Saturday, June 14, 2008

Next stop Norwich

After a very hectic few months, weeks, days, I'm able to relax a little, and looking forward to visiting Norwich next week for New Writing Worlds, part conference, part literary salon, part festival, with this year's theme of "Human:Nature". I've only once been to Norwich; in 1997 I had an interview with Andrew Motion for the UEA MA. It seems a long time ago. The previous year, having been shortlisted for the Lichfield Prize for my novel "Lineage", I'd decided to apply for this prestigious course. I sent off a short story I'd written set the previous summer in Northern California, where I'd been on holiday, and got a slightly gnomic response, about the course being busy, and I should try next year. Next year I did, and presumably they still had my story on file, since I wasn't asked to send anything else. I went along for the interview and sat there with 5 other hopefuls. Hard as it is to believe, I'd never actually met any writers until that day, and here were lots of them. One of the candidates, Francis Liardet, I even bought her novel from the UEA campus bookshop after the interview, a little puzzled, I admit, why a published novelist would be wanting to go on a creative writing course. "The Game", her novel, was excellent, but I don't think she's ever published a follow-up, though she got on the course, and was featured in the next year's UEA anthology. I didn't get on that year's MA, but it convinced me that this was what I wanted to do, and I applied and got accepted for the Manchester one. A friend had recently moved to Norwich, and I think I was more interested in catching up with Ruth, than I was in the interview. So it will be interesting to spend a few days there, in a half-remembered city.

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