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Student successes

The last few years have shown a fabulous flowering of our Creative Writing writers’ work.We’re very proud to have been the venue for many debut book launches and would like to thank our graduates for returning to share their experience with Chichester’s current Creative Writing (MA) students.

The crucible of talent and inspiration on the MA continues to grow through our unique course with its methods of literary crossfertilisation and finely developed critique.

In many ways, the MA writers create this atmosphere through their collective dedicated approach to workshopping – a process that we teach with precision. The students’ generosity to one another is valued by everybody on the course. 


Isabel Ashdown’s award-winning debut novel, Glasshopper (left), was published by Myriad Editions in 2009. Her second novel, Hurry Up and Wait, was published 30 to critical acclaim in 2011 and her third novel, Summer of ’76, was published in 2013. Isabel is also Writer in Residence 2013-14 at University of Brighton.

Jane Rusbridge’s first novel, The Devil’s Music, was published by Bloomsbury in the summer of 2009. It was described as ‘a beautifully told story of family secrets and betrayal, involving knots, Harry Houdini and the shifting landscape of memory.’ The novel was initially part of her MA dissertation project. Her second novel, Rook, was published in 2012.


Update on publication news for MA, BA and Ph.D Chichester Creative Writing graduates.

The University is proud to have been the venue for several first book launches, short story and poetry readings by our graduates. We've had slide shows, detailed accounts of research, of first steps to publication, of dealing with contacts and contracts, and most importantly rich, powerful and entertaining readings from work which took root and developed during our course and then achieved professional publication and representation.

The crucible of talent and inspiration on the MA, BA and Ph.D. courses here continues to produce new work through our methods of literary cross-fertilisation and finely developed critique. In many ways, the MA writers create this atmosphere through their dedicated approach to workshopping – a process which we nurture carefully. Many of our graduates continue to workshop after the end of the MA, and so local networks have been set up which promote creative work and publication.

The annual MA in Creative Writing publishing panel event (convened by Karen Stevens) has become an opportunity too for our graduates to return and to network with each other, current students, agents and publishers.

Student successes (in no particular order though we have tried to put more recent successes first).

Current MA student Hannah Brockbank has had two poems accepted for The London Magazine.

Ph.D. creative writer Zoe Gilbert’s short story, Fishskin, Hareskin has won the Costa Short Story Award 2015.

Maggie Sawkins’ Live Literature film/poem, Zones of Avoidance, won the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry in 2014.  Maggie’s second poetry collection is forthcoming from Cinnamon Press in 2015.

Juliet West (joint winner of the first Kate Betts’ Award) saw her first novel Before the Fall, set in First World War London, published by Macmillan (Mantle Imprint) in 2014.

Bethan Roberts' third novel, My Policeman (Chatto and Windus), was released in February 2012. Her previous novel, The Good Plain Cook, was the book at bedtime on Radio 4 and received excellent reviews. Bethan's first novel, The Pools, which evolved from her MA dissertation, was published by Serpent's Tail in the summer of 2007. Her new novel, Mother Island, is published in July 2014.

Karen McCarthy Woolf’s poetry collection, An Aviary of Small Birds was published by Carcanet/Oxford Poets in 2014 to excellent reviews.  Karen won an AHRC funded place to study for a creative/critical Ph.D at Royal Holloway, following her AHRC bursary for the MA in Creative Writing here at Chichester. Karen runs many poetry workshops in London, has been a writer-in-residence on The Thames and reviews and writes articles for poetry magazines.

David Frankel saw his story Downstream, the Water Darkens  published in the 2014 summer issue of the London Magazine. Hitler was an Artist Too was published in Journey Planner and Other Stories (Cinnamon Press, 2014). The Killing Tree was shortlisted for the Lightship One Page Story competition and published in the Lightship Anthology 2014. The Memory System was published in Barcelona to Bihar (Earlyworks Press, 2012) and The Whaler’s Daughter in Brittle Star. No.35. For more story publications by David and also examples of his work as a visual artist, please see his website:

Melanie Whipman, a current Ph.D student and a graduate of our MA in Creative Writing, has had numerous short stories published and awarded prizes over the last year or so: What You Do For Love: Winner of the WriteIdea Prize (judge Alex Wheatle MBE); After Ever After: Shortlisted for the Glass Woman Prize 2014; Wakes and Wishbones: First Prize in the HG Wells Competition (anthology forthcoming Jan 2015); Hush: Bridge House Anthology 2014 (forthcoming December 2014); End of the Rope: Fiction Desk Anthology (forthcoming December 2014); Last Gift: Popshot Magazine (October 2014);Overdose: Bare Fiction Magazine July 2014; Reprisal: Bare Fiction Magazine July 2014 ; The Real Thing: Second place in the Brighton Prize (judge Bethan Roberts) anthology forthcoming December 2014; Fractured: Third place in the Bridgewater Short Story Award 2014 (judge Rose Tremain); The Beat Goes On: Sophie King Anthology, published by Corazon Books, August 2014; After Ever After: Published in Structo Magazine January 2014; This’ll be the Day: First Prize in The Writer’s Bureau Competition 2013; Suicide Bomber:  Published in Unthology 4, November 2013; Tide: Second Prize in the 2013 Fowey Literary Festival, published online; Llama Sutra: Broadcast on Radio 4 for the 2013 Time Being Series. Melanie also won first prize in the Ink Tears 2013 competition, with £1000 prize money and publication of a collection; Hook, Line and Ninety-Nines: Second place in the A.Vogel Short Story Award 2013. Published in their E-book ; Peacock Girl: First place in the Short Story Rubery Award. Published in their anthology February 2013, and second place in the 2013 Oxford and Times Literary Festival Short Story Competition; Baking Blind, shortlisted for the London Magazine Short Story Prize 2013; Guns and Roses, shortlisted for The Fish Short Story Prize 2013; Food Fight, shortlisted for the 2013 Asham Award.

Amanda Oosthuizen (joint winner of the first Kate Betts Award) saw her story about trawlermen Poison Hands shortlisted for the 2013 Bristol Prize and published in Bristol Prize Anthology 6; her flash fiction  Conn Pre-war Sax in the Window of Cash Converters was published in the online Cent Magazine;  her story A Pylon, a Dress and the Rattle of Reeds was published online at Lakeview International Journal; Boystown S.A. a memoir was shortlisted for the Lightship Memoir Prize and will be published in the forthcoming Lightship Anthology 3; Volare, a story about Venice was published online in Synaesthesia Magazine and then shortlisted for the 2014 InkTears Competition. Her text piece The Mount was selected by The White Review and artist, Lawrence Lek, for inclusion in a collaborative collection and installation entitled Pyramid Schemes and was displayed at The White Building and published in an artist's book. Her novel, The Cherrywood Box won the 2013 U.S. Eludia Award for the entire manuscript though Amanda decided to try for UK publication rather than US publication. Her story Love and Glitter won the 2014 Synaesthesia Competition and is published online along with an interview. Another story, Minute Music was 2nd runner-up in the 2014 Writers&Artists competition. Amanda has been awarded an SLS fellowship on the strength of a novel excerpt to study on one of their seminars either in Lithuania or Kenya. Please see Amanda’s website for further details:

Jane Rusbridge's first novel, The Devil's Music, was published by Bloomsbury in the summer of 2009. It is described as 'a beautifully told story of family secrets and betrayal, involving knots, Harry Houdini and the shifting landscape of memory.' The novel began as part of her MA dissertation. Jane launched The Devil’s Music here in 2009.   Rook (2012), published by Bloomsbury Circus, is Jane’s second novel. Set in the West Sussex village of Bosham, Rook is a mesmerising story of family, legacy and turning back the tides. Her short stories have won a Bridport Prize, the Writer of the Year Competition run by Writer's Inc, the Ilkley Literature Festival short story competition and came second in the Bluechrome Fiction Award. MA assignment poems have featured in The Interpreter's House, Red Hot Fiesta, New Beginnings, First Time, and the Surrey Poetry Competition anthology.

Gabrielle Kimm launched her third novel at the University, The Girl with the Painted Face,  in 2014.  The Courtesan’s Lover, which broke into the top 100 of the paperbacks chart, is Gaby’s second novel. She started the book on the MA in Creative Writing at Chichester, in 2007. The opening chapter of The Courtesan’s Lover was shortlisted for the Impress Prize for Fiction in 2007. The Courtesan’s Lover takes as its central character one of the secondary characters from Gaby’s first novel, His Last Duchess. Gaby won first prize in the City of Derby writing competition for a short story entitled Kite, written on the MA. Gaby is represented by Greene and Heaton agents. For more details see Gaby's website . Gaby also works at the University occasionally as an Associate Lecturer and is currently one of the Royal Literary Fund Fellows.

Penny Bush's novel for teenagers Alice in Time (Piccadilly Press, 2010) came out in April 2010, and was launched at the University. Penny started the novel for her MA dissertation. She says. "Having my book published has been the most amazing experience. I think I'm still in shock, it all happened so quickly. Obviously it's something every writer dreams of but I never really expected it to happen. Doing the MA at Chichester really focused my mind and gave me confidence in my writing, not to mention all the practical help on presentation and layout that is so important when submitting work to a publisher.’ The book has since been shortlisted for Manchester Book Awards 2011 and foreign rights have been sold to America, Canada. The book has been translated into Norwegian, Swedish and Finnish. Her second book, Diary of a Lottery Winner’s Daughter came out in 2011. Her third novel for children, My Myself Milly, is just out in early 2013, also from Piccadilly Press.

Frank Burton's book of linked short stories, A Short History of Sarcasm, came out from Doghorn Press in 2010, and Frank launched the novel here as part of the MA in Creative Writing in 2010. Frank's story was broadcast (April 2009) in a BBC Radio 4 season of new writing on the theme of the ‘whole world’. Frank now works for the BBC. His novel, The Prodigals is available online.  A new book is forthcoming from Aqueous Books. See for more about Frank’s excellent work. Frank is the founding editor of Philistine Press.

Steph Newell’s novel, The Third Person, has been e-published by Philistine Press.

She is also widely published as a literary critic.

Graham Minett won the Segora short story competition with his story On the Way Out written for the Sources and Transformations module of the MA. Graham saw another MA story shortlisted for the Bridport 2008 short story prize. His monologue was shortlisted for production by Teachers TV channel. Graham won the 2010 Chapter One Novel contest which opens up the chance of representation and publication. Graham has just received (2015) a two novel deal – details currently embargoed.

Sarah Hegarty’s novel, The Ash Zone, won the Yeovil Literary prize in 2011. The judge, Katharine McMahon comments: "This novel was set in Britain, 2130, after a devastating Volcanic eruption. I found it an extremely accomplished piece of work in which the dystopia envisaged is both horribly engaging to the reader, and authentic. I wanted to learn more about the past and the future. There was a nice balance of description and narrative drive; a society was described through what should have been the deeply personal domestic event of pregnancy, so the potential for deepening relationships and characterisation was very tantalising, and gave the novel warmth it might otherwise have been lacking. The scope of this novel was particularly impressive - and created a richly textured world.” Sarah’s short fiction has been published in Mslexia, on the web (at ) and in the Momaya Annual Review. . The Ash Zone is her first novel, and draws on her life in Beijing in 1980. She is working on her second novel

Charlie McQuaker published his novel Die Hard Mod (Pulp Fiction 2010) while completing the MA here. Here’s a clip from publicity for a recent reading event at the Komedia in Brighton: ‘Belfast-born McQuaker, whose gritty ‘pulp fiction’ novella Die Hard Mod gained rave reviews from both the pulp fiction and Mod cognoscenti when it was released last year, was discovered by Pulp Press founder Danny Bowman at a Story Studio event in 2009. The book has subsequently become the Brighton-based publishing company’s best-selling title.  Die Hard Mod has also recently earned the honour of having a page devoted to it in the forthcoming A to Z of Mod compendium, compiled by celebrated Mod scribe Paolo Hewitt and fellow-Mod Martin Freeman of The Office fame.  At Story Studio, McQuaker will be reading a new short story The Drink Talking, a dark, Brighton-set tale of an alcohol-fuelled relationship meltdown. Tara Gould said: “When he’s appeared at Story Studio in the past, Charlie’s dynamic, engaging readings have gone down a storm so we’re delighted that he’s able to appear at our last night at the Komedia.” “The energy and vitality of Charlie’s writing puts me in mind of American beat writers and ‘dirty realists’ which fits in perfectly with Pulp Press’s house style”, added Danny Bowman.’

K.J.Orr, a current University of Chichester Ph.D. student and the only student in the UK in her year of registration to win funding from the AHRC for a creative writing Ph.D., saw her story, The Human Circadian Pacemaker, win a Bridport prize, and then shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award 2011. The shortlisted story was one of only five stories shortlisted for the prestigious award. The story was broadcast on Radio 4.  This Inland Sea, the title story of Katherine’s collection of short stories, was published in December 2012 in a special edition by Daunts Books.

Ellie Piddington’s short story A Little Dating Money (written as part of her MA) was published in The Times Literary Supplement (online 2012). Ellie has recently completed her novel, A Little Dating Money, as part of her creative Ph.D. at the University of Chichester. Her essay, Between the Sheets: the Short Stories of Tennessee Williams (2012) was published in the international literary journal Short Fiction in Theory and Practice. She has also written features on Truman Capote and Erskine Caldwell for Thresholds, the University of Chichester’s international website on the short story. Ellie was the Conference Assistant during the international Poetry and Voice conference (2010) at the University and was assistant editor of the subsequent book of essays, Poetry and Voice (Cambridge Scholars Publishing 2013). Ellie works here as an associate lecturer and completed Ph.D in 2014.

Loree Westron’s published short stories include: ‘The Difference Between Cowboys and Clowns’, published in Award-winning Tales (2011), Becky Coffield, ed. Moonlight Mesa; 2009 ‘King of the Cocktails’ Never Hit by Lightning, Tucker Lieberman, ed. 2009 ; ‘Bastard’, In Our Own Words: A Generation Defining Itself, vol 8, MP Weaver, ed. ;2008 ‘The Road to Reparation’, Borderlines; 2006 ‘Los Milagros’, London Magazine, Sebastian Barker, ed. Her reviews and articles have appeared in: The Short Review, Short Fiction in Theory and Practice, Western American Literature; London Magazine,,, Cucle, Return to a Better Tomorrow (ed. R.Richards), Southern Cross. Numerous shortlistings and awards include: 2010 ‘Gathering Fragments of Light’, Honourable Mention in the Carpe Articulum Novella Contest; 2009 ‘The Difference Between Cowboys and Clowns’, Finalist in the Midnight Mesa short story competition; 2009 ‘Kirsty Dreams of Evergreens’, Honourable Mention, NYC Midnight 24-hour Short Story Challenge;  2009 ‘The Difference Between Cowboys and Clowns’, 1st-round Finalist in NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge; 2009 ‘Watermelon Festival’, Fish Prize shortlist; 2009 ‘Some Kind of Comfort’, Fish Prize shortlist; 2009 ‘Revelation’, Fish Prize shortlist; 2008 ‘Fifteen Modern Tales of Attraction: A Review’, Finalist in Costa book review competition; 2007 ‘Gathering Fragments of Light’, Semi-Finalist in Quarterly West Novella Competition; 2006 ‘Road to Reparation’, Seattle Review Fiction Contest shortlist; 2005 ‘Los Milagros’, VS Pritchett Memorial Prize shortlist; 1998 ‘The Bear’, 2nd place Winchester Writers’ Conference. Her conference papers include: 2010 'Indianness’ and Identity in the Novels and Short Stories of Sherman Alexie' at Framing the Self: Anxieties of Identity, University of Portsmouth; 2010 ‘Voices of the American West: Striving for Authenticity’, Research in Progress conference, University of Chichester; 2009 ‘The Paradox of Historical Fiction: Finding Truth Where None Exists’, Playful Paradox: Creative Writing on Campus, University of Bedfordshire. Loree is the final stage of her Ph.D. in creative writing at the University, which she pursued after completing the MA here. She has just completed her novel, Legacy. Until recently, Loree was the editor (the first editor) of Thresholds International Short Story Forum. Loree Westron completed her novel and received her Ph.D. in 2013.

Honoria Beirne's short story Shake Me, Shake Me was short listed for the Bridport Prize in 2010 and is now published in the prestigious Bridport Anthology.

Jane Hayward won first prize in the  Lightship short story competition with her story The Way to a Man’s Heart (Lightship Anthology 1, International Prize Winners 2011). Her writing has previously won her lunch with Anita Shreve and a novel pitch at an Art’s Council funded publishing event launched by Spread the Word. Her work has been shortlisted for Radio 4’s Afternoon Story and a Bluechrome internet story competition. She has a horror story published in the anthology Dark Tales and a poem in the anthology A Track of Light. She has been shortlisted in The Fish Memoir Prize, 2013 and is awaiting the result.

Recent graduate (Dec. 2012) Vicki Heath had a short story, written on the Sources and Transformation module, published in Structo in 2012. Another story was shortlisted for a Bridport Prize in 2012. Vicki is the new editor of Thresholds, the University’s international short story online forum. In addition, Vicki has recently been appointed as the new paid editorial intern at Myriad Publications.

Wendy Ann Greenhalgh's fiction and poetry have appeared in places like Pank, Mslexia, Metazen, Ink Sweat & Tears, Flash & Friction Magazines and in anthologies. Her videos, photos and installations have been exhibited in the UK and Holland. As an arts educator Wendy works with schools, galleries & museums, running participatory projects, literary events & Story Scavenger Hunts for children, families & adults. She's part of the Creative Learning Team at New Writing South and teaches at Evolution Arts and The Friends Centre in Brighton. Wendy is a member of the interpretation team at the De La Warr Pavilion and working on the START programme with the Jerwood Gallery.

Jacky Taylor won third prize in the Bridport Flash Fiction competition in 2012. Her work has been published in Something Was There, the 2011 Asham anthology (Virago), The Best of Everyday Fiction 3 (Everyday Publishing 2009-2010) and numerous places online including Foundling Review and The Pygmy Giant.

Poet Wendy French’s latest collection, surely you know this, was published by tall lighthouse in 2009. The title and poems in the first section of the book all begin with one of Sappho’s fragments. Wendy’s other collections include two chapbooks published by tall lighthouse and her first collection, Splintering the Dark from Rockingham press. Wendy  won first prize, a major award, in the NHS section of the inaugural Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine in April 2010. The winning poem, it's about a man, is about her father, one of the first doctors to start serving under the NHS in 1947. The judges were Dannie Abse, poet and doctor, James Naughtie and Sir Brian Keogh. She has co-edited three books of poetry written by young people in hospital and all published by Rockingham press.  Wendy works in a freelance capacity promoting writing in healthcare, educational and community settings. She is on the Board of Lapidus (Literary Arts and Personal Development) and was the judge of the Torbay Poetry Competition for 2010.

Sylvia Dickinson’s moving story, The Long Walk Home won the Arts Council/Penguin Decibel Award in 2006 and was published by Penguin. Sylvia has given workshops and a reading tour in her native South Africa and in the UK as a result.

Jaqui Rochford's poems from her dissertation were longlisted for publication by Cinnamon Press. One her poesm, Bad Coupling, was shortlisted for a Bridport prize and three other poems were longlisted for the 2011 Virginia Warbey Competition.

Melanie Penycate launched her new poetry collection, Feeding Hummingbirds (Oversteps, 2009) here in Semester 1 2009. Many of the poems were written on the MA. Oversteps is a distinguished poetry publisher with a fine history. Melanie's reading and talk was fascinating, musical and insightful.

Geoff Lavender won second prize in the Steyning Festival short fiction competition in 2009.

Kate Bett’s stage play On the Third Day won Channel 4's The Play's The Thing in 2006. The play was performed to very good reviews in The New Ambassadors Theatre, London. Kate appeared in the Channel 4 documentary, The Play's The Thing. We are very sad to report that our good friend and colleague and BA and MA in Creative Writing graduate of the University of Chichester died in the spring of 2010. Kate was a great writer and also an inspirational teacher. A selection of her poems and prose were published posthumously in the anthology, A Track of Light: Chichester Poets (ed. David Swann, 2010). Maxine Peake who played the lead in On the Third Day gave a moving reading from the play at Kate's Memorial Service. On the Third Day was performed again in September 2010 at The Point, Eastleigh. We would like to thank Kate's husband Dave Betts and their children, Tom, Lucy and Rob, for inaugurating the Kate Betts Prize for writers on the MA in Creative Writing. The first award was shared at the 2010 graduation ceremony by Juliet West and Amanda Oosthuizen, Subsequent awards have been won by Melanie Whipman (2011) and Jac Cattaneo (2012).

Steve Kelly won the Hertfordshire University short story prize in 2006.

Steve Jefferies was placed second in 2007's Pulp.Net Bloomsbury short story competition in 2007.

Suzanne Johns, together with Gaby Pritchard (writing name Gabrielle Kimm) had chapters of their novels selected for the Impress Prize for Ficton and published in the anthology.  Only ten writers in this national competition were published in the prize winning anthology. Two of them were from the same cohort of the MA in Creative Writing here at Chichester.

Laura Maizey had the very first story she wrote on the MA accepted by prestigious magazine The Interpreter's House. Laura now works in publishing and teaches creative writing for the University of Oxford. Laura and another Chichester MA graduate Ben Piggott have founded a website called The Writer's Lounge. Laura is working for Routledge currently.

Lorna Howarth won the 2007 Winchester Writing Conference competition with a short story written on the MA.

Meredith Andrew won a prestigious Bridport award in 2005 for a story written on the MA.

Anna Kerr was represented by a major London agent. Her trilogy of novels has been sent round to major publishers. Sadly Anna Kerr died recently, and we remember her with affection and respect.

Julie Singleton has written a monograph, The History of Monk's House and the Village of Rodmell, Home of Virginia and Leonard Woolf (Bloomsbury Heritage, Cecil Woolf 2008)

Ann Jolly won a Bridport prize, won the Asham Award, and has won The Fish short story prize. Ann is now writer-in-residence at Dartmoor Prison.

Christian DeFeo completed a creative writing PhD at the University of Southampton, and his novel Mistah Shah was published by Green Sunset Books in 2010.

BA graduate, Jeff Thomson saw his new adaptation of Marlowe's masterpiece, The Massacre of Paris produced at The Rose in London.

Emma Tristram completed an M.Phil. at Sussex University after the MA here, and has now returned to us to undertake a PhD on Life Writing which will contain both critical and creative work.

Ann Westgarth's short story was shortlisted for the prestigious V.S. Pritchett award.

Lena Bakke has won the Allers novel writing competition in her native Norway. Allers/Harlequin have commissioned15 books in the series about a Viking woman Borghildur Sigurdsdottir. The judges said of Lena's story: 'the story stands out with its combination of vivid characters, good language and fine nerve. The main characters engage the reader, and the environment is described in a believable way. The author gives the Viking age closeness and colour, and is especially good at depicting women's life, status and friendship – and the fight for a good life. Lena wrote in English during the MA course. Her novel series will be published in Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

Marilyn Floyde's play The People of Ys (her MA dissertation) toured in a bi-lingual production (Theatre Melange and Theatre de Manicle), both in the UK and in France. Since graduating with Distinction, Marilyn has been commissioned by BBC Radio 3 to create community cantatas, several of which have been broadcast on Radio 3.Marilyn Floyde has also published books on King Arthur in France with Books Sans Frontières (2009, 2012) and with Vanguard (2009) in both French and English.

Virginia Warbey published two novels, The Ropemaker’s Daughter and The Carradine Diary (Diva) under the name of Virginia Smith. She was also a fine poet and her collection Ratified came out posthumously from Merdon Marque (2004). Virginia was a young, very talented and determined writer, whose writing career was tragically cut short by her early death in a car accident. Her writing group at Chandlers Ford founded a poetry competition in her name, the Virginia Warbey Poetry Prize.  We remember Virginia with great respect as a wonderful writer, person and MA graduate.