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Arts & Culture Series: Announcements

City Writes autumn event success

With our headline act, CWA Debut Dagger Award Winner Greg Keen to look forward to, a wonderful crowd of people braved the cold and rain to listen to and support City’s showcase of its short creative writing course talent. And what talent there was.

by Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone

Amidst a buzz of audience excitement, we were treated to four readings from the City Writes Competition winners. Campaspe Lloyd-Jacob, Novel Studio alumna, was first, reading from her novel in progress The Fall. Taking us into the world of reality television gone wrong, a boy’s life was left hanging in the balance, sending a ripple of anxiety and silence through the listeners.


Second, we heard Elena Alston’s wonderful short story, ‘The Cuckoo Broadcast’. Having just finished the Short Story Writing course with Katy Darby, Elena’s story cast its spell over us all. We laughed as the clever young character fought to be creative despite the difficulties of her family life and the constraints of her conformist school.

Following Elena, another talented Novel Studio alumna Angela Dove took to the stage reading from her novel For One Night Only. A mysterious package arrived at the character’s door. How did they find her address? Could she remember how to process celluloid? When a woman appeared in one of the photographs, against a backdrop of 1940s Amsterdam, closer inspection revealed her own face…

Our last competition winner to read was Sophia Rainbow Haddad who had just completed the Novel Writing and Longer Works course with Martin Ouvry. Sophia read her story ‘Heart on your sleeve’ taking us on a journey with her father’s denim jacket, originally bought for her brother. As her parents split up and her father moved away back to Algeria, the jacket became the warm hug of her father now so far away.

Emotionally charged from these fantastic competition winning pieces, the audience was now ready to hear from Greg Keen whose novel, Soho Dead, won the CWA Debut Dagger Award in 2015 and who is already working on edits for the third novel in the Kenny Gabriel crime series. Another Novel Studio alumnus, Greg read from part way through the novel where his main character questions a nightclub owner about a young murdered girl. We were treated to some witty and illuminating dialogue between Kenny and the owner who has cancer, swaps between cigarettes and her oxygen tubes and talks freely about her sexual desires and the development of her club. She offers him information in exchange for something you’ll need to read the book to find out about.

After the readings, there was lots of discussion about the stories and extracts, about writing, reading and City’s short creative writing courses over drinks and mince pies.

You can find out more about City Writes and the termly competition here. Our event next term is on the 28th March. Put the date in your diaries now.

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