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Susan Barker joins the Manchester Writing School

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By Jacqueline Grima

Manchester Writing School has recently welcomed another established author to its teaching team. Novelist Susan Barker will be teaching on the MA/MFA Creative Writing novel route from September.

Susan, who studied Creative Writing at the University of Manchester, spoke to Humanity Hallows about her journey to becoming a published writer: “I started writing fiction when I moved to Japan after university. I was teaching English in junior high schools near Kyoto and began writing about my experiences in a journal, before gaining enough confidence to make the leap to writing short stories. Most of my early fiction was set in Japan, narrated by Japanese characters, and of dubious literary merit, but, through the process of writing it, I discovered that I loved crafting imaginary worlds and experimenting with language.

“I later returned to the UK to study for an MA in Novel Writing at Manchester University, and the critical feedback, guidance and support I received was invaluable. I met my literary agent in the second semester, and had a publishing deal before graduation. In retrospect, my route to publication was extremely easy, though the actual writing of my novels has been very challenging and labour-intensive. I love writing though, even when it’s brain-grindingly difficult, and I feel genuinely blessed to have been doing this for as long as I have.”

Susan feels that her experience of studying for a writing MA will help her understand the anxieties of her students: “As a graduate of a creative writing MA myself, I remember well how nail-biting it can be to submit fiction to be critiqued by the rest of the group. Therefore, I hope to create a friendly, inclusive workshop environment, and to emphasise the communal sense of purpose: that all the writers are there to support and encourage each other, build connections, engage with each others’ work, and sharpen their close reading and editing skills.

“I hope for my workshops to be positive, inspiring and constructive, with lots of discussion and sharing of ideas as a means of illuminating the fiction writing process. The Manchester Writing School has an outstanding teaching staff and an excellent reputation for published alumni, and I am very much looking forward to joining the department, leading workshops and providing supervision for MA students.”

Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing Nicolas Royle is looking forward to welcoming Susan to the Writing School team: “We are very happy to welcome Susan to the teaching team. She’s a fascinating novelist and a very nice person. What more could you want? Students will benefit greatly from her coming on board.”

For more information about the MA/MFA in Creative Writing, visit the Manchester Writing School website.

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Jacqueline Grima

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