring.

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

First, you fill in and submit an application form [there are links for the online version top right of the blogroll on 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]. But we also recognise prior learning in people who don't  have a degree yet.

The crucial section of your application form is the personal statement. This is where you tell us about your journey as a writer so far, and why you want to come on our programme. Here's a hint: don't just paste in your usual personal statement. We always look to see if applicants have mentioned any of the unique elements on our course.

Do some research. There are links on this page to interviews we've given in the past about our ethos, our approach to  creative writing. Read 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 writing. Blow our socks off!

All being well, we'll progress you to the next stage of our 3-step admissions process. We don't ask for a writing sample up front. Instead - if we like your application form - we'll invite you to take part in a writing challenge. We will 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 for writing the story that best suit you. We even include the criteria we'll be using to assess your writing challenge submission.

Once you've sent us 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 to our programme]. But if the story shows promise, we will invite you to a selection interview - either face to face, or via Skype if you live a long distance from Edinburgh.

The interview is the final stage of our admissions process. It can last up to an hour. During that time we use teaching and learning activities from our course to assess you as an applicants. But this process also gives you insight into our programme and how we teach it. The interview should be an enjoyable experience, not an interrogation!

We let you know within a day if we're offering you a place. We use a rolling admissions process, rather than stockpiling applications or making you wait months for a decision. Once we're full, we're full. Our MA takes a maximum of 16 full-time students a year, and up to four part-timers who study for two years to complete it.

If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch before you formally apply. Email programme leader Sam Kelly [her address is]. The class of 2013/14 is nearly full, and we have already offered places to several applicants for September 2014. The sooner you apply, the better your chances...

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Successes for Creative Writing MA alumni

Two Edinburgh Napier MA Creative Writing alumni are being published in the prestigious annual anthology New Writing Scotland, which has helped nurture numerous notable writers over the years. Volume 31 features Mark Nicholls' A Disquisition on Inadequacy Among the Salaried Classes, while Rosa MacPherson has contributed a story called The Bleed.

Rosa's story started life as an end of trimester submission for the module Narrative Practice. This challenges students to write a short story inspired by one of three supplied plotlines - a Shakespeare play, a myth, or the lyrics of a murder ballad. Last year the same assessment led to Ever Dundas having her story Pure published in New Writing Scotland 30.

Former writer in residence Robert Shearman is a nominee for best collection in the British Fantasy Awards 2013. Remember Why You Fear Me [ChiZine Publications] is up against collections by Thana Niveau, Joel Lane, and Jonathan Carroll. The winner will be announced at the World Fantasy Convention at Brighton in November - congratulations, Rob.

Much sadder news was the recent death of acclaimed Scottish writer Iain (M) Bank, a great friend of current writer in residence Ken MacLeod. Iain gave his final interview to our reader in residence, Stuart Kelly. It's a wonderful article and worth seeking out (read it here). Rest in peace, Iain.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Open Doors Event 2013 news flash: Ken Macleod extends stay as Writer in Residence

Acclaimed science fiction author Ken MacLeod joined the MA Creative Writing programme at Edinburgh Napier as writer in residence last September, and has been a big hit with our current students. We're delighted to announce Ken's stay has been extended until Spring 2014, so the new cohort arriving this September will have the benefit of his wisdom.

Ken MacLeod photo © Chris Scott
Tomorrow night [Tuedsay, May 28th] is our second Open Doors Event, where we invite people to come along and learn about our unique creative writing MA [free tickets to the event are still available here].

Ken will be giving a special reading at the event. To mark the occasion - and the extension of his stay as writer in residence - Ken has kindly written a guest post about his experiences so far:
When I worked in IT, there was a sequence of events that happened so often we gave it a name. Someone who'd got stuck in a programming problem would go round to whoever seemed most likely to help, outline the situation and then jump up and say 'Oh yes! That's it! Thanks!' and rush out. The person they'd consulted hadn't said a word. We called this 'the cardboard cut-out programmer' phenomenon.

Here at Napier, I've been the cardboard cutout writer lots of times. I've listened to students telling me about their creative problems, and sometimes given advice, but far more often I find that by explaining the problem they've solved it for themselves. That's one of the things the Creative Writing MA course is supposed to do: it helps students to formulate questions about their own work. Asking the right question is often all they need to find the answer.

I've enjoyed my time here even more than I'd expected to.

Sitting in on classes has stretched and broadened my mind -- students here get challenging mental workouts, which have been interesting to watch from the sidelines. I've also learned practical writing skills that I had never quite nailed down before. And I've had plenty of time to crack on with my own work: I've finished a novel and written several short stories.

So thanks to Sam, David and all the students for a great eight months.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Creative Writing Open Doors Event, May 28th

The Creative Writing MA at Edinburgh Napier University has been called 'a radical departure' by The Times newspaper, and 'a life changing experience' by recent students. On Tuesday May 28th 2013 we are having our second annual Open Doors event so you can discover how we could help make writing your career.

This free event features taster sessions that give you a flavour of our unique approach to becoming a better writer. You'll have the chance to quiz current students about their experiences on the course, tour the creative writing suite, and ask the staff anything you want to know about this acclaimed programme.

Open Doors 2013 also offers you the exclusive opportunity for a one-to-one consultation with our reader-in-residence Stuart Kelly - one of this year's judges for the Man Booker Prize - and finishes with a special performance by writer-in-residence Ken MacLeod. Here's the schedule for Open Doors 2013:

  • 5.30 Arrive for tea and coffee
  • 6.00 Introduction to MA Creative Writing at Edinburgh Napier
  • 6.20 Taster session: writing for graphic fiction with David Bishop
  • 7.00 Taster session: experimental writing with Sam Kelly
  • 7.45 Q & A with staff and current students
  • 8.15 Drinks
  • 8.30 Reading by Ken MacLeod, writer-in-residence
  • 9.00 Close

Book your ticket for Open Doors 2013 here. Places are limited, so book early to avoid disappointment! 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Ken MacLeod's Intrusion is a finalist for the prestigious Arthur C Clarke Award

Congratulations to Ken MacLeod - writer in residence on the Edinburgh Napier Creative Writing MA - whose novel Intrusion is a finalist for the Arthur C Clarke Award. The award is given to the best science fiction novel published in Britain each year, although the author need not be British.
Intrusion is one of six finalists alongside Nod by Adrian Barnes, Dark Eden by Chris Beckett, Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway, The Dog Stars by Peter Heller, and 2312 by Kim Stanley-Robinson. More than 80 eligible novels were submitted for consideration by the judges.

The 2013 winner will be announced at the 11th SCI-FI LONDON festival in May. Previous winners have included The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, The City & the City by China MiƩville and Zoo City by Lauren Beukes.

Ken has previously been nominated five times for the Arthur C Clarke Award but has never won. Perhaps the sixth time's the charm? Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

David Bishop @ AWP 2013 in Boston this week

Edinburgh Napier MA Creative Writing lecturer David Bishop is going to Boston this week for the 2013 AWP  conference. He will be representing our course at the Association of Writers & Writing Programs' annual gathering, talking about its unique focus on genre fiction, and discussing how we've replaced the traditional workshop with a new and innovative approach to teaching.

Anyone attending the conference who wants to discover more about our acclaimed MA program can email David - - to arrange a chat while he's in Boston. Or find him via Twitter - @davidbishop. Or Facebook. Or you can wander the event, searching for his distinctive black and white checkered winklepicker shoes [see photo, below left].

UPDATE: David will be helping at booth #214 - Bookfair Plaza Level, Exhibit Hall A - from 10am until noon on Friday March 8th, that's the NAWE stand [National Association of Writers in Education (UK)]. Come and ask him about the modules he teaches in writing graphic novels or writing fantasy, horror, crime and science fiction on our Creative Writing program.

The Times newspaper in London calls our course "a radical departure" in creative writing. Since launching in 2009 the program has attracted students from the United States, not to mention Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Finland, Italy. Edinburgh Napier is still taking applications for the 2013/14 academic year, and we've already offered places to several US students.

If you're not going to be at AWP in Chicago, you can find out more about our course by checking the links on the right hand side of this blog. Depending on which version of the course will best suit your needs as a student, click either full-time or part-time to apply.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Writer in residence up for BSFA best novel

Congratulations to Ken MacLeod - writer in residence on the Edinburgh Napier Creative Writing MA - whose most recent novel has been shortlisted for the 2012 British Science Fiction Awards.

Intrusion is one of five books nominated in the Best Novel category, alongside Dark Eden by Chris Beckett, Empty Space: a Haunting by M. John Harrison, Jack Glass by Adam Roberts, and 2312 by Kim Stanley-Robinson.

Organised by the British Science Fiction Association, the prestigious BSFA Awards have been running for more than 50 years. The winners will be announced at the 2013 Eastercon in Bradford at the end of March.

Ken has previously won the BSFA best novel award for The Sky Road (1999) and The Night Sessions (2008), along with many other accolades.