“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

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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

Call for Poems on Appreciation

for Community Appreciation Day

DEADLINE: 16 APRIL 2021

Calling all Brunel students, staff and members of the local community – we want you to get creative & send us a short poem (maximum 10 lines) fitting the theme of appreciation, gratitude & thankfulness.

Brunel Writer, in collaboration with Brunel Volunteers, is celebrating Community Appreciation Day on 11th May 2021 by making a collaborative poem. 

Send your entries to brunelwriter@gmail.com by Friday 16th April with ‘Appreciation Day Submission’ in the subject line. Ideally poems will be attached to the email in either .doc format or as a PDF.

Shortlisted poems will feature on the Brunel Writer blog & social media, & may be shared as part of wider Appreciation Day communications. Please include a short third person bio & your social media handles so we can tag you, if you have them (anonymous entries are fine, too, just let us know).

Excerpts from a number of entries will be woven into a longer, collaborative community poem – think of it like a patchwork quilt made up of different colours & textures & lovingly pieced & stitched, patched & mended by many hands.

We’re also hoping to create some audio & video content of the final collaborative poem, so drop us an email if you’re keen to read/perform. We might also make a zine (a mini-book of the poem).

Here’s some inspiration to get you going:

Appreciation The act of recognising or understanding that something is valuable or important. Who are what is important to you? Why? Tell them.

Gratitude The feeling or quality of being grateful. You could try describe it.

Thankfulness The feeling of being happy or grateful because of something.

You could write a list poem of things you appreciate, value or are grateful for, or of things that you are thankful for, from the tiny and seemingly frivolous to the significant and poignant…

You could write an ode to a person, organisation or place that you appreciate…

You could capture a moment of kindness in a haiku…

Kypsel, a new way to share art

Interview with Brunel student and founder of Kypsel, Luca Mouzannar

Brunel Writer – Tell us about Kypsel. What is it and how does it work?

Luca Mouzannar – Kypsel is a platform that directly connects writers with their fans and enables them to take part in the artist’s growth. On Kypsel, writers can freely publish and sell their work with the advantage of keeping full control over their work. We allow artists to publish their work with a few clicks without interfering in the artistic and creative integrity of the product. Once a book, web comic, music track or short story is published any buyer can resell the work to their friends on their own social networks. In return, the fans get a referral commission for every converted sale.

BW – How did you come up with the idea for creating this platform? Did it come from your own experience of trying to publish/sell creative work or did you simply see a gap in the market?

LM – A little bit both actually. One of the co-founders tried to publish work through traditional publishers and faced several issues – mainly low royalties, no flexibility in claiming these and a lot of changes to the creative product. At the same time, being surrounded by artists who do good work, I could clearly see a gap in the market, especially in the era of social media where it is so simple to publish a post but very hard to publish and sell creative work. When we think that Harry Potter was rejected by many publishers before finally seeing the light, it puts a lot into perspective!

BW – Has your experience of studying creative writing at Brunel played a part in the building of Kypsel as you continuously interact with young creatives?

LM – Of course! I have met so many talented people who have so much to express and I can see how difficult it is to get our work out there. Fans should be able to decide what is good work without any buffer. I’ve seen so many artists and creative talents fall into jobs they hate because they aren’t able to monetise their craft. Before we know it, a side job becomes a main job and writing becomes a hobby instead of a craft we can live off.

BW – Why should creatives choose to publish with Kypsel? How does it benefit them over other more known online platforms such as Amazon, Google Play, Spotify, etc.?

LM – The first big advantage is that Kypsel is free to use and offers higher royalties than any other platform. Remuneration is a lot fairer and the creative product itself remains untouched. Kypsel is more of a self-publishing tool than a publisher. It is extremely easy to start and work can be published with a few clicks. It is also a non-exclusive platform which allows creatives to use all the means at their best disposal to get their work out there and see for themselves what works best.

LM – We also believe the referral engine is unique to Kypsel and will incentivise fans to buy, refer and sell the work instead of downloading it for free. It is a great way to fight piracy and we believe it will amplify the authors’ success and give them access to audiences they might not have reached when using other platforms. We like to refer to this video to illustrate a lot of the issues with the bigger platforms.

BW – Do you see self-publishing as the future of publishing art or are renowned publishing companies and music corporations still the way to go?

LM – We sincerely believe self-publishing is the future of publishing because renowned publishers and music corporations take most of the profits and leave very little for the artists who put in the work. Fans are also the ones who promote the art they enjoy, so the role of those companies is becoming more and more obsolete, especially in the era of algorithms and social media. Another issue is speed. People, especially the younger generation, enjoy content more than the form it comes in and want it faster than ever. We also tend to trust people more than big entities so Kypsel exists to cut the middleman who slows down the process and doesn’t split profits fairly.

BW – Finally, where is Kypsel headed? What can we expect from this platform in the future?

LM – We are hoping it will grow exponentially and allow young artists to express themselves so we can keep reading the stories we love and listening to music we enjoy. We want to connect artists with their fans and expand our offer to include any virtual goods such as short movies and apps. Our vision is simply to free content from the boxes that it is usually put into because of industry standards that don’t match the current realities of web and social media and we believe this can go very far.

BW – Thank you Luca!

You can visit Kypsel here and start sharing your work today!

Calling for Submissions!

Calling all Creative Writing and English students at Brunel! Brunel Writer’s new blog series focusing on work experience is launching soon and we are looking for submissions.

If you have done work experience in a creative industry – whichever it may be – tell us all about how you came across the opportunity and how you found the experience! If you have done more than one you can submit multiple blog posts but please be aware that we may not be able to publish every submission.

Please send all submissions to brunelwriter@gmail.com . We ask that the texts don’t exceed 800 words and that you include an author photo and short bio.

We look forward to reading your submissions!