"I’ve just published my 10th novel (15th book) which feels like a bit of a milestone. I also teach writing workshops every month at The British Library, mostly around authors being entrepreneurial about their writing".
CourseCreative Writing PhD
I was attracted to Surrey as they had a good reputation for Creative Writing. I had already chosen to be a full-time author but being awarded a studentship was a precious gift – it gave me protected writing time for three years. In those years, I wrote and published eight books. I had a lot of support from Surrey in helping me apply for funding – not all universities do, but it makes a big difference. My two supervisors, Dr Paul Vlitos and Dr Rachel Hann, both challenged and encouraged me at the same time. A real benefit was being able to do most of my university work from home, as I had small children as well as studying. I really appreciated no-one ever making a problem out of me hardly ever being on campus. Another high point was being awarded my PhD without any changes in my Viva, which made me cry!
LIFE AFTER SURREY
After Surrey, I have continued as a full-time author, which I love. I’ve just published my 10th novel (15th book) which feels like a bit of a milestone. I also teach writing workshops every month at The British Library, mostly around authors being entrepreneurial about their writing. I enjoy giving students a new viewpoint on how they can develop a career doing what they love.
ADVICE FOR STUDENTS
For anyone looking to become a published author, I would say to develop an entrepreneurial mindset and get qualifications that will be useful to you along the way (such as a PhD!). Being able to say I have a PhD in Creative Writing gives people more confidence in me as a teacher too. You should also educate yourself on your publishing options: from self-publishing to the traditional route and choose what would work best for you.
The best advice I was given about my own further studies was on my induction day, when I was told: ‘treat your PhD like a job’. I took that on board, worked out how much I had to do, gave it regular hours and spread it evenly across the timetable, making sure to leave some time at the end to check and keep things manageable.
I absolutely loved my PhD… I’d start again tomorrow if I could!