What a Night – Official Launch Party for ‘Myths, Monsters & Mayhem’!

After a spring and summer of smattering keyboards, online workshopping, proof-reading and polishing, the night we’ve all been waiting for finally arrived on Wednesday night – the Official Launch Party for the Myths, Monsters & Mayhem Anthology!

Having debuted on the Top Ten New Releases on Amazon earlier this summer, this anthology is the final result of the Horror, Sci-Fi and Fantasy module of 2021, containing the most chilling, inventive and fantastical stories from its students. And with the Halloween weekend just narrowly behind us, the launch of this spooky anthology couldn’t have been more perfectly timed.

When the doors opened at 6pm, students, lecturers, and locals alike mingled over snacks and drinks in the Artaud building on Brunel’s campus, copies of the vibrant blue cover flashing in every corner of the room. Natasha Stewart and Faizan Ahmed presented throughout the night, and the excitement was palpable as the live readings began.

Pictured: Natasha Stewart and Faizan Ahmed presenting the event.

Four of the anthology’s authors took to the stage to read. Kristie Gill with her story ‘Mumia’, Alex Curthew-Sanders with ‘The Gambling Box’, Natasha Stewart with ‘A Wild Witch in America’ and finally, Faizan Ahmed with ‘The Creed of the Talwar’. All brilliantly narrated before a captivated audience, giving us a taste of the wide range of stories in the anthology.

The night was a great success, and a rewarding experience after the many online meetings and workshops to make it happen.

A huge congratulations to all the students involved in the anthology for a brilliant release and launch!

Pictured: Creative Writing Students behind the Myths, Monsters & Mayhem Anthology (2021)

And of course, a big thank you to Mr Frazer Lee, for organizing this opportunity for the students of the module.

If you haven’t got your copy yet, it’s a perfect read for the spooky season! Myths, Monsters & Mayhem is available on Amazon for just £4.99, and all proceeds go the NHS Charities Together. Enjoy!

Psst… If you missed the event, Brunel Writer livestreamed the entire thing on our Instagram page – check it out!

Winning Story ‘EXIT STAGE RIGHT’ by Kira Nelson

The Winning Story from Our Flash Fiction Competition

We invited all new first year undergraduate Creative Writing students to submit their best teeny tiny stories to our Flash Fiction Competition for stories under 500 words, and would like to thank everyone who entered for taking part.

We are delighted to announce Kira Nelson as the winner with her story ‘EXIT STAGE RIGHT’. The judges enjoyed the way Kira borrowed elements of the script format for her flash fiction piece, artfully bringing together form with theme in this emotive piece.

You can read Kira’s winning story below.

EXIT STAGE RIGHT

I can’t breathe.

I left home at 10 last night, to buy razors. The little pink disposables from Tesco, so brittle yet so deadly.

I can hear them, in the distance, my name on their lips like a song that never ends. But I still can’t breathe. As I drag the first razor down my arm, the cheers grow louder. Or are they jeers? Is it my name they sing or that of the devil?

I have to feel, something. Relief, control, direction, passion. Guilt. That which the crowds can’t give me. Marco comes in, it’s my cue but I still can’t breathe. Dry tears flow freely, the blood fresh, my throat raw but I’m awake. I’m ready. I know Marco sees the razors, I feel his eyes on me but I can’t stop. The show must go on, after all.

Anna, they scream, Anna! The people’s darling, mother says. She must be so proud. I break into a smile as I twirl and fly and flutter across the boards, my silk dress billowing behind me. I speak lines I would never say to people whose names I half remember and the people revel in it! Whooping, hollering, cheering. I feel the red ink dripping onto my shoes and suddenly the noise goes quiet. The smiles of the crowds dissipate and now I breathe.

In, out, in, out.

Are you alright, he says, as I come to. The stagehand, who bought me coffee a few weeks ago. Did I take him home, or did he? I can’t answer, I’m still dancing, here in my living room in my empty apartment. Are you alright, he repeats, and I nod.

“I worry about you, Anna,” he says. “You shouldn’t be alone tonight. Are you sure you don’t want me to stay over?”

I’ll be fine. I twirl and spin in my head as he picks up his keys and his phone and makes for the door. Exit stage right, I call out loudly from behind the scenes. The crowd applauds, begging for an encore.

One last song and the roar erupts from the bathroom taps as I turn on the light. Tesco light pink razors wait patiently, the glint of the blade catching my eye much as I try to turn away. The light dims and the crowds head home, to beat the traffic most likely. I run the bath and browse my phone, no calls, texts from Marco and Julia. Another performance next week.

The bath turns red. The crowd long since gone, I revel in the silence. One more song? Alright, but only a short one.

EXIT STAGE RIGHT.

Kira Nelson was born in Sidcup, UK and raised in Orpington until the age of nine, when she moved to the Middle East. She generally writes either poetry based on her own life experiences or protest poems covering important world events and injustice. She is also in the process of writing several novels alongside pursuing a BA Creative Writing degree at Brunel University London. You can follow her on Instagram @babyfacekiki_

Myths, Monsters & Mayhem – The New Champion of Horror, Sci-fi & Fantasy

by Faizan Ahmed

The Pandemic Era shifted our livelihoods, causing many of us to stay home for longer than we would have liked. Covid, the new World Heavyweight Champion, reigned supreme with no clear end in sight. But in that time, and after lots of introspection, Zoom calls and head scratching, the world started turning. The minds of 2021’s Horror, Sci-Fi and Fantasy class started churning those old rusty cogs again to do what we love. To write.

It is my honour to be a part of such a tenacious bunch, and to have personally designed the cover and name for our star-studded project. The online poll held for the anthology’s name was an exciting contest I knew I couldn’t miss out on. I studied previous anthologies in the series, like Wizards, Werewolves & Weird Engines and Robots, Rogues & Revenants, and knew that alliteration had to be carried forward. But the theme? My featured story explores the Islamic myth of Jinn, a human-like race only invisible and made of fire. It was from this idea that I wanted to capture the eeriness and fear I had of them as a child, which led to the inspiration of the name. A race of invisible monsters, causing chaos without us ever knowing… aha! Myths, Monsters & Mayhem!

(Faizan’s winning cover design)

Before designing the book cover, I had no experience in digital drawing, except in editing existing works. I wanted to create something that carried the tradition of the previous covers, whilst adding my own artistic flair to it. I was playing games such as the action-adventure hit Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla and had recently gotten into the Islamic-historical series Resurrection Ertugrul, so I wanted to see if I could combine the barbaric Vikings from the game and mountainous, tribal landscape from the series. Hence, I hand-drew the mountain backdrop, with waves crashing over it symbolising chaos. The warriors dotting the cover were an homage to the stories featured, and the intimidating demon on the left was a nod to the Jinn. When learning of our plan to donate to NHS Charities Together, I knew I wanted the wash of blue from the waves to be more apparent, so I added the blue magic graphic to the eyes and hands of the warriors on the cover as a tribute. The cover of this anthology was a new venture for me, as were many of the stories for the writers. But life is about taking those leaps, and when you have the courage to do so, you share those spoils with the world.

We bring to you explorations of myths, tales of grotesquely intriguing monsters and fragments of absolute mayhem. From the kingdoms of ancients to facing fears, you are in for thrills and chills like no other. Gear up for a collection of provocative madness.

(our book in the Top 5 hot new releases on Amazon!)

Myths, Monsters and Mayhem is the perfect jolt you need right now, whether that be a spark of creativity for a dormant idea or an actual jolt of fright. Oh yes, this isn’t a book by the beach. Welcome to the world of mighty fights, strange encounters and gruelling, gripping tests. All fun times, I assure you. Each story ignites something different in you, and with each of our champion writers showcasing their finest works to date, your eyes will be racing page to page for more.

The world may not be completely back to normal just yet but, for a moment, join our world where fantasies are realised. Smile, laugh and cry with us as you explore this stellar book we’ve had so much joy in creating. We hope this anthology, and our previous anthologies, inspire you like they have inspired us. Who knows, maybe there’s a writer in you, impatiently waiting to burst through with myths, monsters and mayhem of your own?

Having lived abroad for 8 years, Faizan Ahmed had the pleasure of experiencing a myriad of cultures. Faizan is an aspiring Game Designer and Creative Writer. Enthused with a passion for wrestling, superheroes and historical fiction, he channels his experiences to create compelling content for a variety of media outlets. Follow his journey to become a WWE Wrestler on Instagram: @sher.khan.official and catch the latest in his life: @ahmedfaizan68

“It’s alive!” Proudly presenting charity student anthology ‘Myths, Monsters and Mayhem’

Cover design by Faizan Ahmed

Congratulations to all of the Creative Writing undergraduate students involved in this Summer’s anthology project.

Myths, Monsters & Mayhem is a collection of 22 flash fiction stories in the horror, science fiction, and fantasy genres.

The book is out now in Kindle e-book and paperback, and all proceeds will be donated to NHS Charities Together.

Please share the book link far and wide! http://mybook.to/MMandM

Frankenstein Its Alive GIF - Frankenstein Its Alive Happy - Discover &  Share GIFs
It’s aliiive!

A book launch event with live readings by the student authors will follow this autumn (subject to Government health restrictions). Watch this blog for updates!

The Brunel Writer Prize 2021

Every year, The Brunel Writer Prize is awarded to the student with the highest graded article submission for the Creative Industries module on Brunel University’s Creative Writing Programme. This year’s winner is Gatlin Perrin whose article offers some insightful tips on navigating uni. Congratulations Gatlin!

From Freshers to Final Year: How to Do University

by Gatlin Perrin

Getting through university is difficult, and anyone who says otherwise is lying. Wherever you’re at with your uni journey, here are fourteen no-nonsense tips and tricks for getting from Freshers to final year with the majority of your limbs intact.

Good luck.

1. There is a room on the second floor of the library filled with study cubicles. This is the perfect place on campus to cry. Don’t ask me how I know this.

2. On the third floor of the library is the mental wellbeing centre, where you can ask for counselling. They also give out free stress balls, which can be used as projectiles if you prefer a more violent approach to problem solving.

3. Some people will tell you that you’ll make friends for life during Freshers Week, and those people deserve to be punched in the face for causing unnecessary stress. That group over there who are all laughing and hugging aren’t “friends for life”, they’re drunk. You will find friends when you find them.

4. If you live in halls, remember – everyone has their own idea of what “sharing” is. The statement “help yourself to anything in my fridge” is a grenade that’s just had the pin removed. Padlock everything. P.S., everyone also has their own idea of what “clean” is, so get ready to discover at least seventeen different species of mould on a dinner plate.

5. Mind your own business. If I’m not judging you for only having attended one lecture the entire year, you don’t judge me for literally crying with relief when a lecturer tells me my assignment wasn’t awful. This is a no judgement zone.

6. When in second year, do not compare yourself to the first years. They’ll always seem more talented, more composed and somehow better looking than your year. Try not to take it personally.

7. When in third year, do not compare yourself to the previous third years. They also had no idea what they were doing, they just hid it better.

8. Buy a dictionary. This is because whatever year you happen to be in, none of the words on the assignment brief will ever start to make sense.

9. Kidneys go for an average of around £5000 on the black market. You can survive with just the one but you’ll need at least six if you keep doing your weekly shop at Sainsbury’s. Lidl is your friend.

10. Third years, buy an umbrella. This is because as soon as you enter your final year you will notice the vast storm cloud of “life after graduation” approaching in the distance. It’s coming faster than you think.

11. In that vein, if anyone asks you what your career plans are for after graduation you are required by law to push them down the stairs. Refer back to tip five.

12. Having mental health issues at university is like contracting an STI: more people have them than you think, you shouldn’t be ashamed but you still need to do something about them before they get worse. Refer back to tip two.

13. Get hopeful. This is because you have to – what’s the alternative? You’re not the only one who didn’t get that internship or won’t get the first they wanted, and this does not mean that you’ve failed at life. Focus on you.

14. Keep focusing on you. The most important part of university is to get out of it alive. Drink water. Get some sleep. Talk to someone when you need help. You’ve got this.

Gatlin Perrin is a North Walian writer who pens books for children and scripts that are not for children. Their play Bear Hands was featured digitally at the Edinburgh Fringe, and their children’s novel His Royal Hopeless is out September 2nd 2021 under the pen name Chloë Perrin. Gatlin likes to think they can do it all, which is probably why they’re in therapy.

Brunel Creative Writing reaches new heights

Creative Writing at Brunel University has risen to 2nd in London in the 2021 Complete University Guide.

Brunel Creative Writing also ranks 13th out of 53 Universities across the whole of the UK, with an impressive 89% overall satisfaction rating from students.

If you’d like to join our growing community of Creative Writers and study on one of our BA, MA, or postgraduate programmes, get in touch with us here.

Book Cover Design Competition: #Horror #Scifi #Fantasy Anthology 2021

Brunel University London’s 2nd year Creative Writing students are preparing to launch their latest anthology.

Myths, Monsters & Mayhem is a collection of flash fiction in the horror, sci-fi and fantasy genres, and will be published in e-book & paperback this autumn. All proceeds will be donated to charity.

The competition for the cover design is open to all Brunel University London Undergraduate students.

If you win, as well as seeing your design on the book & your name credited in the book, we will send you your own e-book copy, and it’s a great addition to your CV.

The design needs to be:

  • High-resolution, 300 dpi .png/.jpg format OR Photoshop .psd format
  • Dimensions: 2,560 (height) x 1,600 (width) pixels
  • Please keep back-up copies of your working files so they can be easily edited!

Entries must be submitted by:
Friday 2nd July, 2021
by 5pm

via email to brunelwriter@gmail.com with the subject header:
‘MYTHS, MONSTERS & MAYHEM’

See our previous genre anthology covers for inspiration:

Good luck & happy designing!

Interview with Careless author Kirsty Capes

Brunel Writer had the pleasure of talking to author Kirsty Capes about her debut novel Careless and ask about the process of writing and publishing it. Have a read at the conversation and don’t forget to check out Careless and Kirsty’s social media page (@kirstycapes.author).

Brunel Writer: Hi Kirsty, it is a pleasure to have you at Brunel Writer! Your debut novel Careless is out now, can you tell us about the story and the inspiration behind it? 

Kirsty Capes: Careless follows a young girl named Bess who is in foster care when she falls pregnant at age fifteen. The book follows her, and her best friend Eshal, as she decides what to do about her pregnancy, and as both girls navigate the treacherous terrain of female adolescence. I wanted to write a book about someone in foster care, as there are so few out there in the mainstream right now. I also wanted the book to tell a story about female friendship and unconditional love above all else.

BW: You have been working on this book for over five years, is that so? Which has been your favourite part of the process?

KC: Yes, I started writing the book when I was 21, and now it’s coming out when I’m approaching 28! I think my favourite part of the process has been getting to know my characters and getting stuck into the story. I also found the editing a really fun process which brought me closer to the text and helped me to get more out of the story.

BW: You studied Creative Writing at Brunel and started writing Careless whilst completing your PhD, how do you think your time at Brunel has influenced your journey?

KC: I’m a bit biased, but I think creative writing at Brunel is the BEST. The faculty are amazing. Every lecturer who taught me during my degrees at Brunel shaped my writing and my approach to storytelling in really profound and positive ways. I am forever grateful to all of them for being such relentless champions of the students and their work. 

BW: We have seen you have been working on your second book, how much can you tell us about it at this point? Is going to be a sequel to Careless or a new story? And when can we expect it?

KC: I can’t tell you very much at all! But it will be a new book, not related to Careless, although it will explore similar themes of coming of age, loneliness and learning to love yourself. It will be out in 2022. 

BW: Lastly, what advice would you give to any creative writing student thinking of writing their own novel?

KC: Hard work pays off! Don’t give up, even when you get knockbacks. Take all of the advice you can get, and read as much as you can. 

BW: Thank you and we wish you the best of luck!

Careless by Kirsty Capes is published by Orion and is out now. You can order your copy here.

Interview by Margarida Mendes Ribeiro

Community Appreciation Day: Three Commended Poems

Following our submissions call for short poems exploring themes of appreciation, gratitude and thankfulness, and the publication of the communal cento (or quilt) poem earlier this week, we’re pleased to be sharing three of the poems that we felt really communicated the ethos of Appreciation Day as well as capturing some of the tender moments that have shaped experiences over the past year or so.

The first poem we’d like to share is ‘On my list’ by Wendy Allen. We love the sensory detail and tactility of this poem, its meditation on touch, its almost palpable sense of longing, of desire…

‘On my list’

ruby jewelled lipstick the colour of Mooncup,

29.3ml of sediment red which remains defiantly matte

when we kiss passionately on the Southbank.

Red Riding Hood lips against you against the yellow

façade of The Hayward Gallery, I want you.

An old cardigan pulled tight becomes a life vest, I want

your face traced between my thighs like cashmere.

My eyeliner is perfect, I take a photo. I want you to see.

I’m grateful you know me. The postcard I send to you is empty

but as always, says too much. I want to say too much.

Wendy Allen is an unpublished poet. She has been writing poetry since April 2020 and has spent the last 20 years as cabin crew.


The second poem we’d like to share is Samantha Ley’s entry which feels very much like a celebration of the exuberance and joy of girlhood and the immersivity of imaginative play…

The girls dance and shriek, trailing rainbow-colored kites
through the yard.

They are five. They find everything to do, and still need more:

A pretend tea party, a water table,

Chalk, soccer, toy rockets landing on the roof.

They need us to retrieve the trapped

Toy rockets. Ravenous, as always, they need

Food. Otherwise, they

Don’t need us. They are five. They exist

In this moment, to laugh with one another.

Samantha Ley lives near Albany, New York, where she works as a freelance writer and editor. Her fiction has appeared in a number of online publications. She can be reached at samjley AT gmail.com and @SaminBingo on Twitter.


And finally, we’re sharing ‘Irregular Jackdaw’ by Brunel alumna Anneka Hess. Gardens and public green spaces have been of increasing importance to many of us this past year, and a number of the entries took the form of odes to nature, the seasons, our fur-babies and feathered friends. What we love about this poem in particular is the way it beautifully centres the relationship between the human and non-human. We were also struck by how the work conveys a cautious optimism and sense of affirming resilience…

‘Irregular Jackdaw’

And as the blossom arrives again

So do you

Furious chatter against the cottage chimney

Feathers-inked and scissor-beaked

Ravenous for seed

And we meet in the awakening garden

Both more crumpled than last year

Both more relieved to be here

For one more spring

Anneka Hess spends too much of her time in a pile of books and cats, and too little writing. https://twitter.com/Inkybloomers

We would like to thank everyone who sent us submissions and shared what they are grateful for. Keep an eye out on our social media (@BrunelWriter) where we will post the commended entries so you can share them and spread the sentiment of appreciation, gratidute and thankfulness.

Appreciation Day Communal Poem

When Brunel Volunteers mentioned they were hosting an Appreciation Day on 11th May, the poetic form called the cento came to mind. This form was created as a way of celebrating the work of another poet that you appreciate by taking one-hundred individual lines from a variety of their poems and collaging them into a new poem – a bit like making a quilt.

We thought it would be great to invite people to write and send in short poems of appreciation, thankfulness and gratitude, from which we could compile a little communal celebratory cento – a  mutual ode of appreciation.

We received poems from Brunel students, staff, alumni, locals and from further afield including the USA and India. Looking through the poems, we were struck by the common themes that emerged, although perhaps these are not surprising given the year we’ve had. There were odes to nature, lots about bodies and touch, about longing and loneliness, about all the little things that have made all this bearable – a friendly text, a kind gesture, as well as portraits of family and friends, children playing, robins singing.

We then chose poignant, resonant, and striking lines or phrases from each of the entries and stitched them together into loosely themed stanzas to make the communal appreciation poem, which you can read below – enjoy!

Survival: A Cento

1.

For months we have gestated here,

our home a roomy womb, a cushioned nest.

An old cardigan pulled tight becomes a life vest.

Wrapped in warmth, a morning text,

a supportive word, chases pessimism away.

2.

Relax into a still, quiet focus – magic

or maybe scientific hypnosis:

the drip drip drip and hazelnutty hit

of freshly brewed coffee, the soft frivolity

of a brightly-coloured velvet scrunchie.

3.

The girls dance and shriek, trailing rainbow-coloured kites

through the yard. They are five. They exist

in this moment to laugh with one another.

At story time, five kisses. Brace yourself,

tiny creatures and grow a little more.

4.

I love you like our Hammersmith sky.

I much appreciate your sassy style,

eyes lit with remnants of cucumber peel.

I’m grateful you know me.

The postcard I send to you is empty.

5.

And we meet in the awakening garden,

both more crumpled than last year,

both more relieved to be here.

The whispers of the trees,

clear skies that never end…

6.

A red-breasted robin rests chest aflame.

Desolation snapped, vitality restored.

Notice this hug with shaky arms

around your oxbow curves –

you’re here, with me, for now.

Finally a big thank-you to everyone who sent in their poems to be a part of this project – we’ll be featuring commended entries on this blog and on social media via @BrunelWriter and @poetrycoterie soon, so keep your eyes peeled and do like and repost so we can share some appreciation, gratitude and thankfulness.

Contributors:

Anneka Hess | Emily Horton | Emma Filtness | Emma Mitchell | Fathima M | Hafsa | Kathryn Gynn | Keith Sterrow | Linda Hodgkinson | Marie-Teresa Hanna | Peter Eldrid | Ruth Sharma | Samantha Ley | Tania Bavarz | Wendy Allen | Wendy Rashed