The Secret Life of Novels | Free Word

6 March 2019
18:30 - 20:30

Presented by:
The Literary Consultancy


The Drafting Process Uncovered

Three novelists shine a light, through creative visual presentations and an intimate sofa chat, on the secret life of novels – from first idea to final draft.

The creative process is often presented as mysterious, even alchemical. Novels arrive on bookshelves as if they just appeared whole and perfect. What is kept hidden from view? And what is the effect of keeping that process – the scenes from the cutting room floor, the false starts, the dead ends and failed drafts – hidden? In TLC’s Secret Life of… event series, we aim to part the curtain to reveal writing’s unseen components.

In the second part of TLC’s already acclaimed event series, initially launched as part of Free Word’s ‘This is Private’ season, we invite three authors at the top of their game to speak about their creative process, creatively. From overarching structures to the minutiae of notebooks, graphs, sketches and scribbles, we lift the lid on creativity itself and get under the skin of the most private part of the writing process.

The theme for our March event is books drawn from life. Our guest novelists will be Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott, Michael Donkor, and Nell Stevens.

6 March 2019
18:30 - 20:30
£16 / £12

Free Word

The Literary Consultancy


Michael Donkor

Author and Teacher

Michael Donkor was born in London in 1985. He was raised in a Ghanaian household where talking lots and reading lots were vigorously encouraged. Michael read English at Oxford where he developed a particular interest in the works of Woolf, Lessing and Achebe, and later undertook a Masters in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway. Michael worked in publishing but retrained as an English teacher in 2010. Since then he has taught A Level English, trying to develop a curious excitement about books and storytelling within his students. His first novel, Hold, which explores Ghanaian heritage and questions surrounding sexuality, identity and sacrifice, was published by 4th Estate in 2018.

Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott


Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott was born and raised in Houston, Texas, before coming to call first Los Angeles, then London her adopted homes. She holds a BFA Drama (Directing) from Carnegie Mellon University and studied screenwriting at the University of Southern California. In 2006 Kelleigh was the recipient of the Abroad Writers’ Conference Fellowship in Provence, where the germ of an idea for a book about Truman Capote’s betrayal of his Swans was born. Swan Song was named the winner of the 2015 Bridport Prize Peggy Chapman-Andrews Award for a First Novel. The work was additionally shortlisted for the 2015 Myriad Editions First Drafts Competition, the 2015/16 Historical Novel Society New Novel Award and the 2016 Lucy Cavendish College Fiction Prize.

Nell Stevens


Nell Stevens writes memoir and fiction. She is the author of Bleaker House (2017) and Mrs Gaskell & Me (UK) / The Victorian & the Romantic (US/CAN) (2018), published by Picador (UK), Doubleday (US) & Knopf (Canada). Nell has a PhD in Victorian literature from King’s College London, and an MFA in Fiction from Boston University. She is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths University.



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