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.


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 He blogs, occasionally, at 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.


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.

week 5: The Grotesque – Patrick McGrath


THE UNRELIABLE NARRATOR – seminar with Jonathan Barnes, 27.10.11



‘I want to know if men realise when they are insane.’  (‘The Doll’)


Reading Patrick McGrath’s new-gothic short novel, The Grotesque, I am startled by the uncanny resonances with Daphne Du Maurier’s short story, ‘The Doll’, as if perhaps one could have been inspired by the other.

Precise images seem to be almost exactly replicated from one story in another.


‘The Doll’ is the first person account of a macabre story of a man who meets and subsequently becomes obsessed with a talented and tormented violin virtuoso. The brief intense relationship, her secret and her loss will eventually madden him.


‘The feeling of urgent, cruelly blocked desire became almost unbearable.’ (The Grotesque)



The whole premise of The Grotesque and its story as recounted by its grossly unreliable narrator, Sir Hugo, could not be more accurately summed up than by the preamble to ‘The Doll’ in its own foreword,


‘Whether the wild improbabilities of the story are true, or whether the whole is but the hysterical product of a diseased mind, we shall never know.’


‘Human enough, damnably lifelike, with a foul, distinctive personality, but a doll.’ (‘The Doll’)


‘a pitiful, motionless, misshapen man’ with ‘a cataleptic fixity of posture,’ ‘severe masking’ and ‘a blank lizardlike stare’ (The Grotesque)

‘He was a machine – something worked by screws – he was not alive, not human – but terrible, ghastly.’ (‘The Doll’)



I am tempted to say that McGrath must surely be giving a knowing nod to Du Maurier. And yet, ‘The Doll’, though written in 1937 was lost for over 70years and very recently was published for the first time.


‘and by the time I arose the next morning, it was a mere ghost of itself, a stiff breeze’  (The Grotesque)



Has anyone else read this and also thought they bear startling similarities?





Reading Lists – Jonathan Barnes

A new perspective on recommended reading from fantasy / science fiction novelist, Jonathan Barnes

Jonathan Barnes’ very subjective reading list

Here are ten novels which I’d recommend to anyone. All the books are fairly short and approachable and provide a useful introduction to the author’s work. Each one is structured ideally. There is a bias, of course, towards my own genre… And I’ve included one shamelessly topical entry!

In order of publication:

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

H G Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau

Henry James, The Turn of the Screw

Anthony Powell, A Question of Upbringing

John Fowles, The Collector

William Boyd, A Good Man in Africa

Martin Amis, Night Train

Michael Chabon, The Final Solution

David Mitchell, Black Swan Green

A D Miller, Snowdrops

visit Jonathan’s blogsite at


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