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John Schoneboom

Career Path: Author
Location: New York, USA

I was into writing since I could hold a pencil, but pursued other interests academically until the MA in Creative Writing.  I had written a play on a lark to enter into a competition and was surprised that it won. At that point I started treating writing more professionally, leading (eventually) to the MA and now to the PhD.

What are you doing now?

Writing a third novel as part of my PhD course at Northumbria.

What was it about Northumbria that made you decide to study here?

First of all I was living already in Newcastle and I wasn't interested in relocating.  I was, however, aware of MA and MFA programs far and wide and what did stand out about Northumbria was its encouragement of a broad approach to various genres and forms.  In other words one wasn't funnelled immediately into choosing playwright or poet or novelist or scriptwriter, we had the opportunity to explore all these areas.  It's not always the case, so that really appealed to me since I had multiple interests.

What was it like studying at Northumbria?

Fantastic. Loved it. The guidance and feedback were clear, sensible, challenging, and enormously helpful.

What impressed you most about our academic staff?

The time, support and commitment they gave. I was also impressed with the fact that a large percentage had both academic knowledge and experience, but also work experience which to me was invaluable in the area of Occupational Psychology. This aspect was a strength and demonstrated how the theory translates to practice.

How connected was your course with industry?

Well, staff made an effort to bring in literary agents and other professionals to give us glimpses of and access to the writing industry.  I don't think it's the sort of field where one can exactly get "placed" anywhere, but certainly useful approaches to making a career were a focus of the programme.

How did studying at Northumbria help you achieve your career goals / give your career an edge?

This is easy - one of the lecturers who is a novelist introduced and recommended me to his publisher, who is now also my publisher.

What was the best thing about your course?

Got me organised and professionalised about my writing.

What skills/knowledge did you learn on your course that you know use throughout your career?

How to establish a 'writerly existence' - I now write just about every day. 

What did you enjoy most about your time at Northumbria University?

The opportunity for critical feedback.

What advice would you give somebody who is thinking of studying at Northumbria?

It's a good place to do writing.

How would you describe your time at Northumbria in 3 words?

fun, productive and exciting.

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