The Blog is back!

Hello! We are happy to be back and running again.

The Creative Writing MFA at Kingston University has been running now for several years. The two-year Fine Art programme was originally spearheaded by Scott Bradfield. We were very sorry to see Scott leave last year but relieved to learn that the mantle has been taken over by Paul Perry.

Karen Gillece und Paul Perry (Karen Perry) Irland

Paul Perry is the author and editor of a number of critically acclaimed books including The Drowning of the Saints, Goldsmith’s Ghost, The Orchid Keeper, and The Last Falcon and Small Ordinance, The Dedalus Press, 2010. Paul is also Curator for the largest and longest running international poetry festival in Ireland, dlr Poety Now.

This is going to be a great year for Paul not least because of the launch of his new book The Innocent Sleep. The novel, a psychological thriller, has been co-written with Dublin based author Karen Gillece. The Innocent Sleep was released on 18 February under the pen name Karen Perry. It has been commended by reviewers for its captivating and lyrical style of writing.

There is also a low residency MFA cohort led by Siobhan Campbell. It’s a distance learning option and attracts students from around the world. So this year we are a group of over twenty students, all at different junctions on the joyful, undulating, cross-country literary pathway. Over the coming months we hope to hear the sounds of these new voices and share some of our reflections along the way.

Your 2014 editors,

Maria & Carol

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A Look Back at the Kingston Writing School Athens Summer School

For four weeks this summer, writers from around the world gathered in Athens, Greece for intensive creative writing workshops led by Kingston Writing School writers in connection with the British Council.

Athens school logoThis very lucky editor was among the students there for the first week of the session and can attest to just how brilliant it was. Waking up in the ancient city of Athens, spending the day wandering through centuries-old ruins and the evening discussing writing with motivated writers was incredible. Inspiration lay around every corner.

Weekdays from 6-9pm we would gather at the British Council offices in Kolonaki Square, revel in the glorious air conditioning and workshop an incredible array of writing. There were several courses to choose from:

1. 2 week Intensive Prose Writing with novelists Adam Baron and Rachel Cusk

2. 2 week Intensive Poetry Writing with Jane Yeh and Paul Perry

3. 4 week Mixed Genre Writing with James Miller, Siobhan Campbell, Norma Clarke and Jonathan Barnes

4. 2 week Fiction and Poetry Writing with Jonathan Barnes and Alison Gibb

Teaching these classes were: novelists Adam Baron, Rachel Cusk, James Miller and Jonathan Barnes, poets Siobhan Campbell, Jane Yeh and Alison Gibb, and poet and novelist Paul Perry.  Students also benefited from visits from notable Greek writers.

One of the best experiences of the week was not only the amazing teaching, but also the opportunity to connect with other, international writers. The 33 registered students were in classes of between four and eleven writers and were able to socialise and discuss writing with the other classes through organised events. The power of literature in the face of the current economic crisis was evident in the classroom. It was fascinating to hear from Greek writers about the economic and social turmoil, and to see how it was represented in their writing. Students hailed from several countries including Greece, the UK, the USA and Mexico, ranged in age from teenagers to retirees and had professions from novelist to diplomat. The wealth of world and life experience added to the rich discussions of writing and literature.

Many students found that the intensive nature of the course encouraged them to produce more than they normally would have. For those students who struggled to start, the teachers gave writing exercises to kick start creativity. The summer school ended with an impressive and moving evening of readings by participants that highlighted the success of the program.

Huge thanks are due to all of the staff of the British Council and the director, Tony Buckby. Special thanks to Irini Vouzelakou and Maria Papaioannou who did an enormous amount of work to organise everything behind the scenes to make sure the summer school ran so well and to make it all possible. Their hard work and positivity put everyone at ease and made both students and staff feel welcome in Athens and at the British Council. At Kingston University, many thanks to the staff who taught and to David Rogers for his leadership of Kingston Writing School in forging this new bond.

The consensus from the teachers, students, Kingston Writing School and the British Council is that the first year of the Athens International Creative Writing Summer School was a huge success. Director of the Kingston Writing School, David Rogers says, “We have definitely established a special link among Kingston Writing School, the Athens British Council, and our new community of Greek and international writers.”

Kingston Writing School and the British Council look forward to further developing and expanding that community next year when the Athens International Creative Writing Summer School will return as an annual event. So if you missed out this year, not to worry! It is expected that similar creative writing courses will be offered and organisers are looking into possibly offering courses in literature or nonfiction/journalism.For more information, keep your eye on the Kingston Writing School and British Council Athens websites.

Kingston Connections 2013

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Kingston Connections starts in The Rose Theatre Kingston today. An exciting collaboration between the university, Royal Borough of Kingston, The Rose and Creative Youth, we are offering a heady mixture of dance, talks, poetry, theatre, music, writing workshops, science discussions. There’s even the chance to be part of a psychology experiment. Come along and join in!

Highlights today include a talk on genes (10:30am), a poetry reading (12:00pm) and a free workshop on self-publishing (5:30pm).

The full programme (as a PDF) and booking information is available on the Rose Theatre website.

MFA lecturers, tutors and writers in residence to be featured include:

Monday, 24 June 2013, 3:30-5:30pm, Rose Theatre – novelists Adam Baron & James Miller in conversation. Why Do You Write?

Tuesday, 25 June 2013, 12:00-1:00pm, Rose Theatre – poet Jane Yeh reads with Emily Berry.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013, 6:00-7:00pm, Rose Theatre – author Courttia Newland discusses how he has used his own life in his fiction. Life Writing: A Life in Fiction: autobiography and the novel. **Editor’s note: We regret to announce that Courttia’s talk has been cancelled. There are still lots of great events on this week, though, so get thee to Kingston!

Kingston students, alumni and staff can get free or reduced admission to most events!

Georgia Fitch: Playwright, Radio Scriptwriter and Screenwriter

Georgia Fitch

Georgia Fitch is an East London-born playwright. She began her career as an actress and started writing in order to create more interesting roles that represented the women she knew. Initially, Georgia partnered with Tracy O’Flaherty and they had their first major success with The Footballer’s Wife (1997). Georgia has since independently written numerous plays for the stage and radio as well as a television drama. She is most well-known for Adrenalin Heart (2002) which premiered at the Bush and then went on to be performed at the Tokyo Theatre Festival in 2004.

Georgia was  Writer in Residence at the Bush Theatre, London, with O’Flaherty in 2001. In 2004, she was Writer in Residence at BBC Radio. From 2006 to 2008, she was on attachment to the Royal Court and Soho Theatre. She is currently Writer-in-Residence at Kingston University.

Her most recent work, Blair’s Children, co-written with April de Angelis, Anders Lustgarten, Mark Norfolk and Paula Stanic, opened at The Cockpit Theatre, Marylebone on 05 June 2013 and runs until 21 June 2013. You can find more information and purchase tickets for Blair’s Children here.

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Bibliography:

Plays:

Blair’s Children – The Cockpit Theatre, 2013

Fit and Proper People – Soho Theatre/RSC, 2011

Dirty Dirty Princess – National Theatre, New Connections, 2009

I Like Mine with a Kiss – Bush Theatre, 2007

Adrenalin  Heart – Bush Theatre, 2002,2004

Alone – Etc Theatre, 2000

Arrivals – Old Red Lion, 1999

Come Dancing – (Co-written with Tracy O’Flaherty) Old Red Lion, 1998

The Footballer’s Wife – (Co-written with Tracy O’Flaherty) Riverside Studios, 1997

Radio:

Up The Junction– BBC Radio 4 – 2013

The Mother of – BBC Radio 4, 2007

Untitled Lover – BBC Radio 4, 2007
Fortunes Always Hiding – BBC Radio 4, 2005

Romeo and Juliet in Southwark –  BBC, 2004

Produced in collaboration with Shakespeare’s Globe and Kingsdale School, Dulwich

Adrenalin Heart – BBC Radio 3, 2003

Television:

Darke Town – (Co-written with Lucy Catherine and Ryan Craig) BBC Drama, 2006

Other:

Dis-Assembly – (An installation created with Runa Islam) Sepentine Gallery, 2006

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Recommended Reading:

Plays to read:

A Raisin in the Sun – Lorraine Hansberry

The Visit – Fredrich Durrenmatt

Saved – Edward Bond

Whistle in the Dark – Tom Murphy

Ecstasy – Mike Leigh

Masterpieces – Sarah Daniels

Films to view:

Cathy Come Home – Ken Loach

Nil by Mouth – Gary Oldman

A Seperation – Asghar Farhadi

Source Materials:

How Plays Work – David Edgar

The Art Of Dramatic Writing – Lajos Egri

The Writers Journey – Christopher Vogler

The Hero’s Journey – Joseph Campbell

Dark nights of the Soul – Thomas Moore

The Twittering Writer

Sinéad Keegan is an Irish-born writer in the final year of her MFA at Kingston and currently writing her first novel. Her short stories and poetry and have been published in several magazines and she blogs at www.sineadkeegan.com. Twitter: @sineadkeegan. She is the editor of No Dead White Men and recently taught a course in blogging and social media for Kingston Writing School.

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When I tell people that I edit a blog for which other people write and that does fairly well in terms of hits-per-day, I usually get a look that says, “Oh, so you’re not one of those ‘writers’ who says she writes, but really just mucks around in her pajamas all day.”  But the minute I say that I use Facebook and Twitter I can see them picturing me back in my red, snowflake, flannel pajamas clutching a cup of coffee, surfing the internet for cat videos and calling it “writing”.

This is, unfortunately perhaps, untrue on several fronts. First, my snowflake pajamas aren’t flannel and I wear pink or blue tracksuit bottoms when I’m working from home. Second, I don’t drink coffee. And third, I don’t while away time on the internet. That is not to say I don’t waste time. I do. I, like all self-respecting writers, am a connoisseur of procrastination techniques. It’s just that I prefer ones that make me feel productive. I cook. I do chores – the house is never cleaner than when I’m on a deadline. I catch up on emails – has it really been 6 months since I went through my junk folder? And I read. I read a lot. In the name of research, of course.

Catherine has covered procrastination quite eloquently, however, so I won’t dwell on it. So the question that remains is: What am I doing on Twitter and Facebook then?

I’m being a writer. Honest.

Granted, I spend some of my time reading articles about writing and writers, some of dubious research value such as this one from The Onion. But for the most part, the hour a day I spend on social media is spent making and keeping connections, working with writing communities and, of course, some shameless self-promotion. Writers, if you don’t do it, no one else will.

That said, I offer some guidelines for how to shamelessly self-promote without driving your social media ‘friends’ crazy.

1. Treat your Facebook and Twitter profiles like you do your LinkedIn profile. You wouldn’t put photos of you mooning the guards outside Buckingham Palace while chugging back a plastic bottle of vodka on LinkedIn, so don’t do it on Facebook. You might well be on your way to writing The Old Man and the Sea, but don’t make us all watch, Hemingway didn’t.

2. Put up a link and leave it. I know you really want to post everything you do everywhere, but, chances are, if you do that, your friends are going to see the link 30,000 times. If I see a link from the same person more than twice, I make it a point not to look at it. Maybe that’s just spite on my part, but if you have to advertise that hard, it makes me think something else went wrong. Also re-tweeting 20 tweets at a time is irritating, it just gums up my feed with people that I don’t follow – perhaps for a reason.

3. Which brings me to the next point: Slow and steady. Yep, back to the tortoise and the hare. You have to give yourself and your reputation time to grow. The next big thing, the person with the meteoric rise to stardom and success? Most likely, it took them ages and if it didn’t, they probably won’t be around for too long.

4. Slow and steady requires consistency. Above all be consistent and reliable. Everyone, from agents, to publishers, to readers want consistency. If you blog, really blog. Don’t blog once every 2 or 6 or 14 months. Pick a time frame and stick to it. (Says she, shamefully, not having updated her own blog in over a month) If you tweet, tweet daily or weekly, but NOT hourly. You don’t have that many interesting things to say. Trust me. You don’t.

5. Build the brand. First, you have to know your brand. What are you and what do you want to be? What do you write? Who is your audience and how do you find them? Follow people like you on Twitter, find groups like you on Facebook, get in contact with bloggers like you. You can choose to look at other writers as competition or as a network. Accountants don’t refuse to speak to other accountants so why do we do that in the arts? If your writing is good enough, you can get published and if you don’t it’s not because someone else “stole your spot.” If it isn’t good enough, you (probably) won’t get published (insert your angrily shouted exceptions here). Why do those accountants network? Because it’s all about who you know. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise: it’s the same in writing. Contacts can mean everything. Work them.

So for an hour each day, I give myself permission not to write and I sit down and think long-term. What do I want? How do I get it? How to I take a step toward that today? Then I tweet, blog or post on Facebook or just support the other people in my community, because I want them to succeed too. Success breeds success and that can only be good for our struggling arts.

Athens International Creative Writing Summer School

Ever fancied a life of travel and writing? Well some of our MFA teachers will be living that life this summer and you can too. Kingston Writing School and the British Council are proud to announce the International Creative Writing Summer School in Athens, Greece from 17 June – 13 July 2013. This program of two and four week sessions are open to everyone. Download the application here.

MFA tutors who will be teaching are: Rachel Cusk, Jane Yeh, Fiona Sampson, James Miller, Jonathan Barnes and Adam Baron. Additionally, other sessions will be led by Siobhan Campbell, Paul Perry and Todd Swift who all teach at Kingston University and supervise dissertations. You can find out more about the tutors by clicking on the links to their author profiles or by visiting the staff page of the Kingston Writing School website.

Athens International Creative Writing School

 

Access the invitation as a PDF here.

Find out more on the British Council website or on the Kingston Writing School website.

 

Fiona Sampson and James Miller Reading

We are excited to announce that two Kingston MFA teachers, Fiona Sampson, Senior Researcher, and James Miller, Senior Lecturer, will be doing a free, public event this Wednesday at Waterstones Piccadilly in London. This is the second in a reading series. The premier event featured Rachel Cusk and Jane Yeh and was received rave reviews from attendees. You are all invited to come to the event. If you are a prospective student, this will be a great opportunity to meet some lecturers and current Kingston students. Please see below to book a free ticket.

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An Evening with Fiona Sampson and James Miller

10 April 2013, 7:00pm

Waterstones Piccadilly

203/206 Piccadilly

London W1J 9HD

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Here’s the official blurb:

Waterstones Piccadilly and Kingston Writing School are proud to present an evening with of readings with leading poet Fiona Sampson and novelist James Miller. Join us for a glass of wine and hear Fiona Sampson read from her new book ‘Coleshill’ and novelist James Miller read from his second novel, ‘Sunshine State.

Tickets are free but all places must be reserved in advance by contacting the store on 02078512400 or emailing events@piccadilly.waterstones.co.uk

An Evening with Fiona Sampson & James Miller

 

Find out more at the Waterstones Piccadilly website or the Kingston Writing School website.

Jonathan Barnes

Jonathan Barnes

Jonathan Barnes is the author of two novels, The Somnambulist (2007) and The Domino Men (2008), which have, between them, been translated into eight languages. A writer-in-residence at Kingston University, he contributes regularly to the Times Literary Supplement and the Literary Review. He is also the author of a number of full-cast audio dramas including Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Perfidious Mariner and the forthcoming Doctor Who: Persuasion and The Ordeals of Sherlock Holmes.

His official website is www.jonathan-barnes.com. He blogs, occasionally, at www.jonathanbarnes.blogspot.co.uk/ and tweets, even more occasionally, as @jbarneswriter.

Jonathan is a Writer-in-Residence at Kingston University. He taught a Critical Reading session on 13 November 2012 and a Teaching and Writing Workshop on 19 February 2013. Back in October of 2011 he gave NoDeadWhiteMen a reading list that you can read here, but we’ve made him do it again.

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Jonathan’s Recommended Reading

Some fiction:

At the Chime of a City Clock and Secondhand Daylight by D J Taylor – A pair of wonderful crime stories, set in the 1930s and inspired by the rackety life of the writer Julian MacLaren-Ross.

The Possessions of Doctor Forrest by Richard T Kelly – The finest piece of twenty-first century gothic fiction that I have read to date.

Blood and Water and other tales by Patrick McGrath – Superb, grisly short stories from another master of contemporary gothic.

The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan – Touching, exciting, ultimately profound – a story of survival after a disaster at sea.

Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon – Perhaps the perfect campus comedy.

The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen – Distinctive, fascinating and weird – a dark fruit of the fin de siècle

Some non-fiction:

Damn His Blood: Being a True and Detailed History of the Most Barbarous and Inhumane Murder at Oddingley and the Quick and Awful Retribution by Peter Moore – A work of popular history – and the most purely thrilling book that I’ve read in a long while.

The English Ghost by Peter Ackroyd – A collection of real (?) ghost stories from English history which possesses a strange cumulative power.

The War Against Cliché by Martin Amis – Amis is a divisive figure but this is fine, inspiring criticism, written in prose of a very high order.

Rachel Cusk & Jane Yeh Reading

We are excited to announce that two Kingston MFA teachers, Rachel Cusk, Reader, and Jane Yeh, Senior Lecturer, will be doing a free, public event next Wednesday at Waterstones Piccadilly in London. You are all invited to come to the event. If you are a prospective student, this will be a great opportunity to meet some lecturers and current Kingston students. Please see below to book a free ticket.

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An Evening with Jane Yeh and Rachel Cusk

03 April 2013, 7:00pm

Waterstones Piccadilly

203/206 Piccadilly

London W1J 9HD

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Here’s the official blurb:

Waterstones Piccadilly and Kingston Writing School are proud to present the first in a series of events showcasing the work of Kingston lecturers and alumni. Join us for a glass of wine as highly acclaimed novelist Rachel Cusk discusses teaching creative writing with poet Jane Yeh. This will be followed by a reading from Jane Yeh’s new collection ‘The Ninjas.’

Tickets are free but all places must be reserved in advance by contacting the store on 02078512400 or emailing events@piccadilly.waterstones.co.uk

 

Promotional image courtesy of KWS & Waterstones

Promotional image courtesy of Waterstones and Kingston Writing School

 

Find out more at the Waterstones Piccadilly website or the Kingston Writing School website.

Christopher Priest

Christopher Priest

Christopher Priest is an English writer of novels, short stories, biographies, critical works and more. He has written radio drama for BBC Radio 4, television programs for Thames TV and HTV and his reviews and features have been published in the Guardian, The Times, the Scotsman and other broadsheets and numerous magazines.

His 1995 novel, The Prestige, won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and, in 2006, was made into a film of the same name starring Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman and Scarlett Johannson. Christopher Nolan directed and it was nominated for two Academy Awards.

Christopher has garnered several international awards, including the Eurocon Award (Yugoslavia), the Kurd Lasswitz Award (Germany), the Ditmar Award (Australia) and Le Grand Prix de L’Imaginaire (France). In 2001, he was awarded France’s Prix Utopia for lifetime achievement. In 2002, he won both the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) Award for his novel The Separation. The Islanders won the 2011 BSFA Award and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. The Adjacent will be released in June.

Find out more about Christopher on his website: http://www.christopher-priest.co.uk/

 

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Christopher will be reading at 7:30pm on Tuesday, 23 April 2013 in JG 3003, Kingston University, Penrhyn Road. This is a free reading and open to the public.

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SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Fiction

The Adjacent (June 2013)

The Islanders (2011)

The Separation (2002)

The Prestige (1995)

The Quiet Woman (1990)

The Glamour (1988)

The Affirmation (1981)

An Infinite Summer (1979)

The Space Machine (1976)

Fugue for a Darkening Island (1972)

Indoctrinaire (1970)

 

Essays

‘Top Ten Slipstream Books’, The Guardian, May 2003

‘John Wyndham and H G Wells’, a talk given at Midhurst, West Sussex in December 2000

 ‘Independent Cinemas’, The Independent, 1999

 ‘The Beatles’, Chuch, 1986

 

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Christopher Priest’s Recommended Reading List

 

NON-FICTION:

A Sort of Life – Graham Greene

(The first volume of Greene’s autobiography, this is in my experience the only book

that tells the truth about what it is to be a writer.)

Bomber County – Daniel Swift

(About the poetry written by combatants in the second world war.)

The King’s English – Kingsley Amis

(A book of English usage, idiosyncratic and amusing.)

Song of the Sky – Guy Murchie

(A lyrical account of the nature of the sky: winds, clouds, storms, etc.)

 

FICTION:

Disappearances – William Wiser

Loitering with Intent – Muriel Spark

Larry’s Party – Carol Shields

Pavane – Keith Roberts

Collected Stories – Vladimir Nabokov

Pale Fire – Vladimir Nabokov

The Painted Bird – Jerzy Kosinski

Fame – Daniel Kehlmann

Ice – Anna Kavan

Dubliners – James Joyce

The Magus – John Fowles

2666 – Roberto Bolaño

The Voices of Time – J. G. Ballard

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