Current students

June 12, 1998

Will great expectations fall on hard times?

Adrian Slatcher, 31, spent nine years as a systems analyst before giving up his job to do the course. He started his first novel while studying for an English degree at Lancaster University and has started several more since, some of which he has finished. But until recently, when a couple of magazines accepted his short stories, he had never had anything published.

He says the course has helped "demystify" the novel-writing process and for the first time has given him time to devote to writing. His political novel, High Wire, is "supposed to be a new Labour novel". Set in London in 1997, it draws on his experience of the computer business, as well as his political outlook.

Greg Leach, 37, spent ten years as a social documentary photographer and is now lecturing part time in photography.

He decided to take up writing after he felt his photography was "running out of steam". He had not even written a short story but decided to embark immediately on a novel.

His work, Eek Street, is an "esoteric soap opera", about a man obsessed with the activities of his neighbours.

He says the course has helped make him a more thoughtful writer, whereas he used to be entirely instinctive. At first, this made him self-conscious, but now he finds it helpful to be able to analyse why he has written something.

Stephanie Aldred, 39, teaches English and Italian part-time and looks after three sons under 11.

She felt if she did not give novel-writing a try now she never would. Her novel, The Star Woman is about a woman coming to terms with the deterioration of her marriage and is "a bit like a modern-day Iris Murdoch".

She says the workshops are useful in showing how far they all share similar problems, in spite of the widely different work they produce. The guidance from tutors lends a longer perspective, gained through years of reading, novel-writing and feedback.

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