University

My PhD in English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Southampton was invaluable in helping me to improve and hone my writing skills and to consider the wider influences on, and contexts of, my work

Novel: Reading Through Binoculars

Plovdiv, Bulgaria: Nine year-old Miti Popov likes everything to be normal. He likes reading books with his mother, Grace, every night; he likes his walk to school every day because it’s always the same. Except one day Miti returns home to find his father burning his mother’s books and, after the fire has consumed the apartment and blinds his father, Miti discovers that his mother has gone missing. Armed with a partial address, Miti travels across Bulgaria in search of his mother, accompanied by his blind father and a host of books that feed his imagination and impel him on to the end of his own story.

 

Reading Through Binoculars is a multi-layered narrative, with Miti as an old man reflecting on his journey, interspersed with short stories based on the people he meets on his travels, as well as extracts from his father’s historical guidebook about Bulgaria. Binoculars is a journey of discovery, a story of growing up and leaving childhood books behind; a search for truth and, ultimately, love which balances elements of magical realism with a quest narrative and exploration of the power of reading.

 

I have been inspired by the writing of authors including Jonathan Safran Foer (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close) and Jon McGregor (If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things) and my novel fits within the literary fiction genre. The story developed after visiting Bulgaria many times since 2001, working with an orphanage in Plovdiv, and has been completed as part of my PhD in English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Southampton. Author Kate Pullinger described the novel as “the best work of fiction” she has examined at PhD level.

Critical Commentary: A Story About Stories

The Ivan Vazov Museum. Sofia, Bulgaria

The Roman Ampitheatre. Plovdiv, Bulgaria

The critical Commentary was a fascinating aspect of the PhD and allowed me to think about the critical, research and writing processes that were at work in writing the novel. The commentary explores aspects of national, transnational and cosmopolitan identities that became increasingly important within the novel.

Teaching:

During my studies I have been lucky enough to teach on sevearal modules at the University of Southampton

  • Introduction to Creative Writing

 

  • International Writing in Schools

 

  • Creative Writing Skills: Lifelong Learning

 

  • Writing for Children and Young Adults: Lifelong Learning

 

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