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!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

London agent representing MA graduate

Hearty congratulations to Catherine Simpson, a recent graduate of Edinburgh Napier University's MA in Creative Writing, who has just been signed up by London agent Joanna Swainson from Hardman & Swainson.

This is the culmination of several years of effort and endeavour by Catherine, a former part-time student. Her recent achievements include performing at the Winter Words Festival in Pitlochry and the Edinburgh International Book Festival [twice!], receiving a New Writers Award for Fiction from the Scottish Book Trust and being a finalist for the Mslexia Women's Novel Competition.

The creative work that helped Catherine secure representation was Truestory, a novel developed through mentoring on the MA programme with the first chapters written as her major project.We've got our fingers crossed her novel finds a publisher so we can read the rest of it!

Last month we celebrated recent graduate Mark Harding having a story published in the prestigious annual anthology New Writing Scotland. Turns out he's not the only former student from our programme to have work in NWS 32, which is published this month.

Ever Dundas has a story called Wire in the anthology, first developed via mentoring on the MA. It's her second appearance in NWS, having had a story called Pure [also originated on the course] in the 2012 anthology.

We look forward to seeing what all of our graduates write next...

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

2014 brochure for Creative Writive MA programme at Edinburgh Napier University

Another day of applicant interviews and we've almost filled the course for 2014/15. To celebrate, here's a glimpse at our updated 2014 brochure, packed with useful information about studying MA Creative Writing at Edinburgh Napier University. [Click any of the images to enlarge them.] Enjoy!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

More success for MA students, graduates

We’re happy to report lots of successes by recent graduates and members of our current cohort on the Creative Writing MA programme at Edinburgh Napier University. 

Recent graduate Georgina Bruce has been published twice by Britain's most celebrated science fiction anthology, Interzone. Her story Wake Up, Phil appeared in the magazine's 250th issue, while Cat World was published in Interzone 246 alongside stories by award-winning writers Aliette de Bodard and Lavie Tidhar. 

Recent graduate Mark Harding has had a story chosen for the prestigious annual anthology, New Writing ScotlandHe originally wrote his short story Remote for an assessment on our Genre Fiction module. This is the third year in succession New Writing Scotland has included a graduate's story - all of them originally written for assessments on the MA.

Two members of our current cohort are already experiencing success outside the course. German student Nina Vedder won the Scottish Book Trust’s 50 Word Fiction Competition for March [you can read her winning entry in the crime-themed contest here]. And US student Alana Tempest-Mitchell had a creative non-fiction piece selected for reading on Glasgow’s Subcity Radio, part of a series linked to the Commonwealth Games.

It's not just graduates and students on the course having success. Our writer in residence, science fiction scribe Ken MacLeod had his latest novel published recently. Descent was written while he has been in residence with our programme [ you can read a sample here].

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Polygon publishing graduate's novel - Wasp

Graduate Ian Garbutt

Major project is a key element in students attaining their MA in Creative Writing at Edinburgh Napier Univeristy, but work on it doesn’t stop once they leave our course. Take the example of Ian Garbutt from our first cohort, the class of 2009/10.

Ian has just signed a contract with Polygon - original publishers of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency - for the novel that was his major project on the course. Wasp will be published in 2015. Ian is one of several graduates from the course represented by the prestigious literary agency Jenny Brown Associates.

We make no guarantees that our students will leave the course with a degree under one arm and a publishing contract under the other. Our MA programme is about progressing students on their journey as writers. But it’s pleasing to see graduates like Ian achieving their ambitions as writers - makes all the hard work feel that extra bit worthwhile. Congratulations, Ian!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Mentoring on our unique MA programme

A new innovation we've introduced on the Creative Writing MA at Edinburgh Napier Unveristy is a module called Creative and Editorial Development. In the past we offered students six hours of one-to-one mentoring, but this happened outside teaching modules. 

Now we have transformed mentoring into a long, thin module that runs over two trimesters - and it earns every student credits towards their MA. The new module has only been running for one trimester so far, but the results have been very encouraging.

We think mentoring is a crucial part of each student’s learning journey, preparing them for life as a self-sufficient writer when they will be working one-to-one with an editor, agent, artist, development executive, script editor or another creative collaborator.

We've also introduced a teaching internship scheme. Graduates from the last cohort are leading study groups and using their experiences on the course to help current students. We asked the interns to talk about the value of mentoring on our unique MA course.

Errol Rivera: “Mentoring is what makes this course unique. It helps not to think of your mentoring sessions as a personal workshop. When I stopped expecting answers or approval from my tutors, we started working like partners and some amazing things happened. What could have been a lesson become a conversation. Like everything else on this course, the focus is development - not solipsism.

Laura Clements:If you're serious about taking your writing further as a career, it's important to throw yourself into the editorial relationship.  The first thing you have to do is identify a purpose for yourself as a writer and a purpose for your writing. This isn’t something that you will necessarily be able to set in stone at the offset, but it will evolve with the progression of your work over the year. Mentoring is the environment in which this can happen.

Nicole Brandon: “It sounds strange to think of having a conversation as a professional skill, but you're here to learn how to be a professional writer and part of that craft involves words off the page, too. Being able to put together a conversation about your craft, your work and your future is just as important as being able to put together any piece of writing. Without being able to contribute to – and, sometimes, direct – these conversations, you'll have a tough time being taken at your due as a professional writer. How else can people know what you're about, if you can't tell them?”