Simon Sylvester (English Literature, 2003, Pendle) has had his first novel published.

The book, entitled 'The Visitors' is receiving good reviews and is shortlisted for the Guardian's infamous Not the Booker prize. Simon writes:

'My time at Lancaster had a massive impact on my stories. While I was a student, I discovered so many of the writers who influence my work today: Neil Gaiman, Hunter S. Thompson, Ernest Hemingway. I lived about five minutes away from the Dukes, and popped in several nights a week to watch a £2 movie. That love of cinema has never left me, and is a big part of how I work. I tend to think in cameras; when I write a scene, it plays in my head through a lens. I was also lucky to make several lifelong friends who write, and their advice has been invaluable. That sense of community is with me all the time in novelist Ali Shaw, who wrote The Girl With Glass Feet, and up-and-coming writers Andrew Banks and Steven Malcolm.

I didn’t start writing until my late twenties, but weirdly, I had a ghost of the idea for The Visitors in Lancaster. It was about kelpies, rather than selkies, but it carried the same themes. It was only years later, while holidaying on Kintyre and watching seals splashing in the Kilbrannan Sound, that the ghost came back to haunt me. The idea fell into my head almost fully formed. I filled an A4 pad with notes, and started writing as soon as I came home. It took almost exactly three years from those first notes to publication with the wonderful Quercus Books. The story is told by Flora, a teenage girl desperate to escape her island home. Islanders begin to vanish around her, and suspicion falls on two strangers. Flora follows the threads of the mystery, but what she discovers changes everything she knows about the island, her friends and herself.

I’m pleased to say The Visitors is doing quite well, and I’m now juggling jobs while trying to get on and write the next novel. I blog quite often at www.simonsylvester.wordpress.com'