Janet Ellis, whose debut novel The Butcher’s Hook is to be published today, was a student on one of our creative writing courses back in 2014. Her application to Curtis Brown Creative was a huge event in itself in our office – as my two colleagues had both grown up watching her make pen-holders out of loo rolls on Blue Peter in the 1980s, and couldn’t believe they not only might meet one of their children’s TV idols, but that she could also write incredibly well. Janet worked on the book – called ‘Fub’ in those days – with tutor Erin Kelly and her 14 fellow students during the course, and finessed it further with Curtis Brown agent Gordon Wise. It was submitted under a false name and picked up immediately by Hodder imprint Two Roads.
Anne Jaccobs is miserable. Born into a wealthy family in Georgian London, Anne is a product of her era: bored, lonely and ignored by a father who is desperate for a son. Her mother; crippled by childbirth and emotionally bludgeoned by the deaths of several children, has retired to her bedroom to a life of solitude and loneliness. Anne is left largely alone with nothing but her imagination for company. Introduced to a colleague of her father, the wonderfully named Mr Onions, Anne is devastated by the realisation she is expected to marry him.
All of this changes however, when Anne meets Fub, the butcher’s boy, who arrives at her door with a joint of beef. Fub is everything her suitors are not – exciting, dangerous, and completely unsuitable. He takes her away from her comfortable existence and into the dark and dangerous back streets of a city she barely knew existed. As she spirals into obsession over their future together, she becomes increasingly determined to get her way-no matter the cost. To what extent will she go to keep her and Fub together?
Dark, gripping and sinister, this novel is a thrilling tale of desire. While it is partly a feminist novel exploring a young girl’s journey to womanhood, the undertone is far darker and more sinister; psychologically thrilling with intense plot twists. With elements of both comedy and tragedy woven throughout, the pace of the novel builds continuously until its dramatic conclusion. Janet Ellis wears her research lightly – she transports us straight back to the 1700s with ease, yet we never feel we’re being given a history lesson – and the language and imagery are profoundly sensory, making for engaging and intense read.
For an in-depth course as part of a group of 15 (in which students are selected on the basis of their submission) with a great tutor and participation from our literary agents, apply for:
Six-Month Novel-Writing Course in London with Christopher Wakling (deadline for applications is Wed 17 January).
Six-Month Online Novel-Writing Course with Lisa O’Donnell (deadline for applications is Wed 24 January).
For a dedicated online course for those writing for young adults or children as part of a group of 15 (in which students are selected on the basis of their submission), with a top children’s author, apply for:
Writing YA and Children’s Fiction with Catherine Johnson (deadline for applications is Sun 28 Jan).
We are offering three low-cost ‘foundation’ courses, featuring tuition from CBC director Anna Davis:
Starting to Write Your Novel (deadline for enrolment is midnight on Mon 15 January).
Write to the End of Your Novel (deadline for enrolment is midnight on Mon 22 January).
Edit & Pitch Your Novel (deadline for enrolment is midnight on Mon 29 January).