From Arthur’s Seat – stories from the heart of Edinburgh
Every year, our MSc Creative Writing cohort publishes an anthology of new writing. We spoke to this year’s Editors-in-Chief Austin and Rasika about what it’s like to produce your own book and why Edinburgh is the perfect place for aspiring writers.
Rasika Bhale and Austin Crowley, Editors-in-Chief of Volume Eight of From Arthur’s Seat – an anthology produced entirely by students on the MSc Creative Writing programme at the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC) – describe this year’s volume as ‘international and multi-faceted, coming from many different cultures and backgrounds.’
At the heart of the anthology produced by the class of 2022-23 lies Edinburgh – the place where the student writers have ‘come together and read, responded to, influenced, and celebrated each other’s work.’
A modern hub for literature
Rasika admits she didn’t know much about Edinburgh when she first arrived in the city. She clearly remembers stepping out of Waverley Station, named after Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley novels, for the first time: “I was mesmerised by the Old Town landscape – Edinburgh is so naturally and architecturally picturesque that it makes you want to write even if you are not a writer.”
“It’s calm, peaceful and friendly. And on sunny days with clear skies, it’s particularly gorgeous!”
Having swapped bustling New York City for Edinburgh to study, Austin chimes in: “Edinburgh is a literary city. To be honest, I didn’t really understand what that meant before I moved here. Sure, I knew vaguely of the literary history of the city, but I still didn’t know how a city could be literary.”
Austin began going to readings and events and visiting the Scottish capital’s myriad of independent bookshops, and slowly started to understand how “Edinburgh isn’t just historic – it’s a modern hub for literature. That’s part of what makes the city great for writing.”
It's a team effort to publish a book
Being Editor-in-Chief is a big responsibility, and it can be a challenge to coordinate tasks across teams.
Austin says: “It is no small feat to get a team of more than 20 people to work together to create something like this from scratch, all while we’re working on a demanding degree.”
“The most exciting part has been working in and experiencing the events we’ve had in support of the anthology. It’s just wonderful to see folks come together to support one another in this way.”
As a self-declared introvert, Rasika has enjoyed building her people skills through coordinating teams as well as arranging and attending meetings: “Over the months, it’s been great fun, and I feel lucky to have been supported by such a lovely team.”
Both Austin and Rasika are keen to stress that although they have been spearheading the process, they wouldn’t have reached the finish line without the rest of their peers.
In an open letter on the From Arthur's Seat website, they thank everyone who has been a part of the journey from “editors and copyeditors who helped polish and fine-tune each piece, to our art team who created the beautiful cover and illustrations within, to our marketing team who helped raise funds, generate interest locally, and organise events across the city; and last but not least, to our two managing editors who were a constant support throughout this massive endeavour.”
Adding to the literary fabric of Edinburgh
Hoping to use this experience in his future career, Austin reveals that, as a writer, it has been eye-opening to get such a unique insight into how a book is published, and to be able to follow the process from start to finish: “It’s not often you get to create a book. This is mine and many of ours’ first time doing so, and I have a feeling it will be the first of many.”
“It’s wild how much change takes place from the beginning to end. You never know how it’ll turn out, so it’s best to just enjoy the ride.”
From Arthur’s Seat has added a layer to the MSc Creative Writing degree that both Austin and Rasika value. Rasika explains, “I got to read and select from a rich variety of stories and in a way, it also helped me with my own writing.”
In 2004, UNESCO named Edinburgh the world’s first City of Literature, and as we round up our interview, Austin highlights the excitement of continuing a legacy of storytelling: “It has so been fun to contribute, by way of hosting a reading, to the literary nature of Edinburgh.”
Are you interested in Creative Writing at LLC?
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.