Time to Shine for MMU’s Writing Talent

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The Writers & Illustrators of The Timelines Anthology
Words by Lisa Burns
The John Rylands Library played host to a plethora of MMU’s finest writing talent last weekend, with the launch of MMU’s Timelines Anthology. Part of the Manchester Children’s Book Festival, the anthology is a collection of short stories for children and teenagers, written by students of MMU’s Writing for Children MA.
A selection of the anthology’s 17 authors were invited to step forward and read their stories to members of the public. Each story within the anthology contains around 3000 words and is aimed at an audience of readers aged 10 – 14 years old. The stories each have a historical theme, covering almost every period from the Cretaceous period right until the present day, set in times and spaces all over the world.

The students who took up the challenge to write the short stories all study at Manchester Writing School and were specially commissioned by their tutors. The tutors in question are all established authors in their own right – N.M. Browne, Sherry Ashworth and Livi Michael, amongst others. Timelines was inspired by the Manchester Children’s Book Festival, which takes place every two years to encourage children to develop a passion for literature and to get involved in creative writing projects.

N.M.Browne, Dr Livi Michael, Iris Feindt & Sherry Ashworth

Saturday’s launch began with an introduction from MMU Lecturer and author Dr Livi Michael, who was also an editor of the anthology. She remarked, ‘this is the first time that an anthology like this has been produced by a university and published and marketed professionally. I am so proud of this book and all the writers in it. Commercial publishers are not doing enough to promote our talented writers, and so we thought we’d give them a step up the ladder’. This follows big publishers ‘playing it safe’ during the current economic climate by working exclusively with established series and authors. This in turn creates difficulties for new voices and short fiction in particular, to break through. This showcase is designed to help budding writers.

Among the guest writers was N.M. Browne, who had travelled from London to read her story set in fifth-century Dark Ages Britain, entitled The Betrothed. Browne made a point of stating her gratitude for being invited to the occasion, ‘it’s so nice to finally meet people that I’ve talked with online, and to be able to put faces to names after all this time! I’m honoured to have been invited here today.’

Other guest writers included Matt Killeen, Emma George and Marie Dentan. Dentan had come all the way from Paris to read her story set in the time of Henry V and the Hundred Years’ War. Marie has created a blog which showcases her MA project, as well as interviews with the authors and editors of Timelines.

The event was well-attended, it was so great a success that host and Editor-In-Chief, Iris Feindt, had to keep offering the last chair available in the room (her own chair!) to the many people left standing. ‘I’m so happy with the turnout’, Iris enthused. ‘It’s quite special when you get to hear the authors reading their own stories’. Many of the student authors had never read their stories publicly before, so the launch was a very special occasion.

Author, editor and former MMU Lecturer, Sherry Ashworth, gave the anthology a glowing review at the end of the event. Sherry stated, ‘Timelines is wonderful and would make a great Christmas stocking-filler for adults and children alike! It’s not just for children, it’s for everyone!’ If the success of the Timelines book launch is anything to go by, MMU’s Writing School is sure to continue producing work that feeds the imaginations of generations to come!

The Timelines Anthology is available to buy from 21st October, and costs £8.99.

Follow Manchester Children’s Book Festival on Twitter @MCBF2014

Lisa Burns studies History and English at MMU. When she’s not got her nose in a book, she loves having adventures in the great outdoors! Follow her on Twitter: @LittleRobin09

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aAh! Magazine is Manchester Metropolitan University's arts and culture magazine.

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