One of my jobs for this week is to compile a killer reading list for the course that I'll be facilitating soon at Creative Industries Trafford.
La Nouvelle espionage course seeks to give writers the opportunity to create and develop a story (or stories) that they can then submit for consideration in the latest writer showcase anthology from Comma Press. Comma are seeking stories with all the tension and compelling mystery of the classic spy genre, but with a redefining of what modern spying actually is... 'from the political to the domestic, corporate to state-sponsored, private interest-led to cellular fanaticism... to meet characters we wouldn't normally meet in a spy story, to find ourselves in settings the genre has barely visited before.' No small task, but one I am sure the writers on the course will tackle head on with lots of inspiration, guidance and support from me and each other.
To be a good writer, you really must must read. I like to think of it as good nutrition. Put quality stuff in and you see the benefits. You feel stronger and better as a writer. When I'm reading, I imagine all the tiny synapses in my brain firing and making new connections and gathering the little thoughts and expressions inspired by others' work into a store to reframe and use in my own original way. Reading also makes me aware of what other writers are doing. What is the zeitgeist? What is sounding a bit cliche and old hat now? What am I reading too much about? What have I not read about in a story? Where are the gaps in which I can plant a story idea and nurture its growth?
The reading list for La Nouvelle Espionage course has been challenging to put together. Ra Page, Editor at Comma Press, has been brilliant in his suggestions. But this is very much a new genre (the clue is in the name!) The very gap in the market is perhaps a reason for its genesis. The best modern example we have come across is Joanna Quinn's 'The War of All Against All' (Beta Life, Comma Press, 2014) an imagining of the 2070 world where everything we do, buy and say, and everywhere we go is known, recorded, trackable and processed in streaming metadata. It is a brilliant and terrifying story. Please do get in touch if you have come across other great examples that seem to fit the bill.
The course is now fully booked up. But there is a waiting list in case any participants drop out. Contact CIT for more details.