Literatures, Languages & Cultures

Meet our graduates: Ai Jiang (Creative Writing)

Shortlisted for the prestigious Nebula Awards and Hugo Awards, winning the Ignyte Award for Best Speculative Poetry and landing a two-book deal, cross-genre writer Ai Jiang reflects on the past few whirlwind years since graduating with an MSc in Creative Writing in 2022.

Ai Jiang looks looking over her shoulder, smiling at the camera
Ai Jiang, MSc Creative Writing graduate (2022)

Born in Fuzhou, China, Ai Jiang moved to Canada at the age of four. Before coming to Edinburgh in 2021 to do an MSc in Creative Writing at the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC), Ai completed an undergraduate degree in English Literature at the University of Toronto.

Ai also attended the Humber School for Writers and worked a number of part-time jobs, including tutoring English Literature, teaching English as a second language, coaching badminton and ghostwriting.

Now back in Toronto, Ai is a full-time fiction writer. She highlights how the time she spent in Edinburgh played an essential part in getting her to where she is today: "My studies at LLC gave me the opportunity to focus on writing and hone my craft with the guidance of amazing instructors and like-minded peers."

"It has taught me to become self-driven and motivated in my writing journey, and my time in Edinburgh also broadened my lived experiences."

Winning awards and landing a book deal

Since late 2020, Ai has written more than 150 publications, a mixture of short fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction, and her work has been taught at universities such as MIT and the University of Washington and even received film interest. 

Even though the last few years have resulted in multiple exciting award wins and nominations, Ai stays grounded by continuously reminding herself what she really loves about her art: "I feel like the act of writing and completing a story is the greatest of all achievements for a writer." 

"In 2023, I had the honour of being on the final ballot for both the Nebula Award and Locus Award in the Short Fiction category for my story 'Give Me English' and win the Igynte Award for Best Speculative Poetry for my poem 'We Smoke Pollution'."

This year, Ai's novella 'I am AI' was nominated for the Hugo Award for best Novelette as well as shortlisted at the British Science Fiction Association Awards. She also recently finished an eighth draft of a novel, after landing a two-book deal with Titan Books. The first one, 'A Palace Near The Wind', is due to be published in 2025.

Be persistent and keep learning

Ai had the idea for 'A Palace Near The Wind' while she attended Humber School for Writers Summer Workshop, but finished the story as part of her MSc dissertation in Edinburgh. She wrote the bulk of the novel within a month, but admits that "it took two years of brewing on its details before I actually got started on the writing, and it's been on and off editing for the past eight or so months."

Her best advice for anyone who dreams about writing full time is to write, write... and write some more: "Be persistent, be willing to become a life-long learner, and remain critical, but don't let it stop you from continuing to write."

I think since the moment I started writing short fiction, I had the dream of making writing my full-time career. I could imagine myself doing nothing else, and writing and continuing to hone the craft of it is something I would love to dedicate the rest of my life to. A love of storytelling, I suppose, is at the heart of my motivation and inspiration and to share my thoughts and stories with others.

Ai Jiang, full-time writer and MSc Creative Writing graduate (2022)

Inspired by Edinburgh's gothic architecture

For a writer like Ai, the cooler Scottish weather couldn't have been more perfect.

"I absolutely loved the landscape of Edinburgh—its gothic architecture, cloudy skies, and cool weather. I found it a particularly inspiring place for the type of fiction I write, which mainly consists of horror, dark fantasy, and dystopian," says Ai. 

She also highlights how the teaching on the Creative Writing programme helped her develop both creatively and on a personal level.

"The instructors for the LLC were amazing as well. They were supportive and encouraging as well as knowledgeable in the craft of writing. Attending the programme helped me build greater independence as not only a writer, but also as a person, in a highly productive environment filled with other like-minded individuals who also shared a love for storytelling and honing their written craft. "

I think what is most important for a writer is meeting new people, walking across the world, and learning to understand cultures and perspectives outside their own. Edinburgh held a wealth of experiences from across the world in one location, which I found extremely enriching and refreshing. Along with its almost mythic nature, studying at Edinburgh had revitalised my love for folklore.

Ai Jiang, full-time writer and MSc Creative Writing graduate (2022)

Keep up to date with Ai's writing on her website

Are you interested in Creative Writing at Edinburgh?

Based in the first UNESCO World City of Literature, our one-year, full-time taught masters programme is tailored towards your practice in either fiction or poetry.

Highlights include our annual industry event and creative writing conference, and lots of opportunities to share your work, including From Arthur’s Seat and a range of writing awards.

Find out more on the University of Edinburgh Degree Finder