Winner of the inaugural Brunel Writer Flash Fiction Prize


All Creative Writing students starting at Brunel in September 2017 were invited to submit a piece of flash fiction of no more than 500 words. This could be in any style or genre but needed to reflect upon some aspect of becoming a student at Brunel. The quality of the submissions was very high but one piece in particular was felt by the judges – drawn from Brunel’s Creative Writing academic staff – to be the strongest. This was a wildly inventive and imaginative piece of writing by Shelley Green. Many congratulations to Shelley and you can read her winning entry below.

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Photo: Ian Rawlinson 2014

His footsteps clacked as he paced up and down. Nervous, yet resolute. This was the dream. So why were they both so terrified? Clack-clack, clack-clack. Terror was not an emotion that he usually experienced. Frustrated by this, he thumped the squishy mass next to him. He felt instant regret, as the sudden flash of pain she felt sent shock waves through his environment. Once the reverberations had settled, a niggle of guilt set in, and he gently laid his antenna against her brain, sending soothing vibes through the globulous matter. Looking through the lens, he held his breath as together they checked through the contents of her backpack, again. Laptop, dictaphone, pens, notepads, all there. They both checked the time. Clack-clack, clack-clack. She hung the ID around her neck, and they left the house.

He chuckled at the idea of the ID. If only she knew that two of them were taking this course, in the body of one. She was purely the host, to his superior Nunkai brain. To look at, he was no more than a bug, something to be trodden on, or swatted away. His brain deserved better than the body it had been given. He had a dream, and if this was the only way he could achieve it, then so be it. The Hosting scheme had given him a route into the course he craved. Brunel was the only University to be taking part in the Host-Nunkai Implantation Trial, and it was hugely oversubscribed. It had been purely down to choosing a host in a mature body that he had had any chance at all at gaining entry. The school leavers had been snapped up in an instant. He had all but given up, when in March, her profile had appeared in the eVision system. His chance had finally arrived.

They were on Cleveland Road. Almost there. Clack-clack, clack-clack. He paced furiously, his antennae twitching. It was so close now. He wondered, not for the first time, what the lecturers would be like. He had the equipment for the two-tier teaching system – hearing the human and recording the Nunkai lecturer to be listened to when the host slept. The Nunkai didn’t have a use for sleep, which was the reason they were the only species invited on to the Hosting Scheme. He felt he had an advantage over some of his exchange colleagues, having agreed to be implanted within two days of his host being confirmed. The additional three months had allowed him to become almost fluent in English, meaning he was being truly dually taught whilst on his course. From the social media he had seen so far, most of his peers were intending on using the human lectures to… what was the English word for it? Ah yes. Doss.  Dossing was not on his agenda. He looked through her lens. The Antonin Artaud building was right ahead. Clack-clack, clack-clack. Together they took a deep breath, and entered the building.

About the author:

Shelley Green is a 30 year old with a love for music, animals and fantasy novels. This is her first (but hopefully not last!) piece of writing to be published, and she is looking forward to embarking on her Creative Writing journey at Brunel University.

The Brunel Writer Prize 2017

The Brunel Writer Prize is awarded to the student who achieves the highest graded non-fiction article submission for the Creative Industries module on Brunel University’s Creative Writing programme. The piece of non-fiction should be ‘fresh, original, compelling and well balanced’. The winner of this year’s prize is Tom Hull for his review of Moonlight.

Image Credit: Daily Hive

How La La Land er Moonlight brought classic romance back to the silver screen this season

As Moonlight opens onto a shot of Mahershala Ali driving to the old-school soul soundtrack of Boris Gardiner’s Every N***** Is A Star, from the outset Barry Jenkins’ film tells us this story is by black people, for black people. Controversial it may be, but Moonlight brings to the mainstream screen for the first time an understated portrait of ordinary lives that are usually either a headline or a punchline. And yet I saw Moonlight (before it won Best Picture in a live mishap guaranteed to generate all the publicity a filmmaker could hope for) in an independent cinema with a small audience, mostly elderly. In the current global political climate, perhaps it’s unsurprising that a black queer coming-of-age narrative is the underdog that Odeon and its ilk weren’t banking on. The film only shines brighter for this: a masterful bildungsroman that doesn’t need to shove its message in our faces.

Based upon Tarell Alvin McCraney’s play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, it tells the story of troubled Chiron, growing up in Miami and falling in love with his best friend. The narrative splits into three parts, for the protagonist’s three nicknames: as a child ‘Little’, as a teenager ‘Chiron’, and ‘Black’ as an adult. The world is unflinchingly current, with contemporary slang throughout (so much so that in the screening I attended, subtitles were used, serving as a dry symbol of the gap between the world of the film and that audience). The story, however, is as classic as the Odyssey: young man faces troubles, has the help of a mentor (a deservedly Oscar-winning Ali), and finally must go it alone and accept himself. It’s a life story, and crucially a love story: childhood sweetheart Kevin is a constant, and though accepting his sexuality is Chiron’s core struggle, cheesy coming-out tropes are crucially avoided, and the romantic content is minimal yet touching.

Outside of its cultural significance, how does the film work? Visually, it’s a treat. In an industry full of washed-out grey films, Moonlight comes to life in striking colour; particularly in a scene where Little stands alone in a garden and is, simply and naturalistically, lit up in blue moonlight, not a word spoken. It’s this artistic cinematography, combining with Nicholas Britell’s haunting classical soundtrack, that frames a stripped-back screenplay that doesn’t have a word of dialogue more than it needs. Chiron says very little, but the dialogue doesn’t feel lacking. It’s a hearkening to a basic cinematic staple: show, don’t tell.

The cast is strong: the child actors are notable; Alex R. Hibbert a solemn and gentle little boy, and yet we fully believe that Trevante Rhodes’s swaggering, built adult Black is the same individual – particularly impressive considering the actors never met each other during filming. Although the narrative is male-driven, Janelle Monae makes much of her small role and Naomie Harris gives a career-peaking performance as Chiron’s addict mother, both tyrant and victim. André Holland is a good foil for Rhodes as Kevin, though his screentime is limited. Plot-wise, one fault is that at times the action is too minimal: without spoiling, the final chapter, ‘Black’, feels as though it stops short; we’re given no time to learn about the intervening years before the narrative abruptly resolves itself. The film is nearly two hours long, but would have benefited from filling some of its empty spaces.

Moonlight might be a hard sell for some, particularly the closed-minded, or those who’d accuse it of simply seeking brownie points with its subject matter. Certainly, much of the film is no picnic, but that’s what makes its quiet message of self-acceptance so important – and that it comes together as an artistic triumph certainly helps. The cinema window may have gone, but don’t pass up the Blu-Ray: Moonlight lives up to the hype.

Tom Hull 

picTom Hull is a writer, reader, and admirer of dogs. Born and raised in Oxford, he is mostly preoccupied with being petty on the internet whilst trying to finish his first novel. His prose and poetry have been published five times, most recently in The Teenagers Company. If you have a picture of a dog to send him, you can do so on Twitter.

Calling all budding designers: Book Cover Design Competition #Horror #SciFi #Fantasy

Book Cover Design Competition
Horror, Sci-fi & Fantasy

Brunel University London’s English & Creative Writing department is developing its first ever Horror, Science-fiction & Fantasy anthology entitled:


The anthology features a range of English & Creative Writing students’ short stories and non-fiction writing and launches on the 21st of March 2017.

The competition for the cover design is open to all Brunel University London Undergraduate students and as well as seeing your design used on all copies of the book (paperback & ebook) you can win 10 paperback copies of the book. Plus if you’re an aspiring graphic designer it’s a great addition to your CV.

The anthology includes three distinct genres –
Science fiction
– as the title suggests. So 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 back-up copies of your working files so if you win they can be easily edited.

Entries must be submitted by:
Friday 3rd of February
by 5pm

to Mr Frazer Lee via email (
AND in hard copy form in an addressed envelope handed in at the Gaskell Building reception.

Good luck & happy designing!




Creative Writing at Brunel presents some of Britain’s most exciting writers


All events take place at Brunel Library and are hosted by Bernardine Evaristo, Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel. Writers include Roger Robinson & Nick Makoha; Sarah Howe & Mona Arshi; Joelle Taylor; Matthew De Abaitua; Max Kinnings & Frazer Lee; and Wendy Jones.

To view the poster that includes all dates, times and further details, please follow the link below:



Don’t miss: Hillingdon Literary Festival

image002When: 7th-9th October 2016

Where: Antonin Artaud Building, Brunel University

What: A FREE weekend of literary performances from over twenty-five bestselling and globally renowned authors with a lively festival atmosphere.

The festival will be home to  vibrant conversations, inspiring readings, book signings, masterclasses and workshops. Some of the author highlights this year include:

Amit Chaudhuri – Celebrated novelist, critic and musician, author of Oysseus Abroad

Samantha Shannon – Internationally bestselling author of The Bone Season series.

Will Self – Professor of Contemporary Thought at Brunel University London; journalist, political commentator, literary critic; author.

Ken Livingstone – Prominent Labour Party member, former Mayor of London, author of Being Red: A Politics for the Future.

Benjamin Zephaniah –World-renowned performance poet, activist and commentator; Professor in Creative Writing at Brunel University London.

Matt Haig – British novelist. His book Reasons to Stay Alive, a memoir about the author’s experience with depression, has been chosen as a World Book Night 2016 book.

Shappi Khorsandi – Author and comedian who has appeared on Channel 4’s Comedy Gala and Sport Relief. Her debut novel is Nina is Not Ok.

This year’s Hillingdon Literary festival also features its first communitysam_1204-768x576 writing competition, with shortlisted entries published in an anthology ‘Writing Local|Thinking Global‘ and an overall winner of £250 to be announced at the event. Several of our Brunel Creative Writers are on the list so come along to support them and read their work!

All events are free, but “Weekend Ticket” reservation via the website is strongly recommended, as tickets are selling out quickly! 

More info & tickets @

Hillingdon Literary Festival Creative Writing Competition

image002.jpgThe second Hillingdon Literary Festival is running a creative writing competition based on the theme, Writing Local / Thinking Global. The entries will be judged by a panel, including Benjamin Zephaniah, Philip Tew, Suzi Feay and Courttia Newland. The shortlisted works will be published in an anthology of the same name and available at the Hillingdon Literary Festival for free. The winner will receive a £250 prize too.

The word limit is 2,500. Submissions must be received by 15th August 2016. Please email:

For more information regarding the competition and for details of the festival itself, please go to: Over the course of the weekend, there will be over 28 acclaimed authors and poets who will be reading and discussing their work. All sessions are free and there will also be food and drink available at the Duckpond Market along with books to buy, signings, live music – and sunshine guaranteed!

The Brunel Writer Prize 2016

The Brunel Writer Prize is awarded to the student who achieves the highest graded non-fiction article submission for the Creative Industries module on Brunel University’s Creative Writing programme. The piece of non-fiction should be ‘fresh, original, compelling and well balanced’. The winner of this year’s inaugural prize is Lorna Martin for her review of Jamie Lloyd’s recent production of Doctor Faustus at the Duke of York’s Theatre.

Congratulations to Lorna. Read the review below:

29937_fullWHAT THE HELL? – A REVIEW OF JAMIE LLOYD’S DOCTOR FAUSTUS (9th April – 25th June 2016)

Jamie Lloyd’s production is like a Faustian pact; it starts off with excitement and intrigue, but quickly descends into something awful. This review will contain spoilers.

The house lights fade. On stage, Faustus (Game of Thrones’s Kit Harington) lies on a bed, his eyes glued to a television screen, while his student and later personal-assistant-cum-love-interest Wagner (Jade Anouka) symbolically cleans in the background. The set is hyper-realistic, showing a mundane looking flat, bedroom and living space in front with a kitchen towards the back of the stage. So far, so intriguing.

The first section combines physical theatre, music and an imaginative use of the set to bring the pact scene to life. Harington’s Faustus, frustrated by his own weakness, keeps us interested throughout the initial monologue, and although the modern update occasionally felt forced (an Apple Mac instead of “my books”) the juxtaposition of the mundane setting and the devils constantly lurking in the background is deeply unsettling. Particularly effective is the rising chaos of the stage, which gradually got messier as blood and black powder was trodden everywhere by barefoot actors. What really drives these scenes though, is the power of Marlowe’s text. When that is replaced with Colin Teevan’s new scenes, the production completely loses its philosophical depth, moving from deep questions of morality to something more resembling a soap opera.

On its own, Teevan’s writing could have been good, and there were moments where his talent shone through. However, anything would pale in comparison to a play which has endured for over 400 years. I felt like I was watching two plays, with completely different characters and themes. The production’s focus on celebrity culture felt simultaneously irrelevant and too obvious; the bizarre scene where Faustus takes out six FBI agents in the shower left me totally confused. A few other questionable moments – a man playing a pregnant woman in a ridiculously camp falsetto voice, a borderline transphobic joke where a man and woman have their genitals switched, not to mention the unnecessarily graphic rape of Wagner – made this production uncomfortable for all the wrong reasons.

Jenna Russell’s Mephistopheles is moving, her speeches about losing God’s love especially poignant. Unfortunately, the play quickly becomes a love triangle, with Mephistopheles and Wagner suddenly competing for Faustus’s romantic attention. By positing Wagner as the symbolic ‘goodness’, the production attempts to make Faustus’s struggle between God and the Devil more understandable to a modern audience.

However, instead of tired old tropes which are at best boring, and at worst sexist, I wish I had been trusted to understand that Heaven and Hell were metaphors that could stand alone. I wish that Marlowe’s subtlety and the beauty of his writing could have been more than just an opening and conclusion tacked on the end. Frankly, I wish the production had been more mature, subtle and true to the themes of the text. The two angels in the opening scenes were a beautiful and original take on a concept which could easily feel out of place in a modern production; clearly it was possible to update the play without rewriting it. I would have loved to see Lloyd’s take on certain scenes from Marlowe; instead, by the second act I was ready to sell my soul to the devil in exchange for being allowed to leave.

In the play, Faustus’s time on Earth seems to fly by inhumanly quickly. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for this production. When the curtain finally fell, I heard the woman sitting next to me mutter, “What the hell.” I have to say I agree with her.

Lorna Martin

13412880_1694405824115089_5482601924258505113_nLorna Martin is usually writing something creative or having opinions. Her current projects include developing a short horror screenplay for Lincoln Japan Festival, and working on her first poetry pamphlet. Lorna’s work has been published in Roulade Magazine and you can read her film reviews at Blueprint: Review.