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Liz Trenov
Arts & Culture Series: Graduate Success

Novel published by City alumna hits New York Times best seller list

Bestselling author Liz Trenow attributes her success to City creative writing course


A novel by a City University London alumna has reached number 18 in the New York Times best seller list for ebook fiction. The Forgotten Seamstress is the second release by former journalist and Masters in Creative Writing alumna Liz Trenow. The book, which tells the story of a seamstress working at Buckingham Palace during the Edwardian era, has now been published in countries across the world, including the UK, Germany and the US.

Liz worked as a journalist and communications consultant before she retired from full-time work to study for a Masters in Creative Writing (Novels) in 2007. Liz already had the idea for her first novel, The Last Telegram when she started at City and says that the course played a key role in her completing the book and getting it published.

“Doing the MA in Creative Writing (Novels) at City was absolutely instrumental in helping me discover my new, late-flowering career as a novelist,” she said. “A year after finishing, I was signed by the Christopher Little Literary Agency who ‘discovered’ JK Rowling. They worked with me to get my MA novel The Last Telegram into publishable form. After many rejections, I got a two-book deal with Harper Collins Avon. It sold respectably here and especially well in Germany, also published in America.”

The author’s second novel was inspired by a trip to the Warner Textile Archive in Braintree and a visit to a former Victorian mental asylum. She has since written two further books, The Poppy Factory and The Master Piece.

She said: “My second novel The Forgotten Seamstress sold more widely, in America, Germany, Italy and Bulgaria and recently reached the dizzy heights of the New York Times best seller list. My latest The Poppy Factory, published in 2014, immediately went into The Bookseller ‘heatseeker’ lists and stayed there for eight weeks. I followed my agent Caroline Hardman when she set up her own agency, Hardman & Swainson and have just delivered my fourth novel to her.

I’m still astonished by all of this and am sure none of it would have happened had it not been for City.”

City’s Masters in Creative Writing course provides students with the chance to experiment with writing styles, develop their skills and learn about the industry from tutors and speakers who are themselves award-winning, published authors. In order to graduate, students are required to complete a polished, full-length novel, memoir, play or screenplay that is ready to send to publishers.

Jonathan Myerson, Programme Director for MA Creative Writing (Novels) said: "When Liz joined the programme, she was enthusiastic and full of ideas and, of course, hugely talented, but daunted by the idea of completing an entire novel. And now, in next to no time, she has published three! Her career is exactly what we aim to do: to take someone who thinks they can and turn them into someone who is."

In the six years since the course began, many students have graduated and gone on to publish acclaimed novels and non-fiction titles and receive awards for their writing. Graduates have also had their plays performed across the world at events including at the Edinburgh Festival.

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