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#ChooseBookshops | New fiction from our novel-writing alumni

BY Katie Smart
14th Apr 2021

In honour of bookshops re-opening their doors in England and Wales this week we've collated a selection of recently published must-read debuts by our talented former students. Whether you're heading out to support your local bookshop or continuing to shop online don't forget to add one of these page-turners to your basket!

Tall Bones by Anna Bailey

This psychological thriller is an instant Sunday Times bestseller! It entered the fiction charts at number seven.

When seventeen-year-old Emma leaves her best friend Abi at a party in the woods, she believes, like most girls her age, that their lives are just beginning. Many things will happen that night, but Emma will never see her friend again.

Abi's disappearance cracks open the facade of the small town of Whistling Ridge, its intimate history of long-held grudges and resentment.

Anything could happen in Whistling Ridge, this tinder box of small-town rage, and all it will take is just one spark – the truth of what really happened that night out at the Tall Bones . . .

Anna took our six-month online Writing Your Novel course in 2019.

Read all about Anna's journey to publication

Happy Families by Julie Ma

Winner of the 2020 Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller competition.

Three generations, two secrets, one extended family . . .

Amy is thirty-four and has just given up her glittering career in the big (Welsh) city to move back in with her grandfather, returning to work in the small-town Chinese takeaway where she spent her bookish and boring childhood. Why? That's a secret she won't tell.

Julie took our three-month online Writing Your Novel course in 2014.

Read all about Julie's journey to publication

The Smallest Man by Frances Quinn

This epic, heart-warming novel is inspired by a real-life historical figure.

My name is Nat Davy. Perhaps you've heard of me? There was a time when people up and down the land knew my name, though they only ever knew half the story.

The year of 1625, it was, when a single shilling changed my life. That shilling got me taken off to London, where they hid me in a pie, of all things, so I could be given as a gift to the new queen of England.

They called me the queen's dwarf, but I was more than that. I was her friend, when she had no one else, and later on, when the people of England turned against their king, it was me who saved her life. When they turned the world upside down, I was there, right at the heart of it, and this is my story.

Frances took our London-based six-month Writing Your Novel course in 2014.

Read all about Frances' journey to publication

Nightshift by Kiare Ladner

This dark, sensual story of female obsession won Kiare Ladner the HW Fisher Novel-Writing Scholarship, which enabled her to study with us.

When twenty-three-year-old Meggie meets distant and enigmatic Sabine, she recognizes in her the person she would like to be. Giving up her daytime existence, her reliable boyfriend, and the trappings of a normal life in favour of working the same nightshifts as Sabine could be the perfect escape for Meggie. She finds a liberating sense of freedom in indulging her growing preoccupation with Sabine and plunges herself into another existence, gradually immersing herself in the transient and uncertain world of the nightshift worker.

Kiare took our London-based three-month Writing Your Novel course in 2014.

Read all about Kiare's journey to publication

Another Life by Jodie Chapman

This devastatingly beautiful love story was selected by BBC2 as a Between the Covers pick.

Anna's grown up preparing for the end of days, in a tightly-controlled existence where Christmas, getting drunk and sex before marriage are all off-limits.

So when Nick comes into her life, Anna falls passionately in love. Their shared world burns with poetry and music, cigarettes and conversation - hints of the people they hope to become.

Jodie took our London-based three-month Writing Your Novel course in 2016.

Read all about Jodie's journey to publication

All the Little Things by Sarah Lawton

This gripping psychological thriller is full of twists and heated familial betrayal.

Rachel has made poor decisions in the past, but she has always tried her best for her daughter. When Vivian needed a fresh start, Rachel didn't hesitate to move them far from London. She just wishes she could shake the nagging doubt that Vivian is hiding something.

Mother and daughter are both keeping secrets. But just how dangerous are they? As lust and anger give way to violence Rachel will have to decide: is she prepared to give up everything for her child? Even her own life?

Sarah took several online writing courses with us, including the full How to Write Your Novel series, Writing a Psychological Thriller and our selective-entry three-month Writing Your Novel course.

Read all about Sarah's journey to publication

Last One to Die by Cynthia Murphy

A YA point horror novel for modern readers.

Young, brunette women are being attacked in London. 16-year-old, Irish-born Niamh has just arrived for a summer of freedom, and quickly discovers that the girls being attacked look frighteningly similar to her. But Niamh is determined not to let her fear destroy her Summer.

But can her new friends be trusted? Will she be able to stay ahead of the attacker? Or will she be next?

Cynthia studied on our Writing YA & Children’s Fiction course in 2015.

Read all about Cynthia's journey to publication