February 15, 2016, by Sunita Tailor
English Showcase Blog
This week I had the pleasure of attending The English Showcase which featured an impressive array of work from our students – and, in one instance, a former student who has gone on to publish a novel she began on the MA course. Clare Harvey’s novel, The Gunner Girl, was released last November, with a sequel forthcoming in 2017. Rather than emphasising the tricks and techniques of landing an agent, however, she focussed on the crucial issues of her writing process. Clare spent years writing novels that she didn’t complete or find satisfactory before enroling on the MA course, where her goal of getting her work published was gradually replaced with a desire to write the most engaging work possible. ‘Write the best book you possibly can and don’t worry about publication,’ became her motto. Paradoxically, it turned out to be the key to publication success when an agent found her novel so enthralling that she immediately took on Clare as a client.
Clare also raised some fascinating points about historical research – most notably, that historical accuracy and authenticity aren’t necessarily the same thing – and how the needs of the marketplace may shape the packaging, but not the content, of one’s creative work. It was an insightful discussion, though for me the most enjoyable part was her reading from the opening pages of The Gunner Girl, which I recall seeing as a much earlier draft years ago. Her journey from the classroom to the bookshop was instructive and inspiring.
School of English
University of Nottingham
11 Feb 2016