As the deadline approaches for this autumn’s creative writing courses, and we look forward to welcoming two new groups of students, we thought it was time to look back at the successes of those who’ve previously studied with us.
After joining our creative writing courses, many have had their books published and a significant number of those have gone on to win or to be longlisted and shortlisted for literary prizes. Authors come to Curtis Brown Creative for guidance from a range of experts, from top agents such as Jonny Geller and Clare Conville and award-winning novelists such as William Boyd, Emma Healey and Nathan Filer. Not only do new writers get to develop their books with the support of expert tutors, but many of the 17 who got published achieved measurable success in the form of prizes and hot author listing.
At the beginning of this year, three of our former students, James Hannah, Kate Hamer and Catherine Chanter were featured in The Observer’s New Faces of Fiction 2015. Hannah and Hamer were given pride of place in the feature, with bios, pictures and a short interview about their writing schedules. Both authors credit CBC with kickstarting their writing careers. James Hannah, author of The A–Z of You and Me says ‘I wanted to see where I was in relation to publishing’ and CBC was the perfect place to do that. His classmate Kate Hamer, author of The Girl in the Red Coat, told The Guardian ‘I wanted to know more about how the publishing process worked. It can seem daunting and confusing from the outside. It was useful to demythologise it.’
With the help of Curtis Brown Creative, both of these authors found agents at Curtis Brown and Conville & Walsh and went on to be considered for a range of prizes. James Hannah was longlisted for the 2015 Desmond Elliott Prize alongside fellow CBC graduate Jessie Burton. Kate Hamer was not only nominated for The Guardian First Book Award 2015, but went on to be shortlisted for the John Creasy (New Blood) Dagger 2015, one of the most prestigious awards in the crime-writing industry.
Catherine Chanter, another Observer New Face, has been praised on both sides of the Atlantic. After the publication of The Well, The Huffington Post listed her as One to Watch in 2015 and she also was named an Amazon Rising Star 2015. Success started early for Catherine, who won the Lucy Cavendish Prize back in 2013 for her then-unpublished novel. The judges declared that ‘The Well was so astoundingly assured that we wondered if AS Byatt had adopted a pseudonym to see if the judges would overlook a brilliant writer.’ Since finishing her Curtis Brown Creative course in 2011, she has gone from strength to strength and The Bookseller has declared the paperback, out this September, an Editor’s Choice One to Watch for 2015. The Well has also been longlisted for the John Creasy (New Blood) Dagger 2015.
CBC has a track record of getting its stars the recognition they deserve. Tim Glencross’ book Barbarians was shortlisted for the Writers’ Guild First Novel Award 2014. Jessie Burton has called CBC ‘world-class’ and says ‘I will always be grateful for my place on the course.’ Her debut, The Miniaturist was Waterstones’ Book of the Year 2014 and it was made National Book Awards Book of the Year 2014. The Miniaturist was also long-listed for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2015 and continues to be a bestseller.
In an ever more competitive marketplace, prizes and listings are vital for getting books noticed. Literary journalist Robert McCrum writes that ‘Far more than book reviews, it’s literary prizes that shape the afterlives of new titles. Even in the recession-hit UK, these prizes show no sign of losing popular appeal.’ The great success of CBC authors shows how vital it is to get advice and encouragement from professionals with specialist knowledge of the industry.
As well as expert teaching from published authors, all our selective three- and six-month novel-writing courses offer dedicated modules on submitting your novel to literary agents – and include sessions on writing a synopsis and preparing a covering letter. Click for more information or to apply for our creative writing courses.