Writing a Novel’s Success Stories

6 minutes read

Discover some of Writing a Novel's success stories over the years.


Writing a Novel, Faber Academy’s flagship course, has been running since 2009. Created by Richard Skinner, Director of the Fiction Programme at Faber Academy, hundreds of writers have found their voice through the six-month course.


Many have gone on to be published.


Every writer will come to the programme with different ambitions and goals for their writing, but for many publication is the aim. We consider every single one of our graduates to be a success story, but here are some of those who have achieved their publication dreams after completing the course – we’re sure you’ll recognise their names!

Bellies by Nicola Dinan

Writing a Novel graduate Nicola Dinan’s debut novel Bellies, was published by Doubleday. It was shortlisted for the Mo Siewcharran prize.


It begins as your typical boy meets boy. While out with friends at a university drag night, Tom buys Ming a drink. Confident and witty, a charming young playwright, Ming is the perfect antidote to Tom’s awkward energy, and their connection is instant. Tom finds himself deeply and desperately drawn into Ming’s orbit, and on the cusp of graduation, he’s already mapped out their future together. But, shortly after they move to London to start their next chapter, Ming announces her intention to transition.


From London to Kuala Lumpur, New York to Cologne, we follow Tom and Ming as they face shifts in their relationship in the wake of Ming’s transition. Through a spiral of unforeseen crises – some personal, some professional, some life-altering – Tom and Ming are forced to confront the vastly different shapes their lives have taken since graduating, and each must answer the essential question: is it worth losing a part of yourself to become who you are?

The most hotly anticipated novel of the summer

Harper's Bazaar

Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies by Maddie Mortimer

Published by Picador, Maddie Mortimer’s acclaimed novel was longlisted for the Booker Prize, shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize, longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize and won the Desmond Elliott Prize. Maddie was also shortlisted for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year.


Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies is a story of coming-of-age at the end of a life. Utterly heart-breaking yet darkly funny, Maddie Mortimer’s astonishing debut is a symphonic journey through one woman’s body: a wild and lyrical celebration of desire, forgiveness, and the darkness within us all.

'Restlessly inventive . . . delicate and persuasive'

The Guardian

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

Alice Feeney’s psychological thriller was published by HQ Fiction. It was an international bestseller and published in over 20 countries.


My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me.


1. I’m in a coma

2. My husband doesn’t love me any more

3. Sometimes I lie


Unnerving, twisted and utterly compelling, you won’t be able to put this thriller down.

'A bold and original voice – I loved this book'

Clare Mackintosh

The Bees by Laline Paull


Published by Fourth Estate, The Bees by Laline Paull was shortlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize for New Fiction.


Enter a whole new world, in this thrilling debut novel set entirely within a beehive.


Laline Paull’s chilling yet ultimately triumphant novel creates a luminous world both alien and uncannily familiar. Thrilling and imaginative, ‘The Bees’ is the story of a heroine who changes her destiny and her world.

'Beautifully written and unusual … Captivating … A brave and original story that highlights our modern environmental crimes, and offers a fascinating glimpse into the intricacies of bee world … Any book that changes the way we see our world surely deserves to be a success'

Lucy Atkins

Sunday Times

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman


Gail Honeyman’s debut was a No.1 Sunday Times bestseller, won the Costa First Novel Award and is soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon. It was published by HarperCollins.


Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.


Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.


One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she s avoided all her life.


Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine?

'A narrative full of quiet warmth and deep and unspoken sadness... Wonderful and joyful'

Jenny Colgan

The Guardian

The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

Joanna Cannon’s debut novel was published by The Borough Press. It was a Sunday Times bestseller and Richard and Judy pick.




Mrs Creasy is missing and The Avenue is alive with whispers. As the summer shimmers endlessly on, ten-year-olds Grace and Tilly decide to take matters into their own hands.


And as the cul-de-sac starts giving up its secrets, the amateur detectives will find much more than they imagined…

‘Vibrant and funny…imagine Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, set in 1970s English suburbia’

The Guardian

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

Rachel Joyce’s uplifting and redemptive novel was published by Transworld. It was a No. 1 Sunday Times bestseller, selling over six million copies and is now a major movie starring Jim Broadbent and Penelope Wilton.


When Harold Fry nips out one morning to post a letter, leaving his wife hoovering upstairs, he has no idea that he is about to walk from one end of the country to the other.


He has no hiking boots or map, let alone a compass, waterproof or mobile phone. All he knows is that he must keep walking. To save someone else’s life.

'A funny book, a wise book, a charming book . . . Harold Fry is just wonderful ... I love this book'

Erica Wagner

The Times

Before I Go To Sleep by S J Watson


S J Watson took Faber Academy’s inaugural Writing a Novel course, and from it came the internationally successful Before I Go To Sleep. Published by Transworld, it became a phenomenal international success, selling over six million copies worldwide. It won the Crime Writers’ Association Award for Best Debut Novel and the Galaxy National Book Award for Crime Thriller of the Year. Rights to publish the book have been sold in 42 countries. It was turned into a film of the same name starring Nicole Kidman, Mark Strong, Colin Firth, and Anne-Marie Duff.


Memories define us.


So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love – all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story.


Welcome to Christine’s life.

'Quite simply the best debut novel I've ever read'

Tess Gerritsen


Writing a Novel is designed to support aspiring fiction writers to develop their craft over six months, with courses in London (at Faber’s HQ in Hatton Garden), Newcastle and online.


A six-month programme of seminars, sessions will cover all the essentials of novel writing – including character, story, structure, plotting, voice, dialogue, conflict and more.


Find out more about the next iterations of Writing a Novel here.


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