I was born in Orkney, but grew up in Glasgow. It was as a teenager, attending my local state school, that I was first published, when one of the editors of New Writing Scotland came to run a workshop and liked my short story enough to include it in the anthology. From there, I continued to publish short stories whilst studying for a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing at Queen’s University, Belfast, and an MLitt in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow.
My first novel, So It Is (Myriad Editions, 2012), was written during my time at the University of Surrey (2009 – 2012), when I combined writing with teaching and researching for my PhD. It is this practice-based background – trying to write each and every day – that informs my teaching, with the frustrations and (small) victories of the creative process always central to discussions in creative writing workshops. As well as this, I use examples from contemporary writers and accessible writing exercises to look at the key techniques and practicalities of fiction writing – structure, plot, characterisation, point-of-view, and use of language, for example.
I have an interest in the ways that the form of a narrative can alter and enhance the content and a fascination with fiction originating in conflict, as in my debut novel set during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, and work that seeks to represent and comment on contemporary society and politics, leading to my second novel The Busker (Myriad Editions, 2014) which examines issues such as homelessness, squatting and the Occupy movement. I also have a research interest in the ways in which we write urban space and the process of adaptation from prose or script to screen, particularly Shakespeare on Film.
I’ve taught school students, undergraduates and adult learners, using examples ranging from a six-word short story attributed to Ernest Hemingway (“For Sale: baby shoes, never worn”) through to Steven Hall’s The Raw Shark Texts, always with the idea that the writing workshop, one of the few places where you can get sustained and supportive feedback, is a place to experiment and explore your creative abilities. Writing fiction is and always has been a passion and I’m grateful that teaching affords me the chance to engage with, and encourage, students who share that passion.
Photograph of Liam Murray Bell by Rhiannon Adams