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Centre for New Writing

Anthony Burgess blue plaque

Alumni

Authors who studied at the Centre of New Writing.

Below you can find out more information about a selection of successful authors who have studied at the Centre of New Writing.

Jenn Ashworth

Jenn is the author of three novels. The first, A Kind of Intimacy was developed while taking the MA in Creative Writing with us in 2005 to 2006. It was published by Arcadia in 2009.

It tells the story of Annie, an overweight woman addicted to self-help books and convinced she's seen her new neighbour somewhere before. It mixes comedy, self-delusion, and violence. It won the Betty Trask Award in 2010. 

Jenn was also awarded the Best Writing on a Blog prize at the 2008 City Life Blog. She is a founder of The Central Lancashire Writers Hub and the editorial and mentoring agency The Writing Smithy.

Her second Cold Light (2011) is also a mix of light and dark, in a tale of three women reuniting ten years after a death. In March 2011, the BBC’s Culture Show featured her as one of the Best 12 New Novelists.

The Friday Gospels is her most recent (2013) and is concerned with the return from America of a British Mormon to his family in Lancashire. An examination of what it means to be a minority and of the immanence of the spiritual, it received widespread attention, including a spot on the BBC Breakfast new. The Guardian in its review said that the novel is ‘warmly and sympathetically attuned to its characters' inner worlds’ and that ‘Ashworth's language is never less than inventive and exuberant, and her observations are minute.’

Two earlier novels were not published, indeed one was lost when a computer was stolen. An extract from it, however, won the 2003 Quiller-Couch Prize for Creative Writing at the University of Cambridge.

She now teaches creative writing at the University of Lancaster, and was one of our Centre for New Writing’s Writers in Residence.

Susan Barker

MA alumna Susan Barker's second novel, The Orientalist and the Ghost, was longlisted for the £60,000 Dylan Thomas Prize.

The Orientalist and the Ghost is an epic literary novel following three generations of one family from the chaotic upheaval of post-war Malaysia to Britain in the 1990s.

Susan was born in 1978 and graduated from Leeds University before living in Japan and teaching English there for two years before returning to the UK.

Belinda Castles

Belinda Castles won the $20,000 Australian / Vogel award in 2006 for her second novel, The River Baptists.

Set over the course of a long hot tense summer, when sparks constantly threaten to ignite bushfires, The River Baptists examines a small, tight-knit riverside community and how it manages secrets, lies and the weight of living with the past.

The Australian / Vogel award is Australia's richest and most prestigious award for an unpublished manuscript by a writer under the age of 35.

Belinda was also named by The Sydney Morning Herald as one of Australia's best young novelists in 2008.

Sallie Day

Sallie Day's novel, The Palace of Strange Girls, was published by Harper Press in 2009. The novel is set in 1959 at the height of the 'Scrap and Shut' cotton crisis, and centres on the Singleton family and their annual holiday in Blackpool. 

Jack Singleton, a foreman at a local mill, has been offered both the job of mill manager and a union post, forcing him to choose between the welfare of his fellow workers and that of his family. As the novel continues shocking discoveries are made and promises broken, and the family struggle to find their place in a shifting society.

Sallie, who undertook her MA in Creative Writing in 1999-2000 after joining a local writing group, said:

"I'm delighted that The Palace of Strange Girls is to be published. My agents auctioned the novel during the summer, and it was actually sold on my 55th birthday.

"I only began writing when my youngest child left for university in 1998, and found Manchester's MA experience very positive: from the introductions to visiting agents and talks by publishers to the analysis of novels and critiques of my submissions. I learned a tremendous amount, received a great deal of support and advice and was grateful for the opportunity to return to study - 25 years after my first degree."

Lee Goodare

Lee Goodare has worked as a clinical editor and journalist, and wrote the initial drafts of her novel Ali & Jinn as part of her MA at The University of Manchester.

It was recently a finalist in the Daily Telegraph's 'Novel in a Year' competition, and won Toby Litt's 'university' competition. She is currently working on her second novel.

Sophie Hannah

Sophie Hannah is a British poet and novelist. She was born in Manchester and studied at The University of Manchester. Sophie published her first book of poems, The Hero and the Girl Next Door, at the age of 24.

She has published five collections of poetry with Carcanet Press and in 2004 she was named one of the Poetry Book Society's Next Generation poets.

Her Selected Poems, first published by Penguin in 2006, continues to sell around the world.

Laura Ellen Joyce

Laura took the MA in Creative Writing part time from 2009 to 2011. She will take up a post teaching creative writing and English Literature at York St John’s University in autumn of 2013 and is currently working on her PhD at the University of Sussex.

Her first novel The Museum of Atheism was published by Salt in November of 2012. The story revolves around the murder of a child beauty contest participant.

Her fiction and poetry have appeared in 'Paraxis', 'Succour', 'The Manchester Anthology', 'Murmurations: An Anthology of Uncanny Stories about Birds', and on the 'Quick Fictions' app. 

Her second novel, The Luminol Reels is part of her PhD. 

Read Laura’s short story ‘And the Sky Became the Perfect Colour and Back’.

Chris Killen

Chris Killen’s first novel The Bird Room was published by Canongate in 2009. 

Chris is also fiction editor at 3: AM magazine, and, as well as his conventional novels, has completed a 100-chapter 'supermarket nightmare' novel as a 'one chapter a day' blog. His blog also won the 2007 Manchester Literary Festival's Blog Award.

His interactive audio/e-book Blind Date: an Interactive Romance is available from his website, chriskillen.com.

In 2012 his short story ‘Blue+Yellow’ was published in Brace: A New Generation in Short Fiction edited by Jim Hinks for Comma Press.

Wizard’s Way a film he both performed in and helped write won Best Comedy Film at the London Independent Film Festival, 2012 and the Discovery Award at the London Comedy Film Festival 2013.

Joe Pemberton

Joe Pemberton is an alumnus from the 1998 MA in Creative Writing. His novel Forever and Ever Amen, was re-published by Troubadour Publishing in 2008.

The novel is the story of the childhood experiences of James, a nine-year old living in Manchester in the late 1960s. Frequent flashbacks to half-remembered events in St. Kitts signal ongoing connections between the two locations. Issues of class, migration, poverty and racism linger at the edge of the boy's partial insights into family happenings and personal histories.

Joe Pemberton was born in Moss Side, Manchester in 1960. His parents emigrated from the West Indies to England in the late fifties, before moving to Ashton-under-Lyne in 1970. He has worked as an electrical engineer and a college lecturer.

His second novel A Long Time Dead appeared in 2003. He has written stage adaptations of both novels and has had Forever and Ever Amen workshopped at the Library Theatre, Manchester. He was also one of the judges for the 2004 Crocus Novel Competition.

Marli Roode

Marli Roode was born in South Africa in 1984 and moved to the UK when she was 17.

After earning both a BA and an MA in Philosophy and Literature, she worked as a freelance journalist in London.

She completed the MA in Creative Writing at Manchester University's Centre for New Writing in 2009, during which she began work on her novel, Call It Dog, which was published by Atlantic in June 2013.

Her short stories 'Second Degree' and 'Spring Tide' were published in the 2009 and 2010 Bristol Short Story Prize Anthologies; 'Pieces Green' was shortlisted for the 2011 Bridport Prize.

She is currently working on her second novel.

Jonathan Trigell

Jonathan Trigell's first novel, Boy A (Serpent's Tail), has been developed as a feature film for Channel 4. Having won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for best Commonwealth work by an author under 35, and the Waverton Good Read Award for best first novel of 2004, the book was chosen by new production company Cuba Films as the basis for its first film.

The film stars newcomer Andrew Garfield in an acclaimed first film performance. Its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival led one critic to describe it as the best film they'd seen all year, and was selected for several other festivals including London and Berlin in 2007. The film was also acquired by major Hollywood player the Weinstein Company for international cinema distribution, and shown on Channel 4 television in November 2007.

Jonathan's is the first novel written on the MA course to be adapted into a film. His second novel, Cham, was published by Serpent's Tail in October 2007, and he has since gone on to write two more novels, Genus, and The Tongues of Men or Angels.

In March 2008, Boy A was voted Britain's most discussion-worthy book by over 2,000 readers polled by the organizers of World Book Day.

Clare Wigfall

Clare Wigfall's debut collection of stories, The Loudest Sound and Nothing, was published by Faber in August 2007. Described by Tash Aw, author of The Harmony Silk Factory, as, "Unsettling, brooding and beautifully crafted," the stories move backwards and forwards through time and between countries and are linked by feelings of loss and yearning.

Claire's stories have already been published in Prospect, New Writing 10, Tatler, new anthology X-24: unclassified and the Dublin Review and commissioned for Radio 4. Her children’s book Has Anyone Seen My Chihuahua, illustrated by Ollie Letts, appeared in 2011.

Tod Wodicka

Tod Wodicka's first novel, All Shall Be Well; And All Shall Be Well; And All Manner of Things Shall Be Well, was published in July 2007 by Jonathan Cape in the UK and in January 2008 by Pantheon in the US. It received excellent reviews, including from New Statesman, The Guardian and the Financial Times in the UK, and The New York TimesThe Boston Globe and The New Yorker in the US.

Tod has also written for several UK newspapers and magazines. Most recently, he has written about discovering his father was homosexual in The Guardian, and about Philip Roth's Zuckerman books in New Statesman.

He is currently writing his second novel to be published by Jonathan Cape in the UK and Pantheon in the US.