Carmen Morris-Coulson completed a series of Creative Writing Courses at City Lit. She was offered a publishing contract in 2019 and won a FAB Publisher’s Prize in 2020. We recently caught up with City Lit Creative Writing student Carmen Morris-Coulson to find out more about her journey as a writer and her experience studying at City Lit.
What made you decide to study at City Lit?
I decided on a whim; I was having lunch with a friend and I mentioned that I might like to do a writing course, and two days later I found myself sitting in Penny Joelson’s Writing for Children course. But seriously, City Lit’s reputation and location were the deciding factors.
What courses have you studied at City Lit?
Gosh, there have been quite a few since I first started in September 2018. Most of Penny Joelson’s classes including Editing your children's novel, Sophie Mackenzie’s fun, Getting Away With Murder – how to write crime fiction, plus How to write a Micro memoir, and a Playwriting taster.
Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself and your writing background?
I was brought up in the oral tradition of storytelling, with my Mother regaling us with weird and wonderful tales from Jamaica and beyond. Even though I was a book lover for as long as I can remember, and opened my first lending library in my bedroom at eight years old, I laughed when my English teacher suggested that I became a television writer in Year 11. I just didn’t believe my writing was good enough, and instead threw myself into quietly writing poetry, and exploring other creative passions – photography and painting.
After interning at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and San Francisco Opera, I took an MA in Arts Administration and have worked in the arts world, including Chickenshed Theatre for many years. Before writing my first book on Penny’s course, the most I’d ever written was my MA dissertation, which was a 25,000 word audience development and youth arts strategy. I’m really pleased to say that I’m now onto my third book.
What exciting writing projects have you got coming up this year?
I have been incredibly fortunate in my writing journey, I wrote a teen historical murder mystery in 2019, was offered a publishing contract and won a FAB Publisher’s Prize in 2020, and found a wonderful agent in February 2021. Apologies for being vague, but the title and contract are under wraps at the moment, but if all goes to plan, Blossom and Viola’s story should hit the shelves in June 2022.
What role does writing play in your life, and why is it important to you?
I can be usually found writing, editing, reading and or researching most days. Writing enriches and frustrates me in equal measures, and I can’t imagine life without it.
Who are your favourite writers and what stories have inspired you?
There are so many brilliant, brilliant writers, that I find it too hard to narrow it down to just a few. Of course Maya Angelou, but I also enjoy Hideo Yokoyama, Marlon James, Andrea Levy, and my current favourite is probably Jacob Ross.
Would you recommend City Lit to others?
Absolutely, without hesitation.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
If I hadn’t taken my first City Lit course, I would not have written one book, much less three.