We all met in the autumn of 2011 on the three month Curtis Brown novel writing course. It didn’t take us long to go from being a room full of nervous strangers, to realising we were like-minded people thrown together to discuss our favourite subject – our novels.
Even before we finished the course we knew we wanted to carry on meeting as a group. As emerging writers, it was important to us to continue the work we had started to explore together. During those first three months, our novels had begun to thrive, inspired by the ethos promoted by Anna Davis and Chris Wakling, the tutors at Curtis Brown Creative; that of generosity and respect towards each others’ writing. By now we had discovered we were among friends and had learned the value of constructive criticism, and of creating a supportive environment where no one need be shy of brainstorming a seemingly mad idea, or of exposing to others a troublesome area of their novel.
More than four years on, we still meet regularly. It doesn’t matter that we work in different genres and have wide-ranging styles. You’ll see from the breadth and variety of the stories that we each have a unique voice. There’s no creative writing school formula or attempts at cloning a particular style. Both on the course and beyond, we have encouraged each other to develop in our own particular ways.
Everyday life has continued for all of us; babies have been born, people have changed careers and moved houses, and despite us being as far flung as Wales and the south coast, we’ve continued to meet regularly or to communicate through email where physical meetings haven’t been practical.
There have been exciting achievements along the way. Three of the group already have publishing contracts. Barbarians by Tim Glencross (John Murray) will be published in May 2014, while The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer (Faber and Faber) and The A to Z of You and Me by James Hannah (Doubleday) will both be published in early 2015.