28 February 2019

YA and children’s fiction authors who’ve taken our writing courses

Novels by Curtis Brown Creative alumni
by Katie Smart Course News, From Our Students

We’ve been running creative writing courses from Curtis Brown’s offices in London since 2011 – our selective-entry novel-writing courses are at the heart of what we do, and we’re really proud of our students’ achievements. From discovering fresh voices and helping them to get the best out of their novels – to guiding authors through practical aspects of the industry – working with exciting new writers is what makes this job special. More than 60 of our alumni now have publishing deals – and here we’d like to celebrate some of the YA and children’s fiction authors who took their first steps on one of our London-based novel-writing courses or our online Writing YA and Children’s Fiction course.

To find out more about the courses we run, in London and online, click here.

Lisa Williamson (autumn 2012)

Lisa Williamson, author

Lisa Williamson studied with us back in 2012 on our 3-month London-based novel-writing course – a cohort which also included authors Maria RealfJames Hall and Fiona Perrin.

Lisa is now the best-selling author of three YA novels. Her debut novel YA novel The Art of Being Normal was published at the beginning of 2015 and received great reviews, going on to win the Waterstones Older Fiction Childrens’ Book Prize. Lisa is also the author of All About Mia (2017) and Paper Avalanche (2018).

Read more about Lisa’s journey from writing student to publication in this interview.



Michelle Kenney (autumn 2015)

Michelle Kenney, author

Michelle took our online Writing YA and Children’s Fiction course led by the brilliant Catherine Johnson.

After the course she signed a three book deal for her dystopian, mythological YA novel trilogy with HarperCollins – the first two of which, Book of Fire and City of Dustare out now. She’s currently working on the final instalment of this gripping tale which follows twins Eli and Talia in a dystopian future set after a biochemical war in 2025. This adventure story has the medieval Voynich Manuscript mystery at its heart …

Find out more in our interview with Michelle.




Struan Murray (autumn 2013)

Struan Murray, author

Struan took our 3-month London-based course back in 2013. Struan’s debut middle grade novel, Orphans of the Tide, will be published by Penguin Random House Children’s Books in 2020 – the impressive deal negotiated by Curtis Brown’s Stephanie Thwaites. Orphans of the Tide was also the winner of the 2017 Bath Children’s Novel Award.

The story follows 13-year-old Ellie who is living in the heart of a half-submerged city, in a ramshackle workshop overflowing with curiosities. The world in which she lives is haunted by an ancient evil called The Enemy that, once every generation, takes possession of a human body as its Vessel.

Ellie’s role is to fix things and solve problems, but when the arrival of a mysterious boy arouses the suspicions of the Inquisition, she finds herself facing an enigma she can’t fathom. Ellie is certain that the boy is innocent – but who is he, can she protect him, and how might he be linked to the dark secret she is harbouring herself?

Check out our interview with Struan and his agent Stephanie Thwaites.


Ann-Marie Howell (spring 2015)

Ann-Marie Howell, author

Ann-Marie was a student on our online course with Catherine Johnson (check out this blog about her time on the course), and her debut middle grade novel, The Garden of Lost Secrets, will be published by Usborne in 2019.

The Garden of Lost Secrets was inspired by the discovery of a 100-year-old gardener’s notebook at the National Trust’s Ickworth house in Suffolk. The book is set in 1916 and is about 12-year-old Clara, who is sent to stay with her aunt and uncle at Gardener’s Cottage in the grounds of a country estate. Clara soon discovers her surroundings hold secrets, including a locked room and hidden key and a boy who only appears at night. Find out more about Ann-Marie’s research process in her 5 tips on writing historical fiction for young readers blog.

Read more about Ann-Marie’s upcoming debut MG novel here.

Samuel Pollen (spring 2013)

Samuel Pollen, author

Samuel was a student on the very first of our 6-month London-based courses, in 2013. His debut novel for 10-14 year olds, The Year I Didn’t Eat was published by Bonnier/ Yellow Jacket in March 2019.

The Year I Didn’t Eat follows the story of fourteen year old Max, a boy suffering from anorexia, over a year of his life through diary extracts and Max’s narrative. The book draws on Samuel’s own experience of being a teenager with the disease, and sheds light on a subject often left unspoken.

Find out more about Sam’s debut novel and writing process in this interview – and watch out for more deals from our YA and Children’s Fiction students. We’re expecting more very soon …

Jenny Pearson (2017)

Jenny Pearson, author

Jenny was taught by Catherine Johnson on our online course in 2017. She now has an incredible three book deal from Usborne (after an eight way auction!) for her debut middle grade novel – The Super Miraculous Journey of Freddie Yates, out in 2020.

Here’s what she had to say about her tutor: ‘I loved Catherine’s approach to tutoring. She is so full of energy and enthusiasm and really knows what she is talking about. She tells you how it is, which I really needed. I think all the feedback she gave me was spot on …’

Read more from Jenny about her time on the course and path to publication here.

If you’re currently writing a YA or children’s novel take a look at our selective entry online course for Writing YA and Children’s Fiction with Catherine Johnson now open for applications.

Applications are also open for our next Six-Month Online Novel-Writing course which you can take anywhere in the world, taught by author Lisa O’Donnell. 

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