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28 February 2019

YA and children’s fiction authors who’ve taken our writing courses

Novels by Curtis Brown Creative alumni
by Katie Smart Course News, From Our Students

We’ve been running creative writing courses from Curtis Brown’s offices in London since 2011 – our selective-entry novel-writing courses are at the heart of what we do, and we’re really proud of our students’ achievements. 

From discovering fresh voices and helping them to get the best out of their novels – to guiding authors through practical aspects of the industry – working with exciting new writers is what makes this job special. More than 100 of our alumni now have publishing deals.

Here we’d like to celebrate some of the YA and children’s fiction authors who took their first steps on one of our London-based novel-writing courses or our online Writing YA & Children’s Fiction course.

To find out more about the courses we run, in London and online, click here.

Lisa Williamson

Lisa Williamson, author

Lisa Williamson studied with us back in 2012 on our three-month London-based novel-writing course. Her cohort  also included authors Maria RealfJames Hall and Fiona Perrin.

Lisa is now the best-selling author of three YA novels. Her debut novel YA novel The Art of Being Normal was published at the beginning of 2015 and received great reviews, going on to win the Waterstones Older Fiction Childrens’ Book Prize. Lisa is also the author of All About Mia (2017) and Paper Avalanche (2018).

Read more about Lisa’s journey from writing student to publication in this interview.

Michelle Kenney

Michelle Kenney, author

Michelle took our online Writing YA & Children’s Fiction course led by the brilliant Catherine Johnson.

After the course she signed a three book deal for her dystopian, mythological YA novel trilogy with HarperCollins – the first two of which, Book of Fire and City of Dustare out now. She’s currently working on the final instalment of this gripping tale which follows twins Eli and Talia in a dystopian future set after a biochemical war in 2025. This adventure story has the medieval Voynich Manuscript mystery at its heart. Check out Michelle’s 7 tips for writing a fantasy novel.

Find out more in our interview with Michelle.

Struan Murray

Struan Murray, author

Struan took our three-month London-based course back in 2013. Struan’s debut middle grade novel, Orphans of the Tide, will be published by Penguin Random House Children’s Books in 2020 in an impressive deal negotiated by Curtis Brown’s Stephanie Thwaites. Orphans of the Tide was also the winner of the 2017 Bath Children’s Novel Award.

The story follows 13-year-old Ellie who is living in the heart of a half-submerged city, in a ramshackle workshop overflowing with curiosities. The world in which she lives is haunted by an ancient evil called The Enemy that, once every generation, takes possession of a human body as its Vessel.

Ellie’s role is to fix things and solve problems, but when the arrival of a mysterious boy arouses the suspicions of the Inquisition, she finds herself facing an enigma she can’t fathom. Ellie is certain that the boy is innocent – but who is he, can she protect him, and how might he be linked to the dark secret she is harbouring herself?

Check out our interview with Struan and his agent Stephanie Thwaites.

Ann-Marie Howell

Ann-Marie Howell, author

Ann-Marie was a student on our online course with Catherine Johnson (check out this blog about her time on the course), and her debut middle grade novel, The Garden of Lost Secrets, was published by Usborne in June 2019.

The Garden of Lost Secrets was inspired by the discovery of a 100-year-old gardener’s notebook at the National Trust’s Ickworth house in Suffolk. The book is set in 1916 and is about 12-year-old Clara, who is sent to stay with her aunt and uncle at Gardener’s Cottage in the grounds of a country estate. Clara soon discovers her surroundings hold secrets, including a locked room and hidden key and a boy who only appears at night. Find out more about Ann-Marie’s research process in her 5 tips on writing historical fiction for young readers blog.

Read more about Ann-Marie’s upcoming debut Middle Grade children’s novel here.

Samuel Pollen

Samuel Pollen, author

Samuel was a student on the very first of our six-month London-based courses, in 2013. His debut novel for 10-14 year olds, The Year I Didn’t Eat was published by Bonnier/ Yellow Jacket in March 2019.

The Year I Didn’t Eat follows the story of fourteen year old Max, a boy suffering from anorexia, over a year of his life through diary extracts and Max’s narrative. The book draws on Samuel’s own experience of being a teenager with the disease, and sheds light on a subject often left unspoken.

Find out more about Sam’s debut novel and writing process in this interview.

Jenny Pearson

Jenny Pearson, author

Jenny was taught by Catherine Johnson on our online course in 2017. She now has an incredible three book deal from Usborne (after an eight way auction!) for her debut middle grade novel – The Super Miraculous Journey of Freddie Yates, which went on to be shortlisted for the 2020 Costa Children’s Book Award.

Here’s what she had to say about her tutor: ‘I loved Catherine’s approach to tutoring. She is so full of energy and enthusiasm and really knows what she is talking about. She tells you how it is, which I really needed. I think all the feedback she gave me was spot on …’

Read more from Jenny about her time on the course and path to publication here.

Penny Chrimes

Penny studied with award winning author Catherine Johnson on our online Writing YA & Children’s Fiction course in 2016. Now she’s represented by Curtis Brown agent Lisa Babalis and has an exciting two-book deal with Hachette Children’s Group for two middle-grade novels. Her debut novel the Tiger Heart is out now.

Here’s what she had to say about the course: ‘I found the very structured and practical process of working through the course really useful – and the wisdom and advice from Catherine Johnson was inspiring. I learned so much from the other students on the course – everyone was very supportive of each other, and the variety of imaginative worlds that people had created was amazing. The other students were so good at pointing out problems that I was trying to ignore and hide under the carpet.’

Find out more about Penny’s writing journey and time on the course here.

Jack Meggitt-Phillips

Jack studied on our three-month novel-writing course in London in 2018. Now he is author of The Beast and the Bethany, a middle-grade children’s book published by Egmont in Autumn 2020. 

The Beast and the Bethany is a fantasy novel following the orphan Bethany and her run in with an unusual old man Ebenezer Tweezer and his beast.

Check out our interview with Jack to find out more about his publication journey.


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