Brighton's students of narrative get their break in the publishing world
15 Aug 2013
A novel and two children's books demonstrate the value of the MA Sequential Design and Illustration at the University of Brighton, which gives students advanced understanding of narrative technique.
Three students have had recent success in the publishing world: Julia Crouch (née Collins), whose first novel Cuckoo is enjoying public and critical acclaim; Lesley White, author of The House Rabbit, whose work tackles the problems children have with fear; and Margarida Botelho, whose international story telling projects have taken her among communities world wide.
Portuguese writer and artist Margarida Botelho published her work Eva on 27 March 2011 and copies will be sold at the Feira do Livro de Lisboa 2011. The book stems from an art and literary project 'Meetings' she began on her course in Sequential Design and Illustration. For eight months she travelled through Mozambique with a backpack full of blank books that were brought to life through the experiences of the children she met. Based on this she wrote the book Eva: two stories, two pictures of two girls, both named Eva. One lives in Europe the other in Africa, in countries that might be Portugal and Mozambique. Margarida takes her project to the Fábrica das Artes festival this year, displayed through an exhibition and various workshops.
While on the course, Lesley White worked on the first drafts of three children’s books. Her book The House Rabbit was chosen as Highly Commended for the Macmillan Prize 2010. As a dummy book it was first on display as part of the exhibition at Foyles Gallery, Charing Cross Road and then earned Lesley a contract as author/illustrator with David Fickling Books.
Other author-illustrators who have joined courses at University of Brighton Faculty of Arts include Sarah Dyer (MA Sequential Design and Illustration 2010), whose recent book Batty is the latest in a series of successful works for children, and Shelley Fowles (PhD), who works through illustrated retellings of folk tales from various cultures, including The Bachelor and the Bean, winner of the U.S. Maron Vannett Ridgway Honor Book Award 2004, and Climbing Rosa, respectively based on Moroccan-Jewish and Hungarian folk tales.
Julia Crouch has taken to novel writing since the Sequential Design and Illustration course. Now taking her second novel towards publication with Headline, she is receiving marvellous reviews and sales for her first novel Cuckoo, published 3 March 2011. The book is a psychological thriller about Polly, an old friend who comes to stay with Rose: "As Rose’s meticulously constructed world is picked apart at the seams, one thing becomes clear: once Polly’s in, it’s very hard to get her out again." (from jacket cover)
Julia has a three-book deal with Headline. She is keen to point out to publicists how the MA Sequential Design and Illustration at the University of Brighton helped her, particularly by stirring up her love of narrative. On the course she wrote and illustrated two children's books - 'Peter Pot the Boy Who Wanted to Fly', and 'Marigold Withers the Invisible Girl.' These did get some interest from publishers, but were ultimately deemed unsellable because of their dark, creepy qualities. This spurred Julia Crouch towards adult psychological thrillers.
Cuckoo was Pick of the Week in the Sidney Morning Herald and Number One in the Heat Magazine chart. Julia told her former tutor Professor George Hardie, "if it weren't for the MA course, I'd still be doing flyers for local solicitors. So thank you!"
Julia, Lesley and Margarida are joining a tradition of successful authors from the University of Brighton's Faculty of Arts. Popular teenage fiction author Louise Rennison is now an international figure thanks to the success of her books' adaptation for Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging, as are Maisy Mouse creator Lucy Cousins and Emily Gravett, author-illustrator of Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears. Our alumni and associate area also includes household names from among the former tutors such as Raymond Briggs.
MA Sequential Design and Illustration at the University of Brighton draws on the involvement of internationally renowned tutors who are expert in narrative of visual and textual kinds: Graham Rawle wrote the most significant contribution to the collage novel genre, Woman's World as well as creating the popular 'lost consonants' for The Guardian; prestigious graphic designer, illustrator and educator Professor George Hardie's work includes work in making books that are inventive in terms of repeatable imagery and their questioning of the auteurial use of rules and games; Emeritus Professor John Lord, a regular visitor and central figure in the Faculty's development, is internationally known for his illustration of texts and his own authored books such as The Giant Jam Sandwich (1972); Margaret Huber's work explores the line between representation and invention in natural history illustration, and how expressive qualities and personal interpretation might inform the work.