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Institute of Continuing Education (ICE)


In 2023, ICE’s Creative Writing Master’s celebrates its 10th anniversary. We discuss the anniversary with Dr Midge Gillies, Academic Director of Creative Writing, while a selection of past students share their experiences. 

“Ever since the Master’s was devised in 2013, the programme has made a virtue of experimentation. Students try poetry, fiction, writing for performance and creative non-fiction and receive only an indicative mark so that they can take risks with their writing. Many have discovered that they’re good at a genre they might never have considered. One student joined aiming to write a memoir and ended up producing a sitcom for his dissertation. The MSt encourages students to ‘play’ and enjoy themselves.”  


Sarah Sultoon 

Sarah’s debut novel, The Source, won the Crime Fiction Lover's Best Debut of the Year Award 2021. Her third novel, Dirt, is due out in January 2023. 

“The course is conceived really well. It taught me so much about how to be a writer. The way that you’re exposed to different disciplines – there’s no pressure to be good at any of them, only to try them all. I wrote some terrible poetry, but it was extremely valuable grounding for any form of writing. 

As a mum with young kids, there was nothing better than disappearing to Cambridge for a week. To be completely immersed in the discipline was fabulous, and we were a great group. When someone’s 21 and someone’s in their 60s, it’s a fertile environment to learn from other experiences and challenge each other’s styles. And my supervisor was invaluable, a wonderful mentor and coach. I’d set myself a goal to finish a full-length manuscript because I knew if I didn’t during the course then I wouldn’t afterwards. So in the dissertation year, I wrote the first draft of The Source and had an agent before the course was over.  
Dirt is a story about identity and belonging in a place that everyone thinks belongs to them. A cub reporter based at an international newspaper investigates a mystery during an incredibly tense time between Israel and Lebanon, and it blows his whole life wide open. I’m really looking forward to seeing how the readers like it. It’s so nerve wracking when the books come out.” 


Elena Croitoru 

The Country with No Playgrounds, Elena’s debut poetry collection, won the Live Canon 2021 Pamphlet Competition. Elena is currently expanding her poetry portfolio and polishing her first novel. 

“One of the strengths of this course is that they teach fiction, poetry, non-fiction and playwriting. Trying different genres and seeing how they connect made me understand that I can borrow from each. We were taught good storytelling and character development while being encouraged to make our voices to stand out.  The programme teaches you to stick to a deadline, take feedback and look at someone else’s work critically. There are so many people interested in creative writing nowadays. Showing that you are serious about learning your craft helps in today’s market. My love for poetry came from my Master’s assignment. I don’t think I would have pursued it as much had it not been for the course. My tutor really encouraged me and told me I would have a chance to get published. My collection is about where I came from, incidents that happened to me as a child and my experiences during the Ceausescu regime. Kind of like autofiction, this is auto-poetry, in a way. I still write fiction. Writing a novel is great because you can pick it up each day after work when you’re stressed and find something you can do. It’s great to have that one thing you can always return to. This Master’s is so well formulated. I hope people find the programme useful; it really was for me.” 


Mbozi Haimbe 

Mbozi’s short story, Madam’s Sister, won the Commonwealth Short Story Prize – Africa 2019 and the PEN America Dau Prize 2020. Mbozi is currently working on her debut novel. 

“Although it was a real challenge to fit study and writing around my family and my job, studying at ICE really bolstered my confidence. I learned so much from the exercises and feedback and finally started to find my voice.” 


Sara Collins 

Developed from Sara’s Master’s dissertation, The Confessions of Frannie Langton won the Costa First Book Award in 2019, and Sara has adapted the story into an ITV drama. 

“The thing I value most is the connections that I made with other people who also wanted to write. I'd never managed to write anything before because I couldn't convince myself that it didn't have to come out perfectly. The course helped me understand the process of editing and revising.” 


A.F. Steadman 

In 2020, Annabel secured the biggest advance in history for a debut children’s author. Sony Pictures acquired the film rights, and her second book, Skandar and the Phantom Rider, is released in spring 2023. 

“The ICE Master’s is brilliant because it immerses you in lots of writing styles and helps you find out what kind of writer you are. Studying alongside my classmates was great. It’s so interesting hearing someone read their writing because their emphasis can be totally different.” 

To find out more about Creative Writing courses at ICE, visit:  

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