Saturday, August 01, 2009

The Class of '97

I like the Guardian's summer reading fiction specials. One name this year was unfamiliar, except, strangely familiar. Competition winner Lisa Blower, was actually on the M.A. in novel writing with me in 1997 at the University of Manchester. Already working in commercial radio, that's where she went back to after the course, and I never knew whether she finished her novel - similar to her story it was voiced from the point of view of a young girl in Stoke in the eighties. 35 now, the picture of her in the paper was immediately familiar, and she's now left commercial radio to study "creative and writing at Bangor."

We were an unusual group, that class of '97; at the time there were only half a dozen or less M.A.s in the country, and our focus on the novel stood out. There were about 12 of us on the course. The course was in its 4th year, I think, and had a good track record - Anna Davis, Sophie Hannah, and one of the Peep Show writers and others were earlier alumni. These things take time, of course. Mark Powell had a two book deal almost immediately after the end of the course; Heather Beck became a lecturer at MMU and had her novel published by a small local firm; further down the line Lee Rourke's "Everyday" collection of stories came out from "Social Disease." It was a nice surprise to see Lisa's name, a dozen years on. It's a good story as well.

1 comment:

May said...

To hear by chance about people we knew in the past is a strange sensation, that renders quite well the flowing of time.