Bidding War Over MA Creative Writing Student's First Novel

Published: 8 October 2010 at 16:28

Penny secures two-book deal with major publishing company

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Anglia Ruskin University’s MA Creative Writing graduate, Penny Hancock, has secured a two-book deal with publishing giant Simon & Schuster. 

The first of the two novels, Tideline, has drawn comparisons with the writing of Belinda Bauer, Sophie Hannah, Minette Walters and Nicci French and is a psychological thriller rich in atmosphere and suspense. Set by the Thames in Greenwich, it is the story of a respectable married woman, Sonia, who one afternoon answers the door to fifteen-year-old Jez, the nephew of a family friend. She invites him in – and doesn't let him leave. Sonia's estranged husband, her twenty-one-year-old daughter and Jez's own family, falling apart under the stress of his disappearance, all remain oblivious to Sonia's secret, and,  as events run an increasingly sinister course, we realise she will stop at nothing to keep it...

The novel was subject to a bidding war between publishing houses and Francesca Main, Commissioning Editor at Simon & Schuster who secured the rights, said:

"This is a masterfully controlled, beautifully written and utterly mesmerising novel with a darkly evocative setting. I loved the unwavering composure of Sonia's first-person voice, despite her increasingly unnerving actions, and the gradual reveal of the events in the past that have unhinged her. This is a story of obsessive desire and the destructive power of memory that gets right under the skin. I'm delighted that we'll be publishing Penny, who no doubt has a glittering future ahead of her."

Penny, from Waterbeach, is delighted with her success and attributes it in no small part to the MA Creative Writing:

"People ask whether the MA made any difference to my writing and whether it helped me to get published. The answer to both questions is yes. As well as the taught workshops and tutorials, which challenged us to take risks with our work, there was the exchange of ideas and feedback afforded by being amongst like-minded people."

"There is no doubt that meeting and talking to professional writers is one of the most useful ways of learning about the industry and where to target your work and the MA provided this opportunity as well, through its employment of working writers as tutors. I chose the part -time option, and it was a most rewarding two years. I am extremely grateful to those who encouraged me to complete it, and would urge others who take their writing seriously to consider taking the same course."

Simon & Schuster will publish Tideline in trade paperback and bespoke limited edition hardback in Spring 2012. The novel was the subject of substantial foreign rights interest at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Simon & Schuster is a division of the CBS Corporation. The company was founded in New York City in 1924 by Richard Simon and Max Schuster.  It is one of the four largest English-language publishers alongside Random House, Penguin and HarperCollins. It publishes over two thousand titles annually under 35 different imprints.

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For more information about the MA Creative Writing at Anglia Ruskin University please contact Sarah Jones,, 0845 196 2981.  The course is available to start in January 2011. Anglia Ruskin University are holding a Postgraduate Information Event on 22 March 2011. Contact Sarah Jones for more information.