11 July 2013

Our Famous Five…

Antonia Honeywell
by Anna Davis

We’re thrilled to tell you that, as of today, there are now 5 former Curtis Brown Creative Novel-Writing students with publishing deals. The latest publishing success, as announced in today’s Bookseller bulletin is for the very lovely and hugely talented Antonia Honeywell, one of the students on our very first Novel-Writing Course in May 2011.

Antonia worked on her debut novel The Ship while studying with CBC, and it was there that she met Curtis Brown’s joint CEO Jonny Geller, who is now her very proud agent: ‘Antonia’s debut stood out from the very first page,’ says Jonny. ‘The vision, imagination and prose are breathtaking. I’m so thrilled that yet another student from Curtis Brown Creative has found a good publishing house.’ Jonny sold The Ship at auction to Weidenfeld & Nicolson, where Deputy Publishing Director Arzu Tahsin (who has herself appeared as a guest speaker at CBC), described it as ‘mind-blowing … a dystopian novel with a utopian heart that will appeal across genres and age-ranges.’

The Ship is a rites-of-passage novel, a love story and a high-concept thriller, telling the story of a world in collapse, where a wealthy man buys a huge ship to transport a handpicked group of 500 – including his 16-year-old daughter – to a safe destiny. However daughter Lalla begins to question and then challenge her tyrannical father as the ship approaches its destination. Publication has been set for 2015.

Antonia is one of the hardest-working writers I personally have come across. She has 4 children under the age of 8, and somehow managed to find time to travel to our offices from outside London each week to take our 3-Month course. She has been writing for some years, with steely determination, perseverence, and tremendous flair. Since the course finished, she has been writing and rewriting, getting The Ship as strong as it could possibly be before sending it out to agents (Take heed, writers – the end is only the beginning! Most great novels are made in the rewrite!). Antonia is also a voracious reader, who hungrily consumed every book recommended to her on the course, and managed to read not only the books by all of the authors who appeared as visiting speakers but also those of her tutors and even their spouses … While some writers might complain of a lack of time to write, Antonia is someone who crams her writing in wherever she can and makes the absolute most of every spare minute. All hail to you, Ms Honeywell!

Those who follow publishing trade news will have seen that Antonia’s deal follows hard on the heels of that for S D Sykes, a student from our third novel-writing course. S D Sykes is another another hard-working mum (spot the theme!). On our novel-writing course she honed her strong plot and great pitch, which impressed her now-agent, Gordon Wise. Her 14th Century crime novel Plague Land is set in a Kent village which has been ravaged by the Black Death and is rife with superstition – as well as murder. It features Oswald de Lacy, a young and reluctant Lord of the manor, who will also feature in two further novels that S D is already planning. Plague Land and its two sequels were sold at auction to Hodder & Stoughton’s Nick Sayers, and publication is slated for Autumn 2014.

Antonia Honeywell and S D Sykes are the latest in our line of Curtis Brown Creative success stories. Last year, Tim Glencross’s stylish social satire Barbarians was sold to 4th Estate by Karolina Sutton, and is due out in 2014. Deals have also been hatched for Antonia’s classmate Jessie Burton, whose book The Miniaturist has now been sold into 30 languages, and S D Sykes’s classmate Jake Woodhouse, whose crime novel After The Silence was bought by Michael Joseph.

So now I’m raising my glass (well, my tea-mug) to our Famous Five, and may many more follow!

As well as expert teaching from published authors, all our novel-writing courses offer dedicated modules on submitting your novel to literary agents – and include sessions on writing a synopsis and preparing a covering letter. Click for more information or to apply for our creative writing courses.

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