Published: 18 January 2021

Meet the Academic: Dr Paul Vlitos

Dr Paul Vlitos, Programme Leader for the English Literature and Creative Writing BA (Hons) and thrice-published author, tells us why he finds creative writing at Surrey so inspiring, and how the benefits of a degree in the area can kickstart your career.

© Grant Pritchard / University of Surrey
Dr Paul Vlitos
Dr Paul Vlitos

How would you describe your time at Surrey in the School of Literature and Languages? 

I’ve been Programme Leader for the English Literature with Creative Writing BA (Hons) at the University since 2011. Over that time, it’s been great to see our English literature and creative writing teams expand, our undergraduate and PhD programmes mature and develop, and new programmes – such as the MA in English Literature and the MA in Creative Writing – being launched and developed.

What inspires you about Surrey?

One of the things I find most inspiring is the eagerness and the enthusiasm of the students. We’ve always had a friendly and lively community of learners, who year-by-year play an active role in contributing to our discussions and decisions on the texts we teach and the topics we cover. Combined with the diverse range of expertise we have in the School of Literature and Languages (which includes experts in film, English literature, creative writing, languages and linguistics), that has resulted in a really distinctive and stimulating range of module options on all our programmes at every level – everything from the gothic to Beat writing, and the medieval to the postmodern.

Why should a student come to Surrey to study creative writing?

On the English Literature with Creative Writing BA (Hons), the MA in Creative Writing and on our Creative Writing PhD programme, you’ll be taught by published writers with extensive teaching experience, bringing our own experience of wrestling with the technical challenges of particular forms, as well as our personal insights into the practicalities of publication and building a career as a professional writer.

Studying for a degree involving creative writing offers an unrivalled opportunity to receive detailed feedback on your writing, both from your friends and peers and from your module tutors. Our programme is designed to introduce you to a varied range of texts – including novels, short stories, poems, plays, screenplays, graphic novels – in a wide range of genres. We want to encourage you to experiment in different creative forms and help you get a sense of where your own work might build upon a particular tradition of writing.

We also regularly invite guest speakers on to campus and run a full programme of exciting writing and literary events over the course of each year, including the annual Morag Morris Poetry Lecture (an evening poetry lecture involving student readings) and the annual Surrey New Writers Festival. Another great strength of our programme is the opportunity to take a Professional Training placement, which students on our undergraduate programme have used to gain professional workplace experience in such fields as journalism, publishing, marketing, teaching, events and many others!

Can you tell us something about your own research interests?

Like all the creative writing team here at Surrey, I produce both academic or scholarly writing. I’m currently working on a book exploring the kinds of published creative writing advice which was being offered to aspiring writers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and my own creative writing – in my case, fiction.

My novels Welcome to the Working Week (2007) and Every Day is Like Sunday (2008) were both published by Orion. More recently, I’ve been writing novels in collaboration with my wife, Collette Lyons, under the pseudonym Ellery Lloyd. Our first Ellery Lloyd novel, People Like Her, will be published in January 2021 in the UK and the US, and was a December 2020 Book of the Month Club selection in the US. We’re both looking forward to the launch of the novel – which is featured in The Guardian’s Best Reads for 2021, Stylist magazine, The Bookseller, the Evening Standard, CrimeReads, Prima and the New York Post. We can’t wait to hear what readers think of it! The translation rights to the novel have been sold in 14 territories, and the film and TV rights have also been sold. We’re currently working on our next novel, due for publication in 2022.

Is there a particular memory at Surrey which stands out for you?

One of my favourite times of the year at Surrey is the graduation ceremony. It’s always fantastic to talk to students about their experiences during their time here, to congratulate them on all they’ve achieved, and to hear about what they’re planning to do next!

Find out more about our English Literature with Creative Writing BA (Hons).

Discover all of our courses on offer within the School of Literature and Languages.

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