MA Graduation…

Monday was my graduation ceremony for the MA in Writing (Distinction) from Birmingham City University. I was in two minds about attending but was persuaded to go and, in the end, was pleased I did so. The graduation ceremony itself was a very fitting and emotional completion to a long, sometimes physically painful, but often interesting and enjoyable process.

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‘The Honey Killer’ now in paperback

Whilst the two books are not yet linked on Amazon, The Honey Killer is now also available in paperback.

It portrays the growth of an ‘moral’ assassin from a young lad in 1939 to a grown man in flashbacks from his life in 1984 – when his life and career appears to be coming to an end. The scorn of his father, throughout his younger years, he seems to have no options but to kill to protect himself, his brother or his ailing mother as, one by one, his guardian ‘Angels’ ar etaken from him. Amongst his many tools of the trade is honey – known to the Greeks – and a copy of a herbal he is given to read as a boy.

As he chases, then is chased, around Europe the assassin finally returns to the place in which much of the book is set: rural England, the central south, particularly the beautiful garden he built for his mother (and himself) in Collingbourne Regis and the care home he bought for his mother in Snoddington Beeches. When all seems lost, he comes to a reconciliation with the person who hates him the most, and rediscovers an Angel who has been there all the time…

The book arose from a Fiction module I took on my MA, though is heavily altered from what was submitted/ First readers and proof readers loved it, stating they had to ‘go back and start all over again to actually proof it as I got caught up in the story’. Wonderful feedback!

Hope you enjoy.

The fruition of an MA project

I’m delighted that ‘The Honey Killer’ is finally available on Kindle:

The_Honey_Killer_Cover_for_Kindle

This was a book started as an MA project, a deliberate exploration into a different genre for me (hence the pseudonym) but one which I found quite useful. It traces the history of an assassin – an ethical assassin, but a killer, nonetheless – from his appalling childhood involving isolation, bullying and manipulation through to being a loner who knows how to do one thing only: kill in strange and unusual ways.

It is also a book about a platonic love, about worship of individuals who show kindness, and about reconciliation. The settings – London, Paris, Amsterdam adn the fictional village of Snoddington Beeches – are all based on my own experiences working here and in Europe. The history, from Operation Pied Piper (1939) onwards is as accurate as a work of creative fiction can be.

What’s interesting from a process perspective are the changes that were made after it was assessed for one of the MA modules. I’ve blogged about the realisation before and that the book was missing a character, but having added much more to the character (I’ll leave you to guess which one it was) the book took on a much more rounded form. It enabled an ending that reflected and completed much of the interaction throughout the historical components of the book (even the narrator’s ‘present’ is 1984).

Whatever teh experience and learning, for me, it’s wondeful to see something from the MA in print. 🙂

Finished – taking a new path

Woohoo! Finally, I have finished my MA at Birmingham. It has been a long journey and a lot of work, but I’m there and, by the look of things, I’ll be getting a distinction – which is wonderful, too. There is too much to say, so I’ve updated my MA Writing page with some comments and reflections. The long and the short of it is: if you are looking for an MA in Writing, seriously consider BCU.

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An inspiring afternoon: Kit de Waal

I drove up to BCU this week for an ICCW afternoon session with Kit de Waal and a tutorial for my MA. I also took the opportunity to spend some catch-up time with some people I respect and admire – Nafisa, a talented writer I met on the MA, and my MA-notetaker-turned-critical-reader, Saima. With both Saima and Nafisa, it was time well spent and I have to give a great deal of thanks for their support, friendship and encouragement. It was also well worth the face-to-face tutorial with the fantastic Anna Lawrence-Pietroni, though I have brought away a chapter that is absolutely covered with pink notes and comments.

But it was Kit de Waal’s talk that was the richly-decorated, marzipan-and-fondant icing on an otherwise very productive and inspiring 24 hours (we’ll forget the pain). Kit was talking about Flash Fiction as well as her writing process as a whole – 1.5 hours roughly split between the two. As she has won the Bridport Prize for Flash Fiction two years in a row, she is worth listening to.

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HWS Meeting October 2015 – great stuff

Despite feeling awful due to a rather nasty infection, I attended the October meet-up of Hampshire Writers’ Society at Winchester university last night. Once more, I am really please I pushed past the pain and illness to attend – I’ve mentioned the society and recommended the meetings before, but I really have to stress that it’s worth anyone in or around the area to attend the meetings. Why? Simply because of the quality and range of speakers that Barbara and the committee bring in.

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