Calling all budding designers: Cover Design Competition

The Creative Writing department are currently beginning the exciting process of developing this years anthology ‘The Imagination Project’ which features a range of second and third year students’ stories. The anthology launches on the 15th of March 2016.

The competition for the cover design is open to all Undergraduate students and as well as seeing your design used on all copies of the book, you can win a £50 Amazon voucher and 10 copies of the book. Plus if you’re an aspiring graphic designer it’s a great addition to your CV.

The anthology includes a diverse range of work so, as the title suggests, let your imagination run wild!

The design needs to be:

  • High-resolution, 300 dpi .tif/.jpg format OR vector eps format.
  • Size: A5 (148x210mm) plus a spine on the left (17x210mm).
  • Please keep a copy of your working files so if you win they can be easily edited

And must be submitted by Monday 15th of February at 5pm to Dr Bernadine Evaristo via email (Bernardine.Evaristo@brunel.ac.uk) AND in hard copy form in an addressed envelope handed in at the Gaskell reception.

For further information on what your submission must include please check out the link: http://www.brunel.ac.uk/cbass/arts-humanities/creative-writing/creative-writing-anthology-competition/_nocache

Good luck & happy designing!

Book Adaptations- Is TV The Future?

Emma Challis

The past few months have been full of news when it comes to the world of book adaptations. For Harry Potter fans there’s been plenty to get excited about, with the release of the first wave of ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ tickets, which sold out in minutes, and the first glimpses of ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them’. Both look to be a promising extension of the much-loved series, with Oscar winning Eddie Redmayne taking the lead as Newt Scamander in the spin-off movie ‘Fantastic Beasts’.

Other exciting news has been the announcement of a BBC adaptation of the ‘His Dark Materials’ series by Phillip Pullman for television. After the 2007 film ‘The Golden Compass’ was generally regarded as a disappointment by fans and critics alike this could be another chance for beloved characters Lyra Belacqua and her daemon Pantalaimon to  delight on screen as they did in the books. There’s also potential for the other worlds included in the trilogy to be seen on screen for the first time.

This announcement follows a recent increase in books awaiting to be turned into TV series; another contemporary children’s classic ‘A series of Unfortunate Events’ by Lemony Snicket is in the running to be a Netflix original series by 2017.

It’s possible that this increasing movement to TV adaptations of books is because ongoing series offer more opportunity to stray true to the original stories than films as each episode allows for a chapter to unravel. There is also potential for character development to be shown over a longer period of time, which has proved popular in other TV series adapted from books such as ‘Game of Thrones’ as well as originals like ‘Orange Is The New Black’ and ‘Breaking Bad’. This also opens up the shows beyond fans of the books they’re based on, which could lead them to prove more popular than spin-off films like ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them’.

However, TV series can lack the large budget that the film industry offers which has caused other projects, such as the adaptation of Neil Gaimen’s ‘American Gods’, to be put on hold. There is also the threat of a series being cut half-way through if ratings fall which is a particular problem in the American TV industry.

Whichever form proves more popular it’s safe to say that these upcoming projects are ones to watch!

Guest Blogger – EMMA FILTNESS!: ‘Keeping it Local’ – Event

Hello fellow writers,

I am a Creative Writing PhD student, a part-time lecturer in English and Creative Writing, and Brunel’s Publications Officer. I came here originally to do the Creative Writing MA and loved every minute of it, so I stuck around for more.

It is shaping up to be a busy but fun start to the 2014 academic year, and I am here to tell you about some great community Creative Writing and Arts events that are happening at Brunel and in the surrounding area over the next month or so, with the hope that some of you might come along and maybe even take part! I have been working quite a bit lately with the wonderful Charlotte who is Arts Programming Officer for the local borough (Hillingdon), and she is keen to get Brunelians involved…but let’s start with me, me ME!

1. As well as teaching some of you for modules such as Introduction to Writing Fiction and Drama, I run a weekly Creative Writing class at Brunel’s Arts Centre. Classes consist of themed writing exercises, prompts and related activities suitable for all levels of experience. Classes are open to all Brunel students, staff and members of the local community. If you are an arts student at Brunel, you can come to the class for free (yes, FREE!). You may want to sign up soon, though, as places are limited (classes begin Tuesday 30 October, 6pm). These classes are ideal if you want somewhere to try out ideas and have the space to write without the pressure of looming deadlines and grades. I make a little anthology of work produced on the course each academic year, so these classes also give you the opportunity to see your work in print (I will even furnish you with a spare copy so you can give one to your mum). View the Arts Centre web pages to find out more, or email me (contact details below).

ArtsCentreAnthology

2. Charlotte is running Bigfest, a one-day festival in Uxbridge town centre on Sunday 28 September, 2014. There will be music, theatre, street performers, a food market and, most importantly, a live literature tent! Brunel writers and locals will be reading poetry or prose between 12 and 4pm. I will be reading a short story from my thesis (stories based on the life stories of little old ladies), Joe Norman who is an English PhD student, lecturer and Brunel’s Communications Officer will be reading a short story (once he manages to find one of his that is suitable to be heard by delicate, innocent ears and does not make people want to be sick) and Brunel Creative Writing MA alumna and local journalist Barbara Fischer will read to you from the memoir she is currently working on in which she recalls her time as a “hack”. Come along and listen (again, it is FREE!) or, if you are feeling brave, why not sign up to read a story or poem? If you would like to give this a go then email me soon so we can reserve you a slot (contact details below)

Bigfest2014

3. Charlotte has also set up an open mic evening at the newly-refurbished Uxbridge Library. The open mic sessions will run every other month or so, with the first one taking place on Friday 3 October at 7.30pm. You don’t need to book, just turn up, pay the teeny tiny £3.50 entry fee (it is free if you sign up to read/sing/strum), and listen to poetry, prose and other acoustic offerings from local writers and musicians. Again, if you are feeling brave and fancy reading, strumming or singing, then let me know and I will make sure there is a slot with your name on it. There will be some empty slots left for those of you that prefer just to rock up on the day and see how you feel…

Open Mic Poster

I should probably stop there before I wear out your eyeballs…if you want to know more about any of the above then please send me an email at E.Filtness@brunel.ac.uk

Please also keep an eye on the Brunel Library blog for information on the Brunel Author Series…thanks for “listening” and I hope to see some of you at one, some or all of these awesome local events!

Happy scribbling,

Emma

Q&A with Saera Jin!

Saera Jin is a Brunel MA Graduate who has gone on to great success in Japan as the main writer for Square Enix – famous for the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest series.

            “The game producer was looking for a new writer, strong on originality, and according to them, that was me!”

She has recently attended the Cannes’ Film Festival to promote her second short film which she wrote and directed in London. “Seems like my Japanese-British hybrid set of ideas could take my writing career to better places.” We’ve been very excited to hear from Saera, and are very proud of her achievements. To find out more about her fantastic accomplishments, and where she will be going in the future, we’d invite you to ask your questions! This is a fantastic opportunity for Games Design and Creative Writing students, as well as those interested in film making.

I know I hope to have very similar experiences to Saera, and am very much looking forward to seeing what she has to say about breaking into such a lucrative industry, so don’t be shy! Ask your questions, either in the comments sections below, or tweet them to @brunelwriter, using the hashtag #QuestionsForSaera, and we’ll pose them to her in the coming weeks. Don’t forget to also follow Saera on Twitter – @saerajin.

Huge congratulations to Saera, long may it last!

Creative Writing at Brunel on the Rise

The Guardian League Table has been released this week, and has generated a great deal of school pride for Brunelians, with a 32 place jump for English and Creative Writing, we are now 6th, only one step behind Oxford, and two places ahead of UEA!

I have always been keen to tell people how great Brunel is for Creative Writing, English, and in general, and I am more than proud now to be able to write this post about our huge achievement.

Go to http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/jun/03/guardian-university-guide-2015-improving-departments to read about our jump in the league tables, with a quote from Dr Nick Hubble, head of Brunel’s English School.

Keep up the excellent work, Brunel, onwards and upwards.

Laura

*** Follow @brunelwriter for writing news, competitions and quotes of the day!

*** If you have an idea for an article, find out how to contribute by looking at our ‘submit’ tab!

Dark Aemilia and the Creative Writing PhD by Sally O’Reilly

Dark_Aemilia

I enrolled on the MA Creative Writing, The Novel at Brunel after being published by Penguin books – and then dropped when my second book didn’t sell. I wanted to go back to basics, re-ignite my love for writing and develop a stronger awareness of genre and the commercial possibilities of writing. I enjoyed this experience so much that I ended up studying for a PhD and writing a historical novel about Aemilia Bassano Lanyer, one of several women who may have been Shakespeare’s muse and the inspiration for his later sonnets: his Dark Lady.

Writing fiction in an academic context was a major departure for me, and I found it challenging and strange to begin with. My first two novels were written instinctively and intuitively, and I was loathe to plot or plan anything. My third was carefully crafted, researched in great detail, and forced me to write in a way I had never tried before. I found that I could only make the story ‘live’ if I wrote it in the first person, and this meant trying to produce a convincing facsimile of a sixteenth century voice.

This would have seemed like an insurmountable problem if I had not had the support and advice of my supervisor Celia Brayfield and my second supervisor Dr Elizabeth Evenden, an expert in Early Modern writing and publishing.  They provided me with structure and feedback, asking pertinent questions about the direction of my draft and the rigour of my research, and giving me their notes and comments to help me shape and develop my drafts. One of the areas that really stretched me intellectually was the critical component of the work, which was an analysis of the various invented versions of Shakespeare which writers have imagined over the last two hundred years. I was fascinated by this, and it helped me invent my own version of Shakespeare with more confidence and sophistication. I realised that so little is known about this iconic figure that writers have carte blanche to concoct their own version, and to project their own fantasy of an uber English writer onto this empty space.

The result was not only a doctorate but a marketable novel I could be proud of. I found the writing and research process hugely rewarding – my time at Brunel was one of the most productive of my writing career so far. And I certainly succeeded in my goal of reinventing myself as historical fiction writer.

Dark Aemilia is published by Myriad Editions in the UK this month, and by Picador US in June. Rights have also been sold in Italy and Turkey.

Sally’s blog, How to be a Writer, is here.

One line, a thousand thoughts.

Flash Fiction. Many use it as a writing exercise or warm up before moving onto bigger and more ‘serious’, i.e. longer, writing. But could this creative equivalent of heel digs and knee lifts actually be one of the most interesting platforms to express creativity?

One of the most prominent legends of the 20th century writing goes like this:

Some foolish writers take a bet with Ernest Hemingway for $10 each, (the equivalent of which today would be almost $500) that he cannot write an entire story in just six words. Hemingway, being Hemingway, immediately jots three tiny sentences onto this napkin, passes it around to his astonished associates and collects the entire winnings pot.

The famous six word story:

For Sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.

What is it about these three sentences that makes the reader entirely satisfied that it is complete? It has a beginning, middle and end; involves a range of emotions; implies desperation, lost hope, unimaginable sadness and loss, all in six short words. It is stories like this that leaves me unconvinced that flash fiction is just a gateway to ‘better’ writing. There is an air of mystery about flash fiction that can sometimes get lost within longer stories. When you only have 10 words, or one line in order to tell a tale, there cannot be any room for filler.

One of the best flash fiction sites I’ve come across was completely by chance while messing around on the Internet years ago. The website OneSentence.org says it best itself:

Most of the best stories that we tell from our lives have one really, really good part that make the rest of the boring story worth it.

This is about that one line.’

It offers true stories written by the public in just one sentence. One of the only conditions is that no fiction is allowed; all stories must be true. It is this concept, that as you are scrolling down the page, you are reading little postcard sized windows into people’s souls that makes the site so interesting and at times, so chilling. The only context given are the use of tags, the most popular include: childhood, love and humour, but also shame, break up, religion.

Some of my favourites:

Beth

Instead of him they sent back a folded flag, and when I was alone I tore it to pieces.

Jess

His efforts were so valiant; I didn’t have the heart to tell him it was front clasp.

Kris

I married my husband on our first date, but it has taken me more than 5 years to decide what colour to paint our dining room.

Queen Random

I stayed with her every minute while she was unconscious, but the very second she came to all she wanted to know was if the bastard who put her in the CCU was coming to visit her.

Ironic, huh?

My therapist thinks I should become a therapist.

When English teachers go bad

I used to demand a new world order in flawless iambic pentameter, but now I’d settle for one in sixteen-syllable haiku.

One in many

The poor janitor was only trying to do his job, and it was never supposed to include being threatened to be ripped limb from limb by grieving teenagers.

Gladys

It’s going to be hard telling my ex-mother-in-law that she is now going to be my sister-in-law.

Seriously

My grandmother called me the other day asking if I wanted any weed, because the man across the hall is selling it and she thought it was an excellent deal.

becks

My mom thought I was pregnant when I sat down to talk with her, then gave a sigh of relief when I told her I’m gay.

There are plenty of different types of flash fiction, and plenty of ways to interpret them. One thing is clear though, as a reader and a writer, they are addictive. Flash fiction opens up a whole new level of writing, and it is surprising how much you can get out of just a few words. It’s clear from sites like OneSentence.org that this type of writing is not just a way to psyche yourself up into writing something ‘proper’, and that these little sentences can have a bigger impact on a reader than whole novels. In fact, this whole piece of writing can be re written in just one sentence: ‘One day, like Hemingway, one line might pay for your bar tab.’

Bex Passmore