Friday, 27 February 2015

Visit to Chester by Novelist George Green

On 24 February, Creative Writing students on the module Writing the Past spent a seminar and workshop with author of historical novels, George Green. George’s novels include Hawk (2006) and Hound (2003), which was described in the Guardian as ‘tightly written, oddly touching and with a strong sense of history as well as myth’. He is also co-author of Writing a Novel and Getting Published for Dummies (2007; 2014).

George read from his novel-in-progress, set the class a generative writing exercise based on old coins, discussed the best ways to structure a longer piece of fiction and keep the attention of the reader, and took questions from the class on issues such as the use of flashback and the best point at which to begin your story.

The visit was organised by Dr Ian Seed.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Flash, 7.2 (October 2014)

Issue 7.2 of Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine is now available.

It features new stories from Australia, Austria, Britain, Canada, China, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, and the USA. We are particularly pleased to open with pieces by two distinguished European writers, in luminous translations: two ‘zkv’s (‘zeer korte verhalen’ [very short stories]) by A. L. Snijders, who coined the term, translated from the Dutch by Man Booker International winner Lydia Davis; and three pieces from Austrian writer Josef Winkler’s When the Time Comes (2013), translated by Adrian West, originally published in German as Wenn es soweit ist – Erzählung (1998). Wonderful renderings by West of Winkler also appeared in Flash, 6.1. Davis’s impressive Collected Stories (2009) was featured in the ‘Flash Presents’ section of 6.2; her latest collection, Can’t and Won’t, is enthusiastically reviewed in this issue by Robert Shapard, editor of influential flash and sudden-fiction anthologies.

This issue’s ‘Flash Presents’ contains four stories by Virginia Woolf: ‘A Haunted House’, ‘Monday or Tuesday’, ‘Blue & Green’, and ‘In the Orchard’. These are followed by our fourth ‘Flash Essay’. In ‘“Splinters & mosaics”: Virginia Woolf’s Flash Fictions’, Kathryn Simpson argues that Woolf’s experimental flashes provide insight into her emergence as a major modernist novelist and her enduring preoccupations.

Flash Reviews’ examines two other single-author books and two anthologies. Laurie Champion is entertained by Lucy Corin’s One Hundred Apocalypses and Other Apocalypses, a collection of short and short-short stories, while Christine Simon is intrigued by Will Eaves’s The Absent Therapist, a novel in flashes. Robert Scotellaro enjoys Tara Laskowski’s selection from ten years of the SmokeLong Quarterly, while Ian Seed embraces the longer perspective of Alan Ziegler’s Short, which ranges over five centuries of brief prose. Each review is accompanied by a sample story. Laskowski’s anthology is represented by Jeff Landon’s ‘Five Fat Men in a Hot Tub’, Ziegler’s by Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Artist’.

To order a copy of the issue, or to subscribe to the magazine, go to: 

Peter Blair and Ashley Chantler (Editors)

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Prize for Ian Seed’s Poetry Collection

Creating Writing tutor Dr Ian Seed has been awarded the 2015 Monograph Prize by the Faculty of Humanities, University of Chester, for his prose-poetry collection Makers of Empty Dreams (Shearsman, 2014).

With a sparse, haunting, often playful lyricism, the makers of empty dreams emerge like figures in the reels of an old, almost abandoned film. Their stories, often set in different countries which we may or may not know, tell of loss and estrangement, of betrayal and reconciliation, and of a search for the possibilities of renewal along the way.

The poet Ian McMillan has said of the collection: ‘These are superb pieces that give us a glimpse into some kind of translated backlit European hinterland full of the music of menace and desire. I read them in my conservatory in Barnsley and I was instantly transported to a city that I half-knew, full of people I wanted to meet or avoid. Prose poetry at its very best.’

Monday, 2 February 2015

Visit by Francesca Haig, Author of The Fire Sermon

In January 2015, Francesca Haig shared her experience of the publishing world, with helpful details and advice about publishing, literary agents, and publicity.

Francesca’s The Fire Sermon, a post-apocalyptic novel with elements of fantasy and science fiction, will be published in February 2015 (by HarperVoyager in the UK; Simon & Schuster in Canada), with two sequels to follow. The film rights have been purchased by DreamWorks, and translation rights to the series have been sold in more than twenty-five countries. Francesca’s poetry is widely published in anthologies and literary journals in both Australia and the UK, and has won various prizes. Her first collection, Bodies of Water, was published in 2006 (Five Islands Press) and was Highly Commended in the Anne Elder Award for the best first book of poetry in Australia. In 2010, she was awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship.

At the talk, Francesca stressed that what counts above all is the writing itself, not becoming obsessed with the latest publishing trends or with dreaming of finding the perfect agent. Francesca gave out lots of useful tips, based on her own experience. Do your research so that you find the right agent, one whose vision of the novel is aligned with yours. Before you send your work out, make sure it is as polished as you can make it. Once you’ve done this, get on with something different. Don’t twitter-stalk your agent or go crazy. Don’t make unreasonable demands. In all dealings with the publishing world, be polite, patient and professional. Don’t expect to make a lot of money. Do it because you love doing it. Above all, make sure your write a really good book. Being a Creative Writing student at the University of Chester is useful because of the feedback you get on your coursework from your peers and tutors.

Francesca also talked about the advantages and disadvantages of the self‑publishing revolution – if you’re prepared to put in the work, then go for it! But remember that you will not have the input of an editorial team or the support of a big publishing house.

Francesca also ran a poetry workshop, helping students to turn a run-of-the mill draft poem into a striking, original one.