Lola Okolosie has won the inaugural Novel Studio scholarship from City University for her novel-in-progress, Returnees.
The award, sponsored by thriller writer and course alumna Harriet Tyce, was set up to support a talented writer from a low-income household
The Novel Studio is part of City University’s programmes of short courses and has been running since 2004. Each year, the Novel Studio takes on 15 students, who are helped to develop their novels by professional writers and editors, every year.
"In a field of very strong applications to the scholarship, Okolosie’s writing impressed all the judges with its depth and ambition," said City. Set in both the UK and Nigeria, the novel follows the fates of two siblings, separated when one is deported to Lagos.
Okolosie, who will join the 2019/2020 Novel Studio cohort, said: "I am deeply honoured and feel incredibly lucky to receive the Novel Studio Scholarship from City. It is a huge help; without the financial assistance, I would be unable to embark on a course that I know will develop my skills as a fiction writer. Receiving the award is also a considerable source of inspiration as it tells me that published authors and industry experts believe in my potential. I am excited about making the most of the opportunities now available to me."
Professor Andrew Jones, vice-president (research and enterprise) at City, added: “City is tremendously proud of the great opportunity the Novel Studio gives to aspiring writers, and the impressive track-record of novelists who have been helped to launch successful careers in fiction. It is one of the jewels of our short-course portfolio and the university is delighted that Harriet has initiated this scholarship.”
Previous Novel Studio writers include Tyce, Deepa Anappara, Hannah Begbie, Kiare Ladner, Anna Mazzola and R K Salters.
Tyce was a student on the Novel Studio course in 2009/2010 before going on to gain a place on the MA Crime Fiction at UEA, where she received a distinction. Wildfire pre-empted her debut psychological thriller Blood Orange in 2017. Rights to the book have now been sold in 19 territories around the world, including North America (Grand Central), Germany (Random House), Italy (Mondadori) and Spain (Penguin Random House) and the book was a lead title for Wildfire earlier this year.