Creative writing at Bath Spa University – Alyssa’s story
My name is Alyssa Hollingsworth, I studied
at Bath Spa with their MA in Writing for Young People which was in Bath in the UK.
When I was looking at an MA I researched a lot of schools in the US and in the UK. I
was drawn to the UK because of its rich literary and academic tradition, and then Bath Spa’s
programme in particular is all about creating a community of writers, so not just advancing
you as an individual but giving you the tutors, the friends, the peers that you need to be
successful in your writing career and that was something that really appealed to me.
When I arrived in the UK I immediately felt like I belonged. It was like having my skin
on right, or returning to a place I didn’t know I had left. When I first went to orientation I met Julia Green who’s our course leader and she came up and gave me a huge hug, knew my name, remembered my application, and I just immediately felt
welcomed to the course and excited to be there. My dream in writing has always been to be
a published author and to walk into Barnes & Noble and see my book on the shelf. My friends and I on the course often met at Corsham Court to write, which is where our classes were
held in this Downton Abbey-esque manor, but we would also go further abroad. Public transport
in the UK makes a lot of things very accessible, from the Highlands where we could write fantasy
stories, all the way down to Brighton, where we could write about up-and-coming cities.
One of the really cool things that Bath Spa does is it takes a graduating class’ work
and puts it into an anthology. They then send it out to the big UK publishers and editors
and agents and invite them to come to a launch party. So we go to this launch party and do
sort of speed dating for agents and publishers and authors, and that’s actually where I
first met my agent, Amber of Skylark Literary Agency. When I signed with Amber one of the things she asked was to see other projects I had
been working on, and because of the course at Bath Spa I had written a synopsis for a
contemporary Middle Grade book and I gave that to her, thinking I’d never write it.
But she immediately came back to me and said “This is amazing, how do you feel about
writing this project?” So I started working on what would become The Eleventh Trade
which will be my debut, which now comes out in Autumn 2018.
This book would definitely not exist without Bath Spa and specifically the input of Janine
Amis who pushed me to write the synopsis. Knowing that I am going to go into a Barnes
& Noble and see my book up on the shelf in about a year is just amazing. It’s indescribable
really. Really nerve-wracking but really exciting at the same time.