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25 March 2006

Saturday 25 March 2006 22:00-22:30 (Radio 3)

The first two pages of a novel can sell it - or kill it. Ian McMillan launches a competition that could win you a place on an Arvon first-time novelists course, run by acclaimed writers Tim Lott, Matt Thorne and Sarah Waters. Plus, the world of Suzanne Andrade has been described as suburban gothic. Using words and music, she invites us into her forbidding and surreal world.


30 minutes

Programme Details

As The Verb returns, refreshed and ready to go, Ian McMillan urges you to pick up your pen and start writing your very first novel. And if you do, you have a chance to win a place on a world famous writing course in a new Verb competition.

The eye, agent and reader grabbing first two pages of a novel are the clincher to which every writer aspires. Continuing it's commitment to new writing, The Verb is launching a First Time Novelists Competition. Listeners are invited to write the opening first 800 words of a first novel. The prize will be an Arvon course for first time novelists, taught by award-winning writers Tim Lott and Matt Thorne, with special guest, Sarah Waters, of Fingersmith fame.

To set the ball rolling and launch the competition, Tim has written the first two pages of a new novel for The Verb. Lott's first novel, White City Blue - a vivid and comic contemporary portrait of a group of young male friends - itself won the Whitbread First Novel Award. Tim reads his grabbing new opener and offers his own advice to aspiring first time novelists.

Also on the programme, the new queen of suburban gothic, Suzanne Andrade, who is inspired by everything from the household cat, to Edith Sitwell and the films of the silent era. Suzanne invites you into her strange world of words when she performs and talks about two of her pieces, one set in a dark and disturbing Goring-By-Sea.

And Geoff Ryman is a writer who refuses to be categorised and who always goes for the new. Despite being known as a fantasy writer, he wrote the world's first internet novel, and now he's written an historical epic novel, set in Cambodia. It's a tour de force, spanning 12th century Cambodia to the end of the 20th century. Geoff talks about The King's Last Song, and reveals the connection between his novel and ancient Cambodian manuscripts as tall as houses.

That's all on The Verb with Ian McMillan at 10pm here on BBC Radio 3.

Producer: Ariane Koek

Additional Information:
-The King's Last Song by Geoff Ryman is published by Harper Collins.
-Tim Lott's most recent novel, The Seymour Tapes, and also White City Blue are both published by Penguin.
-Suzanne Andrade is performing in London on March 30 at Short Fuse at Camden Head, and on April 11 at the Poetry Shack with Sean Hughes.

First Time Novelists Competition. Entries can be submitted by:

Emailing: theverb@bbc.co.uk

Or by sending hard copies to:

First Time Novelists Competition,
The Verb,
Room 7071,
Broadcasting House,
London W1A 1AA.

The closing date is 1 July 2006

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