Friday, December 8, 2017

MA graduate Ever Dundas wins Saltire Society First Book Award - Goblin gets republished!

Ever Dundas • photo by Graham Clark
It's been an amazing week for Edinburgh Napier MA Creative Writing graduate Ever Dundas: she won the prestigious Saltire Society First Book of the Year Award for her debut and, six days later, the prize-winning novel Goblin was republished by Saraband Books.

'For every world-be writer it is fantastic simply to get your book published,' Ever says. 'But for it to also win a major literary award... it's an absolute dream.'

'Writing may seem like a solo effort, but it takes a lot of people for a book to come together,' Ever says. 'Thanks to everyone who's helped - family and friends, my agent and publishers, fellow writers and inspirational artists. Goblin wouldn't be here without you.'

Ever started work on Goblin while a part-time student on the Creative Writing programme at Edinburgh Napier University in Scotland. Indeed, it was her Major Project on the MA, the creative capstone of all her endeavours with us.

She paid a special tribute to the Edinburgh Napier MA on Twitter not long after winning her award: 'I couldn't have done it without the support, guidance, expertise, and raised eyebrows of doom of @davidbishop and @SamBoyceEditor.'

The novel was originally published by Freight in May but escaped that company's demise to be reborn by Saraband Books - just in time for Christmas. Publisher Sara Hunt is full of praise for the book and its author.

'Ever ... so richly deserves this award. The book itself has echoes of Jeanette Winterson and Angela Carter: it is a superb piece of writing. In Goblin, Ever has created a character to die for.'

The Guardian newspaper made the novel its Book of the Day on Wednesday, with reviewer Peter Ross describing it as a terrific debut full of reckless joy:
It is a celebration of freakery, of creating one’s own family; a meditation on trauma and loss and abandonment (in both senses of that word) which, somehow, is never bleak.
The MA programme team couldn't be prouder of Ever's achievement. Like all good writers, she's already hard at work on her next narrative, Hell Sans. We can't wait to read what she writes next!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Recent graduate wins second short story contest

Photo © David Bishop
Anna Haldane only graduated from the MA Creative Writing programme at Edinburgh Napier University this autumn, but she's just won her second short story competition.

Having topped the 1000 Word Challenge two months ago, Anna is now the winner of the Dark Tales Contest for October with her short story The Silver Whisper, which you can read here.

She wrote the story while a student on the MA, working on it in our unique mentoring module Creative and Editorial Development. Now published online, the story will be collected in a future anthology by Dark Tales and Anna wins £100.

'I'm really pleased that this story has finally found a home,' she says. 'I worked really hard on it, tried lots of other places and publications. Just goes to show that perseverance does pay off!'

Monday, October 23, 2017

Debut novel by MA graduate Ever Dundas shortlisted for 2017 Saltire Literary Award

The stunning cover art for GOBLIN
The MA Creative Writing programme is proud to see one of our graduates shortlisted for the prestigious 2017 Satire Literary Award for First Book of the Year.

Goblin by Edinburgh Napier University alumni Ever Dundas is one of the six finalists up for the award.

Widely regarded as Scotland’s most prestigious book awards, the Saltire Literary Awards are organised by the Saltire Society, a non-political independent charity founded in 1936 to celebrate the Scottish imagination.

The shortlists for all seven Saltire Literary Awards were announced in Edinburgh last week, with Ever's novel described as a 'beguiling historical tale'. The winners are named on November 30th - St Andrew’s Day.

Congratulations are also due 404 Ink publishers Heather McDaid and Laura Jones, who are recent guest speakers on our MA programme. Both have been shortlisted for the Saltire Emerging Publisher of the Year Award, while their company 404 Ink is up for Scottish Publisher of the Year.

Alongside its Saltire Award shortlisting, Goblin is also among the finalists for the celebrated Edinburgh International Book Festival's First Book Award, with the winner to be announced soon.

Ever will be one of four writers reading in the Scottish Parliament on November 15th for international Day of the Imprisoned Writer. This free event run by Amnesty International and Scottish PEN is sponsored by Mike Russell MSP. Tickets can be booked here.

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 500 words, and you'll have a week to submit. [It used to 1000 words and two weeks, but we changed it to match the weekly writing challenges set for students on the MA!]

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.

Monday, April 10, 2017

New YA module led by author Laura Lam added to MA Creative Writing @EdinburghNapier

Laura Lam • photo © Elizabeth May
We're proud to announce an exciting new module in writing for young adult audiences on our genre fiction-focused MA Creative Writing programme  - and it will be led by Laura Lam, author of the acclaimed Micah Grey YA fantasy trilogy.

The MA at Edinburgh Napier University has always welcomed YA writers, especially those creating genre fiction. But a specialist moudle in YA writing practise is a bold new innovation.

Writing YA Fiction is launching in time for the 2017-18 academic year, with the optional module due to run in Trimester 2. Students will create narratives for YA audiences set in science fiction and fantasy worlds, but contemporary settings will also be part of the module.

"It's exciting to invent my own module for the Edinburgh Naper Creative Writing MA," says Laura Lam, who joined the course as a part-time lecturer in September 2016. "I've enjoyed teaching on the existing modules, but now I'm getting the chance to build my own."

Laura's first YA novel, Pantomime, was originally published in 2013 and reissued last year by Pan Macmillan. It was shortlisted for numerous prizes and won the 2014 Bisexual Book Award for Speculative Fiction. 

Six of Crows author Leigh Bardugo called Pantomime "a fantastical, richly drawn, poignant take on a classic coming-of-age story ... a vibrant tale told with surety and grace."

Shadowplay - the second book in the Micah Grey series - was first published in 2014 and also reissued by Pan Macmillan last year. The finale of Laura's YA trilogy - the long-awaited Masquerade - was unleashed in paperback just two months ago by Pan Macmillan. Students taking the module will benefit from Laura's professional and personal experience in this exciting area.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Goblin author & MA Creative Writing graduate secures Creative Scotland funding for 2nd novel

A proto-version of HellSans appears in Gutter 16, out soon
Last month we were proudly showcasing the cover of Goblin, a novel by MA Creative Writing graduate Ever Dundas, to be published by Freight in May. But the good news doesn't stop there - Creative Scotland has just announced funding for Ever's work on her second novel, HellSans.

It's a great boost for Ever who has fibromyalgia, a chronic condition with symptoms that include chronic pain, exhaustion and cognitive problems. The illness forced her to give up part-time work, so the funding will go a long way to help her keep writing.

HellSans is a near-future sci-fi thriller with lashings of body horror. Ever calls her fun action thriller an excoriating indictment of normative society and the current UK government. Here's a blurb for the work in progress:
HellSans is a ubiquitous font; when exposed to it, most people experience contentment, but a minority are allergic. The HellSans allergy sufferers (HSAs) are persecuted and live in poverty in a ghetto on the edge of the capital city. 

Jane, CEO of the company that manufactures the Inex (a cyborg doll-like creature that replaces mobile phones) is successful and famous until she falls ill with the allergy and becomes embroiled in a government conspiracy. She loses her job and her wealth, ending up in the ghetto where she meets Icho, a scientist who has invented a cure for HSA.
Icho is on the run from governmental factions and The Elegy Seraphs (the ghetto ‘terrorist’ group), who have their own agenda for the cure. Jane and Icho work together to expose government corruption and bring the cure to the ghetto.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Stunning cover art for MA graduate's novel GOBLIN, published in May by Freight Books

'A captivating and capricious debut’ - Mary Paulson-Ellis, author The Other Mrs Walker
It's been a while coming but this May sees the long-awaited publication of Goblin by Ever Dundas, a graduate of the MA Creative Writing programme at Edinburgh Napier University. [In case you're wondering, the amazing cover art is by her talented husband Cinn.]

Scottish publisher Freight Books is unleashing the novel which started life as Ever's major project while she was on the MA. That makes it the third major project to be published as a novel, following Wasp by Ian Garbutt and Truestory by Catherine Simpson.

Here's the official Freight Books blurb for this utterly beguiling debut:
Goblin is an outcast girl growing up in London during World War Two. After witnessing a shocking event, she increasingly takes refuge in a self-constructed but magical imaginary world. Having been rejected by her mother, she leads a feral life amidst the craters of London’s Blitz, and takes comfort in her family of animals, abandoned pets she’s rescued from the city streets. 

In 2011, a chance meeting and an unwanted phone call compels an elderly Goblin to return to London amidst the riots and face the ghosts of her past. Will she discover the truth buried deep in her fractured memory or retreat to the safety of near madness?
We couldn't be more pleased to see Goblin revealed at last. Ever was a part-time student during the first two years of our programme, when her short stories were already winning praise and prizes. She is represented by Jenny Brown at Jenny Brown Associates.

Monday, February 20, 2017

New books from MA Creative Writing lecturers, 2000AD signing event in Edinburgh this Friday

It's not just students on the MA Creative Writing programme at Edinburgh Napier who are getting their work published - lecturers David Bishop and Laura Lam both have books coming this spring. 

Indeed, the first book is already out - it's THRILL-POWER OVERLOAD, an unfiltered history of iconic British comic 2000AD, written by David and one of our graduate students, Karl Stock.

On sale now: #TPO40 by David Bishop & Karl Stock
This massive hardback started life as a series of articles written by former 2000AD editor David to mark the comic's 25th anniversary back in 2002, before being revised into a book for the 30th birthday. Now the story has been updated again - this time by Karl - for 2000AD's ruby anniversary.

The full colour, lushly illustrated tome was launched in London a few days ago, but now Scottish readers have a chance to get their copy signed by both authors during a special 2000AD 40th birthday signing at Waterstones West End in Edinburgh at 12.30pm this Friday, February 24th

Published March 2017: Masquerade by Laura Lam
Next month Tor Books is publishing Masquerade by Laura Lam, the long-awaited final volume in her Micah Grey trilogy. The  fantasy series was launched back in 2013 when Pantomime was released by YA publisher Strange Chemistry, soon followed by the second book Shadowplay. 

But Micah Grey, the other characters - and readers - were left in limbo after the imprint went out of business. Happily Tor picked up the rights to Pantomime and Shadowplay, reissuing them as paperbacks and commissioning the final novel in the award-winning series.

Advance copy of Shattered Minds by Laura Lam
Laura already has another book being prepped for publication in Shattered Minds, the second novel in her Pacifica series. [The first volume, False Hearts, was released to considerable acclaim last summer and was a BBC Radio 2 Book Club selection. It's getting published in paperback this April]

Advanced reading copies of Shattered Minds are now out in the world, with the official hardback in bookshops this June. It's going to be a busy year!

Monday, January 23, 2017

2017 news bonanza: BSFA awards story longlist, Oran Mor play & acclaimed authors visit MA

The new year has brought plenty of good news for the genre fiction focused MA Creative Writing programme at Edinburgh Napier University.

MA graduate Caroline Grebbell
Recent graduate Caroline Grebbell is rubbing shoulders with acclaimed authors such as China Miéville, Una McCormack and Bruce Sterling on the longlist for the British Science Fiction 2017 Awards for short story.

Her story Model Organisms was first published in Scottish SF journal Shoreline of Infinity last summer, but was originally written as a homework exercise on the MA's Writing Genre Fiction module.

Caroline was surprised but delighted by the longlist news. "Not quite sure how that happened but very exciting all the same," she said. "Not a bad wee journey for a Genre homework!"

Another recent graduate is also celebrating a 2017 success. Jane Livingstone has collaborated with Jonathan Cairney on Jocky Wilson Said, a new play being staged at Glasgow's prestigious Òran Mór venue in March this year. Set in 1979, the play focuses on what happens when Scottish darts star Jocky Wilson finds himself alone on the road in America during an exhibition tour.

The play will be performed March 20-25 as part of this year's first A Play, A Pie and A Pint season, one of Scotland's premier showcases for new plays. It is a second commission from A Play, A Pie and A Pint for Jane. She was also featured last season with her play Miss Veitch's Roses, which she developed through mentoring on the Creative Writing MA at Edinburgh Napier.

Laura Lam (l), V E Schwab & Dhonielle Clayoton
The new year is also promising plenty of exciting new guest speakers for current students on the MA programme. Last Friday's Writing Genre Fiction class was treated to not one but two acclaimed writers, Victoria [V.E.] Schwab and Dhonielle Clayton, talking about writing, their divergent career paths and the importance of diversity representation in genre fiction.

Dhonielle Clayton is co-writer of the Tiny Pretty Things series and co-founder of Cake Literary, a book development agency that focuses on handcrafted yet high concept stories for readers of middle grade, YA and women's fiction, all with diversity at their heart. Victoria Schwab is a New York Times bestselling author of the Gathering of Shadows fantasy series, and other books.

Both speakers offered fascinating and funny insights into being a professional writer of genre fiction, and the life that lies ahead for our students once they graduate from the programme.

The MA  team has several more guest speakers lined up for the rest of this trimester, but 2017 is already off to a cracking start. Onwards!