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Creative Writing student Fiona wins major “emerging writer” competition with her module assignment

Fiona Monahan

Creative Writing student Fiona Monahan has been selected by the inaugural Genesis Jewish Book Week Emerging Writers' Programme as one of ten emerging writers in the UK.

She submitted her assignment - 'The Unknown Soldier', the story of looking for her grandfather's grave in France – from her Creative Writing (A215) module to the competition, and now she will be mentored by best-selling author Caroline Moorehead to bring her story to publication as a novel.

Fiona’s novel will follow the search for a grave in France, containing the bones of a young soldier who left his new wife and small children to fight in World War II, that would lead his family through his untold war story before finally discovering his likely resting place. This search unveils a further story of how two soldiers, separated in their ordinary lives by the North Atlantic Ocean, were connected through the battles they fought in, and the eventual entwining of their blood lines. While one soldier never returned home, the other spent the rest of his life trying to forget the past.

As well as receiving a bursary for research in France, Fiona will take part in masterclasses with authors including Tracy Chevalier, AD Miller, Sophie Herxheimer and George Szirtes. She will have sessions with publishers Puskin Press and The Blair Partnership literary agency, whose clients include JK Rowling, Rafael Behr and Pete Townshend.

“I am very excited to be working with Caroline Moorehead who has written a number of terrific books recounting personal stories of WW2, and I am very grateful to the Genesis Foundation for this opportunity”.  The Genesis Foundation was founded by John Studzinski CBE in 2001, and has donated more than £20 million to the Arts.

Fiona was very impressed by the study resources and material offered through A215, and found them very beneficial in helping develop her writing skills.  “I still refer to the textbook for guidance on writing techniques.”

She is also grateful to her tutor, Nessa O’Mahony, who was very supportive, particularly when Fiona was recovering from chemotherapy. As well as granting extensions enabling Fiona to complete the module successfully, Nessa provided detailed commentary offering constructive criticism and positive feedback that gave Fiona insights in how to move forward with her writing.

“I really enjoyed the module. I would highly recommend it to anyone thinking about beginning A215, and I hope to do further study with the OU in the future.”

Details of the competition, and all the winners and mentors, can be found at Genesis Jewish Book Week website.

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