Course studied: MA Writing for Young People
Graduating year: 2014
I write books for young people about the sea, danger and the wonder of magic and stories.
I spent years working in whale and dolphin conservation and a lot of time surfing before enrolling on the Bath Spa MA in Writing for Young People. I have three books published in several countries. A fourth, Girl. Boy. Sea. is due in hardback, August 2019.
I have appeared at festivals including Hay, Bath Children’s Literature festival and Mare di Libri (Sea of Books) in Italy and have written blogs / features for the Guardian and Bustle.com on YA issues.
I live near Bath, with my wife and daughter.
"Whether for my own books, for universities, companies or writers of all ages, my objective remains the same: To help you work out what your story is, and how to tell it, as clearly as possible."
- MSc Responsibility and Business Practice (distinction), University of Bath
- MA Writing for Young People (distinction), Bath Spa University
"My upcoming book is 'Girl. Boy. Sea.' It tells the story of a girl and a boy shipwrecked in a storm off the coast of Morocco. Aya tells Bill about The Arabian Nights and Scheherazade, who told 1001 stories to save her life. As hope of rescue begins to fade, they find strength in tales of magic, brave heroes, wily thieves, cruel sultans, and courageous girls."
Why did you choose to study MA Writing for Young People at Bath Spa?
I had so many what I used to call 'call backs' with my writing: Agents and publishers who 'loved' the first three chapters of three different manuscripts I'd worked on, and wanted to see the rest. But I didn't quite get signed. Then one agent recommended the course and I took the plunge. I didn't know if I'd get published, but I did know the MA would help me the best writer I could be, over a two year framework.
What were your highlights?
- The 'decision' to go with Kook for my main manuscript; a workshop exercise in Steve Voake's class.
- Working with the tutors and especially my manuscript mentor, Lucy Christopher.
- Working with fellow students and forming friendships and collaborations that continue to this day.
- The feeling every early on that – as my fellow student put it – I'd found my tribe.
- Getting my wonderful agent!
- The whole thing was a string of highlights, each brighter than the last. I loved it!
How did the course support your steps into industry?
It introduced me to my agent. It helped me get my manuscript into a good-enough state to be considered by the professionals.
"The best thing about the course..."
Working as part of a community, you develop as a writer.
"I am most proud of..."
My book, Kook, which was developed on the MA. And being part of something very powerful.
"My advice for current students is..."
You will disagree with your tutors about something, at some point. Save yourself some time: they are right, they know what they're doing (and then some).
"I recommend Bath Spa because..."
If you listen well and work hard, it will help you become the best writer you can be.