Writer Of The Week: Maria Clark


This week we’re delighted to meet Maria Clark. Maria won the Thriller category in our recent Bursary Writing Competition. Her story “On Lancaster Sands” will appear in our new issue which comes out on Wednesday.


Tell us about your award winning story, “On Lancaster Sands”.


I studied English Literature and Creative Writing at Lancaster University, having fallen in love with the area in which the story is set. I’m an avid reader and writer of historical fiction, so turned to my local landscape for inspiration. The city of Lancaster has a rich history and, like many Northern cities, was particularly shaped during the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century. Furthermore, the surrounding natural areas of Morecambe Bay and the Lakes have always appealed to me, and during research I became fascinated by the bay’s quicksand and how travellers used to cross it at low tide to get from one side to the other. This was a common practice up until the railway was built (though you can still do it today!), and often resulted in tragedies. Clara’s story is inspired by one such tragedy, where travellers were swept away by the incoming tide when returning from Ulverston.  

 Tell us a little bit about your writing background.


 I’ve been writing ever since I could hold a pen. Poems, short stories, novels. One of my earliest memories is sitting in the middle seat of a car in France and composing a poem about gnomes. I was very lucky to know at a young age that being a published author was my life goal and I’ve been working towards it ever since. I had my first foray into publishing when I was 11, when my primary school headteacher encouraged me to publish a children’s book (it didn’t work!). I wrote my first proper novel when I was 13 – I’m now on my fourteenth.

 I’ve also had some success with competitions – I was the Overall Winner of the First Story National Writing Competition (2016) and longlisted the year after; shortlisted for Iggy & Litro Young Writers’ Prize (2017); shortlisted for the Sunderland Short Story Award (2018) and shortlisted for the Bath Short Story Award (2021). In 2018, I was incredibly lucky to participate in the Rathbones Folio Mentorship, where author Adam Foulds helped me with my fantasy middle-grade novel “Gwenevere Brynne and the Blood Children”.

 I recently graduated with First Class Honours from Lancaster University in English Literature, Creative Writing and Practice. I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else!

 Is this your favourite genre to write about?


 Historical fiction is one of my favourite genres to read and write in, definitely. I’ve written pieces set all the way from Ancient Greece up until WW2, and love the deep dive into the complexity of these settings. I haven’t written much in terms of thriller and mystery, but look forward to exploring these genres further. However, I have an eclectic taste and have written across genres including historical fiction, thriller, contemporary, rom-com, tragedy, non-fiction and travel writing. I’d love to write more historical fiction but don’t have much time right now for the research!

Which authors do you enjoy reading?


 One of my favourite sub-genres to read involves retellings of Greek myths, so some of my favourite authors include Madeline Miller, Natalie Haynes, Joanna Courtney and Jennifer Saint. However, I’ve always loved the detail and realism of Jodi Picoult and the historical fiction of Alison Weir and Elizabeth Chadwick. Some of the best books I’ve read recently include “Promise” by Rachel Eliza Griffiths, “One Last Stop” by Casey McQuiston, “Salt Houses” by Hala Alyan and “The Bride Test” by Helen Hoang. I’ll always have a soft spot for Percy Jackson though!

 What are your future writing plans?


Plan 1: get my novels published. It’s my dream to hold one of my books in print and I hope that I’ll get there someday.

 Plan 2: keep writing. It’s such a gift and I’m determined not to waste it. No matter what, I will continue and look forward to seeing what comes out next!

Thank you, Maria!

 

Tracey Steel

Having worked on a number of magazines over the years, I have found my perfect place on the “Friend” as I’m obsessed with reading and never go anywhere without a book! I read all of our stories with a mug of tea close by and usually a bit of strong cheese too!

Writer Of The Week: Maria Clark

This week we’re delighted to meet Maria Clark. Maria won the Thriller category in our recent Bursary Writing Competition. Her story “On Lancaster Sands” will appear in our new issue which comes out on Wednesday.


Tell us about your award winning story, “On Lancaster Sands”.


I studied English Literature and Creative Writing at Lancaster University, having fallen in love with the area in which the story is set. I’m an avid reader and writer of historical fiction, so turned to my local landscape for inspiration. The city of Lancaster has a rich history and, like many Northern cities, was particularly shaped during the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century. Furthermore, the surrounding natural areas of Morecambe Bay and the Lakes have always appealed to me, and during research I became fascinated by the bay’s quicksand and how travellers used to cross it at low tide to get from one side to the other. This was a common practice up until the railway was built (though you can still do it today!), and often resulted in tragedies. Clara’s story is inspired by one such tragedy, where travellers were swept away by the incoming tide when returning from Ulverston.  

 Tell us a little bit about your writing background.


 I’ve been writing ever since I could hold a pen. Poems, short stories, novels. One of my earliest memories is sitting in the middle seat of a car in France and composing a poem about gnomes. I was very lucky to know at a young age that being a published author was my life goal and I’ve been working towards it ever since. I had my first foray into publishing when I was 11, when my primary school headteacher encouraged me to publish a children’s book (it didn’t work!). I wrote my first proper novel when I was 13 – I’m now on my fourteenth.

 I’ve also had some success with competitions – I was the Overall Winner of the First Story National Writing Competition (2016) and longlisted the year after; shortlisted for Iggy & Litro Young Writers’ Prize (2017); shortlisted for the Sunderland Short Story Award (2018) and shortlisted for the Bath Short Story Award (2021). In 2018, I was incredibly lucky to participate in the Rathbones Folio Mentorship, where author Adam Foulds helped me with my fantasy middle-grade novel “Gwenevere Brynne and the Blood Children”.

 I recently graduated with First Class Honours from Lancaster University in English Literature, Creative Writing and Practice. I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else!

 Is this your favourite genre to write about?


 Historical fiction is one of my favourite genres to read and write in, definitely. I’ve written pieces set all the way from Ancient Greece up until WW2, and love the deep dive into the complexity of these settings. I haven’t written much in terms of thriller and mystery, but look forward to exploring these genres further. However, I have an eclectic taste and have written across genres including historical fiction, thriller, contemporary, rom-com, tragedy, non-fiction and travel writing. I’d love to write more historical fiction but don’t have much time right now for the research!

Which authors do you enjoy reading?


 One of my favourite sub-genres to read involves retellings of Greek myths, so some of my favourite authors include Madeline Miller, Natalie Haynes, Joanna Courtney and Jennifer Saint. However, I’ve always loved the detail and realism of Jodi Picoult and the historical fiction of Alison Weir and Elizabeth Chadwick. Some of the best books I’ve read recently include “Promise” by Rachel Eliza Griffiths, “One Last Stop” by Casey McQuiston, “Salt Houses” by Hala Alyan and “The Bride Test” by Helen Hoang. I’ll always have a soft spot for Percy Jackson though!

 What are your future writing plans?


Plan 1: get my novels published. It’s my dream to hold one of my books in print and I hope that I’ll get there someday.

 Plan 2: keep writing. It’s such a gift and I’m determined not to waste it. No matter what, I will continue and look forward to seeing what comes out next!

Thank you, Maria!

 

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