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26 June 2015

The CBC Summer Selection

by Wei Ming Kam

As we head into holiday territory, we’re proud to recommend three new novels by students who’ve taken our creative writing courses, whose debut books you could be reading on the beach this summer. Showcasing the variety of writers that come to CBC, all three books come from very different genres, which means there’s something for almost everyone.

White Petals is a contemporary YA book about Emmeline, who, after her father dies and her mother is sectioned, is sent to live in a care home for three months, while her sister stays with friends. Three months during which Emmeline has to make new friends, make mistakes, and discover her extraordinary gift.

The author, Maria Grace, was on our very first novel-writing course back in 2011. Once the course finished, Maria became a great example of one of CBC’s standing principles – hard work: ‘I finished the first proper draft in April 2012, but it’s been redrafted again, and again, and again (until I wanted to smash my computer up!) since then.’  That perseverance paid off, and White Petals was launched on June 15th by new children’s publisher Firefly Press.

As a student on the inaugural Curtis Brown Creative London course in 2011, Maria was part of the group which included brilliant alumni Jessie Burton, Antonia Honeywell and Catherine Chanter. It was a very talented set of students, all of whom Maria remembers with great fondness: ‘The students who were on the inaugural course with me that summer were such an amazing bunch of people,’ she said. ‘Not only did they really help me with all the workshopping and genuinely constructive feedback, but they made my time with CBC unforgettable. I absolutely loved the entire experience.’

Next to be published this summer is former online novel-writing course student Alice Clark-Platts. Earlier this year we chatted to her about her debut crime novel Bitter Fruits, which was snapped up by Michael Joseph and is out on July 2nd.

Set in the university city of Durham, Bitter Fruits follows DI Erica Martin as she investigates the death of Emily Brabents, a first-year student, who is found floating in the river. DI Martin visits Joyce College, a cradle for the country’s future elite, and finds a close-knit community full of secrets, jealousy and obsession.

Delving into the very current issues around online bullying and social media viciousness, Bitter Fruits has already been praised by fellow thriller writers Mel Sharratt, Paul Pilkington and Emma Kavanagh, with Emma calling it a ‘brilliantly plotted and utterly gripping thriller.’ It’s also been read by none other than Ralph Fiennes, who said ‘There is a gripping, economic precision in this highly charged thriller.’ Exciting stuff.

Last of our summer selection to be available for your beach read is Jon Teckman, whose book Ordinary Joe is published by Borough Press on July 16th.

A fast-paced comedy, Ordinary Joe is about Joseph West, an accountant who works in the film industry, and happily married with two children. Olivia Finch, one of the world’s most famous actresses, is tired of Hollywood superficiality and just wants a conversation with an ordinary guy – in this case, it happens to be Joe. Cue deception and confusion in a story that shows life can sometimes be more ridiculous than the movies.

Jon attended our Spring 2013 London novel-writing course, and said that ‘I had such massively high expectations of this course when I arrived that it would have been hard to live up to them all, but the way the programme was designed and delivered absolutely met and exceeded my unreasonable aims.’ He went on to describe the course as ‘interesting, informative, challenging and fun – and I loved every minute.’

Well, we’re loving every minute of our ex-students successes. It’s going to be difficult to pick which of our three summer books to read first.

White Petals, published by Firefly Press, is out now. Bitter Fruits is published July 2nd by Michael Joseph. Ordinary Joe is released by Borough Press on July 16th.

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.


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