Writers on the MA Creative & Critical Writing and MA Writing for Children students at the University of Winchester share information about their writing lives. Read about our anthology, published in May 2015, the Winchester Reading Series and Winchester Writers' Festival.
We were delighted to welcome Roma Tearne to the Winchester Reading Series at the University of Winchester, on 24 March. Roma is a Sri Lankan born novelist, artist and filmmaker who left the island in the 1960s at the start of the civil war and now lives in Oxford.
This huge personality gripped our attention from the moment she began to speak. She quickly built up a relationship with us, as she does so cleverly in her novels, sharing her ideas and explaining how she weaves her stories around them. She kept us enthralled for over an hour as she drew us into her life as a writer.
I managed to read Mosquito, her debut novel, before the evening. This remarkable book captures the tragedy and violence of civil war and its terrible effect on the characters who experience it. But it is not only a story about war; it deals with love and loss as the relationship between the protagonists is torn apart. There are no speculative assumptions about characters in this book. These are felt experiences. I found the sharing of them profoundly moving. However, it is through the poetry of her writing that the strong sense of Sri Lanka is best portrayed. Her pen and her artist’s brush combine, as she recreates its vibrant colours and rhythms, to allow our senses to feast on them.
Roma has her feet firmly planted on the ground. Although she delighted us with her anecdotes about presenting her work around the world and getting published, she emphasised the difficulties too. Refusing to be dictated to and pigeonholed by publishers, she has had to fight her way to preserve her identity and become the writer she wants to be. She made it very plain to us that success is not easy in this profession and we must be prepared to fight very hard for it.
I would like to recommend Roma’s latest novel, The Last Pier, to be launched in April. It is set against the Second World War. I am thoroughly enjoying it.
Before Claire Fuller was a writer, she was an artist, a sculptor. No surprise that her first novel is full of exquisite detail, captured by an eye trained to observe, then reflect back to others what she perceives. Early ringing endorsements from The Sunday Times (‘Extraordinary – from the opening sentence it is gripping’), TheTimes (‘Fuller handles the tension masterfully in this grown-up thriller of a fairy-tale’), as well as being selected by Amazon as one of their most exciting debuts of the month, have marked her as an author to watch.
Most might consider the prospect of spending time in a cabin in the woods as an idyll; a place to daydream in peace and quiet. However, Claire Fuller’s ‘die Hutte’ in Our Endless Numbered Days is anything but tranquil. Peggy Hillcoat’s adolescence is unusual, terrifying. Luckily for Fuller, her protagonist’s experience is not in any way biographical, though fragments of her own life, alongside that of her children’s, her husband’s, plus various friends, have been patch-worked together to form believable characters and situations. A writing assignment from the MA course on Critical and Creative Writing (University of Winchester) provided the inspiration for what would eventually turn into her first book. As well as the professional guidance received through attending the course, Claire draws invaluable encouragement from a writing group she attends, as well as huge support from the wider writing community represented within Twitter. Continue reading →
On Tuesday 24th March we will be welcoming the last guest in the 2015 Winchester Reading Series.
Roma Tearne is an internationally acclaimed
Sri Lankan born novelist, filmmaker and artist. Her novels include Mosquito; The Swimmer and Brixton Beach. She has received award nominations for, among others, the Costa, the Orange Prize and the Asian Man Booker prize.
On Tuesday evening Roma will be taking a break from her stint as Writer in Residence at the Imperial War Museum’s Archives to talk about her work and answer questions from the audience. If you would like to be part of this free, public event, please be in St Alphege room 001 ready for a 6.00 pm start.
To find out more about Roma before Tuesday you can visit her website.
We are delighted to welcome Claire Fuller, an alumnus of The University of Winchester’s MA in Creative and Critical Writing, as our next speaker in the Winchester Reading Series 2015.
Claire’s debut novel, Our Endless Numbered Days, was published in February 2015 and has received brilliant reviews (at the time of posting the book has 4.9 stars on Amazon and 4.08 on Goodreads). Claire will talk about how she wrote the novel, how she found an agent and what happened next. She will also read an excerpt from her book.
If you would like to hear about Claire’s experiences as a debut novelist, please come to room SAB001 at the University of Winchester on Tuesday 17th March. This free event starts at 6.00 pm and everyone is welcome. Copies of Our Endless Numbered Days will be available for purchase.
‘It’s a strange and abstract thing when you get a book published.’ Simon Nicholson
Simon Nicholson is a children’s television screenwriter and author. His television credits include Fireman Sam, Tracy Beaker and Bob the Builder. Simon writes for both the UK and international markets and has been nominated for BAFTA and RTS awards. His latest novel, The Demon’s Curse, is second in the ‘Young Houdini’ series and publishes in June of this year.
Simon describes himself as a ‘maker and a writer, not a theoretician’. His books are plot-driven with story as their ‘line through the sand’; his own writing process is one of following the logic of an idea.
Simon began his career in the theatre. As an assistant director, he worked for various companies, including the Unicorn Theatre, The Manchester Royal Exchange and Theatre Centre. His first job was with the Royal Shakespeare Company. He recalls how working with actors was a useful experience. Good actors, like writers, are constantly asking questions about the characters they create. Continue reading →
On Tuesday 24th February, students from the two Creative Writing MAs were privileged to welcome author Marcus Sedgwick to the University. Marcus spoke in detail about his latest novel The Ghosts of Heaven.
He started by saying ‘Talking about writing is easier than writing.’
This set the tone for the evening and the audience, as one, sat up to pay attention. ‘It’s not just me then who finds it difficult,’ our body language seemed to say. Marcus captivated us straight away. He was going to share his difficulties and tell us how he overcomes them. Concentrating on this one novel he shared how it was conceived from the image of the spiral.
Producing a caliper from his pocket he showed how it is used in measurement. It was a symbol of his precision, as a writer too. In a few minutes he took us through ‘the spirals of life’, reminding us of Fibonacci and the golden ratio in nature: sea shells, sunflowers, honey bees and galaxies. This, he told us, was how the idea of the book was formed. Furthermore this image was crucial in drawing his stories together to form a coherent novel. Continue reading →
This Tuesday our guest speaker is Simon Nicholson. Simon is the author of The Young Houdini series of children’s books (the first title is now out in paperback: The Magician’s Fire). He is a prolific writer of scripts, mainly for children’s TV (Tracy Beaker, Bob the Builder et al) and has received BAFTA nominations for his work. He also works in musical theatre and you can find out more by visiting his website http://www.simonbnicholson.com/
If you would like to meet Simon in person and ask him questions about writing for children and the differences between writing scripts and books, then come to the University of Winchester on Tuesday 3rd March. The talk will be in St Alphege 001 and starts at 6.00pm. This is a free event and everyone is welcome.