We at Curtis Brown Creative arrived this morning to find an exciting email from one of our former novel-writing students waiting for us. It turns out that Lisa Williamson, who attended our Autumn 2012 course, has only gone and landed herself a two-book deal with David Fickling Books for her debut YA novel The Art of Being Normal.
The book, which Lisa had only just begun working on when she joined the course nearly two years ago, is about the struggles of a 14-year-old boy who is desperate to become a girl. It has already received a pre-emptive offer from Fischer Verlag for German translation rights and, after creating much interest at the recent Bologna Children’s Book Fair, is sure to garner further deals across the world.
‘I’m excited, overwhelmed and feel a bit sick (but in a good way!),’ says Lisa. ‘I’ll be forever indebted to Curtis Brown Creative for giving me a much-needed boost of confidence exactly when I needed it most, and for gently pointing out that I might be suited to writing for young adults. Lightbulb moment! I now can’t imagine writing for anyone else.’
‘Lisa applied for a place on our novel-writing course back in 2012 with very little material in hand,’ says CBC director Anna Davis. ‘She didn’t at that time know she was writing for young adults, and her story outline was pretty vague – but there was a real spark in her work from the word go, and a strong and distinctive voice. She made incredible progress across the three months of the course – I would say hers was one of the most transformed novels I’ve seen from our students. She made the absolute most of her time with us and was a very generous member of her student group. She was a delight to teach, and we are absolutely thrilled to hear of her deal.’
Lisa becomes the 10th former Curtis Brown Creative student to get a book deal. She will join Stephanie Wahlstrom (whose novel The Accidental Socialite was published by Piatkus Entice) and Jake Woodhouse, whose Amsterdam-set thriller After The Silence was published by Penguin and Tim Glencross’s Barbarians (John Murray), all of which have hit the bookshelves over the past few weeks. Other forthcoming novels by ex-CBC students are Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist (Picador), Catherine Chanter’s The Well (Canongate), Kate Hamer’s The Girl in the Red Coat (Faber), James Hannah’s The A to Z of You and Me (Transworld), Antonia Honeywell’s The Ship (Weidenfeld & Nicolson) and SD Sykes’s Plague Land (Hodder).
Curtis Brown Creative runs novel-writing courses throughout the year. We are currently accepting applications for our next course – to be held in Edinburgh from 23 September to 16 December – and will be announcing more London-based classes shortly. For more information, please click here.